Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 15
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Two
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Three
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 4
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 5
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 6
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 7
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 8
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 9
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 10
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 12
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 11
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 13
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 14
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 17
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 15
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 16
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 18
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 19
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 20
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 21
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 22
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disaster at Age 40: Part 23
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 24
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 25
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Epilogue
THE DATE WHERE I GO TO THE FIRE STATION
Isaac Allen: Age 39; Height 6’4”; Occupation; Firefighter/Paramedic
When my date suggested we meet at the fire station for dinner and a tour, I was transported to my schoolgirl days, excited at the possibility. I haven’t been inside a firehouse since I was eight; I texted.
Excellent time to change that. He responded with a smiley emoji. I’ll be on duty, but calls don’t come in often.
So, I agreed. And seconded the motion when I met him. Black skin and light, almost unnatural, amber-colored eyes. A smooth, bald head. Biceps that out-circumference Dylan’s by a few inches.
Basically, hubba hubba.
And for the first time… ever, the night goes surprisingly well. The tour; excellent. Dinner; even better. The company; hot enough to keep a fire extinguisher handy. Maybe I finally cracked the code for a successful date.
“I can walk you to your car—” he points toward the parking lot—“Or I can take you to meet Lola and Judy.”
“Lola and Judy?” Maybe I didn’t crack the dating code.
“My favorite girls, who happen to be firetrucks.” His smile glows. “But it’s a forbidden tour. No civilians allowed; in case a call comes in.”
Better and better. Who doesn’t enjoy a little forbidden on their date? “I’d love to.”
Leading me to an oversized garage, he introduces the girls. “Judy’s the primary truck. Lola is currently decommissioned.”
I brush my hand along Lola’s shiny red exterior. The back indents a few feet, opening to a steel-bottom floor. On the right side of the niche, a short ladder runs to the top. Isaac directs me to climb, and my fingers curl around the metal.
“Is this where you bring all your dates?” I take the first step.
He shakes his head. “I’ve never taken someone on the forbidden tour.”
Stepping up, he closes us off in our private corner. I know where this is going, and anticipation hums. With my feet on the second rung, I match his height. I turn around to face him, falling into his golden gaze. “Do you wear contacts?”
“No.” He smiles, a small dent appearing on his cheek.
My body remains motionless as he leans in. This is it: The First Kiss After Divorce. At one point, I thought it might be Dylan.
Stop! No thoughts of Dylan while another man leans.
The cold steel of the ladder presses into my back. His hand cups my chin. The smell of his cologne makes me go mmm right before his lips touch mine. I want angels to sing, for time to stand still, or fireworks to flow through my veins. Instead, I can’t help comparing this to the ex-hole.
But Isaac deserves a chance. I clear my head, surrendering to the sensation of a handsome man’s mouth on mine. The kiss changes from nice to niiiiiice. Warmth spreads. His hand drifts to my cheek, and goosebumps follow the path. I’m like a teenager again, the forbidden tour, the first kiss.
Sirens blare, and I jump with the sudden, deafening noise. Bulbs flicker above, red strobe lights flashing. The formerly calm and quiet firehouse bellows in a hub of pandemonium.
“Emergency call.” Isaac’s beautiful eyes widen as he pulls away. “Don’t worry. We’re taking Judy.”
“Don’t worry? Everyone will see me leave.” No way I escape the “forbidden” tour unnoticed.
“Wait until we’re gone, and then go.” The man with biceps the size of oak trunks trails his fingers down my arm. “I’m sorry. It was a great night. I’ll call you.”
He rushes to put on his gear, joining the other firefighters suiting up. I move to lower myself from the ladder and realize there’s a problem.
The chunky heels of my super cute boots somehow wedged behind the rung. By wedged, I mean immovable. Like two tiny Lego pieces jammed together and the only solution is to pry them apart with fingernails and bad words.
Clinging to the ladder, I jerk my feet, my whole body involved in the attempt, and I bash the back of my head. The sting ebbs out, like water touching a napkin. My eyes close, and I groan while simultaneously wiggling my heels, fighting to get loose. Nothing.
“Isaac,” I whisper, but he can’t hear me over the blaring alarm. “Pssst, Isaac.”
He hops in the truck, leaving me for Judy. Off to fight a fire or rescue a kitten from a tree.
A loud horn honks, the siren screeches, and Judy drives from the garage in a flash of crimson. Seconds tick by, the alarm and flashing lights inside the station stop. Head still stinging, pride in the gutter, I pull out my phone, careful not to fall, and FaceTime Kira.
“Aren’t you on a date? Everything okay?” Kira asks.
“The date was great, Isaac is…” I almost fan myself, but need to hold on to the ladder for balance. “Never mind. He left on an emergency call, and I have a problem.”
“How can I help?” Her tone changes from joking to clean-up-on-aisle-Anna. A tone I wish I wasn’t familiar with but know all too well.
“Here’s the thing…” I flip the camera to show her my situation. “I’m stuck. I tried jiggling. Brute force. Hope and imagination. Nothing works.”
“Cute boots,” she says.
“Thanks.” Blowing out a breath, I blink away the threatening tears. I don’t want to die on Lola. “What do I do?”
“Just unzip them and pull your feet out.”
