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A Baroque Relationship

by on July 20, 2019

Image by Ryan McGuire at gratisography

“This can’t be happening, this just can’t be happening!Sherry moaned as she fled past the concert pianist in the park. Why there was a pianist in the park on that Saturday afternoon she didn’t know and was in no mood to ask. Her cell phone was still buzzing with the latest in a string of texts from her most recent date, one Ryan. Things had been going well, and Sherry had even thought they might be getting serious. Then, that morning, they had gone out for breakfast. She had inadvertently forgotten to take her acid reflux meds, had eaten a bit too much waffle, and had proceeded to throw up said waffle all over Ryan’s nicely creased khakis. Sherry was convinced their relationship was over.

She fled on, trying not to think about the shocked look on his face or the lingering smell of waffle sick, ignoring the piano melodies wafting through the park. She was ignoring a good deal else as well, which was why she didn’t see the old man peacefully sipping his tea until she crashed headlong right into him.

“Oh my God!” Sherry yelped. “OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod are you okay?”

She had said this on instinct, half expecting that the old man would’ve been knocked sprawling, maybe even broken a hip. Out of the corner of her eye she could see some guy snapping pictures, presumably of the pianist, and it would be just her luck he would’ve caught her too, and her imagination was already spinning out a whole tale in which she was identified and arrested for battery and the old man sued her for millions and she died poverty-stricken and alone and-“

“I’m fine,” said the old man, who had decidedly not been knocked sprawling. “I went through the war. Takes a lot more than that to knock me down. Name’s Alvin.”

“I’m Sherry,” she said. “I’m so sorry, it’s just, I was distracted, really bad day, I threw up all over my boyfriend Ryan’s khakis this morning.

“That’s rough,” Alvin said. “Same thing happened to me, sort of. I was out at dinner with a nice girl. Again, back during the war. Harriet, I think. Real fancy French restaurant. Thought I’d be fancy and try something new. Turns out I was allergic. Puked all over her nice dress. Kinda took the fun out of the date.”

“Yeah,” Sherry said ruefully. “I can see that.”

They fell silent, listening to the concert pianist playing happily and obliviously away. He had been in the minors for a while; now he seemed to have shifted into something more upbeat.

“So…” Sherry said at last. “Did it work out for you?”

“Eventually,” Alvin said. “Married her a year later. We’ve been together since.”

“You think I should try again?”

“I would. If he’s worth it, he’ll understand.”

Sherry looked down at her phone, and the texts she hadn’t checked yet. She smiled. “I think maybe he does. It looks like he wants another date.”

“Good luck,” Alvin said. “Maybe skip breakfast, though?”

“Maybe we should. There’s always this guy.” Sherry gestured to the pianist. “Maybe he takes reservations?”


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  1. I was hoping some folks would choose to write from the perspective of the peripheral people in the photo. I liked how you brought the two characters together. I did wonder how soon after the waffle incident she encountered him and what she was doing in the park. Like, how did she extricate herself from the embarrassment of Ryan?

  2. Hello! I liked how Sherry and Alvin commiserated, giving Sherry the confidence to think of facing Ryan again! I’m not totally sure I got a sense of shame as much as panic or embarrassment (if she was truly ashamed, would she confess what happened out loud? I always think of shame as something you don’t share with anyone), but that may be just me! I wonder if being “in” the shameful moment would bring the emotion closer? As she runs away, I see her reacting with other emotions to what’s around her (the pianist, Alvin). Still, I really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I liked the story and the humour in it. The interaction between Sherry and Alvin was done well and it’s nice to the change in her following this. That said, the emotion I felt for her was more about embarrassment than shame – it felt like that’s what came through the piece. It would be mortifying to throw up on a date with someone new and definitely cringeworthy

    • Jen Mierisch permalink

      Neat story and characters. Poor Sherry is never gonna live that down!

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