A small street café sat nestled between old shops and restaurants, warm and welcoming as such places were. They served the average coffee/muffin/sandwich fare for the offices in the area. That’s how Lali knew it. Today, it was perfect. Small industrial lamps spread light over the counter and tables, aided by the occasional candle. Jazz rang in the background.

The place was virtually empty. Lali slowed down. No one knew she was there, let alone seen her enter. Heading toward the counter, she picked up a black coffee and found a seat by the window. The window was the important part of her plan.

Not only did it offer a vantage point, but it also had a corner behind the door which hid her from view.

People walking by wouldn’t see or greet her and then good-humoredly report her to whoever was on yachne-duty for sitting in a non-kosher place. ‘Twas the perfect escape from nosy relatives.

After 25 years of being her parents’ little girl, she’d finally freed herself from her helicopter parents, helicopter grandparents…helicopter everybody. She left home to live her life to the fullest, not to be monitored.

To celebrate her newfound independence, she adorned herself with clothes in various shades of amber, improper by family standards, and prepared for a date.

She glanced at her mobile and opened Tinder. So many interesting people to meet. Not guys she knew since she was…three…not a date organized by her aunt.

I’m grown up, I can do this alone. No aunty-filter. It works for everyone else; it will work for me.

Checking her phone and then the street, she leaned back and read her date’s message. It was useless, since the message wouldn’t grow magically, but it was the only text apart from a sparse chat.

5.30 – CU. 

She opened the only contact on her list. The man looked too good to be real. The profile was rather mainstream, more like a CV.

Hmm…he could’ve written a bit more. Maybe he can’t write. Uncle Mo would have…no…not going there. I’m independent. I can manage my own date…maybe he can’t write. Judge every person favorably…at least, until proven guilty.

She checked the time again. Just five minutes have passed? Oh, well, 25 minutes to read. A book and coffee; how classic or pathetic.

Switching on her Kindle, Lali soon found herself falling in love with a formidable hero —tall, dark, mysterious…and he could ride a horse.

A quick scan of the street before she joined Prince Charming again. Her iPhone gave a timid ping and summoned her back to reality at 5.30.

Hmm…time for the real-life hero to show up.

She craned her neck for a better view of the street. The skies had started to pour.

Damn! Umbrellas. Oh, there, that must be him. Tall, raven hair…that’s him. He is…what’s he doing?…No, no, no…that’s the wrong café.

Suppressing the impulse to jump and wave, she fumbled for her lipstick inside her bag, primped herself up like a pro, and dashed out into the rain.

“Hey, miss…I’m afraid you forgot to pay.” Only the waiter’s voice accompanied her.

She crossed the street in a run, followed the man to the other bistro, yanked the door open, and bumped into his back. Hadn’t her mother always told her to look up while walking? A late reminder flashed through her head, before she could say, “Oh, I’m so sorry, but it’s raining.”

The man quickly scanned her and smiled.

“Oh… one second.” Gasping, she extended her hand, turned her tote bag around, and shoved the biggest red heart and I…LONDON under his nose. “Hi, I’m Leah.”

He raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Nice to meet you. Shall we find a table?”

“Ah, yeah!” She panted.

“D’you like the corner?” He pointed to a bistro table shadowed by plants, leading the way while Lali attempted to regain her composure and breathe. While her new Prince Charming motioned to the waiter, she desperately tried to hide the tote bag, a token of general mediocrity and her personal bad taste. He was a gentleman and didn’t comment.

I have to say something. No, better not. He’ll think I’m too chatty.

Lali smoothened her clothes. Her outfit clashed with her new surroundings.

Okay, I look funny. Should’ve done what Aunt Muriel always preached. Modesty and refinement…yada yada…scamper-pencil skirt and pneumonia-blouse, I’m such an idiot…sweater and jeans…right, unsupervised-DIY-date.

She studied her surroundings—petite, elegant tables with cloth napkins and waiters sporting bowties. Sophisticated murmur accompanied by piano music, not jazz. Nobody was reading a magazine, or, Heaven forbid, fidgeting with a smartphone. This was all wrong. It was her mother’s dream, not hers.

Her heart didn’t gallop anymore but had excused itself and dropped unceremoniously to the stomach.

Why does he raise his eyebrow again? One eyebrow? I have to practice that at home! Oh, I’m still on mute…

“Nice café, isn’t it?”

“Absolutely, I stumbled upon it last year. It’s always quiet and has the best pastries in town. Highly rated on Yelp, too. You like gourmet food, don’t you? I mean, who would eat in some scruffy place like the opposite one. Have you ever been there? I hope not…”

Boy, does he always talk that much? Lali gazed at him. Impressive…

A waiter arrived shortly and Mr. Chatterbox ordered tea and something sweet. Waiting for the tea to arrive bought her time to study him. Tall—check, dark—check, handsome—check, but…ah, no, I’m not crinkling my face in disgust, I’m not scrunching my nose, I’m gonna be the perfect lady. Oh, this is so Mom’s dream…bowtie…ugh…

She sipped her tea while tall-dark-handsome had moved on to the finer points of fashion, sports cars, and property prices.

Lali had made up her mind. “Ahem…”

“Yes, as I said, it’s really important you know your trader; if you don’t, you never know what you will end up with….”

Your word in G-d’s ear. Next time, aunty-filter!


Never mind…tf the man likes to talk, so be it.

“Clay…? Hm…Clegg…?”

Whatever… “Ahem…” …Clown!

“Clement,” he interrupted.

“Right, sorry, Clement. I got confused…you know.”

“No apologies needed. You’re really cute when you blush.”

“Thank you, but…”

“No, no. Really. I think you’re adorable.”

Adorable?! I need air.

“I don’t think…”

Unexpectedly, his endless monologue ebbed into blessed silence. He raised an eyebrow again and flashed a sarcastic smile. “Have you figured it out yet?”

“What?” she squeaked and gasped before her mother’s dream of the perfect son-in-law let out a barking laugh.

“I’m just going to pay for my tea and then, I’ll be on my way,” she coughed out.

“Absolutely not. This was far too much fun. Can I walk you home?”

“Ah, no…but…”



“Oh, yes, and cancel the date with the fool who didn’t show up.”