The Afternoon of Nothing, Absolutely Nothing!


Mandy and I are setting up for the Oyster Fest. There’s not much to do. Eating seafood, French fries, corn on the cob, and coleslaw outside is meant to be a casual affair. Just make sure there are trash and recycle bins, seating for the older folks, and coolers for the beer and sodas.

My phone vibrates and in my attempt to get it out of my pocket, it goes flying into the sand. Mandy laughs.

“Who are you expecting to call? Is it some broken-hearted man you left in the city?”

“Nobody.” Somebody. Damien.

Mandy grabs my cell. “Who in the world is Evil Twin? And why would you want a text from them?”

Damien! “Gimme, gimme, gimme,” I say. “So help me, Mandy, if you run, I will tackle you.”

“Whoa! Serious stuff.”

“Is he yummy?”


She hands me my cell.

How can I apologize? The first message says. I had no idea my phone wasn’t working. Something about a SIM card. I thought that was some life-simulation game. Who knew? Hope you’re doing well, Red. Miss you.

I’m grinning at my phone and Mandy is reading over my shoulder.

Just hearing from him makes my heart jump.

“You’re all red,” Mandy says. “You must really like this guy. I remember Joe in high school. You looked like a strawberry every time you’d see him. So, tell me what’s he do?”

“He was in law enforcement,” I say. What do I know about Damien? I don’t even know what he’s doing now.

“Why evil twin? That’s pretty strange even for you,” Mandy says, placing wicker baskets with paper towels and plastic utensils on the picnic tables.

“I was dating his brother and I was having issues with my contacts and mistakenly kissed him and when I saw him I thought he was Dominic’s evil twin.”

“So you kissed the brother and now you’re seeing the brother,” Mandy says, raising her eyebrows. “What’s the brother’s name?”

Mom opens the door to the deck and surveys our progress. “Mandy, I need you to run to the market and pick up a few things.”

“Just a sec, Mom. We’re about to have a breakthrough. Clare was seeing someone in the city! He goes by the nickname Evil Twin.”

Mom laughs. “You girls and your superheroes. There’ll be plenty of time for Clare to tell us all about her superhero or supervillain later. I ran out of pecans for the pies.”

I sit at the picnic table and begin texting Damien.

“Where are you?”

No answer.

I press speed dial and wait. It goes to voicemail. I sigh and stare down the beach where a man has just left the Conrad’s bungalow and is jogging south toward the pier. My heart skips. It looks like Damien. Crazy. I’m in trouble if I think every man looks like Damien. Why would he be here? Where could he be? What’s he doing now? Certainly not jogging on a beach on the Delmarva Peninsula. But what if he were? Wishful thinking, Clare. Just wishful thinking.


end 10/3/2016

S. Darlington


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