First Date (Excerpt)
He wanted to pick her up at four-thirty in the morning. It was important, he said, that they get to the beach before sunrise, before the ghosts all dissolved and the nocturnal creatures fled into the brush. “Ghosts?” she said. “You’re not serious, are you?”
“I sort of am,” he said with a self-conscious laugh.
He went on to say they needed to be at the ocean for the very beginning, to see the whole, silent catechism of darkness ceding to daylight. And practically speaking, the traffic would only worsen if they left later than four-thirty. He would need time to set out the blanket and pour the coffee from his thermos into two little tin cups – ones he used on camping trips, but he would make sure they were clean and somehow he would keep the sand out. He would bring sugar and creamer and soymilk because he preferred it to cow’s milk. He liked cows, their large, staring, earnest eyes and flicking tails and the way they jerked their heads up suddenly and galloped off when something spooked them. Cows were good sprinters when they wanted to be, but in his experience most people thought they were slow-moving dimwits.
It would be an occasion, he insisted, one she would never forget, even if it didn’t work out between them (because chances were it wouldn’t – he knew the odds but he didn’t dwell on them. Obviously! Because here he was. Again.) It wasn’t every day you got up at four-thirty in the morning, especially for a first date.
“Say yes,” he said. “Please. I know it’s early, but—”
(The Hong Kong Review, Vol. II, No. 3, coming soon)