A Song of the Past: Fourteen

(Previous installment.)

Wednesday, 3:20 PM
When she got back to her desk the phone was ringing again. She lunged to get it before it stopped, and answered the call slightly out of breath.

“Hello, this is Chuck Stuart.”

“Hi, how are you?”

“Good, thanks. I was wondering if you’re busy tonight.”

“And why is that, Chuck?” Deirdre was trying to sound playful, but she feared she wasn’t doing very well in her attempt.

“I hoped to take you out for dinner. I really enjoyed talking to you the other morning, and, well, I just thought we should get together again.”

“No, I’m not doing anything. What time did you want to meet?”

“I can pick you up at your place around 7:30. Is that OK?”

"7:30 is fine." She paused, thinking about the disheveled condition of her apartment. "But let’s meet in Westville—my apartment is a little hard to find. Do you know the New West Café?"

“I do. But are you sure you don’t want me to come to your place?”

“No, no, that’s fine. I'll see you at the New West tonight.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

After hanging up, Deirdre put her feet up on her desk and indulged in the play of thoughts rushing through her mind. She recalled her first serious love, a French boy named Jean Michel. His family had moved to Cobh during Deirdre’s last year in secondary school. She had been mad about him, and had imagined that he would marry her after they graduated. She lost her virginity to him; a couple of months later she was pregnant. What Jean Michel did could best be described as fleeing—it had, of course, happened a million times before, but Deirdre had never thought it could happen to her. She miscarried, so it turned out to have been a moot point, but she lost all interest in Jean as a result of his reaction, and ignored his subsequent attempts to resume their affair.

Since then, she had experienced a series of what she now regarded as “flings.” In each instance, either she would fall head over heels for a guy and he would use her for a while, or vice-versa. Gradually, she had acquired a veneer of cool, hoping to hide the fact that she was growing desperate. It was not, she told herself, that she was afraid of being alone—that didn’t trouble her. No, she wanted to end the crazy cycle of pretense and prevarication. She was having “casual” relationships, but she found that it was always just one person who was genuinely casual, while the other was secretly serious. The truly casual one would have to leave open the possibility of something serious “if things worked out that way,” while the person who was secretly serious had to hide their intentions at all costs. She had played both sides—she smiled as she recalled a cute, young lifeguard from Madison—and found she didn’t like either. Perhaps she should get herself to a nunnery.

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