If you were in the zoo that morning, you would have enjoyed yourself. The sun was matter-of-factly warming while setting the mood. You’d see kids making their first visit, accompanied by parents who were taken there as children themselves.
And you’d see a beautiful woman, accompanied by a man trying to seem much more self-assured than he probably felt.
“I’m surprised you picked this as the location for our first date.”
“You said I could choose,” she replied with a smile that was shyer than you’d expect considering the sum of all the parts.
“I know. I literally would have said yes to any location.”
“I really didn’t want to get all dressed up, you know?” she asked.
“I don’t think I own anything that wasn’t purchased at Old Navy, so…”
“It’s a lot of work. Trust me.”
“I’ve already seen you all dolled up,” he said.
“You looked like you could be a billionaire’s mistress.”
“Ha! Is that a good thing?”
“Not for the billionaire’s wife.”
They walked along, eating popcorn out of their respective bags. She stopped in front of the deer habitat. A fawn was near the gate. She leaned in to pat it on the head, when it moved quickly and grabbed her bag of popcorn.
She made a face that was so cute that he stopped breathing for a moment.
He regained his composure and passed her his bag and she started eating again.
“I’m kind of over first dates,” she said, getting back to the topic he had already forgotten.
“Yeah. I get it.”
“I don’t want to feel like I’m interviewing for a job that I have no interest in.”
“I suck at first dates. I’m a fifteenth date kind of guy?”
“Nope. Fifteenth. That’s when you’d know. When you’d realize that I still remember everything you told me on that first date. When you’d realize that I still look at you the same way that I did the first time I saw you. When it hits you that I’m one of those rare guys. The kind who does what he says and says what he does, and just has your back all the time. It’s when you realize that when I am beside you, you feel more like yourself than you ever have at any other point in your life.”
“Honey, if you don’t want him…” a 90-something lady said as she puttered by with her walker.
“Okay then, where are you taking me for our fifteenth date?” she asked.
“We’re going to spoon in bed and watch a documentary on Netflix.”
“Yup. I’m going to rub your back for an hour and a half while we learn about the Lithuanian basketball team that won the bronze medal at the ‘96 Olympics.”
“Damn. How did you just make that sound so appealing?”
“I have a way about me,” he said, with a smile bigger than he planned.
“You do indeed.”
They arrived at the bird enclosure. A zoo volunteer offered her a cup of seed, that she quickly accepted. She held out her arm and a bird landed on her wrist, digging in more than she expected.
The bird was eating out of her hand, like many had before, he guessed.
“Why me?” she asked.
“Why did you pick me? There were a lot of girls at the bar. And many of them looked just as good in their dresses.”
“Well, first of all, no one anywhere near that bar looked half as amazing as you looked in that dress. Or in your tank top and shorts right now.”
“It’s your eyes.”
“There is such a softness. I’m not going to explain this well, but I was watching you that night, and you looked like you were having fun with your friends. But it seemed like a part of you was someplace else. Thinking about other things. More important things. I… wanted to know where else you were.”
“It’s your smile.”
“It’s so incredibly warm and genuine. It feels like a hug for my mood.”
“See?!” he said.
“Stop that,” she said, as she punched his arm.
“But you want to know what clinched it for me?”
“I really do.”
“We all left the first bar at the same time. Your group was just ahead of my group. Your friends were drunkenly hugging and hailing a cab, but you were lagging behind. I thought maybe you dropped something. But you had stopped to talk to that homeless lady who is always there.”
“You know her name? Jesus. That’s so great.”
“She’s really nice.”
“You didn’t notice, but I was standing a few feet away, as my friends were drunkenly hugging and hailing a cab. I saw you give her money, as we all have, I suppose. But you told her about a new shelter that opened near where you work.”
“I did… I didn’t think anyone heard.”
“Then you told her that you love her and believe in her. It was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever seen. But as I was trying to process it, you jumped in the cab with your friends and were gone. I was bummed.”
“I made my friends go to six different bars before we ‘accidentally’ bumped into you again later.”
“I had no idea,” she said softly.
“As soon as I saw you again, I made a beeline to you.”
“That’s my favourite part of the story,” she said.
“Why did you say yes to me?” he asked.
“It’s a little because you’re so cute.”
“I’d argue with you if I could.”
“But mostly because when you asked me out, I felt like saying no would be like refusing to give you a kidney.”
“It would have been.”
If you were in the zoo that morning, you would’ve seen the beginning of something special.
It was unmistakably a moment.
As only the best ones are.
1000 Words is a blog series where I write a fiction piece of EXACTLY one thousand words about a photo that moves me. To make it more fun and challenging, I have to write the very first story that pops into my head when looking at the photo. And I have to keep it as first draft-y as possible, while still making it somewhat entertaining. Hopefully. If you have, or have seen, any pics that you think might inspire me to write 1000 Words, feel free to send them over.