The First Time They Met

The First Time They Met

When Anatole got home, he called Ruth and canceled their dinner date, telling her that something had come up and asked if he could take a raincheck. She said yes and after talking for a while longer, he ended the call. He knew that he had cancelled their date because of Dena. He wouldn’t be good company tonight and that was why he thought it best to cancel his date.

After taking a long shower, he changed and forced himself to have something to eat. Then, he went into the living-room, plopped down on the sofa and turned on the television. He stared at the screen but his mind was elsewhere. Against his will, he was thinking about the first time he met Dena.

It was a Friday afternoon and he was on his way to visit Calvin, a friend who had recently retired. Calvin had invited him to have lunch and to spend the afternoon. Anatole had known him most of his life. He was like a father to him. They tried to see each other at least once a month and spoke on the phone once a week.

After losing his wife, Calvin had sold the house and had moved into an apartment. It was close to a park where he went for a walk everyday. Across from where he lived was a playground as well and he liked to watch the children play. It reminded him of the times when he watched his own children play in the playground which was within walking distance from their home. Now, his son and daughter were married and had their own children. He saw them some weekends and over the holidays.

As he was driving down the street close to the apartment building where Calvin lived, he saw her. She was on a swing with her feet up on the seat. Curious, he slowed down and then, decided to park the car there. He saw there for a few minutes watching her. He couldn’t believe that she was sitting on the swing like that. She was wearing skirt! Actually, it looked more like a uniform. She was still in school. How old was she?

He turned off the engine and got out of the car. After locking it, he made his way over to her. He didn’t make it a habit of talking to perfect strangers but this girl had piqued his interest. As he approached, she looked at him. She didn’t try to sit down in the proper way on the swing out of sheer modesty but remained as she was with her knees drawn, staring at him. Fortunately, her underwear wasn’t showing.

The glasses she wore seemed big for her face. She wasn’t pretty but he strongly attracted to her. “Hello,” he said.

“Hello,” she replied, her eyes traveling over him.

“What’s your name?”

“Dena. What’s yours?”


“You’re not from around here.”

“No. I’m visiting a friend.”

“A girlfriend?”

“No. An old friend named Calvin. Do you live around here?”

“Yes. I live in one of those buildings behind me with my mother. My father doesn’t live with us. He and my mother are divorced.”

“I’m really sorry to hear that.”

She shrugged. “It’s better than them staying together. They were always fighting.”

“Did their fighting ever turn physical?”


“It must have been tough for you listening to them fight.”

“Yes, it was but that’s all over now. And the funny thing is, that now they’re no longer married to each other, they get along better.”

“Yes, that’s how it is sometimes.”

“Where are you from? You don’t sound British.”

“I’m not. I’m French. I was born in Nice which is in Southern France. I lived there most of my life and then, I moved to Paris. Lived there for a while and then, I moved here to Harare because I’ve always wanted to live in Zimbabwe.”

“Are you married?”


“What about a girlfriend?”

“I don’t have one. And you, do you have a boyfriend?”

She shook her head. “No. I’ve been too busy with my studies and there aren’t any boys in school that I like. I find them a bit immature. I think I would prefer an older man.”

He smiled. “How old are you?”


“Eighteen. I’m twice your age.”

She shrugged again. “I don’t mind if you don’t.”

“Do you have to wear those glasses?”

“Why? Do you have a problem with them?”

“I think they’re too big for your face. You should get smaller frames.”

“I could do that.”

“Do you always use the swing like that?”

“Not always. I do this when no one is around.”

“I would love to stay longer and talk to you but my friend is probably wondering where I am. When can I see you again?”

“Whenever you like–except on a school night, of course.”

“All right. Meet me here tomorrow afternoon.”

“Are you asking me out on a date?”

“Yes…unless, you have other plans–“

“I don’t have other plans. I’ll meet you here. Where are you going to take me?”

“Green Screen drive in cinema. I’ll bring the food and drinks.”

“I’ve never been there before–not even with my parents.”

“Good. It will be the first time for both of us. I’ll meet you here at 6.”

“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow at 6. I can’t wait, Anatole.”

He smiled. “Neither can I. Goodbye, Dena.”

“Goodbye, Anatole.”

Their eyes lingered on each other before he walked away. The following evening he showed up at exactly six o’clock and she was waiting for him.

Sources: World Atlas; Willow Lodge