They ducked into the stoop of the closed cafe a second before the sky opened up with the wrath of an unseen god. The ferocity of the thunder rattled Cynthia’s bones. Next to her, George didn’t seem phased in the slightest, having spent a lifetime amidst the cornfields of Iowa. Storms there meant life and food on the table. He never gave them a regretful thought.
The two were practically strangers and tucked in close, elbow to elbow. They’d “talked” for months through various forms of social media. Cynthia regretted this was the only way people like to meet anymore and longed for the bygone times when their awkwardness fleshed out in person. It was easier to weed out the weirdos that way.
Electronically, the two had investigated each other. They checked off lists and probabilities weighed before deciding to appear in human form. They both were more gregarious and brave through the glowing screens in front of their noses. They could be themselves without fear of rejection or ridicule, however, they hadn’t planned on reality.
Cynthia found George handsome and rugged, but in person his charm was lacking and his conversation skills stunted. She spent much of the dinner driving their exchanges and waited for him to lead, just once. It made her feel like she was boring and that whatever interest he’d had in her approximation was squandered sitting across from him.
Huddled under the awning, their bodies were close, but with so much silence between their mouths.
When George leaned over to whisper in Cynthia’s ear he felt his heart rip out of his chest onto the sidewalk with the rain washing away his blood and courage. He tried to find a shadow of his online bravado to tell her how much he loved listening to her speak, watching her mouth form words, and the way she bit her bottom lip when she was nervous. George liked her, a lot. He choked on his words as his mind went blank. Now, he was just a weirdo breathing heavy in her ear.
Cynthia felt something strange tickling her ear and turned her head quick. Almost in slow motion her skull collided with George’s nose with a deafening crack, followed by blood rushing down his clean white Oxford shirt.
“Oh, god. Oh, I’m so sorry,” Cynthia said, trying to stop the hemorrhage.
He clutched his nose, embarrassed. Great, she thought, I mortally wounded him. There goes that.