The Course of Love

He was pleased to be going out with her. He’d met her at the coffee shop. She was a barista, and he was a regular. Three years older than her, it turned out. She was a student in her final year. He’d just graduated and was taking some time off in the area. Her eyes, gleaming jade and almond-shaped, felt like a laser cutting through him when she looked at him. She is it, he thought, with a wildly hammering heart. It turned out she was very funny and intelligent, studying English Literature, with plans, she said, “To be a CEO.”

They went to Louie’s for dinner, a safe place, none too romantic, with plans to zip over to Aqua to hear LEFT and dance after dinner — “We’ll see,” they told one another” — but then, sitting opposite him, laughing as she brushed a strand back off her face with a thumb — isn’t that endearing? — and her nails lack polish or gel, interesting! — he looked down at the table. She put her hands down, palms first, on the table, moments later.

She was speaking, but it was like light and sound left the room. Her hands on the table looked like giant spiders with long, slender legs. Thereafter, he couldn’t look at her without seeing her hands and noticing their resemblance to spiders. He didn’t understand at all, but it made him physically ill. It was easy to tell her, “I’m sorry, but I think we might need to call it a night. I’m not feeling well.” Then, as if his body felt that his declaration needed validated, he slapped a hand over his mouth, raced to the bathroom, and violently puked.

Looking at himself in the mirror as he washed up, he wondered, why? Perhaps he’d been drugged.

The next day, he went in for his usual coffee. She served him, concerned about the previous evening. He couldn’t look at her. All he saw were her spider hands. When he saw them, he immediately felt like he was going to be sick. Sighing, he left without drinking his coffee. He’d need to find another coffee shop.

It all saddened him. He’d liked that coffee shop, and he thought he loved that woman. A few days later, at The Roasting Company, he met another young woman. He felt madly in love with her, which shocked him – what kind of fool was he, falling in love so quickly and easily? – and he was leery of dating after spider hands, but she asked him out, telling him with a smile that he thought as intriguing as Mona Lisa’s, “Don’t worry. You’re in my hands now. I’ll take care of you.”

Her words startled him. He wondered if there was connection, but then dismissed it as silly, and accepted with pleasure.

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