Mattie woke up on the couch, confused about where she was. Looking around, she registered that she was in her living room and cocooned in a blanket from her head to her feet. She felt a creeping sense of anxiety as she tried to free herself from the confines of her fleece throw and took a deep breath of air when she finally emerged. Her coffee table still housed her empty wine glass and empty bowl from dinner the night before and her television replayed the menu screen of the movie she slept through.
She stretched off of the couch, turned the television off, and cleared the table. She glanced at the clock on the wall in her kitchen and saw that it was 8:17 am. Normally, Mattie would have been at the bakery already prepping for the day’s customers or completing work on an order for a party, but today was her day off. With it, she intended to clean her house and run some errands before meeting up with Anna for Sunday dinner.
After getting dressed and brushing her teeth, Mattie checked her phone and saw that she missed several messages from Joan and Anna. Joan reminded her once again that she was there to help and said that she would see her on Monday for work. Anna wanted to double check on time for dinner.
I will see you at 7 pm. At the Italian place on Main. Mattie wrote to her sister. Promptly, she received a response.
Awesome. I’m bringing someone. See ya, sis. Mattie’s eyes widened with surprise. Her sister had never introduced someone into their weekly tradition and was now deciding to bring someone without asking.
What do you mean?
I’m bringing someone. That’s what I mean.
Anna, I wish you let me know that you were bringing a date.
It’s not really a date with my sister there and I’m letting you know right now.
Mattie rolled her eyes and threw her phone back into her purse. Her younger sister was the more adventurous of the two and she had no qualms letting her spontaneity impact Mattie’s life. On many occasions, Mattie had woken up to Anna sleeping on the couch, having let herself into the apartment after a night of drinking. Each time, Mattie had sat at the end of the couch sipping a cup of coffee, waiting for her sister to wake up and each time they argued about Anna’s habitual crashing. Their conversations usually ended with Mattie caving in and giving Anna some clothes to borrow to head home in. Mattie knew that no matter how much she tried to make this Sunday dinner a sister-only event, she would give in and Anna’s friend would come.
She drove to the bank and took out some cash before heading to the grocery store. Walking into the store reminded her of shopping with her mom when she was younger. Her mom had always sent her to the deli to pick up with cheese and sandwich meat for the week. After, Mattie would comb the aisles looking for her mom and would eventually find her somewhere near the bread section.
Mattie day dreamed about this as she picked out milk and eggs before grabbing oatmeal and heading to the produce. She was so absorbed in thought that she almost yelled when her cart collided with a stranger’s by the canned soup.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. When she looked up, she saw hazel eyes staring back at her with a look of concern. They were slightly shadowed by brown hair falling slightly into a handsome face.
“Are you okay?”
“Uhm, yes. Thanks. I am.”
“Yea. I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention.”
“It’s alright. I guess I wasn’t doing that either.”
“Doing what?” He smiled at this question and tilted his head slightly to the side.
“I guess I wasn’t paying attention either.”
“Oh. Well. Okay.” Mattie began to pull her cart away from the accident, but turned and called over her shoulder, “Have a good day.” She was surprised to find that he was staring at her and got off course again, bumping hard into an end cap of Oreos and causing one package to tumble into her shopping cart.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” She grimaced and hoped that her hat was helping to hide the blush inching up her cheeks.
“Yes, I promise. Have a good one.” Finally, she was able to tear herself away from the awkward encounter and move toward her original destination of produce. She stared at the avocados for a few minutes and tried to fathom how she got herself into that circumstance. He was handsome in a classic kind of way. Not really obvious, but charming and inviting. His face was one that seemed to invite you to conversation. She chalked her uncoordinated and gawky interaction up to her crap performance at work the day before and settled on two avocados, three bananas, some spinach, and asparagus.
After checking out, Mattie looked up from placing her bags into her cart and saw that the man from the canned soup was smirking at her from another check out line. He raised his hand in a wave before turning and paying for his groceries. She took the opportunity to duck her head and walk out of the door to her car when his back was turned. After she packed her car, she got in the driver’s seat and started to back out of her space. She got one last glance at him as she drove out of the parking lot. He seemed to be looking for something or someone. Maybe he was just looking for his car.
* * *
After a full day of chores, errands, and getting ready for dinner, Mattie arrived at the restaurant with time to spare. Anna was usually late, so Mattie prepared herself to sit and wait over a glass of wine. She tucked into her table and ordered a glass of chardonnay. While waiting, she clicked on her phone and checked to make sure she hadn’t gotten any messages. She was not surprised to find a message from Joan.
Hey Mattie. Can you get in earlier than 5:30 am tomorrow? John called out and I need help with the morning rush. She thought it over and typed back a reply.
Sure. I should be able to.
Good. You can leave early too if you get enough of the prep done on the Morrison cake.
She filled the rest of her time waiting for her sister by checking out Facebook and playing a game of Tetris. Soon enough, she was interrupted by a cough introducing people to the table.
“Hi, Anna.” She stood and hugged her sister. Behind her stood a man about the same height as Mattie with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. “And, who is this?”
“Mattie, this is Chris. Chris, Mattie. My older and more put together sister.”
“Mattie. It’s nice to meet you.” Chris shook her hand firmly and greeted her with a warm smile.
“Likewise. Do you both want to sit down?” They joined Mattie around the table and looked over their menus.
“I think I am going to get the fettucini alfredo,” Anna said. Mattie observed as Chris looked at Anna smiled and then patted her hand. It was obvious that something was going on between the two of them and there was no attempt to hide it. She experienced a weird set of emotions. Mattie was a bit angry that Anna chose not to say anything about her new love interest and was even more put off that she arrived at dinner with him like they had been together for months. Channeling Joan, she braved a direct approach and decided to confront them.
“So, would either of you like to tell me what’s going on?” Anna looked up confused, her eyebrows drawn together.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it seems like you’ve been together for a while and I’m confused. I didn’t even know you were dating anyone.”
“Mattie,” Anna began, looking back and forth between her sister and Chris. “Chris and I are engaged.”