A Mysterious Invitation

My Response to a Critique Circle Writing Prompt

When reading this, please keep in mind, this is the first piece of fiction I’ve written in over 20 years, so any constructive criticism you can give me on how to improve it is appreciated!

I can’t help but wonder who sent me this invitation to dinner. Is it an old boyfriend? A secret admirer? Maybe it’s my next door neighbor — I’ve noticed him checking me out lately when I’m on my back patio. I hope it’s not someone who wants to rape me…

My thoughts whirled as I held the invitation in my hand. Well, I had already accepted, so I may as well go through with it. It was 3:00 now, and the invite said to meet him at 8:00 at Gianni’s Trattoria. That meant I had five hours to get ready for this mystery date.

I checked myself out in the mirror. Yeah, I definitely needed a haircut and maybe a leg wax too. I called my regular stylist to see if she was available to give me a haircut. She said she could squeeze me in at 5:00. Ok good, that gave me time to go get my legs waxed at the European Wax Center. I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time and I wanted to look HOT for this mystery date, in case he ended up being really good looking.

As I walked into the European Wax Center, I was relieved to see Kelly, my regular leg wax person, was available.

“Hi Erica, what can I do for you today?”

“I need a leg wax, pronto. I have a mystery date tonight.”

“A mystery date huh? Yeah, we’d better make you look hot then.”

I went over to her chair and she looked at my legs. “Yeah, we definitely need to do some work here.” As she got the hot wax ready, I held onto the stress ball on my keychain because I knew this was going to hurt.

“Ow, Kelly could you put a little less muscle into those rips please?” I said as she tore the wax strips off my legs.

“Sorry girl, you’ve got a lot of hair here.”

“Yeah I know, it’s been forever since I had a professional waxing done.”

“It looks like it’s been forever since you did anything to your legs.”

I laughed. “Yeah, I guess I have let my looks go a bit since my last boyfriend dumped me.”

Despite all the pain, she finished waxing my legs in about half an hour. That still gave me about an hour to kill before I had to be at my hair appointment. I decided to go look for a dress at Kohl’s. I would have rather gone to my favorite dress shop, but they weren’t open on the weekends, and I wanted to wear a new dress in case this mystery date was someone from my work. As I looked through the racks, I saw several different dresses I liked, but I wasn’t sure just how nice I wanted to dress up for this mystery date. I mean I wanted a boyfriend more than anything, but I didn’t want to look too seductive on the first date. After looking through about a dozen dresses, I saw it — a blue v-neck short sleeve dress that didn’t look too seductive but also didn’t make me look like I was all business. I took it into the dressing room and tried it on. It fit perfectly, and it was on sale! I paid the cashier and raced to my hair appointment.

Nicole did a great job on my hair, as usual — she made it look just like I wanted it, and even put a little temporary color in it so I would look extra stunning for my date. It was now 6:00, and I still had to go home and get dressed.

When I got home, I rummaged through my lingerie drawer to see if I had any pantyhose to go with the dress. Darn, I didn’t have any. Because it was getting dangerously close to 7:00 now and I still had to shower and get dressed, I raced up to Walgreens to get myself some pantyhose to go with the dress. On the way, I saw a cop behind me. Damn, was I speeding? I looked at my speedometer — I wasn’t quite speeding, but I decided to slow down just a tad. The last thing I needed at this point was a speeding ticket. I got to Walgreens and found some pantyhose to go with the dress, paid the cashier, and raced back home in record time.

Crunch time was on. I had to shower, get dressed and get to the restaurant by 8:00. As I put on my pantyhose and underwear, I noticed a run starting in the pantyhose. Damn, already? Luckily I had some clear nail polish, so I dabbed that on there and stopped the run. There, problem solved. I continued dressing — I stepped into the dress and put my shoes on. Damn, I looked hot. I hoped my date looked just as hot.

