If Truth Be Told || Craig Loomis

“Who told you to wear those shoes?”

          Looking down at her pink flats, she answered, “Nobody.”

          “Nobody?”

          Looking down at her pink flats one more time, just to make sure. “Nobody.”

          “My mother didn’t say something to your mother?”

          Frowning at him, “Nobody did. My idea. All my idea.” Even giving a shrug to show him what her own idea looked like.

          “You sure?”

          Because he was a new doctor, nobody really knew if he was any good; hard to say with doctors who had just finished doctoring school. Still, here he was after all those years in Ireland, with business cards that had a Dr. in front of his name. So when he handed Sara one of his cards she read it and nodded. When they moved to the garden to sit down, she on one side of the green patio table, he on the other, he leaned towards her like she was a patient and he was there to practice his best, newly-learned medicine. Now tell me, where does it hurt? He looked down at her pink flats again and when he did, she, out of some girly reflex, turned them this way and that so he could get a better looksee.

          They were meeting for the first time to see if they might be right for one another. The two families had high hopes. Her mother whispering to her the night before, “It’s what we all dream about, a doctor in the family, sah? If not a doctor then a lawyer for sure. But, if truth be told, everybody knows that a doctor is the first choice.”

          Sara had never been against doctors. I mean, think of it:

          Is it true: your husband is a doctor?

          Yes, he is.

          Mashallah.

          “In fact,” looking down at her wristwatch, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he weren’t in the middle of some important surgery, as we speak.”

          And so, there they were in the garden at the green patio table, the big black cat studying them from the shade, while the mothers sat inside, sipping tea, half chatting, half glancing into the garden.

          “So, you’re a doctor?”

          “Yes, that’s right.”

          “You must be very proud.”

          “Yes, my mother is very proud.”

          When he suddenly stood to brush off something from his dishdasha, she could see for the first time that he was not tall; in fact, if truth be told, he was easily her size. His brushing all done, he sat back down and resumed his leaning across the table.

         “Sara, is it?”

         “Yes, that’s right.”

         “Sara, and those shoes,” motioning with his eyebrows, “were your idea? Nobody said it would be a good idea to wear, . . . what are they called, flats?”

         She didn’t mean to sigh but she did, and he heard and pressed his lips together, something like a pucker.

         “I’m sorry, it’s just ….”

         “Just what?”

         “Just something.”

         “What?” she said almost too loud.

         “Just that I know my mother.”

          It was then that she thought about lying to him, telling him what he so desperately wanted to hear, maybe even needed to hear: that she had been instructed to wear flats, girly pink flats, because he was short, and men—even doctors who have to do important surgeries–don’t like taller women, never mind potential wives. By wearing her flats, they were about the same height, Sara and the new doctor, almost equal.