Tim was pacing his living room. All he had been able to think about throughout the weekend was this girl, Christine Jennings. He knew that Kevin had advised him to stay out of it but he felt so intimately involved and could not shake the image of her lying on the sidewalk next to her car after he had pulled her out of it. During a lull in his studying, Tim had looked up her name and found a link to her phone number and address. He was surprised to find that she lived close to campus, as did he. Now, hours later, it was all he could think about. He just wanted to check on her. Wanted to see if she was okay.
Finally, at eight o clock on Sunday evening, he got up the nerve. Picking up his phone, he dialed the number quickly, so as to keep himself from chickening out. He took a deep breath as it rang, stopping the pacing so that he did not sound like he was out of breath.
"This is Christine." She answered.
"Um... hi! Christine! Hey, this is Tim. Tim Benson." He paused. What else was there to say?
"Tim? Tim from... my accident?" She spoke very slowly, obviously doubting that was who was calling her.
"Yes! Yeah, I was just, uh, calling. To see- uh, to see how you are." It was almost a question, as if he was not at all sure why he chose to call her. "Do you... want to go get some coffee with me?" It was actually the first thing that came to mind. He was really regretting this move. But she agreed. She asked him to go ahead and pick her up, giving her address. After verifying that he would pick her up in fifteen minutes, he hung up the phone and blinked at himself.
What had just happened? Did he just get a last minute date on a Sunday evening? He stood there, rather dumbfounded, in the middle of his living room, before realizing that he needed to get moving so that he could pick her up. Grabbing his jacket phone and keys, he dashed back into his bathroom to spritz on a bit of cologne, then went to his desk and picked up some of Kevin's business cards, too. He felt like a sixteen year old on his first date as he practically skipped down the stairs, excited that the person he had been thinking about all day was going to give him a chance to talk to her tonight.
When Christine's phone rang, she had been laying in bed trying to get some sleep. She was not tired, but really bored and a little frustrated with her tumultous day. Knowing that she had a long day ahead of her on Monday, Christine had decided that the best way to make the night go by was just to get some sleep. Goodness knew that she could use some extra sleep. But when the phone rang, she sat up. It was strange for the apartment phone to ring- almost everyone used her cell number.
It could have been a sales call, but she answered it anyway, willing to talk to anyone at this point. When she confirmed that it was Tim, the same Tim that had pulled her out of her car the night she crashed, she remembered him coming to her hospital room. Her mother had been so impressed by the gesture and even mentioned it a few times while chauefering Christine around on Friday. Then when Tim asked her if she wanted to go out for coffee, she did not hesitate. She did, after all, want some sort of social life! She should go out for coffee with a friend some time. He seemed nice enough, why not start with him as a friend?
Christine was very proud of herself for taking a step forward, and refused to even think that there was something wrong with it. She would noy let a single drop of guilt cross her determination to meet new friends. It was not like she was going on a date. There was no need to involve Chad or anyone else, for that matter. It was her time to be young and laugh and just... just have a good time!
Throwing on some simple clothes and removing the neck brace carefully, she did not even glance in the mirror as she grabbed her jacket and a hair tie, along with her purse and keys. Tonight she was making changes. Tonight she was going to live.
Tim pulled up to her apartment address and saw her standing at the bottom of the stairs. He rolled down his window to make sure it was really her, then pulled in to the spot closest to what he could find. He got out as she walked towards his car. She looked the college student type, with a zippered hoodie and a pony tail. He came around to the passenger door to be chivalrous. She stuck out her hand.
"Hi, Tim, it is nice to officially say hello. Thank you for calling. I could really use... a friend!" She had not meant to be that open and blunt, but tried not to think of it as a regret. Friends were honest with each other, right?
He smiled and shook her hand. "Uh, no problem, Christine. Thank you for... answering your phone!" They both laughed a little at his awkwardness. He waited for her to get in the car, then got in and drove down to the diner off of A street.
