The Internet Date
‘My name is Pete, yours?’
She was looking into a sunkissed face with laughter lines at the corner of his eyes. Yes he seemed alright, not a mass murderer anyway.
‘Hi, yes I am Karen, you have the right person.’
‘Let’s go somewhere in the next door bar and talk,’ Pete said.
They were meeting in a rather nice hotel on the edge of a provincial town. It had comfortable deep armchairs and settees and a log fire burning in an open grate. Pete ordered a bottle of wine.
‘Red or white, any preferences or favourites.’
‘I like a sauvignon if that is Ok’
‘Well we don’t look too much different from our photographs do we?’ Pete laughed a little.
‘Actually yours was pretty accurate.’
‘Well, Karen, why internet dating you don’t look as though you would have any trouble at all.’
‘Without you thinking I am a complete nutter I can tell you I have lost confidence in myself lately. But enough of that. Tell me about your job, it seems really interesting being fireman.’
‘Oh I don’t know, actually I am on leave, we had a bad fire and someone died.’
‘Gosh I am sorry. My job is pretty boring I work in a flower shop, we get lots of people come in for flowers when people die.’
‘Yes I expect so, but not the same when the person is someone you know.’
‘What, what is it? Have I touched a nerve?’
‘Well I don’t want to talk about it.’
‘Karen we are here to talk and I am pretty good at listening.’
Well a friend of mine committed suicide recently.’
He name was Bella and the first time I saw her was when she bought a hat. Ridiculously she bought a hat. People didn’t buy hats these days unless you went to a wedding or a fancy dress party. I suppose those two things are very similar.
I knew Bella first when were in sixth form together. She had just come to live in my area and was having a hard time making friends which was understandable. She was what we used to call kooky. She wore what she decided was cool which could be anything from a long dress to mini pants with leggings. Her clothes were always colourful with multi-coloured stripes or layers of different t shirts and jumpers.
Anyway she bought this hat. It was a trilby. I thought only men wore trilbies. She insisted on wearing it everywhere we want with sunglasses. She wanted to be an actress and I suppose she already was, dressing up gave her a personality.
The only thing was, she thought she was being avante garde, playing the part of a drama student or and art student, when in fact she was taking maths at A level. Consequently at interviews she didn’t really do very well, eliciting a kind of risky feelings in the accountant interviewers.
I suppose you could say she was a fish out of water, not knowing her true calling and trying to be something slightly out of her reach. In those days intellectual studies were the aspiration. A University degree or accountancy exams in this case guaranteed a job for life.
Somehow I managed to see Bella underneath all her protective layers and she was a sweet person. Perhaps one could say she was naive and was taken advantage of by many people. She became a laughing stock, the butt of jokes.
Boys set up a chorus of “Somewhere over the rainbow, ” when she walked into the classroom. She would smile haphazardly and take it as a compliment which it wasn’t. Then she met Freddie.
Freddie was her first boyfriend, first of many, until Malcolm and Malcolm hooked her onto heroine. I couldn’t be her friend any longer, I found it too intense, too scary for me and we parted company.
I always feel guilty when I remember my shock and retreat, I could have done more, I keep telling myself. She has been dead now for about two months, suicide they say, but she wasn’t the type, if there is a type, accidental overdose is probably nearer the mark.
Poor Bella, she was such a character, such a girl full of life who wanted so much to achieve.
Pete kept silent while Karen talked, sipping her wine and gazing into the distance.
’Well if it is any consolation Karen I can tell you I know how you feel. The man that died in a fire. I knew him you see. We couldn’t get to him in time. The smoke inhalation killed him. I also feel I could have done more. I know that I was just doing my job. But he was someone from my cricket club, not a close friend but a good guy.
He was constant a good sort. It leaves you wondering why?’
‘Yes I know,’ stuttered Karen. ‘Why her, or him, not me. I suppose we cared and now we feel grief which is so hard to deal with.’
Pete looked into her face, ’Yes exactly.’
‘Gosh it is eleven o’clock, really I must go, thanks for the conversation and the wine.’
‘I’ll run you home.’
‘No I have my car, thanks again.’
‘Can we meet again?’
‘Yes I’ll be in touch.’
But they never did meet again. It was too painful remembering, too traumatic talking about it. It was too much emotion, too soon. They were like two moths that had been drawn to a dangerous flame of deep emotions and neither wanted to revisit.
Start writing here…