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2Hearts

Gennaio 2014
A short story.

di Susan Burns

File audio:

clicca qui per andare alla relativa traccia audio (contrassegnata dalla scritta "speaker")


Speaker: Rachel Roberts (Standard British accent)

“I don’t know why you don’t just leave him,” said Muriel. “You need to get some fun back into your life. You’re only thirty-five, you’ve got no kids.”
It was easy for her to speak like that. She wasn’t married. Anyway there was nothing fundamentally wrong with Terry. He was quite attractive, kind and intelligent. She just never seemed to see him now. And when she did it was as if she didn’t exist. But Muriel was right about one thing. She needed to get some fun back into her life. But she had no idea where to start.

Next day Muriel phoned.
“Ellie! I’ve just had a great idea!” she said. “Why don’t we join 2Hearts?”
“What on earth is 2Hearts?”  said Ellie unenthusiastically.
“It’s a sort of club… you know… for meeting people.”
“Not a lonely hearts club! I’m not looking for a man. I’m married!”
“I don’t call yours a marriage. Any-way it’s not like that. It’s just a place where you meet people.”
“But what do you do when you’ve met them?”
“Don’t be so boring. Anyway, I’ve already enrolled us!”
Ellie was furious. How dare she? She slammed down the phone. She had no intention of going to a 2Hearts meeting.
She made herself a coffee and sat down at the computer.
Incoming mail. Not another of these adverts from that company that she had bought the Royal Baby cup from for her mum. Actually, it wasn’t. It was that 2Hearts thing. Well, honestly! Muriel had had the cheek to give them her email address.

Complete your personal profile today and start making friends tomorrow.
No harm in just looking.
Name, age, interests, desires.
Desires???
Just write down anything you would like to do in your life that you haven’t done yet.
Go whale watching, learn Portuguese, eat spaghetti in Florence. These were the things she wanted to do.
She had no idea why she did it but she filled in the form. She had even less idea why she pressed the send key.

Five days later she was at the computer. She had already forgotten about the profile and she was still fuming with Muriel. Incoming mail. She was going to sign that damn cup company into junk mail.
2Hearts welcomes you to its wonderful  world of friendship.
Dear Ellie! Fantastic news. We’ve found a friend for you. You can meet Robbie in the safety of the 2Hearts club bar at 7 p.m. next Thursday. Your secret name is Alison. You have been allocated table 15.

Her heart gave a little jump. But she couldn’t possibly go and meet a man. It wasn’t fair on Terry. She phoned Muriel.
“Don’t be so stupid!” said Muriel. “Anyway, I’ll be there too. Table 13. Edward. Look, why don’t we just treat it as a bit of fun. Let’s just go and have a laugh. That’s all.”
Ellie wasn’t at all sure that that was all. But she felt a girlish sort of excitement. On Thursday evening, it was just like old times, when they had been students together at St Andrews. The trip to the hairdresser’s together. The new dresses. The make-up.
But in the taxi she had second thoughts. “I’m married, for heaven’s sake. I’m thirty-five. This is ridiculous.”
“No, it isn’t! Now just get in there and have fun.”

A lady checked their names and accompanied them to their tables. At Muriel’s table a thin nervous looking man was adjusting his tie. Muriel sat down. Table 15 was empty. Ellie was about to turn around and go home when she saw a familiar figure.

Terry! It couldn’t be! What was he doing here? She sat closer to the wall, hoping he wouldn’t see her. When he’s past my table I’ll slip out and go home, she thought. He won’t see me. Terry looked round. He seemed a little lost. The lady spoke to him and they walked up the room. He was going to see her. Ellie looked around wildly. Where was the toilet? She closed her eyes. Perhaps that would somehow make her invisible.

“Here you are, sir,” said the lady. “Have a nice evening!”
“Thank you! My God! Ellie!” It was Terry’s voice. She had to open her eyes.
He was sitting opposite her.
“Look, I’m really sorry,” she began.
“Well… you know… I’m here, too!” he said.
She couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say. “What’s your table number?” she asked.
“You’re never going to believe this,” he said. “It’s 15. You’re my new friend. You never told me you wanted to go to Florence or go whale watching.”
She looked at him. “Let’s go home,” she said.
“No,” said Terry. “Let’s stay and talk about when we’re going to go to Florence.”


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