An Online Dating Tale
“I’m sorry. I thought you were someone else,” Leah said in a rush, turning around and sitting back on her table at the local Starbucks.
Reid was puzzled. She’d touched his right shoulder, looked him into the eye, and immediately apologized.
What the hell had just happened? It was him. Her “sweet Reid.” The one she had met online about six months ago. The one she’d spent nights chatting with online or text messages.
Leah faced the door, expecting someone else to come in, completely oblivious to the fact that the one she was looking for stared at her, completely perplexed and hurt.
What was Reid supposed to do? Should he tell Leah that he was the one she was waiting for? But would he handle the awkward silence that would certainly hit them after his confession? Because he knew it would. Reid was beyond embarrassed at that moment, and he didn’t wish the same for Leah.
It was his fault after all.
He shouldn’t have uploaded a photo from almost eight years ago. A photo of a younger Reid who no longer existed. Some people still looked the same after eight years. But not him.
He was young, fit, athletic, healthy. That was before his breakup with Lissa. While going through the darkest time of his life, Reid plunged into self-destructive behaviors. There was a lot of drinking, fast-food pickups, cups and cups of coffee. In a few years, he had become someone else. His hair had grayed out. His wrinkles had deepened, and a full gut had stuck out.
Goodbye, fit Reid. You were nowhere to be seen anymore.
Leah kept shifting, crossing her legs. He could definitely sense her anxiety. He silenced his phones. The last thing he needed was letting it ring, right after she had thought he could be Reid.
So he decided to do what he’d always done all over the last decade. He ran. Not literally, but quite close.
While Leah got up to get more sugar, he discreetly grabbed his coat and slowly walked out of the café. He felt safer outside, and he decided to text her. Sorry, Leah. Something came up. I’ll have to call you later.
Phew. It had almost gone completely bad. As he walked past the local shops, watching the flow of the crowd go past him, he felt invisible. Sad.
He took a deep breath and took his phone again out of his pocket. He starred at his own picture on the dating app. A grin crept on his lips as he made a decision. He debated for a while, but it’s what he wanted to do after all. He was going to look like old Reid again.