Samantha picked up her chopsticks, scooped a portion of wasabi from her plate and began stirring and pounding the green paste into the saucer of soy sauce. "So, what do you think?" she asked her dining companion.
"You know you have to figure that one out for yourself. Nobody can make those decisions for you."
Samantha moved the soy-wasabi closer to her plate and sighed. "I know. I hate the 'what if' game, but there are so many things to consider."
"Did you try making a list? You know, pros on one side, cons on the other."
"Three pages long, but the entries kept switching sides. Everything is so gray. Like, sometimes squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle can drive you nuts, but sometimes you need a little bit of disorder in your life."
"Sure, like you've ever squeezed a toothpaste tube in the middle."
Deeming her mixture perfect, Samantha dunked a California roll, let the excess liquid drip off, and delivered it to the center of her open mouth. The sharp sting as her sinuses cleared told her she'd gotten the proportions exactly right.
She finished chewing and swallowing before she retorted, "Have so!"
The ensuing silence made her look up and meet her companion's gaze at last. "Don't look at me like that," Samantha said to the skeptical expression on Stephen's face.
He tempered his smirk into something closer to a smile.
"Well, all right, so I did put the cap back on and squeezed it up from the bottom right afterwards. But at least I tried," she muttered.
Stephen raised his wine glass. "To effort."
She clinked her glass against his. "To effort. I only wish this was the kind of effort that could be solved with elbow grease. Mental effort's too much of a strain."
She took a sip of her wine and set the glass down next to her chopstick holder. After dabbing her lips with her napkin, she folded the linen square, put it in her lap, and placed her hands on the table. "How long have we known each other?"
"Since junior high. I'm not counting the years."
"And you don't think that after all that time you could let me know what you think I should do?"
He grinned at her, but shook his head. "Nope. You're on your own here."
Samantha prepared another California roll. She had it halfway to her mouth when she set it back on her plate, soy sauce and all. "That's it. I've made my decision. Thanks for being here."
"Glad to oblige, as always," Stephen replied. "What are friends for?"
"I know. Sometimes I think you'd do this even if I didn't pay for the sushi."
"You know darn well I would. So, what's it going to be? The red or the black Mercedes?"
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society