Romance movies—a poor imitation of reality. Yet, when I recalled that day—the evening I had long planned and hoped for—I found myself in an almost cliche plotline.
“I don’t feel so good,” I said.
We were barely halfway through the latest action adventure when my heart began pounding. No, it wasn’t from the thrill of the film and neither was it from being on a date—if, I was even allowed to call it that. The sudden eruption in my chest was something else, sending me into a panic. And, as much as I wished for my dear heart to calm down, I knew something was wrong—I had no choice but to call an end to our short time together.
“Can you… can you send me to the hospital?” I asked, embarrassed at the request.
At once, apprehension and concern swept across her previously entertained mien. “Why? What’s wrong?” she replied. Oh, how awkward it was from that point on.
Who would’ve thought that our first time alone would be in an emergency ward, wondering if I was having a heart attack? Who would’ve thought that it would end in such an ill-fated manner—a disappointment from the hope of a pleasant and delightful evening? Who would’ve thought that it would be cruelly memorable, like a tragic romance meant to make one weep? Who would’ve thought that it would make the perfect premise of a depressing love story?
Alas, I was unlucky, bearing a fair share of dating mishaps. From a punctured tire, spilled coffee, and a broken nose in a single date to missing keys and an unexpected thunderstorm, my love life had either been a comedy or a tragedy. Why was it difficult to catch a break—a chance to have things go my way? Little did I know, it was all in my head—fiction that was once reality.
“What did the doctor say?” she asked.
It was the day after and I wasn’t sure how to feel about her call. She seemed to care. But perhaps, it was simply a natural, human thing to do. I would do the same, too, with a friend. Was I someone special to her—had my fate changed?
“I have to go back for a full check-up,” I replied.
“I see. Make sure to listen to the nurses,” she said.
“Okay?” I chuckled. It was an odd statement but I brushed it off. After all, she had called me first—she started the conversation, even if it was out of concern.
“I’ll come see you tomorrow, all right?” she added.
“Huh?” I replied. Were we set for a second date—was there a lapse in my memory? Just like that evening, in the dimmed theater hall, something felt off. Alas, I couldn’t pinpoint the problem—it certainly wasn’t my heart.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she repeated. And before I could reply, she ended the call.
I couldn’t grasp her words at that moment. It seemed strange and out of place. It didn’t belong in my world. Until it became clear, the following morning, when she knocked on my room door. I hadn’t forgotten her promise to see me but it was then that I had to face my reality.
“Hi dad,” she said, welcoming herself in. She placed a bag of lunch boxes on the table, before asking, “What time will the doctor see you?”
“Dad?” I asked with a frown. Wasn’t she the girl in the cinema—the beautiful Anna, with short curls and big brown eyes? At my confusion, sympathy glazed her gentle face.
“Are you hungry?” she asked. “I packed your favourite—peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
“Who are you?” I asked. The more I looked at her, the less like Anna she was. “Where’s Anna? Anna drove me to the hospital yesterday.”
“She did,” she replied. “I’m Jess.”
“Where’s Anna, Jess? I have to speak to her after our terrible date,” I said.
I had to apologise for the trouble I caused—it was ungentlemanly to make her wait while I changed the flat tire, and more so humiliating to have her drive me to the ER again with a broken nose. One mishap after another, it was as if we weren’t meant to be.
“Mom-I mean, Anna is busy,” Jess replied. “But she’ll visit soon.”
“Soon? That’s great!” I beamed.
Not all hope was lost. Perhaps, we could go on a second date. Perhaps, I could win her over. Perhaps, we had a future. There was much that we needed to do, and much I was excited for—much like a love story with a happy ending I had long been waiting for.
Cinema, heart, and hospital were words given by Nick Ko on Facebook.
Initially, I wanted this story to be fully romance but I soon realised I’m not very good at romance. Thus my ‘poor imitation’ of what should have been a proper love story.
Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. Let’s be honest, you probably can do a better job than I with these words. So why not give it a go!
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)