“And would you like that in addition to anything else?” our waitress questioned as she jotted down the last of our order.
“No,” we three replied simultaneously.
Bustling with Brooklynites, The Salad Bar was an open house for vegetarians. Being a bar first and a quality based service second, there were very few tables which, at the moment, were occupied by “jackasses”, as Tony put it, available to us. And so, we sat atop the uncomfortable, faux-leather bar stools awaiting our food.
Jemma stared at me for a long while; I pretended not to notice.
“You’re fidgeting.” She pointed out.
“No, I just need…something.” I said.
“Like what? A cigarette?”
Without a care in the world, I answered, figuring she’d take it as a joke, of course, “Yes. Exactly that. Got any?”
“Why, Hanson! How could you even imply such a petty—here you go.” Jemma stuck her hand out offering me two cigarettes.
My eyes widened, “But you don’t smoke!”
“I don’t, but I know you do.”
“For how long?”
“Ever since you started.” Jemma laughed; a bright chuckle.
“Well, I never—“shockingly, I accepted and lit one up.
After we scarfed down our garden salads, (made up of tossed greens and hearty Caesar dressings), we stepped out of the bar. The wind had taken up speed.
“Jem, it’s like I don’t know you anymore!” I said, pausing mid-track, carrying the remark in a hushed tone so as not to draw attention.
“Tony, give me us a second over here.” Jemma called out.
“Sure thing.” Belched Tony.
Jemma ushered me to the side. She smiled once again at me and my heart lifted. Was this something new I’d been feeling? Was this, dare I say, love? Ugh. Love, to this ignorant turned spunky woman, love toward this unattractive turned lovely beauty? I thought awhile, grinning like an ass.
Suddenly, she slapped the side of my face hard. The sort of way a woman does when she knows you’re not who you said you were. It was like reality and karma had it in for me and made me aware with a literal slap to the face, (plus three rings.) I felt it too easy to outburst a cry and demand an explanation as to why she ‘just did that’. But I didn’t. I turned around and accepted it all. I accepted the fact that I had suffered for weeks when I simply could’ve said ‘no!’ I accepted the money which was non-existent, the very bills I’d never get a chance to roll naked in. And finally, I accepted the very beauty that stood in front of me clutching her hand in utter pain.
“Hanson, why’d you accept the bet?”
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine! The bet, the one you made with my old college roommate, to get twenty grand or so, as soon as you’d marry me. That bet!”
“Okay, okay fine. I don’t know! I don’t know why I did it. I figured it was simple and humorous and—how the hell do you know, anyway?”
“Tony told me of it after our third date.”
“That’s ludicrous.” I stated.
“What’s ludicrous is the thought that you actually believed this idiot,” she pointed to Tony who’d inched his way toward us, eavesdropping, “would reward someone for marrying a random person he picked out of an old alumni pamphlet while high on paint thinner! I mean, if he’d have chosen a guy, would you have done it then too? Well?!”
“Why are you so innocent in all this? Why’d you go through with it? If you really knew what game he was playing, why’d you comply?!” What does Jemma reply? Please return to the top of the page to vote on what happens next!
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