Whenever Misa smiles at Timothy, he smiles back without missing a beat, making her heart somersault. This was their first date. And by the warm chemistry between them, she hoped there would be more.
They dine at the famous Cherri Cremonesi. A fancy ocean-view restaurant where Misa’s purse has its own bench, there’s a utensil for every bite and everyone dressed like they were in a fashion show. To her, elegant restaurants like this only existed in movies. Misa never thought she’d eat at a place with such a hip elegance.
“This place is beautiful and cool.” Misa beams. “Thank you for bringing me here, Timothy.”
“It is my deepest pleasure.” He moves across the table for her hand, kissing it softly.
Misa feels her cheeks heat, but she was sure Timothy couldn’t notice since their dinner table sat beneath the stars.
After a complimentary lemon sorbetto palate cleanser and cherries jubilee they shared for dessert, their grim-faced server approaches, casting a dark shadow over their candlelit table.
“I’m sorry sir, a moment, please.” He whispers. “I’m afraid your financial institution declined your card.”
Timothy keeps his smile tight and nods, his eyes shift between Misa and the server. “Can you try it again?”
“Yes sir, we did. Four times. Do you have another method of payment? Or maybe you’d like to call up your financial institution?”
Timothy smiles like he’s being stabbed and forced to like it. Halfway out of his chair, he turns to Misa. “Be right back.”
Five uncomfortable minutes thereafter, Timothy slides into his chair with a scowl. He drags his eyes to Misa.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“No. Hey, uh, I couldn’t reach customer service. Um… Do you…?”
The server returns.
Timothy’s eyes hold Misa’s.
Slowly, her eyebrows lift. “Are you asking…?” she points at her chest, eyes wide.
Timothy nods. “I don’t have cash. Do you mind?”
“Oh.” Misa didn’t have cash either and wondered if she had enough to cover the check. “How mu—” The server and Timothy stare at Misa. “Uh, sure…” She shuffles a jittery hand inside her wallet and retrieves her debit card.
“Thank you, Miss.”
“Wait.” The server walks off. Misa looks at Timothy, twisting her fingers in her lap under the table. “How m-much was it?”
“It’s like one something, I think. I’m sorry. I swear I have money.” Timothy whispers. “I don’t know why it got declined. Damn bank.”
“Oh, it happens.” Misa smiles. He’ll pay me back; she thinks to herself.
On the drive to take Misa home after dinner, Timothy takes a detour and pulls up to an automated teller machine. “I’m sorry, I just have to check,” he said.
Misa watches the machine swallow his card. He looks back at her quickly, punches in a code, and selects View Balance. He waits, staring ahead at the parked cars in the surrounding shopping center. Stirring in awkward silence, Misa does the same.
“Ah. See. I knew it.” He points at the screen. Misa looks. From the distance, it looks like his balance says two thousand something. Although she wasn’t sure why he was showing her. He presses a few more selections and bills spit out. “Well, it works now! I have to call again and see why my card got declined. They can’t blame it on a low balance, so it has to be their crappy system, as usual.” Timothy counts the money, stuffs it in his wallet and drives off.
Later that evening, bundled up with a warm blanket in bed with a cup of tea, Misa stares at her low balance, contemplating how to pay her upcoming school fees. After the demise of her checking account at Cherri Cremonesi, they left her with only ten dollars.
Beside her on the bed, her phone vibrates.
A new text from Timothy.
Hey Misa, hope to get together again! Had a great night. Goodnight.
Misa scrolls up beside Timothy’s name, selects more options, then: block contact.