This is based on a true story. Names, places and dates have been changed to protect the innocent, and in the case of one guy, the very stupid. Some scenes have been dramatized for that extra oomph.
The sun was setting in the distant horizon. A young couple could be seen walking hand-in-hand down the path leading from the row of shops and restaurants towards the University-owned accomodation halls. The dinner was great, and Steve was in a good mood – he had not screwed up in anyway so far, and if all went well, he was hoping to get lucky later tonight. Mina was humming a little tune she had heard on the radio earlier that day, and everytime she reached the chorus, she’d give Steve’s hand a little squeeze. It was a picture-perfect evening, and Steve felt it could only get better.
“Mina? MINA!! Holy cow! It IS you! Hi! It’s me! Wow, I haven’t seen you in ages! How are you? You look great! Wow, this is unbelievable!”
Steve almost stumbled and fell when the strange guy suddenly stepped across their path, and it took him some time to get his composure back as the mysterious, tall stranger continued to prattle on.
“You do remember me, don’t you? We were in school together, the Co-Operative Soc, you and I were – ”
Mina quickly interrupted him: “Yes. Yes. I remember. School. How are you, Matt?”
“I’m great! What are you doing here? Oh, wait, what am I saying? Of course you’re going to the University, what else would you be doing here?”
“Yes. You too?”
“Yup! I’m taking Finance! Had a hell of a time trying to get accepted here, but perseverance finally paid off!”
“Really? You don’t say?”
“AHEM.” Steve cleared his throat a second time, hoping to make his presence felt somehow. Mina picked up on the signal instantly.
“Oh, Matt. This is Steve.” She paused for a second or two. “My boyfriend.”
Steve couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment. Mina had always introduced him to her friends as “my boyfriend, Steve!” For some reason, he felt Mina didn’t want Matt to know that.
“Well, well, well, Stevo! You lucky devil! You got yourself a great girl there! Bet you already know that, don’t ya?”
“It’s Steve. How do you do?”
“Yeah, anyway, listen, amazing coincidence me walking into you two. I’m having a party at my digs later tonight. I’m staying off-campus, at a house I’m sharing with a couple of course mates. Why don’t you join us? BBQ, beer, we even have a dude who makes a mean stir-fried chicken! Sounds great, right? Come on, you’ll love it!”
Steve looked at Mina. He could read her body language well enough by now, and at the moment every fibre in her being was screaming NO! It was a good thing too, given all the plans Steve had already made for the evening.
“Hmm, sorry Matt, we’ll have to pass. Mina and I sort of already have plans..”
“Really? Like what?”
Steve was momentarily thrown for a loop. This Matt guy seemed a bit thick – couldn’t he understand a hint when he saw one?
“Errr. Well, we were, err, going to, uhm, going to….”
“We’ll come to your party, Matt.”
Steve made a double-take at Mina, unable to believe his ears at what she just said. He was so sure – no, he was certain – that Mina did not want, under any circumstance, to go the party.
“OK, great! Here’s the address!” Matt slid a piece of paper into Steve’s shirt pocket. “I’ll see you guys later, around nine-ish? Great, see ya!!”
He shook Steve’s hand vigorously, and before anyone could do anything, he quickly leaned over and kissed Mina on the cheek. Then shouting more goodbyes, he walked off towards the town centre, leaving Steve and Mina standing where they were.
Steve watched Mina for a few moments. She looked worried, sad, flustered, all at once. Steve didn’t know what to make of it all.
“Why did you say we’d go to the party?”
“I just said that ‘cos I wanted him to stop pestering us. He wasn’t going to stop until we agreed.”
“You know him very well, don’t you?” Steve couldn’t keep the jealous tone out of his voice.
“I knew him at school. We barely spoke. Come on, let’s go.”
Mina walked off quickly, and Steve found himself trailing her all the way to her hall of residence. At the hall doorway, Steve, as usual, tried to engage her in some small talk, but Mina wasn’t listening. She used her electronic car-key to open the door, wished him goodnight, and immediately walked in, letting the door close behind her.
For the second time that evening, Steve felt a twinge a disappointment again. She obviously had a lot of things on her mind to forget their customary goodnight kiss.
Steve looked up at Mina’s room window. The light didn’t come on. Mina must have gone straight to bed.
As he left the courtyard, walking up the path towards his flats, he began to ponder the strange events of the last hour or so. Everything seemed to go so well, they were happy, she was happy.
Then they bumped into Matt.
Steve stopped abruptly, and turned around. There was so many questions swimming around in his head, and he needed some answers. And he needed them now.
He had a party to go to.
Next: Vol VII