This was a story I wrote a year or so ago from the prompt ‘Love is Blind.’
I don’t know why Paula was so nervous. She was a beautiful girl who loved meeting new people, and had such a radiant personality everyone was immediately drawn to her. As her best friend I had spent the past hour helping her go through her wardrobe, trying to select the perfect outfit for her blind date later that evening.
‘If you don’t make your mind up soon, you’ll be so late he will have stood you up anyway,’ I said, trying to chivvy her along.
‘I know, but this is so important.’ “You only get the first chance to make a last impression,” or whatever it is they say. What do you think Sandy?’
I couldn’t help laughing when I noticed her Labrador was cocking his head to one side, and seemed to be studying her intently before giving his opinion. ‘Woof,’ he barked.
‘There you are then,’ I joked, ‘two against one. That dress is perfect; the blue matches your eyes, now get a move on.’
An hour later she was ready, and putting Sandy into the back seat I drove her to the restaurant. We had agreed that I would pick her up about eleven, and I would phone her at 9.30, so if the meeting was a total disaster she could make an excuse to escape.
I was on tenterhooks wondering how it was going until my mobile rang just after nine, breaking me out of my reverie. ‘Hi. It’s me. Don’t bother to phone me, he’s great. We’ve found so much to talk about, the food is perfect and we’ve got the same sense of humour. I’ve just dived into the ladies to ring you. See you at eleven. Got to get back or he’ll wonder where I’ve got to. Thanks for everything. Bye.’
With that she was gone, and I was left holding the dead phone in my hand without having been able to get a word in edgeways. At least she sounded happy, so I had no worries on that score.
On the drive home she didn’t talk much, which was unusual for my normally garrulous bestie. She just sat there with a soppy look on her face and I let her be, assuming she was exhausted from the excitement of the day.
Over the following few weeks I began to feel slightly hurt, and upset that we were drifting apart. She didn’t phone me so much, except to confirm details where I had previously agreed to give her a lift to her appointments. Even then most of her conversation revolved around ‘him,’ and I started to feel more like a chauffeur than a friend.
Months passed, and instead of our almost daily phone calls and weekly meetings, most of our communication relied on Facebook and e-mail messages. I had still never met her boyfriend, although I had seen happy, smiling photos on social media of them at the beach, in the garden or meeting with friends. I felt rejected.
One day I gave myself a good talking-to. Was I jealous? No, I don’t think so. Was I happy for her? Yes, she deserved a good man after all she had been through. We had been friends since junior school, and it was only when she was in her twenties that the disaster struck and changed her life. I had been there for her then, and I would continue to be there for her now, ten years later, even if it was in the background.
They say you can go months without speaking to a special friend, but then you carry on as if it was yesterday. Even though I hadn’t heard from her for weeks, when I got the message that her operation was confirmed for the following month, I immediately replied ‘Do you want a lift?’
Her answer, ‘I know I’ve been neglecting you, but I really want you to be there’ was enough.
We sorted out the arrangements, and although it felt odd to do it by texts and e-mails rather than speaking directly, I was happy she wanted me with her.
I put the date in my diary and arranged to take the time off work. Logging onto my laptop the night before the big day, I was surprised to receive a message from ‘him.’ He apologised for intruding, but knowing we both cared for Paula hoped we could provide mutual support while we were waiting for her results.
The next day I picked her up to drive her to the hospital, and it was like the intervening months had never existed. We carried on our conversation as if it was only a few hours since we had last spoken. I felt we were the same close friends, sharing the same secrets we had in our teens.
Just before she was wheeled off to the operating room I hugged her and joked ‘I’ll see you soon, and you will see me.’
It was a long, emotional night waiting for the results, but sharing the trepidation with him and realising he really loved her, made the time pass more quickly. Eventually the night staff kicked us out and told us to come back the following morning.
Even though I was there early, I saw him enter the private room just before I did.
Despite still being woozy from the anesthetic Paula smiled at us. ‘Moment of truth’ she said as the medical staff slowly unwound the bandages from her eyes.
‘At last I can see you both,’ she whispered with a break in her voice. ‘Not only have I got my sight back, but the first people I see are my blind date and my best friend, the two people I love the most. Who says Love is blind?’
© Voinks August 2015