He opened the door for her and they sat at a booth, Tim for his part greatful that the waitress came right away, and Christine thinking about how glad she was that Tim was turning out to be a good choice in a friend, solely based on his manners. The waitress, Sandra, briskly asked them what they would like, barely even looking at the two of them. She seemed to be in quite a bad mood.
Tim politely requested two cups of coffee and asked Christine if she wanted anything else. "Oh, not right now, Thank you. But can I keep your dessery menu, just in case?" Sandra nodded and handed it to her, turning toward the kitchen and getting on with her job. The two did not even give her another thought.
"So... how is your neck?" Tim began, not really knowing what else to talk about. "When I came to the hospital, it was in a brace."
"Yeah, I should still be wearing it, I guess, but it has gotten kind of old. It is more a hindrance than a help, I think."
Their coffee came and Christine took time to put in cream and sugar, as she stirred, he noticed the diamond on her finger. He must have been staring, because she moved her hand up, closer to him a little bit, obviously noticing that he was looking at it.
"That is... pretty." He said, trying to be nonchalant through his crestfallen spirit.
"Thanks. We have been together for a while. The wedding is next year..." She trailed off, and took a few sips of her coffee.
Meanwhile, Tim fleetingly wondered if this meant that since they were not on a date, whether he was supposed to pay for her coffee. Chastising himself for such a selfish thought, he forced a smile. "It is very nice."
She nodded her head, wondering what to say next. "So- what do you do? Are you in school or something?
"Uh yeah," he was very glad to change the subject and spoke with almost too much enthusiasm, "I am majoring in [insert subject here] and will be finished with it by the end of this spring semester. I am pretty excited about getting it over with." He forced another smile, trying to focus on the subject and not his dissapointment that the girl he could not stop thinking about and whom he thought he had a chance with turned out to be engaged. "What about you?"
"Oh, well, no not right now. I was majoring in education at first, but I lost interest and took a break about half way through. Right now I just work for a real estate office as a clerk and like it a lot. I work with the legal side of it mostly, and I think I may study to do paralegal work. Chad wants me to go back to school and I know it is important..." She trailed off a little and shrugged her shoulders, not making her statement very believable.
He nodded. "Oh. Chad is you...."
"Fiance. Yeah." She wriggled her left hand a little, as if Chad were embodied in the engagement ring on her finger.
"Look Christine, I looked you up today because I could not stop thinking about yo- your accident. I brought you a card for my brother. He works for a law firm, and I just wanted to let you know that you have a friend if anyone tries to sue you or something."
Christine's eyebrows raised. "Oh. I had not really thought much about that." She frowned as she held the card. "Tim, I went to visit him today. The kid that got hurt.... and he is really hurt and upset... so, thank you for this. I guess I am going to need it."
The waitress was at their table to refill their coffee and had a funny look on her face as she stared at Christine. Christine flashed her a quick, fake smile, then resumed her conversation.
"I was trying to apologize, I guess maybe make things right, but I think I made it worse." The waitress still seemed to be hovering, and both of them glanced at her, then back at each other, thinking she was just a busybody.
"You know, Chrisitne, when I came to visit you after the accident-"
The waitress gasped. She set the coffe pot down on the table a little hard, obviously just trying not to drop it as her eyes hammered into Christine. "You! You are the one that hit my boy! It is you fault that he is in the hospital! You little bitch!" Before anyone knew what was happening, Sandra reached out and slapped Christine across the face.
Christine cried out, feeling like her neck was being ripped from her body with the force of the assault.
Tim jumped up and reached for the woman, pulling her back and out of the way. Sandra shook him off and ran to the back of the store, perhaps realizing the weight of what she had done. Time then went to Christine, asking if she was okay. She had started to cry and would not move her hand from her neck. Instead of answering, she started to break out it sobs, clinging to the back of the bench seat she was sitting in.