The moment the food arrived to the table, Anne started eating. She was please that Ryan had finally called her and asked her out for dinner but the truth was that she had been at home wondering about how she would survive the next couple of days, without any food on the cupboards or on the refrigerator. Then, she felt as if God himself had called her when Ryan timid voice came out of her cellphone, asking if she would be willing to go out with him for dinner and some drinks afterwards.
Right after accepting, she realized she had probably made a mistake. After all, it wasn’t the first time that Ryan had come up to her and asked for a date. He was always looking at her in the office and would be kind of creepy about it, always nearby, pretending he wasn’t really looking but obviously doing it. For a moment, Anne had thought of even calling the police in order to ask for advice on how to handle a stalker. But she had other things to do and she eventually learned to live with it.
He had actually stopped being so creepy until that night in which she had accepted his invitation. While dressing up, she tried to come up with ideas of what to say when he asked why she had finally accepted. Maybe Anne could tell him that she had always been very appreciative of his intentions and his presents, such as candy that he had always left on her desk. He never said it was him but it was obvious. She had a full jar, filled to the top with candy the candy that he had left her over the last year.
As she put on her high heels, she realized it might be the best idea to tell him the truth. Maybe, as a person of the same age, Ryan would be able to understand how difficult of a time Anne was having with money. She was barely able to pay the rent and all of her taxes, so food money was always scarce and this was the first month she found herself trying to save every single piece of food for a later date. But now she had nothing at all. Maybe he would understand that.
She grabbed her purse, her coat and walked to the main door. She looked back and realized she did feel guilty to take advantage of the poor man. It wasn’t fair for her to just take on his proposal when she could use it and then drop him like a bag of potatoes. It wasn’t fair. As she entered the elevator, she decided to tell him the truth and just try to enjoy the night. Maybe he would understand and they could become friends. After all, they worked together and sometimes people find out they have more in common that what makes them different, so they could really be friends, for real.
Anne arrived at the restaurant just in time. She asked for Ryan and one of the waiters took her to their table. It wasn’t the fanciest restaurant in the world but it was much more than Anne would ever be able to afford with her salary. The people there looked entertained, some of them were clearly faking it but others did seem really happy. Other people were there for business meetings, some even with their families and, a couple or more, were there cheating on their wives or husbands. It was obvious.
They finally reached the table, were Ryan had been waiting for under ten minutes. He helped Anne sitting down and they discussed what everyone discusses for the first five to ten minutes: the weather and what had happened that day. It was trivial talk and clearly none of neither of their interests, but it was always kind of expected to talk about how cold or hot the days are and criticize the taxi services in town or maybe blame some politician or group of people for traffic jams that have always been there.
Passed that time, they ordered the food and then a very heavy silence fell between the two. It was difficult to really start a conversation with someone you already know but do not really know anything about. So Anne opened her mouth to talk first, ready to tell him the truth about why she was there but Ryan was the one to talk first. He looked really nice that night and it was the first time Anne really looked at him, paid attention to his face and his words and not the character she had made up in her mind of him.
He said he was very glad she had accepted the invitation and talked a little bit about the restaurant and how him and his parents loved to go there together, whenever they were in town. He told Anne about how he had grown up very far from the big city, in a farm were everything was simpler and, somehow, better. He always had trouble communicating with people but he was happy that he was making some advances on that field. Again, Anne tried to talk but Ryan, with a hand, asked not to be stopped.
He continued his monologue, saying he had met the most amazing woman ever. He was in love, deeply in love and he wanted to ask her hand in marriage. However, he didn’t feel he knew everything he needed to know about her and that’s why he had asked Anne for dinner. For a moment, Anne had no words. She had no idea of what was happening. What was Ryan thinking, just coming out of the blue with such a statement? Who did he think she was, an easy girl that would marry any man just because she’s single? She was about to stand up and leave when he spoke again.
Ryan was in love with Erica, from accounting. They had hit it off right away once he had been transferred there and he knew very well how good friends Erica was with Anne. So that’s why he had thought about her in order to discuss his next move. He wanted someone who knew her to tell him more about what she liked and didn’t like and to know if they thought it was a good idea to propose so soon. They had gone our countless times but maybe that wasn’t enough.
Anne was speechless. She had really thought it was all about her. She was really prepared to yell at him and make a huge scene in order for everyone in the restaurant to know what a pig and crazy he was. But that wasn’t going to happen anymore because the man she had profiled a while ago as a creep, was not even interested in her. He was interested in Anne best mate at work. She wouldn’t even call her a friend, just a person that she liked to hang out with during lunches and such.
So after the food came, which she practically devoured, Anne explained all of that to Ryan. She had to be very clear about her not really being friends with Erica. She didn’t even know much about her past or who her parents were or even what she liked to do as a person. But Ryan didn’t really mind about that. He needed a woman to tell him if what he was thinking of doing made sense, if it was the right move. He clarified he didn’t care about their relationship, he only needed urgent advice.
Ryan suddenly got very grim and seemed to be on the verge of crying. Anne felt very sorry for him and started to talk about what most women like and don’t like and some clues he should be attentive for if he really wanted to pop the question. They talked for several hours, having drinks after the food and even laughing at some of the points they were trying to make. Anne realized it was good that she had come, not only because she was helping Ryan but also because she was making a friend.
She eventually explained her reason for coming and Ryan just smiled, telling her it was not a surprise that a young person would have struggles with money. No one seems to have enough to survive anymore, or so he said. He was understanding and even charming about it.
When the moment came for them to day goodbye, Anne decided to ask Ryan about the candy on her desk. She asked him bluntly if it had been him. But Ryan was confused by the question and then they went their separate ways. So Anne had a new friend but she also had a mystery to solve.