Waiting for the One

By: L.A. Fiore

CHAPTER ONE


I’m going to hell. I’m resigned to my fate and have been ever since I was ten and siphoned the holy water from the fonts at church, bottled it, and sold it, after convincing most of my neighbors that a coven of vampires had moved into town. The thing is, I really thought that vampires had moved into town and truly believed I was protecting everyone. My ten-year-old logic posited that it wasn’t technically stealing, since I did add extra money to the collection, but as an adult, I understand that my actions crossed a line and that my mortal soul now tap dances along that very fine edge. The church and I have gone our separate ways in the many years since, but I still do keep a bottle of holy water near my bed. You never know.

It is for this reason that I can sit on the beach as my best friend and her husband cuddle, the little green monster on my shoulder speaking words only I can hear. I’m not truly jealous of Gwen, but I am envious, since I haven’t had a date since man first discovered fire.

In truth, I don’t mind waiting, not if at the end of it I find the right person. Even if the wait is ridiculously, hopelessly long. He’s out there, somewhere, maybe trapped under a truck or surrounded by feral wolves, which is what’s taking him so long to get to me. I’m creeping up on thirty and not only haven’t I found the one, I’ve only had a handful of boyfriends.

In my defense, I do live in Harrington, Maine, whose staggering population of 862 contains mostly people age sixty-plus. It isn’t easy to find men my age to date—they are already married, or seriously dating, and the few remaining eligible bachelors are treated like the last piece of chocolate cake at a Chocoholics Anonymous meeting.

Leaving Harrington has never crossed my mind, because it’s home, but I need to get a more active social life. Currently it revolves around my three best friends. Gwen Drake has been my best friend since the third grade. Her parents run the one really nice restaurant in town. When Mitch Drake applied for the position of head chef, he not only landed the job, but he also won Gwen’s heart. Six years later they have two beautiful children: Michael James and Callie Saffron. I love Gwen but she has this whole other part of her life. That’s why I’m here now, dropping off the little cherubs to Mommy and Daddy after having filled them up on sugar.

And then there is Josh Taylor, whom I dated once upon a time, and who decided to come out while we were dating. We still hang out, but he’s getting rather involved with Derek Bennett, so sometimes being the third really is like that unwanted wheel. I tend bar in the evenings at Tucker’s, my third best friend Tommy Tucker’s bar. It wasn’t my intention to make a career out of it, but I love my job, love connecting with my neighbors. Glancing at my watch, I realize that if I don’t get a move on, I’ll be late for my dinner with Frank. Mr. Frank Dupree is a lovely older man I visit in the nursing home several times a week. He’s become family, in a sense, since my own family isn’t really much of one. No hostility or disappointment on my end, just indifference on theirs. The emotional distance became quite literal when my parents moved to Florida several years back.

Frank and I met when I was eight. Standing on the front stoop of his bait-and-tackle shop, I demanded he release all the minnows, claiming it was cruel and unusual punishment to keep them captive only to serve them up on the end of a fishing line. My concern did not extend to the bloodworms, because they were gross. As it turned out, Frank didn’t stock minnows. My intel was clearly not good. After that, I visited him every day. He listened to me, he cared about what I had to say, and he liked me being there. He gave me the love, support, and discipline that I didn’t receive at home. Even at the age of ninety-four, he’s still giving me all those things.

Leaving a happy Gwen, I climb into my car and head for home, a very small Cape situated near the banks of Harrington Bay. The cedar shakes have weathered to a dove gray, the shutters are dark green, and the one chimney sits centered on the roof. Inside, everything is very light and airy with hardwood floors and lots of natural fabrics in ivory and tans. I love my home.

Frank is expecting me at four for an early dinner. I am hoping to entice him afterward into the dancing that is held every week in one of the community rooms. Frank has lived most of his life in Harrington, though he never married or had children. In his golden years, he has only his friends at the home and me.

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