My challenge was to write a soppy love story…well, sort of soppy. This is me, after all. The main criteria were that I wasn’t allowed assassinations, bloodshed or erotica…
This is definitely a first draft. I’m not entirely happy with it; the first section needs tightening and I want to end on something a little more poignant – it doesn’t currently have an ‘image’ for me. But it’s a start!
Ok, I admit it. I wasn’t looking where I was going, and I was texting as I walked. But it’s not my fault.
The cyclist must have wobbled; at any rate, I’m walking in a straight line, and I feel something hit into the back of my shoulder, jarring my entire arm.
My phone, loosely held, falls out of my hands. I wince at it hits the pavement with a clonk, leaning down to catch it and hoping that it isn’t cracked-
And it’s bounced, slithered across the pavement, and gone over the edge of the canal.
“Fuck!” I take a step towards the railing, but all that’s left is the widening circle of ripples.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!”
A girl is now wheeling her bike back towards me at a run; I assume that she was the one that hit me, judging by the fact she has stopped…and is apologising. She’s in a blue dress with white spots, doc martens that look too big for her legs, a baggy raincoat and a satchel. She also looks very flustered and on the verge of tears. “I’m so sorry-”
Even the ripples have faded now, and I let out a whoosh of breath as I turn to her. “Eh, it’s ok. Too late now.” I’ve got insurance on it anyway. I mean, I coulda done without losing my phone, but I can’t be angry with someone who looks that upset.
“I don’t know what I can do-”
“You could come to dinner with me to make up for it,” I try, on a whim. She’s cute, and just the sort of person I’d like to make even more flustered.
The suggestion makes her eyes widen. “Oh! Oh. Um, I…yes, I…I don’t. Um. I don’t have any money, really.” The last sentence is spoken quietly, and some of the animation goes out of her.
“C’mon,” I laugh. “After knocking my phone in the canal, letting me take you out for dinner is the least you can do.”
She’s starting to go red, but she doesn’t seem against the idea. “Um, I…I’d…I’d like that.”
“I would give you my number but,” and I glance at the dark water, “that’s a little impractical.” She gives a little laugh at that, and I feel myself warming to her. She’s got my sense of humour. “Tonight. Ella’s Burgers. 7pm. Ok?”
She does smile. “Ok.”
I’m there at 7, sitting at the bar with a glass of wine. I’ve got a silly game on my phone, so I’m happy – for a bit.
By seven fifteen, I’m restless. Did I really think she’d show up for some random woman who’s phone she knocked into the canal?
By half seven, I’ve given up. I drain my glass and head for the door.
But as I step outside into the cold, a familiar figure is hurrying up the street.
“I’m so sorry-” she says to me, as flustered as this morning. “My bike got a puncture – I had to run-”
I’m just staring at her, feeling a smile touch my lips. She’s got flushed cheeks and wild hair, her lips red in the outside lights. She’s got a pink dress on now, dark in the yellow streetlights, and the same doc martens. I really want to take her home with me.
But instead I widen my smile as she looks even more worried. “Hey, don’t worry. Let’s get some food.”
Her name is Anna. She’s lived here for four years, on the outskirts, and works in something to do with manufacturing. Once I’d reassured her that I wasn’t bothered about her being late – as opposed to actually having stood me up – then she relaxed, and I relaxed, and we had a good night.
A good enough night that as we stood out in the cold again, I pull my new phone out of my pocket. “So, can I get your number?”
She laughs, and reels it off.