She had a date, Ms. Myska. A miracle, really, considering it had only been a month ago that she lay on the operating table awaiting anesthesia, uncertain if cancer would take her down with her uterus.
And here she was, healthy as a new chick, sitting across the table from a smiling man with retro looking glasses, a man who knew how to choose a restaurant, to order, to talk. It hardly felt deserved, actually, Ms. Myska being somewhat shy, somewhat of a scurrying mouse, somewhat worried about her problems though she put on her best face.
Still, her face was betraying her. Sangria was the culprit. Sulfites, likely, in the wine. She began to feel her bottom lip plump out into a perfect rectangle and she wondered if the man saw, though thankfully the lights were dim.
She hoped she didn’t seem awkward talking to him because she was trying to talk while worrying. But to Ms. Myska worrying and doing something else at the same time was like walking and chewing gum.
The hysterectomy, the next phase in her fight against cancer, a fight to stay one step ahead of the reaper, saw her experience with a new drug. And it plumped out her lips and caused them to be red and chapped. This had been an unexpected. Though the swelling seemed to come and go – some days she felt she was over it, and some days her lips seemed to be stretching the boundaries of her skin – she was resigned to the permanence of the situation and sometimes observed the phenomenon with curiosity, like a scientist, or sometimes with horror, like a Japanese citizen in a monster flick, shaken to the core by a walking lizard exploded beyond all reason in size and ferocity.
As she watched her date order their tapas she hoped her lips did not cause her to blurt out any of her presently closely guarded feelings and thoughts. Here were a few: “Hey, you are even cuter than I imagined.” Or: “What would it be like to kiss you?” Or: “I think it’s really sexy when a guy knows how to order. Total hotness.”
Her lips had a serious side too. They wanted to say things like: “How come your other relationships didn’t work out?” Or: “Tell me how you feel about being a widower.” Or: “Do you snore loudly? Do you have flatulence? Would you mind if I did on occasion? Or minded if I enjoyed burping very loudly? Would you mind if I occasionally struggle with insomnia? I talk to my dog constantly, is that a problem? I sometimes cry, unprovoked, is that a big deal? Messy house? Financial messes?”
Instead she said: “I love making coconut shrimp. Yum.” He was a cook too and they compared notes.
When they were off to their cars at the top of the garage under the inky sky, they hugged goodnight.
It was only later, in her car, driving home, that she realized he had turned his head sideways to kiss her.
She was glad her lips had not picked up on this. Her lips only realized it later, with her brain.
She liked him.
But she was glad.