This is the forty-first part of a fiction serial, in 727 words.
After two weeks, I had the job sorted, and the routine with Leah was working well. When I had no deliveries left, I used to help out by sweeping up, and taking stuff to the bins. Barbara seemed pleased with me, and Emily appreciated the fact that I got stuck in to non-driving stuff.
The day centre people sent a letter home with Leah’s driver one afternoon, suggesting I either gave her more exercise, or reduced her food intake. She was heavy for her age and build, and needed to lose weight. I knew that would be a struggle, as when she wanted something to eat, she just repeated “Gah” until her mouth went too dry to say it. But the thought of doing circuits around the park with a teenager on a set of reins made me inclined to try the diet.
I also went back to the dating site, and got chatting online to the three men I liked the best. I chose them for their interests, background and location. None of them looked that fantastic, but then neither did I. I finally fixed a date with one of them, after dad agreed to sit with Leah.
His name was Alan, and he was forty-nine, and divorced. I arranged to meet him in a chain pizza place that I could walk to from home. Nothing fancy, and not expensive. I memorised his photo and when I got there, he was already at a table for two not far from the window. He stood and waved when he saw me looking in, and I felt like turning around and going home when I saw him. He did vaguely resemble the photo facially, but that was all. It must have been taken ten years earlier.
But I was there, so went in, determined to be up front about my disappointment. I told him I only just recognised him, and he mumbled something about putting on a little weight since the photo was taken. That left him very much on the back foot for the rest of the time I was there. He talked a lot about his kids, nothing about his job, and didn’t mention the fact that I had a daughter with learning difficulties. But he did manage to steer the conversation around to sex, telling me that he as always very careful, and used ‘protection’.
All those years without meeting anyone had left me out of the loop, that was certain. When was it acceptable to talk about safe sex in the first ninety minutes of a date? I ate my pizza, declined more wine, and told Alan I didn’t think we were suited. I insisted he take twenty pounds for my half of the bill, and left for home leaving him sitting there.
My dad laughed when I told him, and I had to chuckle too.
Two weeks later, I had another try, on a Friday night. Dad did the babysitting duties, and I met Tony in a local wine bar. He was very different to Alan. relaxed, confident, and exactly like his photo. He was fifty-three, and I got the impression he had been doing this a long time. We chatted easily, and he thought my job delivering flowers sounded ideal for my situation. I really liked him, and went to use the toilet, deciding if he asked me out again, I would say yes.
But when I got back, he was already paying the bill. He kissed me on the cheek, thanked me for the date, and then told me I wasn’t really his type.
That shook my confidence a bit, but not enough to make me cry, or be upset. When I told dad what he had said, he grinned. “That man has no taste, love”.
At work on Monday morning, I was driving to a very posh house with a huge bouquet, and suddenly decided online dating wasn’t for me after all. I hated having to rely on my dad. After all, he wasn’t getting any younger, and now he was on his own he had a chance to do things for himself at long last. I had managed on my own for so long, I had got used to it. And as for sex, I wasn’t really that worried about it anymore.
Unless I met the right man.