I'm on a date with a new man. But the new man has to pretend to be an old man or we can't sit together inside. They're the rules. And so we pretend. That’s what gets us a table by a roaring fire.
'What would you like, darling?' he asks, so I order. Calamari and crab cakes. I haven’t eaten seafood in years but this is the new normal. They're so good I have the same again, and a Bloody Mary too, something I never have either.
'Want to see my car?' he asks, and opens his phone.
I don't care much for cars but I flick through his photos anyway. It's a nice car, I think. Red, shiny and expensive looking. I can imagine myself in this nice car with this nice man, noshing seafood and drinking Bloody Mary's on a regular basis. We could be together I think. I have another Bloody Mary and think this even more.
The new man shuffles nearer and leans in to kiss me. His tongue is like a little snake, flicking in and out, and he makes a strange movement with his mouth when he's finished. Then he takes my hands and stares intently at me. I never let anyone do this but this time I do. His hands are soft as beeswax. I like men with rough hands who work in rough places exposed to the elements, but as I sit here and imagine myself together with this soft-handed man in this weird new normal, I think, yes I can do this.
Mary Thompson is an English teacher from Brighton. In 2019 and 2020 she won a BIFFY 50 award and in 2021, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is currently working on a novella-in-flash. Mary tweets at @MaryRuth69.