"Paul’s Early Blush" - a short story.
Written on the spot by Christina N as she realizes she didn’t post on Wednesday and feels bad.
The sad thing about Paul is that he doesn’t believe in anything, least of all himself. One day, when he was eight and he fell over and hurt his knee, his mother cradled him and softly stroked his hair, saying ‘Shhh, everything will be fine’. Even then, through the tears and snot streaming down his face, Paul had whispered ‘You don’t know that’. His knee healed, but to this day, he still finds it hard to put faith in anything.
Now in his early thirties, Paul is a suspicious man. The weatherman and the lady who lives across the street are some of his regular targets; their promises seem as empty as the glass sitting in front of Paul at this very moment:
She is late.
The pulp is still sticking to the inside of the tiny glass - why do they serve orange juice in such tiny glasses? are they playing a practical joke? - but the plate of food is untouched. Paul doesn’t buy into the idea of buffets, so he always picks just one meal. How preposterous, to think people would want more than one kind of eggs on their plate at a time! He checks his watch. He taps his fingers against the glass of pulp, thinking, with a jolt of remorse, if he should’ve stayed up in the room with her. No, no, she sent him away. She said she’d be right down. And yet, after twenty minutes of waiting, there is still no sign of her.
Somehow, through the clinking of cutlery against china and the sounds of people chattering and eating, he can hear her footsteps as she approached the door of the dining hall. He looks down at the empty glass and realizs how rude it must seem to her that he had gulped down the juice already. That he couldn’t even wait for her, that he didn’t trust her. The doors open, she steps in, and even before she begins to smile, Paul blushes.