A Conversation Before Dinner

In the writing class I took a couple months ago, we spent one class focused on dialogue.  I love dialogue.  In fact, I have a bad habit of having too much dialogue, and not enough of anything else.  So I enjoyed an excuse to write a story that was almost entirely dialogue.  I hope you’ll enjoy reading it!

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A Conversation Before Dinner

He was late to dinner again.  She sat at the table, tapping one high-heeled shoe against the carpet, smiling tightly and shaking her head when the waiter asked if she’d like a refill on her water.

Finally he rushed in, dropped a kiss on her cheek, and dropped into the opposite chair.  “Sorry, I’m sorry.  Caught at the office again, you know how it is.”

“Yes,” she said.  “I know exactly how it is.”

“Love that about you,” he said, and reached for the menus.  “Order yet?”

“Of course I didn’t order yet.  Did I order the last three times I was waiting for you?”

“What three times?” he protested.  “I’m not late that often.  And I can’t help it if I’m held up at the office.”

“It was three times this month, plus tonight.  That Chinese place two weeks ago—”

“I was five minutes late!”

“—and again last Friday, and then at Evelyn’s party.”

“A party doesn’t count.” He tugged on his tie.  “And you know Evelyn’s never liked me.  I think I was late to that one because I was trying to block it out.”

“Evelyn is my oldest, dearest friend, and she would never keep me waiting at a restaurant.”

“Yes, fine, she’s a saint.  Can we order?”

She didn’t open her menu.  “I don’t understand why you don’t understand that I hate waiting around for you.  We never see each other anymore since your last promotion.  Can’t you at least try to make our dinner dates a priority?”

“Of course they’re a priority.  Let’s acknowledge what a priority they are by actually eating, all right?”

She waited until he opened his menu, then asked, “How’s your secretary?”

“She’s fine.  Do you want an appetizer?”

“If she’s so fine, couldn’t she write down your appointments for you?”

“She’s busy, and I am perfectly capable of remembering my appointments.”

“That’s not what it looks like from here.”  She drained the last of her water and wished it was something stronger.  She set the empty glass down with a thump and asked, “What exactly is she so busy with?”

“Who?  Does calamari sound good?”

“You know I hate squid.  Your secretary.”

“I don’t know, filing and things.”

“Oh.”  She nodded.  “Filing and things.”

He looked at her, expression quizzical.  “Wait, what does my secretary even have to do with anything?”

“Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Your job and your promotion and your terribly important legal cases and your beautiful office and your beautiful secretary.”

“You said you liked my office when I moved into it.  You helped me decorate.”

“It’s not about the office!”

“Then it shouldn’t be about the secretary either!”

She opened her menu with a snap.  “Fine, just order.”

He ordered the calamari.  Over the salad course, she told him, “I’m having an affair.”

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