“Do I look like a contortionist? The ladder is against my back, and I can’t bend over without sticking my butt out.” I grow whinier with each word. “I’m a jammed Lego.”
“No, you’re not. I’ve taken enough yoga classes to get you out.” Her hmmm vibrates the speaker. “You need to scootch your toes out wide and plié squat.”
“Kira.” Despair echoes in my voice. The solution, there within my grasp. But I dressed for cuteness. “I can’t do it. I’m wearing skinny jeans.”
“No!” she cries.
“Yes.” Readjusting my grip on the ladder, I rest my cheek against the cold steel to ease the sweat dotting my brow. “Tell my boys I love them. This is where I live now.”
“Stop being a drama queen.” She shuffles on her end and a door closes. Which means she sought privacy. Kira to the rescue. “Anna. Pull down your pants.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Do you want to live on a firetruck, or do you want freedom?” She stares at me through the phone screen.
“Freedom,” I mutter under my breath.
“Then the pants have to go.” She gives me a sympathetic nod. “Roll them below your knees and then slowly squat. You should be able to reach your boots.”
“Hold on.” I turn off the video and stuff my phone in my bra. “Starting pants’ removal now.”
Unbuttoning my jeans, I jiggle my hips, one hand holding the ladder and the other working the denim. Back and forth, back and forth, like a maniacal hula dancer. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but eventually, I drop the pants enough for part two of the plan. The squat.
With my knees out wide and my spine scraping across the rungs, I lower myself. At age forty, knees don’t bend like they used to, and I creak and grunt my way down. The boot zippers buzz as I slide them open, and I slip my feet out to touch Lola’s floor.
“Done.” I shake my head and yank my pants up. Why me?
“I knew you could do it.” Her voice echoes from the confines of my bra, and I pull the phone out. “Now wait for the hot firefighter to come back.”
I free my boots from the ladder and put them on my feet. “No way. We almost got caught. He told me to leave.”
“Almost got caught doing what?”
“Nothing. I’m hanging up now.” I end the call on her protest.
As I hop off the truck, giving Lola a pat farewell, I glance up. The color drains from my face, and an icy tingle runs down my spine, not unlike the cold ladder at my back. Panic grips my chest in a fist of embarrassment, squeezing so tight, breathing becomes impossible.
There, a red light blinks down on me from a security camera aimed in my direction. A camera that definitely caught me wiggling. My awkward squat. And my pants-less escape.
A stuck Lego word exits my mouth.
The color returns to my face, mortification sunburning my cheeks to Lola’s shade. I just got my First Kiss After Divorce. The attraction between Isaac and me was undeniable. But unfortunately, I live in the reality where girls on security footage with their pants down become urban legends that live on in ignominy. I can never see Isaac again. Nor have any fires or emergencies requiring his service. Such is my life. C’est la vie.
Sneaking away under the cover of night, I race from the station. The worry of discovery looms over me, and I hustle like a woman with pants on fire—straight to the Mom-mobile. Digging for the key, I throw my body across the seat and start the car. At least I attempt to start it, but my minivan stutters.
“No, no, no.” I smack the steering wheel and lean my head back. “Please don’t do this to me. Not after I pulled down my pants.”
My heart pounds. I pray to the deity of dying minivans and turn the key. It chugs, coughs, belches a low moan of pain. Pumping the gas, I chant words of Mom-mobile love. Gears grind. Metal cries. Finally, the engine utters a last wheeze and comes to life.
Dizzy with relief, I shift into drive and exit the parking lot.
In my embarrassed state, my mind turn to Dylan. Should he infiltrate my thoughts so soon after kissing another man? Probably not. But unbidden, the laughter locket opens, and I imagine his reaction to the boot-apocalypse.
I tap my fingers on the steering wheel. Normally, I send a teaser text, something that will pique his curiosity. Tonight, I want to hear his voice. Juggling my phone, I put it on speaker and set it on the dash. Stupid Mom-mobile without Bluetooth.
“Anna, hey.” His happy greeting makes my tummy flutter. “How are you?”
“Do you know the fire station on Oak Street?” The one that currently holds my dignity for ransom.
“I do…” he draws out the last word, anticipation heavy in his tone.
“I’m driving away from there like my ex-husband is on my tail.”
His laughter fills the line, and I capture the sound, stuffing the snapshot into my mental locket. Although, at this rate, I need a mental photo album.
“What happened?” he asks.
“There was this ladder—”
Seconds too late, I realize the headlights approaching my driver’s side don’t slow as I pass through the intersection. A pounding crash strikes the Mom-mobile, sending a shower of glass raining down. My van spins. At least, I think it does. Rubber screeches and metal screams. Or maybe that’s me screaming.
Smoke hits my nostrils, a less campfire, more mechanical burn. The horrible noise of crunching and grinding stops, and then silence. Except for the lonely hiss of the hot engine cooling. I focus on that sound, tethering myself to something other than pain and confusion. Until another sound joins. A distant voice. Yelling loud enough to penetrate my ringing ears.
“Anna!” It’s Dylan. Does he know what happened? “Anna!”
I want to reassure him; ease the tremor in his voice as he shouts my name. But instead, I close my eyes. Just for a minute.