Dating : The Beautiful Gift No One Asked For

h2>Dating : The Beautiful Gift No One Asked For

It’s heavy. Too big for my arms. My parents left this giant piece of furniture at my doorstep. It’s lovely, but it’s blocking the entrance to my house.

Who will help me move this oak table?

I need to go to work, so I crawl under the solid, heavy wood. Oh look, there are the markings I made with a red pen. Scribbles, sure, but they’re my scribbles. That can’t be why my parents gave this away.

No one sees what’s underneath, no guests at least.

Parker waves at me from across the street. “Morning,” he shouts. “Is it a good one?” I ask. Parker shrugs. “Same as yesterday,” he says. “And how was yesterday?” I ask. Parker shrugs again.

Neighbors. One of these days he’s going to surprise me. I just know it.

The coffee machine is broken at the office, and no one knows the problem. I walk downstairs to the cafe on the ground floor. The barista stares at my nose and says, “I think I know you.”

Who am I? I’m tempted to ask her.

“You dated Charles,” she says. I nod. “I recognize you,” I say. “Cynthia?” No, I’m not reading her name tag. I remember her. “Cindy,” she says. “How long have you been working here?” I ask her, although I really don’t care.

“Not long,” she replies. And then the conversation ends.

I return home to find the oak table still blocking my doorway. This time, I crawl over the top, feeling like a feral cat. My parents didn’t ask me if I wanted this massive thing. But I suppose I do.

“You’ll have to go over or under,” I tell Juan when he arrives at my door.

“Can’t I move it?” Juan asks. “I don’t know, can you?” I counter. Juan looks at the table and says, “Where do you want it?” I pause. “Inside, I guess.” Juan looks at me, looks at the door, looks at the table, looks at the door again. “I think it’s too big,” he says.

We look across the table at each other. “Just go over or under,” I say.

Juan slides his bum along the top, using his arms to push himself across. When he reaches me, we embrace. “You smell like pineapple,” he says. “There’s more inside,” I tell him.

The next morning, I scoot over the massive oak like a worm.

Parker shouts, “Morning.” He’s wearing a red button-down. “Your shirt is tucked in,” I say. Parker looks down. His face suddenly matches his clothes, a crimson blush that I can almost feel. “It looks good,” I say.

Sometimes I wonder if talking to people is ever fun.

No one fixed the coffee machine at the office. I walk downstairs, and Cindy looks at my nose for a long time. “Ever see Charles?” she asks me. “Not since he got married,” I say. “How about you?” I ask her.

“Same,” she says. And then the conversation ends.

I call my parents. Neither of them answers their phones. I wonder what they’re doing. Maybe they’re watching television. Maybe they’re drunk. Maybe they’re walking the dog.

The oak table greets me like a loyal pain-in-the-ass.

“What am I supposed to do with you?” I ask the table. “It’s a good thing you’re gorgeous. Otherwise, I would throw you in the trash.” I pet the table. “How do I bring you inside?”

I lie under the table like I did when I was a kid.

My parents must have left this table here for a reason. I wonder why they assumed I would know how to take care of it, though. It’s huge. Enormous. Way too big for one person.

Someone knocks on the table’s surface as if knocking at my front door.

It’s Parker and Cindy and Juan. They’re carrying food and wine. No one says anything. “What’s going on?” I ask. “Happy birthday!” they shout. “It’s not my birthday,” I say.

I blink my eyes. I’m awake again, still under the table.

I crawl inside the house and go to sleep in my bed. I do not dream. When I open the front door the next morning, the oak table sits, unmoved. “You’re the most reliable thing in my life,” I say.

I push against the table’s edge with all my strength, nudging it enough to create a gap for me to slip out.

Parker isn’t across the street. Sometimes he hides in his garage. I walk over to find him crouching in his garden, tending roses. “Beautiful morning,” I say. Parker looks up at me and nods. “Come over for dinner tonight?” I ask. He blushes a touch and accepts the invitation.

The coffee machine is still not working, so I pull out the manual and tweak with the settings. I ask Tabitha to order a new part to fix the problem, and I ask her to dinner, too. I walk downstairs to order a coffee from Cindy. I tell her I’m having a few people over, and I suggest that she reach out to Charles to see if he can come.

On my way home from work, I call my parents, and I call Juan. No one answers their phones, but I leave them messages, inviting them over for dinner tonight.

After a trip to the market, I return home. I find the too-big oak table waiting for me, and I say, “Now I just need to get you inside.”

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