Summer of…

Summer of… (March 2019, Week 3, Day 2)

“Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred and done.” Helen eased herself down onto the porch swing. “No point in cooling down standing up.” She pushed herself back and forth with a defiant gleam in her eyes.

“No point indeed.” Arnold tugged at the sleeves of his shirt as if to make sure his cufflinks showed. “Why you persist in this daily show of athleticism is, quite frankly, beyond me.”

“Ha! Don’t have to tell me twice, Arnie. Your expression said it already. I do what I do and it works fine for me. You could stand to take a page out of my book – it might get you an extra decade or two.”

Arnold brushed invisible dirt from his pant leg and sighed. “Might we be able to move inside soon?”

“Arnie, there is no way I’m missing the sunset on a day like this. Not a chance. You can stand there stiff as a statue or you can sit yourself down on that chair. Better yet, why don’t you just get a move on with whatever you came to tell me so you don’t have to make such a challenging decision.”

Arnold stiffened and the corners of his mouth pulled down briefly before he plastered on an unconvincing smile. “I’ll stand, thanks.” He reached into the briefcase at his feet and pulled out a booklet.

“You can put that right back in there, Arnie.”

“I’ll ask you to hear me out.”

“That paper has spoken for you, and I’ve heard all I need. Put it away, Arnie. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

Arnold’s face purpled. “I am not making an attempt to ‘get rid of you.’”

Helen stood up and put her hands on her hips. “You must be needed elsewhere, Arnie. I suggest you find your way off of this porch.”

“I’d intended to stay through dinner.”

“Your intentions and my invitations are not well aligned. I have other plans for dinner.”

“Other plans?”

“Yes, Arnie. I intend to have dinner with someone else and had arranged it well before your arrival today.”

“You knew I was coming, though. Or did you forget?”

Helen shook her head. “Tsk, tsk, Arnie. Are you going to make me say I prefer the company of my gentleman caller over you?”

Arnold looked away from Helen. A neighbor was walking down the sidewalk and Arnold waved and nodded automatically. Once the man had made it around the corner, Arnold turned back to Helen. He opened his mouth to speak and she cut him off.

“Look, you get yourself settled in your hotel for the night and we can have breakfast in the morning. We can even pretend like you didn’t come here with that fool idea.” 

Arnold picked up his briefcase and pulled out the brochure again. He put it on the swing Helen had vacated and faced her. “Maybe you’ll have time to look this over before your…date.”

“I’m not dead, yet, Arnie.”

Arnold left the porch, got into his rental car, and drove away without another word. 

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