C H A P T E R • OO4
C H A P T E R • OO4
Where some people might visit a restaurant, or the cinema on their first date, Jules insisted we do something that requires at least a bit more stamina. She fiercely believed that some things were so overdone and cliché, you wouldn’t know the difference between being in love with someone, and being in love with the idea of what romance should be if it was staring you in the face. She had suggested we go climbing at Battersea Park. The weather was still nice enough to be outside, so she chose something out-doors. Standing on a shaky log at 20-feet high, made my heartbeat almost as fast as seeing her for the first time did. I should have mentioned to her, maybe, that I had never been a fan of heights. But how could I have denied her anything? For me there had been no other option than telling her I loved climbing, even if I had avoided doing it all my life. She laughed a little, as I tried to make my way towards the platform she was already standing on.
“Come on, just like I showed you!” she tried to cheer me on.
“I hate heights,” I mumbled. When she gave me a puzzled look, I just shook my head. I was relieved she hadn’t heard me. I took some deep breaths, before moving my feet to the next log. And the next one. And the next one. Until I could finally reach Jules’s hand and stumbled onto the platform onto Jules. She didn’t let go of my hand, neither did she take a step back.
“I knew you could do it,” she said.
A proud feeling crept from my where she touched my hand through my arm, into my entire body. Her smile made feel like I was standing just a bit to close to the sun. “Yeah, I did it.”
“You have never done this before, have you?” she asked.
I shook my head and looked down at my feet, as if she had just guessed my deepest darkest secret. “No, I haven’t.”
She shrugged. “Well maybe we can make that a thing. Every date one of us gets to do something they haven’t done before.” I couldn’t help but smile. She seemed not the slightest bit agitated that I had lied about having climbed before. Maybe it had just been funny to her, watching me as I stumbled my way through the easiest obstacles. Maybe she had already known from the start I hadn’t done this before from the way I put on my gear. Maybe it really had been that obvious. She smiled back at me, and just when I thought she was going to kiss me, she turned around and started climbing down the last obstacle.
Almost done, I kept telling myself. In my head I had been counting down the obstacles left, but to her I said nothing, except for how I thought this had been a great idea. The way Jules moved left no room for discussion, she had done this before and not just a few times. I wondered if this has become a date suggestion because she had often done this, or if she had often done this because it had once become a date suggestion. I didn’t dare to ask. She had said ‘a friend’ from college had first taken her climbing here.
“Come on, Sammy, just one obstacle left!” she said, as she herself was back were we had started.
When both of my feet were safely on the ground once again, and we had gotten out of our gear, I did one last attempt to get her to go out for dinner with me.
“Well, honestly, this all made me very hungry,” I said carefully. “I could really use some food. You?”
“I know what you’re trying to do,” she said. “But I am hungry, so it works.” Content with myself, I watched her as she got into the passenger seat of my car. When she could no longer see my face, I smiled like a fool, saying a little praying to all the gods that might or might not have been up there before I got into my car.