Photo by Ashwin Rao (via The Angry Hourglass Flash Frenzy Challenge)
First dates sucked. Cal knew that. Had been prepared even, resolutely; to endure awkward, polite talk over dinner and drinks. The Japanese place was great for that – busy enough that they wouldn’t warrant too much attention from the wait staff; not so busy other customers would notice if he crashed and burned in conversation. He’d managed to make sure they weren’t seated in the window either, where any passer-by might gauge his potential ineptitude from the sense of suffering or plea on a woman’s face as she wished for a swift exit. His exit. It had happened before. Unfortunately.
Hazel eyes flashed at him from across the burnished table, framed by brunette corkscrew curls. “She’s waving at you, you know?”
“Sorry? Who?” He’d taken care to pay attention to her, solely. Cardinal rule. Aside from the fact that she was attractive enough to warrant it.
“The lucky cat.”
Cal couldn’t tell if she was teasing. Hard to read, this one. “You mean the maneki-neko?” It hit him he was seeking to show off, display his knowledge; make an impression on the dark, dancing gaze facing him.
“That’s the one. You’ve made a friend. Perhaps I should be jealous.” The tone was light, all banter.
“She’s beckoning, actually.” The words left his mouth before he had thought. He shut his lips hastily, before anything more ridiculous escaped.
“Much better, then.” Her eyebrows were raised slightly, lessening the smart accompanying the smallest hint of sarcasm, fingers toying with strands of her long hair. “Up on high too.”
“Her paws. You know what that means, of course?” Now he knew she had been playing him, for what it was worth.
“Of course,” he responded, in kind. Surely it must get better from here on in?
“ Let’s just order, shall we?” A minimal reprieve.
“You need to relax. You take yourself too seriously. She doesn’t – look at that smile. Not a care in the world.” Back to the cat, then. A small pause. “Wine with the food?” The look was measured this time, waiting for a line back.
“Why not?” Why not indeed. Perhaps his luck was in, after all.
Another flash fiction piece for the Angry Hourglass Flash Frenzy Challenge this week. Including dialogue, unusually for me!