I had no idea the house would seem so empty, after Charlie left for college. I had spent the first week cleaning, then the second week reading all the magazines I had laying around the house. It was during the third week that I came to realize that my seventeen year old son was not just my best friend, he was my only friend.
He had been gone less than a month, and I was just as lost as I had been after Edward was killed. For the last four years I had grieved for Edward. As I worked my way back to reality, Charlie had been there for me. During that period of my life Charlie was only the reason I got out of bed in the mornings.
My social life revolved around him. His activities consumed me. We even had a standing Friday night date. Dinner and a movie at a place one of us chose. We rotated who got to pick. In some ways we were like a married couple, but without the sex of course. Charlie worried about me all the time. Probably more than any other child of a single mother.
At first I was too emotional to even think about dating. After a while I just didn't feel the need to date. Charlie dated of course, but I never did. During his third week at college I realized that not dating had been a mistake. Suddenly I was alone and didn't really know how to change things for the better.
Since I had a basket filled with women's magazines, I spent almost a whole day reading articles about how divorced women could start again. I was still thin and reasonably attractive so their suggestion seemed reasonable. Put on something revealing and go out to a place where single men were to be found. The alternative was to look to friends to suggest friends of friends.
The problem was I had no idea what to do once I was in a strange place. I was in college the last time I went to a club alone. Even so I got the name of a fancy motel lounge from a single mom I had known for years, The night I finally worked up the courage to try the place, I took a very long shower. After the shower I spent anther half hour getting dressed,
The half hour was spent dressing and then changing my mind. One top seemed to show too much skin while another made me look like an old lady. I wore that top often, but I had never realized how old it made me look. I was almost crazy by the time I settled on the little black dress with just a little cleavage showing. Since I didn't have a lot to show, it seemed like a good compromise.
The motel was one of the fancier ones in the downtown area. I had heard of their restaurant but had no idea there even was a lounge. When I went inside I realized why. The restaurant would seat probably a two hundred people in lavish style. The lounge was a different thing altogether, The bar area was very small in comparison. It had only eight barstools. There were ten table with chairs for four people each. The motel had designed the lounge for travelers to have a drink before bedtime. The hotel had obviously planned so that it was not the kind of a place where guests would want to spend a large amount of time. That said, my friend advised me that the now you were now."
few men who came in would be much safer than those in a dance club. She said it was a much more mature and upscale customer base.
I took a seat at the bar, since I was alone. There were two tables with a couple of men at each. Except for one man at the far end of the small bar, I was alone with the bartender. "What can I get you Ma'am?"
"I'm not much of a drinker, what would you suggest?"
"Do you like fruit drinks?"
"Yes, : I replied. "But I think white wine would be better, since I have to drive." I seldom drank anything, but I had drank white wine once in a while at college.
"Here you go, compliments of the gentleman at the end of the bar." The bartender said it flatly. Since there was no emotion in his voice, I thought he might not approve. Still I was out to meet new people. I looked up and made eye contact with the man. I lifted the glass to him. I thought it was the polite thing to do.
I didn't realize that the gesture would be taken as an invitation for him to join me, but he must have thought so. "Hi there I'm Terry," he informed me
"Hi. my name is Lois," I replied.
"So Lois are you married?"
"No I am a widow."
"Oh I'm sorry. Was it recent?"
"Four years ago," I informed him.
"So you haven't remarried?"
"No, it is just me and my son Charlie."
"Oh how old is Charlie?"
"Seventeen for two more weeks."
"Does he live at home?"
"No he is a freshman at State."
"Ah, so do you live in Morton or are you visiting?"
"Oh I'm a local."
"Do you date much Lois?"
"No I seldom date." I had decided that I would not tell anyone that I had not dated since Edward was killed.
"When was the last time you had sex?"
"I'm not sure that is a question I wish to answer."
"I think that is too personal a question for a stranger to ask."
"It's a pretty common question to ask a lady alone in a bar. Usually a woman in a bar is either a hooker or horny." he informed me.
"Well in that case, I should leave." I put the wine glass down, even though I had barely touched it.
"Don't go I'm sorry," he said while I put my lightweight sweater on.
"No, you are right, I am in the wrong place. Goodnight."
"Bitch," he said just loud enough for me and the bartender to hear.
"Quite possibly," I replied simply and walked to the door. I glanced back to make sure he wasn't following before I headed out to my car. I drove home planning what I would say to my friend. The one who suggested I go there.
I had a hard time getting to sleep that night. I don't know what I had expected, but I didn't expect the men to be so direct for sure. I knew that things had changed, since I had last dated, Heck, I hadn't been on a date in almost twenty years. I hoped that the man in the motel lounge had been a aberration. He seemed so casual about it, that I expected that he was the norm.
Saturday morning I drove to the mall without breakfast. I thought I would eat along the way. I stopped at the newest of the three McDonald restaurants. I hadn't planned on breakfast being a big deal. I was a little surprised when I found Charlie's best friend from high school seated by the window. I struggled with whether I should say hello or not. He was after all Charlie's friend not mine. That realization led me to walk past him to a table nearer to the exit. It had been my plan all long to eat quickly and then get on to my shopping.
"Mrs. Andrews," Michael said, I looked up into the boy's smiling face. "How is Charlie liking The University? You do remember me?"
"Of course I remember you Michael. Charlie is having the time of his life I'm sure." I smiled then asked. "So what are you up to these days."
"I'm enrolled in the EMS classes at the community college."
"Really, why in the world did you decide to take that course?" I asked it because I had been a paramedic since I met Edward. Even after I had Charlie, I continued to work. It was hard but we didn't have a lot of money. I needed to work and it was the only thing I knew."
"Actually, you are the reason. I always loved when Charlie retold your stories. It sounded like a good job and one that would give me a sense of fulfillment."
"Michael, you sound like a very mature young man." He blushed but I meant what I said. He did sound like someone who had given his life some thought. "So, how do you like the course?" I was sure that it had changed a great deal since I took the course at the same community college twenty years before.
"It's great fun. I mean we don't deal with injured people yet, but I'm having fun with the academic parts. Lots of report writing and academic stuff, but I manage."
"Good for you. I bet the school has changed a lot since I attended."
"I bet it has." I realized that sometime during the conversation Michael had seated himself across from me. "So are you dating anyone?"
"No, I don't date."
"I knew you didn't while Charlie lived at home, but I thought maybe now you were."
"No, I haven't found anyone I like enough to go out with on a date."
"Then you don't have any plans for tonight?"
I was curious but also a whole lot concerned where the question might lead. "I plan to watch TV and pass out candy to any stray kids who wander in. You do know it's Halloween?" I replied.
"Yes I do know that. It is also the reason I asked. You see they are showing movies all night at the college theater tonight. It starts at midnight and runs continually until 8AM."
"I see well it sounds like fun." I really didn't know where Michael was headed with the remark.
"I was wondering, since I don't have a date and you don't either, if you would like to go with me. Not a date or anything, just to get us both out of the house."
"I don't think so," I replied.
"I could pick you up after the kids have all gone home. It is a midnight show. We could maybe go out to dinner first."
"Michael it wouldn't look right for us to be out that late together."
"It's the theater of a community college, who do you think is likely to see us? It's just a movie." he reiterated.
"Tell you what I'll think about it."
"Fair enough, remember it's not a date, it's just a movie with a friend. We don't have to go to dinner," he added as an after thought.
"Well dinner is definitely out, the movie I will think about."
.... There is more of this story ...