Dream Girl

by Jack Swenson

He was late.  She hated being late herself, and she didn't like to wait for somebody else.  It made her nervous.  There was never anything to do.  She couldn't smoke in the restaurant; she never remembered to bring the crossword puzzle.  Maybe she should take up knitting.  That would keep her from fidgeting.  It would keep her from folding and refolding her napkin, repositioning the silverware.  She reached for her purse and removed her compact.  She peered wide eyed into the tiny mirror and used the powdered pad to repair imaginary flaws.

And then she saw him.  He stood there in the doorway, waiting until his eyes adjusted to the dim light.  He scanned the room, but he didn't see her.  The restaurant was crowded, and she had taken a table in the corner.  She was about to stand up and wave her hand, but something held her back.  There was something wrong with this picture.  Was he the man she had slept with last night?  He seemed different, and somehow, well, disappointing.  She thought he was tall, and he wasn't; he was average height at best.  He had a bit of a paunch.  His nose was bigger than she remembered.  His skin was pale.  And she didn't remember that he wore glasses.  Big, ugly glasses with thick black plastic rims.  Of course there were a lot of things she didn't remember about the previous night.  Such as how they got back to her apartment.  She remembered going to bed with him, though.  It had seemed like a good idea at the time.

Last night it had also seemed like a good idea to meet him for lunch the next day, but that morning she had misgivings.  And now, in her dim corner, she wanted very much for him to go away.  Maybe he would think that she stood him up.  He stood there for a moment more, looking about.  He frowned and looked at his watch.  Then he turned and walked out.

She waited a few minutes and then gathered her things and exited the restaurant.  Blinded by the sunlight, she ran right into him.  "Oh!" she said.

"There you are," he said.  "How's the girl of my dreams?"