She set down her briefcase and turned the key in the lock. Glad to be home, even more glad to have stopped for a bottle of Shiraz and a tiny triangle of ancient parmesan Reggiano.
It had been a long day following a sleepless night. She’d been able to drown out most thought through the day and staying away from all but business emails had helped. There would be no way tonight though to avoid the inevitable. Avoid the empty feeling that had begun after she’d hit “send” yesterday from her desk at work.
“We can’t see each other anymore…”.
The message she’d typed began to replay through her brain as she stepped inside. Closing her eyes and willing the thought away, she began the usual weekday evening routine. Half an hour passed and she sat down in the faux leather chair in “her room”. Setting a side plate of thin rye crisps, a heap of shaved parmesan curls on the side table with her glass of wine, she flipped open her mac and grabbed her notebook. Opened all the same tabs, all the regular haunts to update, review and catch up with. Everything the same except…
She opened the notebook to a fresh page and stared at it as she sipped the Shiraz, let the lines blur and fade and come together in the outline of his face. His face. How could he have become so dear to her in such a short time? It didn’t matter if she left her email unopened, didn’t matter if she avoided the social network. She could see him perfectly, imagined how laughter would light up his eyes, imagined how pain might form tears in those eyes. Thinking this made her heart ache; she couldn’t be certain but knew that her email had probably hurt him.
How else to explain? How else to avoid what she knew would be inevitable?
The truth was, she had been falling for him. In some ways from the moment she’d first seen his face. She knew the reasons why, knew her heart could be a little wayward at times and it seemed harmless. To indulge a thought or two about someone she might not ever meet. Somehow though, he’d crept into her subconscious. A chance phrase, captured her imagination, staring out the window of the bus, she could see the two of them together, see the kiss that melted… came back to reality with a start, wondering what the hell was going on in her head. Laughing at herself, knowing her Romantic’s soul was very adept at picking and choosing what it wanted to see. Knowing nothing at all really. He was an enigma. Somehow though, they’d become good friends. Her day wasn’t complete without their private, cheery exchanges. She had sensed his innate distrust of online friends very early on and so they took their time. She loved his schoolteacher reserve and his raunchy humour. Every time he dropped his guard, she felt it as a gift, a token to their friendship.
Until the moment when she realized just how often he was on her mind. How sometimes his words felt like a caress. She wove schoolgirl fantasies around him… she wove fantasies that threatened to burn down the world. Looking at his face, craving the sound of his voice… She knew they would probably come to that place in time, the thought was like a flame inside her. It had been warm and beautiful and she was drawn back time and again, just like the proverbial moth. She could hear his words inside her and knew that the sweet daydreams could easily become a world of hurt.
And so, with the dawning realization that she was falling hard for, investing all her emotional energy in. Hell! She was halfway to crazy arse in love with him… and not looking after her own life. She had to finish her university courses, had rent to pay and writing sonnets, instead of paid blog posts, wasn’t going to pay that. It just seemed too big a risk to take or to take any further. She figured he’d be OK, mostly. Not like there weren’t other female admirers in his world… She realized she was crying again. Wanting, aching for something that seemed utterly out of reach. Didn’t stop for a tissue, just grabbed her laptop, typed like a mad thing, hit “Send”.
Twenty-six hours ago. Did she really just have that pathetic thought? Was she really going to pay attention to the soft “ping” of a new email that had arrived. Damn straight she was! Heart doing that zero to sixty that it did when she was anticipating… Saw his name in the “From”, no subject… Stomach swooped for a second but she clicked on the empty field to read: “I do not wish to let you go. I am here. I am yours. Never forget…”
Reaching again for her notebook, not taking her eyes from the screen, she flipped back a few pages to the long distance telephone number. One he’d given her during an all night email marathon involving much wine and beer. Fumbled for her phone, dialed…
previously published in “Every Picture Tells A Story” by Karin Bole Tupper