A Lovely Afternoon

5 min
Rick hadn’t figured out what he was going to do on this date. He had been building up the courage to ask her out for weeks and weeks, and he had always thought that the details of the night would fall into place without much effort. Sadly, it didn’t happen that way. There were no movies available, all the best restaurants had been booked, and the bars were all packed. The only thing that did go Rick’s way was the weather; it had been raining for weeks, but today the universe had given Rick clear skies. So, the park was the best option for his impromptu date that he was pretending was planned down to the minute.
“It’s a beautiful evening isn’t it?”
Every time she spoke Rick had to pinch himself. He had never thought in a million years that a girl like Sarah would say yes to a date with him. He worked long hours, didn’t have a social life, and didn’t take particularly great care of his body. He wasn’t overweight or unhealthy looking, but the slim physique he had was mainly due to the lack of food and sleep that Rick failed to get every week. Somehow, she did say yes, and Rick was on a date for the first time in years with a girl that was way out of his league, emphasis on way.
“Yeah it really is, hasn’t been this nice in a while... So how about we go to the garden to take advantage of this beautiful weather we have before us.”
“Alright, yeah that sounds nice.”
As they strolled to the garden on the other side of the park, Rick took in the scenery around him. The park looked more beautiful tonight than he had ever seen it before. Maybe it was the stunning girl he was on a date with, or maybe it was simply that he hadn’t been in the park during dusk. The path was lined with trees, and had flowers planted between each tree. Beyond the trees on the right was a quarter mile of open grass that smelled as though it was freshly cut. On the left was a quaint little pond with hundreds of little fish swimming all around in it. The pond was peaceful, as if it was untouched by the world around, isolated away from everything that could disturb it, in its own universe. Rick laced his hand through hers and pulled her gently off the path and towards the bench in front of the pond. The bench read
“To Sarah Rodgers, loving wife and mother”
“Well that kind of sombers the mood a bit” she quipped.
“I don’t know... It means this place is special, as if whoever had it dedicated wanted others to enjoy their time here, cherish it.”
“That’s a sweet way of thinking about it.”
“Yeah... I guess”
Rick heard the bushes rustle to his left. A quiet rustle, as if whatever was making the noise didn’t want to ruin the atmosphere of the evening. Another rustle. Then a white rabbit appeared out of the bush, shining in the minimal sunlight left. The rabbit stopped and looked at Rick and Sarah, gazing at them as if he recognized their faces from long ago. Then the rabbit took off towards the pond. Bounding across the grass with a simplistic ease; it looked as though it were almost floating. Like a small ghost moving towards the shimmering lake. And just as quickly as it appeared; the creature disappeared into the trees on the other side of the pond, never to be seen again.
“What a sweet looking little thing. You know when I was a little girl, I had always wanted to get a little rabbit just like that.”
“Why didn’t you get one? Parents didn’t want to have another thing to take care of?”
“Maybe that was it, but they told me that my Dad was allergic to rabbits. Whenever I see a rabbit, I always think of the dream I had as a girl.”
Rick spoke in his classic awkward way that had caused him so much trouble with girls in the past.
“That sounds peaceful, I guess.”
She chuckled, she always seemed to laugh at Rick’s weird mannerisms. For weeks he had been striking up conversations with her to try and build up the courage to ask her out. He was always awkward, and she always seemed to love it.
“Yeah it kind of is. Reminds me of my childhood, I’ve always liked rabbits because of that.”
“Seems like you had a nice childhood.”
“I did, my parents loved each other, and their kids. They did everything they could to make sure that we had a good childhood.”
“We? How many siblings do you have?”
“Three, two brothers and a sister.”
Rick was in trouble; he could feel it. He was falling for this girl hard, and he didn’t know what to do about it. Rick had always been a loner. He had few friends in high school, even fewer in college, and at work he had two people he talked to on a regular basis. One of which was sitting next to him. He had never had a serious girlfriend before, and he knew that he did not know how to handle a relationship.
They got up and slowly started walking toward the garden. Down the path about another two or three tenths of a mile was a greenhouse with a large sign out front.
“Turner Family Wildlife Garden”
Rick was all too familiar with the Turner family. Put simply, they all hated him. However, the real situation is very complex, and the reason Rick is currently working at a second-rate university instead of at the best research company in the world.
“Turner family? Rick isn’t that who you used to work for?”
“Sadly, yes, the same Turners”
“I never knew why you stopped working there, it seems like it would be perfect for you. Unlimited resources, and you wouldn’t need to talk to anyone.”
“Things aren’t always as they seem, anyways let's just go inside.”
The greenhouse was massive, and newly bought and renovated by the filthy rich Turner family. The Turners never turned down the opportunity to get some good PR, and a few hundred thousand to renovate this place was a small price for them. Rick was visibly upset, but had to keep his cool, he wasn’t going to let the Turners blow the biggest date of his life, after they had already ruined the rest of it.
“They sure know how to make a garden,” Rick said as he gawked at the size and beauty of the garden.
“Yeah, this must have cost a fortune. How much are they worth?”
“Seven, maybe eight billion”
“Damn, I wouldn’t make that in a hundred lifetimes.”
“They didn’t make it, it’s old family money.”
“That's gotta be the worst type of billionaire.”
“How come?”
“It means they’ve been entitled their whole life.”
“They sure are.”
They kept walking through the garden gazing at the wonders of the man-made ecosystem filled with what seemed like every kind of plant in existence. Rick had never seen something so amazing in his entire life, which either speaks to the beauty of the garden or the dullness of Rick’s life. They walked on the gravel path for what felt like forever. They were completely encapsulated in the life all around them. The two came up on a small and romantic bridge stretching across a small bit of still water, intended to look like a river. The river and path made a plus shape with each quadrant filled with what seems like thousands of different plants. The creaked as the two of them walked onto it. Looking down the river it seemed as if they had been transported to a different planet. The lights from the roof of the greenhouse somehow made the sight all that more beautiful, giving it a heavenly glow. The two leaned against the railing and enjoyed the presence of the plants, and the company. Rick had never been happier than in this moment. That happiness must have changed him because he did something very uncharacteristic. He leaned in and kissed her.

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