Love, Unwanted (Discovering Love #3)

By: Ra Chael Ohara

Friday night is different. Instead of going straight home, I walk down the street to a small pub. I sit at the bar and talk to Violet, a forty-year-old bartender who hates men but has six kids, while I eat my fish and chips. Next to Bubbles, she’s the closest thing I have to a friend.

My weekends are only different because I don’t work. I spend more time reading, finding things to fix inside my small one-bedroom house, or planting flowers outside. Though I know they’d be disappointed I’m not going to church, I live a life my parents have no right to be ashamed of.

Other than cutting my hair, my appearance is the same. My straight blonde hair hangs just above my shoulders. I have my mother’s green eyes and fair skin. I’m short and petite. The only thing my parents could be ashamed of is my obsession with high heels and the minimal makeup I wear.

I’m interrupted from straightening a book shelf when I hear, “I’ll see you Monday, Caroline.”

I turn and smile when I see an eleven-year-old girl holding a high stack of books. Annie has been a loyal customer since the first day I opened the doors of the library.

She reminds me of me when I was her age. When I first met her, she was so quiet and timid. When she did talk, it was so soft-spoken I couldn’t understand her.

It took about a week to get her to open up to me, but since then she hasn’t stopped talking. She comes in around three times a week after she gets out of school and we spend almost the entire hour she’s here talking about all the different books she’s read, until her dad comes to pick her up.

“I’ll see you Monday, Annie. Have a good weekend.”

I walk her to the door and wave to her father before locking up for the day. It takes only ten minutes to clean up. I head out as soon as I finish.

Much like every other day this spring, it’s sprinkling when I step outside. I put up my umbrella and make my short walk down the road to the pub.

“Hey, girl!” Violet says the moment I walk in.

“Hey,” I reply. I sit in front of her on one of the bar stools.

“I had Connell throw your regular on the grill. It should be up shortly.” She winks before making her way to clean off some tables.

I check out the almost empty pub while I wait for my food. Much like every Friday when I come in, the place is almost vacant. “Not very busy tonight,” I muse.

“That’s because it’s five o’clock on a Friday. You want busy, come in after nine.”

“I don’t want busy,” I rush to inform her. That’s the last thing I want.

“Sweetheart, how are you ever going to get those cobwebs knocked off your undercarriage if you don’t go out, have fun, and meet new people?”

I’m sure I’m blushing beet red. “I’m not interested in that right now.”

“Oh honey, you’re interested. You’re just scared. One day the right guy will come along and when he does, he won’t give you the chance to be scared any longer.”

I know the likelihood of what Violet predicts isn’t high, but I can’t help the spark of hope it ignites in me. I’m comfortable with my life, but I can’t deny there’s a huge part of me who wants to give adventure a shot.

I want to try all the things other people my age have tried. I’m twenty-three and still have never taken a sip of alcohol. I’m lonely, but I’m petrified of the past repeating itself.

“Hey! Why are you so concerned with me getting a man? I thought you hate men.”

“Six kids, darling. That’s proof enough of how much I don’t hate men. Besides, we’re not talking about me, Caroline. We’re talking about you,” she reminds me through narrowed eyes.

Connell chooses this brilliant moment to bring my food from the back. “Actually, we are not talking because I’m eating.” Then I look at Connell. “This looks delicious. Thank you, Connell.”

Connell leans across the bar. “You know, if you’re looking for a date, I’d be happy—"

“She needs someone adventurous, Connell,” Violet interrupts. I laugh because he asks me out every time I come into the pub. “You’re about as adventurous as my ninety-year-old grandma.”

“Hey! I can be adventurous!” Connell says with mock offense.

“Yeah, yeah! Get back to work.”

Two hours later, I close my cabbie’s door and walk up the short stone path to my front door. Next to my library, my house is the one possession I’m proudest of.

When I first moved here, I was stuck in a dingy apartment with no heat or air. I only lasted there for six months. Any longer and I would have gone mad.

First, I fell in love with this neighborhood. Every house is so cookie cutter. All the neighbors smile and wave. Then I saw this house and knew I wanted it.

As soon as I clear my front door, I take off my heels—which are killing my feet, but I still refuse to wear anything else—and carry them to the shelf I built in my closet.

“Hi, Bubbles.” I greet my fish by tapping on the side of her cage. I realize it’s strange to be so attached to a fish, but I’ve had her for seven years. She’s the fish that refuses to die, thankfully, and the only one I had to talk to when I was living at home. Well, she’s the only one I have to talk to even now.

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