A Serving of Relief
[Sequel to: Friendly Worries]
I arrive a little early, as I’m not the type to remember transport schedules. Still, it’s only like five minutes, and maybe she’s early too. You know, it would be nice if the weather could warm up a little faster. It’s supposed to be Spring now, but it doesn’t really feel like it.
She’s not there when I arrive, so I fiddle about with my phone while I wait. I really should have brought my ear muffs.
A few minutes later I hear: “Hi, Linda!” and I look up to see Cecilie walk over. “I hope you’ve not been waiting long?” I’d say she almost sounds giddy. What is she planning?
“Nah, don’t worry about it.” I smile, then I notice what she’s wearing. That’s fancier than I expected.
“Not often I see you in a skirt,” I say, which is absolutely true. Really only a couple of times we’ve been out on the town. “Going elsewhere afterwards?” I tease.
“Ah, y-yeah, I mean no! I just… felt like…” Maybe that was a little mean, but her reaction was worth it.
“Well, it looks good on you.” I can hear her mumble “thanks” as we turn to go inside. Business is still pretty light this early in the evening, so at least we won’t have to worry about finding a table.
“Could you order for us while I find a table?” she asks me. Hm…
“Sure. What do you want?”
“Hm… taco pizza!” Haha, she does indeed seem giddy. “And a large soda.”
“Okay. I’ll be right over then.” I smile at her as she heads off, and turns towards the counter. Taco pizza, eh? That sounds good, actually.
“Excuse me! I’ll have a large taco pizza, and two large sodas.” I get the drinks, and look around to see what table she’s at. Oh. All the way at the booths in the back. We could sit basically anywhere, so why… it has to be because of what she wants to tell me.
As I head over she seems lost in thought, and I can feel my curiosity just rising. Which is also making me a bit impatient. Just tell me. She notices me just as I reach the table, and she thanks me as I put the drinks down and sit down across from her.
I tell her what I ordered, and we start chit-chatting as if this was a normal night out. Except it’s not, is it? I can feel my impatience growing, and it’s kinda making me anxious. Why haven’t you told me yet? After a while I can’t take it any longer.
“So, what’s up?” I ask bluntly. She was taking a sip, and chokes on it. I think she knows what I mean.
“Pardon?” she manages to say, while sounding like she’s about to start coughing violently again. Is she okay? No, don’t get derailed, Linda. I have to remain firm.
“Look, I’m not totally oblivious. You’ve been acting weird for weeks, and this week even more so.” Do I sound angry? I can’t make myself stop. “I decided to give you time to tell me on your own, but it’s getting a bit silly, you know?” She is cowering in her seat now, and I can feel pity stab me in the heart. I restrain myself a little, and cut a few of my intended comments. I refuse to relent completely, though. “… you’re not acting normal, Cecilie. So, what’s up?” I try to sound a little kinder now, but that might be too late.
“I… I…” She is practically just stuttering now. Maybe I did go too far, but… why won’t she just tell me? Getting more worked up isn’t going to help, though. “I-I remembered what I was going to t-tell you…” she finally manages to say. We’re getting somewhere.
“Okay?” Just tell me. She remains silent for a moment.
“I-I’ll tell y-you once the p-pizza is h-here…” I still have to wait? I sigh deeply. This isn’t helping me be less anxious, really. She seems on the verge of running away again, but she hasn’t. I guess she’s determined to see this through now. Well, whatever it is, I can wait a couple more minutes.
“Fine, but I’ll hold you to that. You better not forget again.”
She refuses to look at me while we wait for the pizza to arrive. I really don’t have a good read on this situation, and trying to read her expression and demeanour isn’t helping any. Just tell me.
Finally the pizza arrives, and I’m not sure which of us is more relieved. She finally looks at me again, and she seems so small.
“O-okay… what I-I wanted to t-tell you… w-want to tell y-you…” Here it comes. “I… um… I…” Whatever has been bothering her, whatever I might have done, whatever might have happened.
“Linda!” Here it comes! “I a-am… I-I mean… I h-have… fallen in love with you!” I… what? “Will you… go out… with me…” She goes really quiet during that last part, I can barely hear her. What did she just say?
Oh! Is that… is that it? I can feel elation come over me as my anxiety melts away. I start giggling, which turns towards laughter as I look up towards the ceiling.
“Oh, is that what’s going on? Haha, wow. It’s all starting to make sense now. Why you were…” I feel so relieved. I thought something dreadful had happened, and it’s just… hang on. Did she really say ‘fallen in love’? “With me? Are you sure?” Did she really say that? It’s not really sinking in…
She’s not answering, so I look down at her and prepare to ask again. And I notice she’s trembling. I hear a very quiet ‘yes’ come from her. She sounds so wounded. Wait, why is she… what is… oh. Oh. She just… and I laughed… oh no. Oh no, I didn’t think…
“Ah, no! I didn’t mean it like that!” I start fidgeting and gesticulating. I know I’m panicking, but I can’t do anything about that. “I meant. I mean. Ah, hell. Cecilie, please. I’m sorry, I wasn’t laughing at… I was just… relieved? I guess? Fuck, I’m not saying this well…” Fuck, this is why I keep reminding myself to think before I speak. What do I do? In love? Why is she…
“Relieved?” I hear her ask in a cracked voice. She’s looking at me again. Good! Yes! I can work with that! Gods, she’s crying.
“Yeah! I was getting worried, you know?” I want so desperately to explain. She’s really in love with me? “I thought something was wrong with you, or that I had done something, or, or that someone had died, but then it turns out it’s just-” I clap my hands over my mouth to stop myself as I realise I was just about to brush off her feelings as if they weren’t serious. Fucking hell, Linda, what is wrong with you?
“No, I mean…” I try once more, and I can feel my cheeks heating up. Fuck, fuck, I don’t know what to say. She’s really in love with me? So that’s why she’s been acting so weird?
I notice that she is starting to giggle now. I take that as a good sign and I can feel my panic starting to subside. I glance over at her, and there’s a small smile now. Good.
What do I do though? She’s in love with me. With another woman. I’ve never even considered that… I rub my head, ruffling up my hair, as if that’s going to get my brain working better. I certainly didn’t think… yet it explains so much.
“I claim I’m not oblivious, yet somehow this possibility didn’t occur to me. Even though it’s so obvious in hindsight. I should have…” I stop myself. What I should and shouldn’t have managed isn’t so relevant right now. I sigh, then smile warmly at her. She lights up as well. Good. Looking at her, she is actually quite pretty. Even though she’s a mess right now. And whose fault is that? And I’ve realised for a while how cute she can be.
“Well, I guess that doesn’t matter. I’m just glad I know now.” Going out, huh? Us two, dating? She’s a good girl, and this really doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. I lean forward and rest my elbows on the table. Looking into those shiny, brown eyes as I give her my answer.
“Sure, I’ll go out with you.”