I looked at the clock — 7:45. I had JUST enough time to get tot he restaurant, assuming there were no accidents or other traffic back-ups. As I got into my car, I noticed my hands were trembling. As I drove to the restaurant, I started taking deep breaths to calm myself down. “Relax Erica, this is just a first date,” I told myself.

As I walked into Gianni’s, a waiter approached me. “Welcome to Gianni’s, will you be dining alone this evening?”

“No sir, I’m expecting someone.”

“I see, would you like to sit at the bar while you wait for them?”

“Yes, that would be great.”

I sat at the bar and slowly sipped a water while I surveyed the people coming in to see who my mystery date could be. An old couple came in…no that definitely wasn’t it. Then suddenly I saw him — a hot-looking blond guy wearing a dark blue sport coat and pants. Oh my god it was Ken, the tech guy from the office! I had no idea he even knew who I was. I saw the maitre d’ pointing to the bar. Ken walked up and spoke to me. “Erica?”

“Uh, hi Ken,” I barely croaked out.

“Shall we get a table?” he asked.

“Uh yeah, that would be great.”

I was stunned. I had only seen this guy around the office a few times, and I had no idea he liked me or even knew who I was.

As we sat down, I was relieved the maitre d’ put us at a table and not a booth. I didn’t feel like I was ready for that kind of intimacy.

“You know, I’ve noticed you around the office quite a bit. I like your way with people — you make them feel comfortable on the phone and you get those interviews done no matter what.”

“Yeah well, it’s a living I guess, but I’m trying to get out of it.”

“Really? Why?” he asked.

“Well I’ve been there seven years, there’s very little room for advancement and it’s obvious management doesn’t plan to give us a raise any time soon.” I’ve been in customer service forever, I should be making more than this.”

Ken laughed and smiled. “Yeah, I know what you mean, I’ve been doing technical support forever, and I feel like I’m wasting my talent there too.”

“Are you looking for other jobs?”

“Yes of course, but it’s so hard to find a technical support job that pays decent, or that doesn’t require you to be available round the clock. I want to have a life, I want to be able to go out with beautiful women like you, not to have to be tied to my job all the time.”

I laughed. “I hear you, I hate the inflexibility most jobs have too. That’s probably why I’ve stayed there so long. The pay may be crap but at least the schedule stays the same from one week to the next.”

A waiter approached us. “May I take your order?”

Ken talked to the waiter “Can we have a few more minutes? We haven’t had a chance to look at the menu.”

“Of course sir,” the waiter obliged and left us alone.

“I guess we should decide what we want to order. What do you want?”

“I dont know, this is the first time I’ve been here. What’s good?”

“If you like chicken, the chicken parmesan is great.”

I opened the menu and read the description for the chicken parmesan. “Oh that does sound good. I think I’ll try that.”

“Great,” he said. He motioned to the waiter again.

The waiter approached us “Are you ready to order?”

“Yes sir,” Ken said, “We’ll have two chicken parmesans.”

“What kind of dressing would you like on your salad?”

“Ranch for me,” I said.

“And I’d like the balsamic vinaigrette dressing,” Ken said.

I’m not sure how much time passed from the time we ordered our meals, to the time we got them and the time we left. All I knew was I was only on the first date and madly falling in love with this man. He was so much like me — we had the same aspirations, we both hated where we worked, we both enjoyed the same pastimes — movies, sports, and reading. We even liked some of the same authors.

At the end of the dinner, I looked at my watch “My goodness, it’s almost 10:00. I need to get home.”

“Yeah, so do I,” Ken said.

“I had a great time,” I said.

“So did I, I’d love to do this again,” Ken said.

“Me too.”

“Great, I’ll see you at the office and maybe we can talk about it?”

“Sounds great.”

As I drove home that night, I had an ear to ear grin. I felt like I’d met the love of my life. I couldn’t wait to go out with this man again.

I started writing in elementary school and never stopped. I enjoy sharing stories about my hard-learned life lessons and writing advice.

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