I'm making myself finish a novel on Fridays.
Excerpt from chapter 1
Excerpt from chapter 2
Excerpt from chapter 3
Excerpt from chapter 4
...Then ensued the intricate détente of two people who are intrigued by each other but don’t want to let on too much so that they don’t get embarrassed. By the time it was all over, with a careful exchange of smiley faces and cautious advances, we were meeting at Friday's at 6 and then advancing to a movie called, No Win Situation, by 7:40.
"So what have you been up to for ten years?" It seemed like a reasonable enough way to start off a dinner conversation.
"So you're going to make me go first," she answered.
"Well, you know what I've been doing since you left," I jokingly said. "I've been working at Cafe D'
Espoir" about forty hours a week.
"Wow, full time. Are there many people who work there full time?"
Notice how she had managed to shift the conversation from her to me?
"There are four of us who work full time, including the manager. I do afternoons and evenings mostly."
"If I remember right," she said, "you weren't much of a morning person."
"So that's me. What about you these last ten years?" I tried to shift the focus back to her.
"One more question," she stubbornly continued. "Did you ever graduate?"
"Of course I did," I protested. "It did take a few more years than you did."
"Weren't you actually a year ahead of me?"
"I don't remember," I jokingly said. "I think I was still a junior when you graduated."
"Didn't your father die that year or some time around then?"
"Yeah, but I was already about a year behind then. I had to slow down and shift to part time. I actually didn't do too badly with one or two classes a semester."
A small pause and I tried again. "So did you start working at a hospital after you graduated?" It seemed like she would have to answer that.
"Yes, I live about four hours from here, so I moved back home and took a job at the local hospital in town."
"But you're in a doctoral program now, right? Doctor of Nursing Practice or something? So you must have done a master's degree somewhere?"
She had. She had moved to Chicago for a couple years and finished her master's at a teaching hospital associated with a university there. Still, I felt like I was pulling teeth to getting any information from her.
"So what made you decide to come back here?" I finally asked, not getting very far with her time in Chicago.
"I always liked it here, at least until Charlie dumped me..."
Yeah, I wasn't going to bring that one up. I knew what it was like to see a relationship derail when you were engaged. They were only two months away from the wedding when he cheated on her.
"... so when I had to get out of Chicago, I considered my options and coming back here to do a doctorate seemed like a good choice. I'd stayed in touch with my old professors, and they kept trying to get me to come back. There was an opening at the hospital. It all just clicked. I'm calling it a God thing."
"So they kicked you out of Chicago?" I joked.
"That would be what you heard in all that. You know what I mean. I needed a change of scenery."