Julia & Neal

2 Oct

Julia stands outside of the restaurant door unable to catch her breath. She is late. And this is a first date. A blind date.

Inside, Neal sits at a corner table and worries the keys on his Blackberry. He is waiting for news. This is a first date. And he doesn’t even know the woman. He hardly even cares.

Julia can’t make herself go in. “Just one cigarette,” she tells herself, “To take the edge off.” Julia quit smoking three weeks ago, but bought a pack on the way to the date. And gum, guaranteeing to make her breath extra minty fresh. That’s one thing she always hated about smoking… the bad breath.

Neal checks his email for the fourth time in as many minutes. He promised himself that he’d leave his phone at home. But he is not only lonely. He is broke. Neal keeps getting bit parts that don’t pay his bills let alone his alimony. And the email he is expecting might bring him news of a job. A real part. A lead.

Julia stands to the side of the door and lights her cigarette. She inhales deeply. The taste is familiar, comforting. Her sister Mary told her that cigarettes would taste repulsive after one week. Mary lied. This cigarette is heavenly.

Neal looks up from his Blackberry and realizes his date is late. And he feels relieved. He’d be a crappy date today anyway.

Julia stubs out her cigarette on the pavement and realizes just how late she is. She feels OK about that. The last two dates were crappy anyway. But she’s got nothing to lose.

Neal and Julia pass each other as he leaves and she enters. They smile at one another and feel comforted.

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