Désirée stared at the club lights with her eyes purposefully out of focus. The kaleidoscope of colors danced dreamily with her imagination, framing her thoughts to the rhythm of the music. They were a perfect partner, strong, graceful, leading…
“Mind if I join you?” a man’s voice interrupted her daydream. For a moment, he swept her to her feet, and they danced…
“I’m waiting for a friend.” She smiled politely his way, her heart sinking quickly as her eyes focused on a handsome face a few years older than hers. She’d seen him there before.
“Same friend you were waiting for on Friday?”
Great. He’s seen me too. “No, somebody different this time.”
“That’s good. I couldn’t help noticing he never showed. You sure I can’t join you while you wait? I’ll buy you another.” He gestured to her empty glass.
He laughed. “In that case, I’ll cover your whole tab!” He signaled to one of the barmaids, who quickly turned his way. “Another water for the lady, and I’ll have a Chivas, neat, please.” He dropped $15 onto the tray and sat down. “Is he usually this late?”
“The ‘friend’ you’re waiting for. You’ve been here more than half an hour.”
“Oh. I suppose, maybe. I didn’t say I didn’t mind.”
“You didn’t say you did either. Do you?”
“A little.” Why do you always push them away, Dés?
“How do you know I’m not him?”
“The guy you’re waiting for.” His friendly smile was beguiling.
“He’s a she?”
Her uninvited guest quickly looked her over, suddenly unsure of himself. “I’m sorry, I didn’t take you for a Lesbian.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. I… You don’t look…”
The waitress rescued him momentarily by returning with their drinks and set them on the table. She started to hand him his change.”
“That’s for you,” he said.
“Thank you!” She tucked the tip in her glass, and whisked away.
Désirée took a long sip of her water, while her company sipped at his Scotch.
“Do you mind me asking why a girl as pretty as you, dressed up as nicely as you are, sits alone at a club, drinking water?”
“I guess not any more than I minded you sitting down.” Dés!
“You did say that didn’t you?”
“You’re right. How rude of me.” He stood up and smiled again. “I’m sorry for intruding. I hope your friend gets here soon.”
Désirée barely heard a word. She swirled her water around in her glass and then watched as it settled. The twinkling colors in the bottom of her obligatory snifter were a microcosm of the spectacular light show he’d interrupted, strong, graceful, leading… It was as if the water embodied the lights, a magical myriad of liquid color. She drank it.
“Hey!” she said as he walked away.
He turned around in surprise.
He cautiously returned to her table and sat.
“You presume too much,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“You’ve seen me in here before, so you knew I was alone, and you presumed I was looking for company. You saw me in a bar drinking, and you presumed it was alcohol. When I said I was waiting for a friend, you presumed I was waiting for a man. When I said it was a woman, you presumed I was lesbian, and you presumed you could tell a Lesbian by how she looks. When I said I minded you sitting only a little, you presumed you were welcome and you stayed. You told me I was pretty and presumed it would win me over. And when you asked a question and I minded that, you presumed I wanted you to leave.”
He sucked the remainder of his Scotch down in one quick gulp.
“You presume too much,” she said with a little tilt of her head.
He smiled again, wider until his face was consumed by it. She could still see the apprehension in his eyes, but the twist of the dimples in his rugged cheeks was committed to her. “I’m Chuck. Charles! Chuck… Presumptuous.” He extended his hand.
That’s how I found them when I finally got to the club. I stared at her face, and then back at his. “Hey, Dés! Sorry I’m so late. Who’s your friend?”
“Hi, Annie. No worries.” Her eyes never turned my way, as she took Chuck’s outstretched hand.
“On second thought, it looks like I got here too early,” I observed.
“No, no, sit down! The drinks are on me,” she smiled. “Presumptuous here found out I was drinking water while I waited and promised to pick up my whole tab!”
© 2013 Anne Schilde
Edit note: Last three lines added later per comment exchange with nightlake below.