Natalia was trying to listen to every single word that came out of Robert’s mouth. But it was impossible. He talked so fast, so much; that she didn’t even had time to process any of what he had said. The fun thing was that he had just arrived to the restaurant, after she had been waiting for him for about twenty minutes. He hadn’t said “Sorry”, or anything like that. He had just laughed at some stupid thing he had said and started talking and talking like a mad man.
The restaurant was a very nice place for a date between two people that loved each other. Many couples were sharing some time around them. But as Natalia noticed, all of them were having a much better time than her. Even those who were by themselves, with friends or family, seemed to be having much more of a good time than her. She only looked around and put on butter on those tiny breads they give you before properly beginning dinner. She realized, after several minutes, that she had already eaten about five of ten, after having filled every single one of them with butter. She was supposed to be on a diet, but the hell with that.
Finally, the waiter was bold enough to speak and Robert had to shut up for the first time in a while. Natalia took this precious moment to stand up, stretch her legs and go to the bathroom. He asked if he could order for the both of them and she said yes, anything to have a couple of minutes away from him. Walking slowly to the bathroom, she reminded herself never to date relatives of their friends again. Robert was a cousin of her best friend Laura and had nothing to do with her. Laura was a funny gal, full of life and color. Robert was just full of life but because he wouldn’t shut his mouth.
In the bathroom, she washed her face to be a little more awake, and then she applied a new layer of makeup and also peed for much too long. She loved to count something that took long when she was in there, like how many Pokémon she knew or how many colors she could name. Sometimes she would get so caught up in her own game that she would pull out a small notebook out of her purse and start write the names down. Natalia was not really and obsessed person but she was distracted easily and preferred rapid, intelligent exchanges than long and tiring conversations.
After what felt like forever but ended up to be something like twenty minutes, she went back to the table where the waiter was putting down their food. Apparently Robert thought she loved salad because she could only see green leaves on her plate. As she sat down, she reminded herself that if she didn’t have any meat, she would have to call to the burger place she loved by her house and order the one with the double patty. She was really hungry and that salad wasn0t going to do the trick.
Moroccan. That’s what he said the salad was. It was on a big plate and had a number of things in it but she didn’t really care. She had already decided on her burger and was already looking forward to it.
Again, Robert started talking and talking and she began counting Pokémon on her mind again and then trying to remember what she had to buy in the supermarket the next day. She had promised her mother to invite her home for lunch and she had to do something nice. Maybe pasta was the best choice but it seemed so simple, or maybe some kind of steak. But if she ate steak, she couldn’t really eat a burger the night before, it would be too much and, after all, she could only break her diet once. Well, she could exercise more and not do any diet. She wasn’t that fat. Natalia thought she had a nice body, curvy but not like a porn star or anything like that. Just good enough for any use. She laughed at her own joke.
Robert smiled. She looked at him and smiled kindly, not knowing what he had been saying. Thankfully, he broadened his smile and just told him he loved her laughter and how she listened so attentively to every little thing he said. He told her she was the most beautiful girl he had met and that he would be honored if she could date him again. Natalia’s smile turned into coughing. At first, even she thought it was because she had no intention of answering that question. But then, she touched her neck and knew something was wrong.
She felt she was drowning, as if some unknown force was choking her. Then she saw her fingers and they were getting swollen. Robert called the waiter and asked for an ambulance. Natalia didn’t want that, but as she couldn’t even breathe, it was not really a time to refuse any kind of help. The paramedics arrived some moments later and they immediately gave her a shot, something to counter the allergy of whatever it was that she had suffered. The paramedics decided it was best for her to go to the hospital and spend at least one night there, under surveillance.
It all happened so fast, even Robert had no words. He just grabbed her purse and gave the waiter some bills to pay up the meal. He was scared, livid, as he jumped into the ambulance that rushed through the city’s crowded streets. Natalia seemed to be getting sleepy in the ambulance and she couldn’t really hear or say anything. The paramedics gave her another shot and started asking questions but she couldn’t heat them. For some reason, she only wanted Robert to take her hand, to feel someone was with her in that trying moment, to feel some friend was taking care of her. But Robert didn’t do anything. Just as she closed her eyes, Robert turned his body towards the back doors of the ambulance.
Natalia woke up early the next morning. Her nurse, a very nice young woman, told her that she had had an allergic reaction to something she had eaten. Natalia smiled and the girl looked confused. She explained to her all about Robert and how he talked like mad and how she didn’t even know what she was eating. The nurse understood, with that face that means “Men!” and told Natalia that they would check what the ingredients of the salad were but that it would help if she made them a list with all of her allergies. But she only knew about her allergy to cat hair and she doubted that was one of the ingredients.
The doctor that walked in laughed and Natalia was thrilled he did because he was very handsome and his teeth were all so perfect and white. She had the best time talking to him; about what had happened the night before and about what she had been through overnight. He was a very nice person and explained to hear that they wanted her in for one more night to check everything was good and to identify her allergy. He also told her that her mother was there and that she had brought all the paperwork from her insurance and all that annoying stuff one has to do to get sick.
Natalia laughed and that was how the doctor decided to leave, on a high note. Her mother would come some time afterwards. She was really good friends with her and explained the situation at dinner with Robert. Her mother understood exactly what she was saying and advised her never to allow that to happen again. She said life was to short and too wonderful to be listening at idiots talking stupid stuff. It was best to stop things right on time if you realize the person in front of you is just not that interesting. Natalia nodded and agreed.
The allergy was determined to be related to a certain type of pepper, not the common one used in most dishes (black pepper) but a rare kind only found in North African cuisine. Natalia laughed, as she thought it was at least nice of Robert to take her to a restaurant that served the real cuisine of the country that the dish was from. Even Laura, her friend, laughed like crazy the day Natalia was allowed to go back home. She pushed her friend’s wheelchair to the main entrance and all the way there they laughed at poor Robert, Laura even confessing she knew he was annoying but not at that level.
Natalia asked Laura If she knew why he hadn’t come to visit her. After all, he had been with her when it happened and it seemed only natural. But Laura told her friend that Robert was one of those men that like to show off in front of women but when they fuck up, they are afraid forever of the person that sees them being real humans. Natalia thought that was very weird but moved on. She had had much worst dates than one!