The table is set, the water hot for tea, my mess shoved into the closet. I’m waiting for him to come. He never gave me a time so I’m antsy, nervous. I go into the kitchen once more, wipe off the counters and put the dry dishes away. I glance at the beige table cloth I’ve chosen, is it too dull? I look at my other choices –too childish. –too bright. –stained. I hold the one I think he’ll like best. An olive green, simple but embroidered with leaves. I glance at the clock. It won’t take me long to change the table cloth, but what if he comes when I’m in the middle of the task? I put the olive table cloth away. I go flick the kettle on again. Then I sit down with a book, with his book. He’d be pleased if he sees me reading that when he comes. I’m a little too anxious to focus on the words. I go change my shirt, wash my face and brush my teeth. I wonder if I should be wearing a dress. I glance in my closet and shake my head. He’ll have to be fine with me in a t-shirt and jeans. I sit back down with his book. Then I get up and change the table cloth. I am just replacing the last tea cup when the doorbell rings. My heart jumps. I detour through the kitchen to turn the kettle back on. I take a few deep breaths to try to calm my racing heart. I unlock the door and creak it open. There before me stands a boy with a silly smile on his face. Maybe he is a man, I cannot tell. The worst thing ever is happening. I do not know if this is he. Perhaps it is just a boy scout from the neighbourhood selling cookies standing at a loss for words, or maybe it is I who is at a loss for words. I stare at him until I feel rude then I quickly turn away. He stands there grinning. It is as if he enjoys the misery he is putting me through. Suddenly I feel that even if this is him, I am not sure I want him in my house. Finally the silence, beating like a drum, forces me to act.
“Come in” I say at last.
He steps inside the doorway and looks up at me, awaiting the next direction. I’m still wondering, if this is him, wouldn’t he be more assertive?
“Come sit down for some tea”
“It is a pleasure to meet you” he says as we walk towards the table.
“You too,” I reply halfheartedly. “take a seat, I’ll just grab the tea.” I think about asking him what kind of tea he likes, but I doubt he’s picky so I chose earl grey so I can use the same tea bag twice. Then I wonder, what if he’s Mormon. I don’t want to offend him, so I pull out my herbal teas. Raspberry lemon drop? Is that too girly for him? I settle with apple cinnamon. I stack my homemade biscuits on a plate. I cannot wait to see his face when he bites into one. He’ll be telling me I’m a good cook. I know it. I take out his tea and the plate of biscuits. When I go back for my tea and the plate of cookies – I plan to impress him with the array of baked goods – I start to worry. What will we talk about? I try to look at my reflection in the microwave. Nothing’s between my teeth; everything’s perfect. I sit down across from him. His face still dons a large smile. I look away from him and focus my gaze on the cookies I just sat down.
“Try some,” I offer. “There are oatmeal, double chocolate chip and peanut butter.”
He reaches for a double chocolate chip cookie, “if I didn’t know you better” he smirks “I’d think you were trying to make me fat.”
I don’t know what to make of his comment so I decide to be offended. I take a cookie and slouch back in my chair, diverting my eyes to my tea. This isn’t him, I reason, he wouldn’t say that.
“What would you like to talk about” he asks after giving me a moment to sulk.
I thought he would know, but right now I just want to hear him say that the cookies are delicious, the table cloth is just right, and my house looks beautiful. He takes another bite of the cookie, but I cannot tell if it is because he enjoys it, or if he is just trying to be polite. I take a sip of my tea and it burns my tongue. I bit my lip to avoid saying anything I’ll regret. Of course he knows what I am thinking. I look up to see him still smiling. This time I want to curse at him. I wonder if he knows, but his mannerism doesn’t change. Of course, I think, he is supposed to love me even if I am not quite perfect. My imperfection isn’t going to shock him, but I thought he might at least comment on my perfection. His question still hangs, unforgotten in the air. I think I am supposed to echo it back to him, but I’m afraid to hear what he wants to talk about. I could ask him about the morality of homosexuality, but I’m not sure I want to hear the answer. I could ask him why I am so lonely, but he’d probably answer with a confusing parable that would leave the blame on me. I think about asking him why there is so much suffering in the world, but I am not sure I was to hear his answers.
Finally I reply, “Don’t you know.”
He nods, sets down his mostly unfinished tea and stands up.
“Where are you going?” I ask him frantically. Had I offended him?
“I’ll come back when your heart is open to what I have to say.” He says as he slips on his shoes.
“But I thought that was part of your job!” I protest as he slips out the door.
I stare longingly after him as he walks down the sidewalk, and turns, walking out of my sight.
Angrily I survey my tidy house. I pick up his barely touched cup of tea and throw it against the wall swearing. I rip the table cloth from the table and watch as the biscuits and cookies fly everywhere. I stomp on the ones that land on the floor. Cursing, stomping, pushing things over. Then utterly exhausted I collapse on amidst the mess. I lie there, steeped in misery, hoping he’ll come back.