THIS IS A WORK OF ORIGINAL FICTION
It will be serialized over the next several days…the ending will be marked in the classic styling…
“Corinne with River Bend Steel.”
“What can I getcha, Jim?”
“Um…this isn’t an order call.”
“Ok. What’s it about then?”
“We’re having another open house vendor appreciation event, and I wanted to make sure you’ll be there this time. I mean, we still talk…for work…but we haven’t seen each other…it’s been…”
“More than two years now.” Vivid memories of riding in sticky silence for the drive back from Jubilee Acres, came to the surface. She pretended she wasn’t crying in the passenger seat of his sedan, and he pretended he didn’t notice she was crying. It was still daylight when he dropped her off, which he used as a convenient excuse to not walk her to her door, and that was that. She’d willfully passed up every opportunity to see him since. “When is it?”
“Week from Friday night. Evites go out around quitting time today. I just wanted to call and give you a heads up.”
“That’s nice, Jimmy.”
“Cori…I really hope to see you there.”
To: Dan Hoffman
From: Corinne Gibson
Subject: Guess Who Called Me…
Go ahead. Guess.
Re: Guess Who Called Me…
Here’s five guesses in descending order of probability: 1. Your mother 2. My mother 3. Douchebag Steven 4. Tom Hiddleston 5. Idris Elba
(I’ll be jealous as shit if it’s really number 4 or number 5. It sure as hell better not be number 3.)
Subject: Wrong Five Times
Jim. Only it wasn’t to order parts.
Re: Wrong Five Times
Get outta here! Did he hear how smokin’ hot you are? 🙂
Subject: OMG Dan!
Blushing now! I don’t know if he’s heard about the weight loss or not. He didn’t bring it up. I didn’t either.
Cori did have a coy rouge to her face, as she did each time Dan paid her such an audacious compliment, but she never took him seriously. She wanted him to mean what he said, but had enough cached self doubt that she didn’t believe he did. She thought he was working to restore her damaged ego, like good friends tend to do.
Re: OMG Dan!
What’d he want?
Re1: OMG Dan!
Some vendor event is coming up a week from Friday and he wants me to go. I don’t know if I’ll go or not.
Dan didn’t want her to go. Friday nights were customarily spent together. Since they’d both surpassed their goal losses, they indulged in take-out pizza and light beer when they finished working out.
They’d become so familiar over the past year, that she let herself in with his secondary garage door opener, stocked his refrigerator with groceries, and cooked their pre-workout weeknight meals in his kitchen. On Fridays, she showered in his spare bathroom, waiting for pizza delivery, instead of making a needless extra trip home…he loved the easy routine they had. But Dan believed Jim was probably the major catalyst behind her weight loss in the first place. He thought she should show herself off, and gamble on the relationship she wanted for nearly four years. Even if it didn’t include him, he wanted her to be happy. He witnessed her work so hard for it.
Re2: OMG Dan!
You should TOTALLY go! Why would you even consider NOT going?!
Cori would rather spend time with Dan than do anything else. After a year of seeing each other practically every day, and achieving a hard-to-attain goal together, she’d built up level of trust and comfort she’d never had with another person, but she was still afraid to tell him how she felt. She thought she’d relinquished rights with the previous decision to be ‘just friends.’ She remembered the imminent mutuality of that decision, and it only fed her fear. His insistence that she accept Jim’s invite was, to her, confirmation that he saw her only in non-romantic terms. She vaguely confessed via email anyway.
Re3: OMG Dan!
It’s giving up a Friday night with you.
Dan wondered if he read meaning into that message simply because he wanted to see it, or because it was really there. He wanted to believe she had turmoil over a choice between him, her workout companion and Fellow Former Fatty, and her Historic Ideal, but his crisp recall of Meredith initiating their blind date cast a significant shadow. Mer began by telling him she had a friend with a ‘super cute personality’ (read: she’s a little heavy), that was ‘so much fun to hang out with’ (read: maybe more than ‘a little’ heavy), and she thought they’d ‘have a lot in common’ (read: she’s as fat as you are). He agreed to meet her, but felt sorry for both himself and the poor girl that had to spend an evening out with him because she was also saddled with the ‘fat’ label. Mer called Cori right in front of him to set it up. Her description of him contained the phrases ‘total sweetheart’ and ‘teddy bear of a man.’ He’d been exemplified that way so often by women who stopped short of intimacy, he ceased thinking of ‘sweet’ as beneficial, and began viewing it as an impediment, but never could seem to remove it from his inborn makeup. It grated him every time Cori called him some derivative of ‘sweet,’ although she did mean it as a valid compliment, because it added more weight to ‘just friends.’ Meredith unwittingly set them up to be ‘just two fat friends,’ and he’d gone with that expectation, just like Cori did, at first. They began with a wall built between them. He’d dismantled his a year ago, but he assumed hers was still standing, so he encouraged her to go after what he thought she really wanted.
Subject: I’ll live
It’ll be kinda boring, but I’ll be alright Friday night. You should go blow his mind. You definitely will. 🙂
She loved the closing flattery in his polite decline, but she was disappointed she didn’t get a request to stay with him. She swallowed the let down, and echoed his supportive praise.
Re: I’ll live
You should go out that night too. Call Whatserface. Your Lady-Jim. I wanna say ‘Emily.’ Right? Anyway, ask her out. You look just like Chris Pratt now, with that beard and your new rockin’ bod. She’ll be all over you the second she sees ya. 🙂
He re-read the words ‘your new rockin’ bod’ about a thousand times, to see if the giddiness would fade with repetition, but it didn’t. “I don’t even think about Emma anymore, Cori. I only wanna be with you,” he thought to himself. He finally clicked ‘reply.’
Subject: Ok then. 🙂
I will give that a shot, Miss Gibson. Wanna work out Saturday afternoon instead that week?
Re: Ok then 🙂
It’s a plan! Steak and veggie fajitas for dinner tonight. See you after work!