Din­ner For Two

This charm­ing com­plete story by Su­san Wright has a twist in the tale.

The People's Friend Special - - UPLIFTING STORY -

They had shared a lovely meal, but the evening hadn’t turned out as Va­lerie had ex­pected . . .

JANE was sur­prised when her mother didn’t greet her with her usual smile. “What’s the mat­ter, Mum?” she asked. “Oh, I’m feel­ing mis­er­able,” Va­lerie ex­plained as she stepped back so Jane could come in. “I feel like I haven’t got any­thing to look for­ward to – and I keep think­ing about Fred. It’s nearly a month since he let me down.” Jane held up a pa­per bag. “This will cheer you up. I was at the shops and bought dough­nuts, so it’s not all bad.” Va­lerie man­aged a smile. “I’ll put the ket­tle on.” Jane fol­lowed her into the kitchen.

“Mum, you’ve got to stop dwelling on what hap­pened with Fred.”

“What didn’t hap­pen, you mean.”

Jane glanced round as she opened a cup­board to take out some plates.

“I know you’re dis­ap­pointed, but he ob­vi­ously chick­ened out, or de­cided he didn’t want to meet up af­ter all. You’re go­ing to have to ac­cept it, I’m afraid.”

Va­lerie sighed and sat her­self down on a chair at the ta­ble.

“I know, but I can’t stop think­ing about him. He sounded so ex­cited when he sent me that e-mail.”

“Yes, but e-mails are funny things, Mum. Peo­ple tend to type –”

“And I didn’t think he was the sort of per­son to chicken out,” Va­lerie in­ter­rupted.

“I know,” Jane sym­pa­thised, re­mem­ber­ing that evening.

She and her mum had waited in a restau­rant for two hours for a man who never turned up. Va­lerie nod­ded. “He ob­vi­ously had a change of heart, but he could have sent an­other e-mail to say he wouldn’t be com­ing. What if I’d been sit­ting there on my own?”

“Yes, but maybe he couldn’t work out what to say.”

“Sorry would have been a start!” Va­lerie huffed.

“Say­ing sorry’s not that easy, though,” Jane said, tak­ing the dough­nuts out of the bag and putting them on two plates. “He would have felt obliged to give a rea­son and . . . well, that might have been hard.” Va­lerie sighed. “I know. All the same, I felt a bit of a lemon. I got all dressed up for noth­ing, didn’t I?”

“Yes, but at least we had a nice meal,” Jane pointed out. “That tiramisu was amaz­ing!”

“It was.” Va­lerie smiled. “I keep mean­ing to find a recipe to try mak­ing it my­self, but I’ve been so busy the last few days, and any­way, I couldn’t get on the in­ter­net last time I tried.” “Why not?” “No idea.” Va­lerie shrugged. “My e-mails didn’t seem to be com­ing through, ei­ther.”

“It’s prob­a­bly OK now,” Jane said. “I’ll have a look at your lap­top in a minute and see if it’s work­ing.”

“I hope it is. I keep hop­ing I might get an­other e-mail from Fred. He might have been ill for the last month.”

“He might have.” Jane didn’t sound con­vinced. “Or he might just have changed his mind, Mum. He might have de­cided he couldn’t face see­ing you again af­ter nearly forty years.”

Va­lerie sighed again.

“So why did he send me that e-mail in the f irst place, then?”

“Maybe he just got overex­cited when he got hold of your e-mail ad­dress and found out that you were wid­owed, but then got cold feet. I mean, it would have been aw­ful if you hadn’t got on, wouldn’t it?”

“Yes, but I’m sure we would have,” Va­lerie replied. “I loved him at one time. I can’t imag­ine he would have changed that much even though he’s lived in Amer­ica for such a long time. He’s still my Fred, isn’t he?” Jane raised her eye­brows. “He’s not your Fred, Mum. You both mar­ried some­body else, if you re­mem­ber.”

“Yes, and I don’t re­gret mar­ry­ing your dad for a mo­ment,” Va­lerie said be­fore tak­ing a sip of her tea. “But Fred and I are both on our own now and your dad was never as pas­sion­ate as Fred.”

“Too much in­for­ma­tion!” Jane ex­claimed, get­ting up to fetch her mother’s lap­top. “I don’t want to know what you got up to with Fred, but I’ll never un­der­stand why you didn’t marry him.”

“Be­cause he wanted to work in Amer­ica.”

“You could have gone with him!” Jane called from the liv­ing-room be­fore reap­pear­ing with her mum’s lap­top. “Mind you, I’m glad you didn’t or I wouldn’t have been born, but –”

“I was too scared,” Va­lerie in­ter­rupted.

Jane opened the lap­top and peered at the screen.

“Yes, like you were too scared to e-mail Fred to ask why he didn’t turn up. You might find out now. Look!” She pointed to the screen. “The in­ter­net’s work­ing, and there’s a mes­sage from him. Shall I open it?”

“No!” Va­lerie slid the lap­top away from her. “I don’t want you read­ing my e-mails.” She stared at the screen for a minute. She couldn’t re­sist.

She clicked on the e-mail, read it and frowned. “I don’t un­der­stand.” “What does he say?” “He’s con­firm­ing our meet­ing! He’s ex­cited about see­ing me and he’s brought me a present from Amer­ica!”

“What? So did the e-mail get lost some­where?”

“I don’t know.” Va­lerie swiv­elled the lap­top round so that Jane could see the screen. “I just don’t un­der­stand.”

“Oh, I think I do,” Jane said a mo­ment later. “He writes his dates like an Amer­i­can. They write the day and the month the other way round. We got it all wrong. Fred’s go­ing to be at the restau­rant to­mor­row!” “To­mor­row?” Va­lerie gasped. “Yes. You’ll have to get your glad rags on again.”

“Oh!” Va­lerie laid her hand across her chest. “Will you be able to come with me again?”

“Of course.” Jane grinned. She pushed a plate to­wards her mum. “Looks like you’ve got some­thing bet­ter than dough­nuts to look for­ward to now!”

The End.

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