The Path Goes Around
by Rob Cottignies
It started with a lie.
While jogging around the park, I saw her walking next to an elderly man. Probably her grandfather; he could have instead been her husband.
“Why did you do that?” she asks me.
“It was the best I could think up,” I say.
What happened was this- my girlfriend and I broke up because I realized having a constant headache was unpleasant. Five days later, I never thought I’d meet anyone that beautiful. Five days later, I was proven wrong.
“Oh, you’re just saying that,” she playfully accuses me.
I thought there would be no others. But there she was, walking in her gray tank top and black pants with her fair skin and brownish-red hair, clueless of her indirect actions. By doing nothing, she showed me that others were out there. By doing nothing, she saved my life.
“I was going to kill myself.”
“When?” What a perfectly interesting response.
“When I got home, about ten minutes after I first saw you.”
I had always been awkward when it came to approaching women, meaning that I’d never approached a woman before without an excuse. I made one up this time. I did not allow myself to return home without even a mild conversation. I just had to; she was that stunning.
“Excuse me, sir.” My opening line wasn’t even directed at her. I told the old man, who thankfully turned out to be her grandfather, that I was writing a paper on war veterans. I had assumed he had been in at least one war. He had, so it worked. I made up and blurted out a series of questions which ended up being relevant instead of terrible.
“Did you believe in our country’s involvement?”
“Did you lose any close friends in combat?”
“What did you do when you got scared?”
I never even asked which war he’d been in. His answers were probably genuine and wonderful but I didn’t really listen. I feigned mental notes while lovestruck by his granddaughter.
“Is that when you asked me out?” she asks with equal parts frustration and romantic longing.
The smoothest segue I could think of was this- “Well, your grandfather has done a marvelous job in answering my questions. Perhaps you would like to answer some also… over dinner.”
My underestimated charm can be quite convincing. She agreed, and here we are. I simply had to tell her that whatever we were to become began with a lie. I was writing no paper on war veterans. My sole interest was talking to her. Goal achieved.
The most appropriate thing to do is apologize to her grandfather. I used the old man for personal gain. “Also,” I add, “I will write a legitimate paper on your grandfather’s experiences in the war.”
"And do what with it?"
She'd caught me. I hesitated. "Scream it up to the heavens!"
“This is the strangest first date I’ve ever had.” I believe her.
“I can understand that. Will there be a second?”
"No. How can I trust you when the first thing you did was lie to me?"It started with a lie and ended because of the truth...