Relax by John Quinn

‘I’ve never seen so much blood.’ Jimmy stood for effect, which, being only five foot seven, failed. He poured his splayed fingers through his thinning hair, the hair he’d described on the dating app as ‘luxurious.’ A little embarrassed, he sat down again; even to Jimmy it was obvious the date wasn’t going well. 

‘What were you expecting?’ Miranda grinned. ‘Hadn’t you ever given blood before?’ 

‘Yes, er, no. I mean, I’d thought about it. Who hasn’t? But I passed out once, in the doctor’s surgery, when the nurse went to give me a jab. And I hit my head on that tray thing, you know, the one on wheels.’ 

Miranda had kind of lost the thread of the conversation, so thought it wise to nod. ‘Should we, you know, order something? I skipped lunch to make sure I’d be hungry.’ 

‘I know some big girls have to be careful about what they… Um, I didn’t mean that you’re… Oh, sod it, look I’m sorry. Feel free to just go now, if you want. At least that means you won’t have wasted your whole evening. I’ll pay for the drinks.’ 

‘No, it’s fine, really.’ 

‘It’s my fault, I’m not very good at small talk. Chatting up. Chit-chat. When I try to put someone at ease, I make them more nervous. One girl I met on the app asked if I was an MI5 interrogator; she said I put her so on edge she’d confess to anything.’ 

Miranda stifled a laugh. She’d been terrified – she’d never used a dating app before – and had to will herself through the wine bar’s doors. Now she was surprised to find herself enjoying the company of the desperately anxious, funny Jimmy. ‘Relax,’ she smiled naturally, ‘it takes a nervous wreck to recognise a kindred spirit.’

Published in Issue #12

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