It had been an hour, and there wasn’t any sign of him yet. I was beginning to think that he would stand me up, like what happened in Tennessee last time. We agreed to meet a second time over another cup of coffee, and he did not show up. He texted an hour after our appointment, apologizing that I was too late for him to go out.
I shook my head and smiled at the thought. This was a long shot. I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check if there was any message from him. Nothing.
I sighed. This was becoming hopeless. Why did I even agree to him with him again? I thought to myself. I was beginning to feel foolish.
“Hey, Sam,” someone called from behind.
I turned around, and he was there, smiling. On his back was a bulky tiny backpack, and draped over his shoulders was a navy hoodie.
“Sorry it took me so long to be here,” he apologized, smiling. “I had to go upstairs to use the toilet.”
“You could have had told me, so I would have met you there,” I smiled back. “The cinema is up there anyway.”
“Is it?” He cocked his head leftward, “I did not know.”
I shrugged. “Let’s go,” I said, leading the way, “we only have fifteen minutes before the movie starts.”
He smiled as he gently followed my way.
On the way to the cinema, we talked about how we’ve been. It has been a year since we last saw another, since he stood me up. He told me he’s been working, and now he works for an accounting firm. I told him I have been to different places since we last met, and that I have had my fair share of stress from work. We chose our seats, got pop corn, and enjoyed the movie.
It was amazing at how we were focused at the movie and would tell one another trivia about that was happening, the references we noticed, and even share theories about what might have had happened and could happen. In the middle of the movie, I complained about the cinema being too cold, and he offered me his hoodie, which I gladly accepted.
“So where do you want to go?” He asked after the movie.
I shrugged. “Coffee?” I started, “you still owe me a cup of coffee after standing me up last year in Tennessee,” I reminded him jokingly.
“I did?” He asked, surprised.
“Yes,” I answered, “yes, you did, Stephen.” I laughed and reminded him what happened that night. How we agreed to meet and he did not show up. He laughed and apologized again, justified that at least he sent me a message to explain it was too late. I argued that six-thirty in the evening wasn’t too late for a guy his age. “You know what? Forget it. I’m just glad we’re here now.”
He gave out a hearty laugh. “True,” he said, “let’s go get your coffee.”
“You’re not getting one?”
“I am in the mood for some burgers,” he smiled. “I am not sure if they go best with coffee.”
I shook my head. “No, they quite don’t,” I said, “I’ll get my coffee, and we can find you some nice burger around here.”
He smiled, nodded, and beckoned toward where we could get my coffee. We walked down the street until we reached the coffee shop I was telling him about, we went inside, and I stood in line for my usual coffee order.
“Is there any other place we could get your coffee?” He whispered, like he was really trying to make sure none of these people would hear him.
I shook my head. “This is the only place where I get my coffee,” I told him, “why?”
“Someone I know is here,” he told me, careful not to be heard by anyone.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “And? Shouldn’t you say hi?”
He shook his head discreetly.
“It’s complicated,” he said.
I smiled. “Is this one of your previous hook-ups?”
He smiled sheepishly.
“I get it,” I nodded.
“Hey, nothing happened,” he said in his defense.
“Sure,” I teased, “nothing happened.”
“I am telling the truth!”
“Then you should not feel awkward,” I laughed. “Go, say hi to the person.”
“Are you insane?” He almost raised his voice. “Hurry up, get your coffee, and let us leave.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked.
“Difference with what?”
“With this?” I asked, pointing at him and then to me and moved my finger back and forth to repeatedly point ourselves.
He looked confused. “What do you mean?”
“You and me, and you and this person?”
“I don’t get it.”
“I was supposed to be your hook-up in Tennessee, and we decided to meet at a coffee shop instead—” I reminded him.
“Yes, and we talked endlessly about intellectual things until I realized you were more than just a hook-up, so I decided to be your friend,” he continued. “This one is different. Nothing happened, but it was awkward. Get your coffee, and let’s go, please.”
I pursed my lips into a sarcastic smile, turned my back against him to get my coffee, and left the coffee shop.
“So what made you decide I was more than just a hook-up?” I asked.
He shrugged. “Let’s not talk about it, okay?”
I took a sip of my coffee, shrugged, and dropped the subject. “Let’s go find you a burger.”
“I want burritos instead,” he replied.
We walked further down the street, talking about the movie we just saw, until we found a place that sold burrito. We stayed a bit longer inside the diner, and talked about history, mythology, folklore, and languages. We shared recipes and cooking techniques while I enjoyed my coffee and he, his burrito.
“So, how are you and your boy friend?” He asked me.
“I am single,” I smiled at him.
“Shut up,” he laughed, “and the guy you’re always with in pictures you upload?”
I took another sip of my coffee. “That’s my ex, we broke up almost three years ago, and we are friends.”
“Huh,” he muttered, looking at me like I am someone who needs professional help. I couldn’t blame him.
I told him why we broke, and how my ex and my managed to stay friends. He told me about his previous relationship that ended before we met and how he dated someone after that, someone who needed time for self-discovery.
We talked about our previous relationships, how we both were in long-distance relationships, and what we did to make those work. We talked about the trends of today’s relationship in this age of hook-up culture, and many other things. I realized we had a lot in common, and we agree on a lot of things.
“Are you seeing someone at the moment?” He asked.
I shook my head, smiling. “You?”
“No,” he said, wrapping his leftover burrito in aluminium foil. “Why are we like this?” He asked.
“Like what? Like we are perfect for one another?” I said jokingly.
He nodded as he smiled at me. “Yet here we are, pinning ourselves on people we cannot have.”
I stared at him. I had no prepared response to that. I was just looking at his eyes, and he, at mine. I managed an awkward smile and gentle chuckling.
His phone buzzed; it was almost twelve-thirty.
“Do you need to go?” I asked, breaking the awkward ice.
He smiled casually. “Yes,” he said, “I need to go out of town tomorrow.”
“All right,” I replied, “thank you for showing up this time.”
He laughed. “I had fun talking to you again.”
“So did I,” I playfully punched him on the shoulders. “Best second hook-up ever.”
He shook his head. “Are you free the weekend after next?”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“Same time the weekend after next?”
I did not respond; I looked at him, squinting to show my confusion.
“I want to have another hook-up with you again, over coffee,” he explained. “I would have wanted it next weekend, but my friends and I are going hiking.”
I smiled and nodded. “Why not?”
“All right, weekend after next then,” he said enthusiastically.
“Good night,” I greeted, extending my hands for a shake.
He grabbed my hand, but instead of shaking it, he laced our fingers together and held my hand tight. He looked at me in the eyes, smiled, and said, “Maybe then, we could talk about your thoughts on exclusive dating and long-distance relationships.”
I stared into his eyes, and I smiled.
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