Submitted by Robert:
Barbara and I met in a college class. I asked her if she wanted to study together, one thing led to another, and we ended up going out to dinner one night.
It went well, and it felt, to me at least, as though we had good chemistry. From what I could tell, she felt the same way. I asked her out again for the following weekend, and she agreed.
Midway through the week, she asked me if we could reschedule to another night. This was around finals time, and my schedule was becoming increasingly tight. I offered to do a lunch date over a forthcoming weekday, but she couldn't make any of the potential dates that I threw out. In the end, she said that she would be able to make the original time.
She was ten minutes late, but that wasn't a big deal. She apologized and we sat down and had a good first five minutes. Then she said, "I have to go to the bathroom. I'll be right back."
I was a bit worried when she didn't come back after 20 minutes. I asked a waitress if she would mind checking in the bathroom to make sure that everything was okay.
The waitress came back and said, "The bathroom was empty."
I pulled out my phone and called her. It went to voicemail. I left a message and decided to wait for a little bit, to see if she would come back. After all, there might have been a perfectly logical explanation, right?
She came back and apologized. "Sorry. I was on an important phone call."
That's all she gave me. I told her that making me wait a half-hour wasn't really cool. I was worried, and again asked if everything was okay.
"Yes," she said, and that was it.
Maybe she had an ill friend or relative. I could certainly forgive that, couldn't I? And it fit the facts, as it might have been too personal to discuss.
We ordered our dinners and she put her fingers to her head. "Excuse me, I'll be right back," she said, then stood up and left the table again.
The food arrived and still no sign of her. I thought about starting, but then remembered that I wanted to be supportive if she was going through something tough. The last thing she needed was for me to not be understanding.
She came back to the table with another, "Sorry."
I asked her if everything was okay, and she said, "Yes," as if I had annoyed her by asking. She wolfed down her food without a word and asked me if I could drive her to her friend Kerri's apartment as soon as possible.
It was very hard to remain patient, and I asked her, "Was it a bad idea for us to meet up tonight?"
She said, "Probably, but..." and she rolled her eyes, like she blamed me for holding up her life. Just to be clear, we both agreed to meet up that night, and she could've canceled at any time.
I paid for dinner, she didn't thank me, and we took off for Kerri's. Kerri lived out of town, as it turned out, close to a half-hour away.
We pulled up to a house on a suburban street. The porch light was on. I asked her if she wanted me to go in with her. She said that it wasn't any of my business and that I should wait outside until she came out. She left the car, approached the house, and went inside.
My patience was thinning, but I couldn't shake the feeling I had that she was in some bad trouble. I didn't want to just take off. Then again, this had gone on for long enough, and by keeping me in the dark, she was manipulating me, whether consciously or not.
I stepped out of the car and approached the house. I couldn't see or hear anything from the front, so I went around back. A screen door and a lit window. I pressed myself against the house and heard the sound of a girl crying.
It wasn't Barbara, since I heard her voice. She repeated, "We'll go. Don't worry. We'll go. I promise. We'll go. We'll go." I couldn't tell if she was talking to the crying girl or on the phone.
There was nothing else but the sound of the crying girl for a long time. Not even the sound of people moving about.
A man's voice said something that sounded like, "Should we ship her out or what?"
No response, but the crying stopped. I made my way back to the car and called Barbara. She picked up. "Sorry. It's going to be longer here than I thought. I'll find a ride. Can you find your way home?"
I told her that I could and that I hoped that everything was okay.
That would have been my cue to leave, but I didn't. I parked the car down a nearby side street and doubled back to the house.
Part II posting later today.
Submitted by Robert: