lovers & friends Chapter 2

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I wake from a deep sleep to the sound of the phone ringing, and no matter how I try to block it out of my consciousness it rings on and on incessantly until I finally resign myself to waking...

Submitted: July 15, 2010

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Submitted: July 15, 2010

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I wake from a deep sleep to the sound of the phone ringing, and no matter how I try to block it out of my consciousness it rings on and on incessantly until I finally resign myself to waking. Even as I reach for the receiver I’m checking the clock in a somewhat futile effort to fathom the time and place and day. The clock says 4:15, and daylight streams through my bedroom window. I mumble out a groggy “Hullo?” now remembering that it’s Sunday afternoon, and I’d surfed all morning- a Southwest swell originating somewhere down by the Aleutians. I’d intended to lie down for just a minute to rest my eyes before sitting up to my desk to perform my daily writing ritual. Apparently I haven’t done it yet. “Hey gorgeous.” Kim’s voice on the other end, silky smooth- and I instantly panicked just a mite, thinking I’d somehow gotten my times and dates mixed up and forgotten to pick her up from the airport. “Do you miss me?”

There’s mischief in her voice. I surmise from her tone that she’s still in Oahu, and my dates and times are probably still pretty OK. “Yeah- I always miss you, even when you’re here.” I rest my head on my pillow, eyes closed to block out the afternoon sunlight, the moment of panic past. “Where are you?” “Stuck in a hotel room in Honolulu.” A quick switch from mischief to exasperation. “I thought we might get out of here tonight but it looks like I’m here until at least noon tomorrow.” She lets out a long sigh. “If we got out of here early I really wanted to surprise you- but there was just no way.” There’s a long pause, and then her voice is soft again. “I miss you a lot.” “Ahh, love- I always miss you.” I smile, my eyes still closed. I get a lot of personal satisfaction from making her feel good, though I can’t really explain that, except to say that I’ve become a bit soft over the years. “I could catch the last flight out and you could pick me up at the airport- we could spend the weekend together- get a hotel room and go shopping or something.” Her laughter then, quiet and soft- a beautiful sound that brings me a lot of happiness. “It’s a nice thought- you’re a sweet man and I love you.” I can hear her take a deep breath, as if she’s composing herself. “I will be home tomorrow- hopefully around noon. We’ve got some catching up to do.”

“Um-hm.” I reply, eyes closed again, head back on my pillow. “It’s been a little too long, I think.” “I’ve been gone less than a week.” She laughs at me. “You’re a sweetheart. I’ll call you before I leave for the airport, just to let you know I’m on my way.” I lay there wishing she was beside me, frustrated with the miles and the hours between us. I can feel her warm smile through the phone. “You won’t forget me will you?” “Ahhh- you know that’ll never happen. Not ever.” I’m still a little sleepy and I’ve got the phone resting on the pillow against my ear. “Kim…I love you, you know.” “Yeah…I do know.” Her voice is soft and beautiful, just my favorite kind of music. “I love you too, you big softy.” Just the sound of her voice alone makes me want her more. “Hey lover-I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” “Hmmm…I’ll be waiting for you when you get here.” I don’t hear a click as she sets the receiver into its cradle, and I do the same. I lay there on my bed, the sun making me sweat as it makes it’s decent down beyond the Pacific.

Sitting up on the edge of the bed I think about Kim, and how much I miss her. I seem to miss her more and more these days. We used to spend time apart and I’d just cruise, surfing and writing and doing all kinds of alone stuff. I’ve always enjoyed my alone time, but lately it seems that I miss her sooner each time she’s away, and each time she returns we love each other more fiercely, just never able to get enough of each other. I suppose that makes it worth the time away from each other, just because we get to have that great feeling again and again- but still, sometimes I wake to find the spot beside me empty and I lay there in the darkness wishing I could reach out and feel her next to me, hear her breathing. I shake my head at what kind of man I’ve become- inside I’m just laughing at myself. I pull on a red pair of trunks and head out the kitchen door to the garage, where I grab a board off of the rack there. I walk down the road towards Lyman’s Bay in the receding daylight, hoping there’ll be a little surf. I get there to find ten guys scattered across the lineup, and not much surf to speak of. I pick my way out onto an outcropping of lava, scrutinizing the water before tossing my board ahead of me and diving in, just clear of the rocks. I pull myself up onto my board and paddle across the bay, North- away from the Lyman’s Bay lineup and up the coast towards Banyans.

I figure it’s too nice an afternoon to sit inside, so I just go for a long paddle, stretching out my back and shoulders a little. As I paddle I think about Kim again, just the way she looks when she thinks no one is around, and how I like to sneak up behind her and whisper that I love her, wrapping my arms around her, holding her while I kiss her neck and face and hair. There’s just so much love between us it become sort of redundant at times, but still we just bask in it. It’s a great feeling, being in love- indescribable- and there’s nothing quite like it. There’s nothing even close. I love making her happy, and telling her that she’s beautiful, and sexy, and sweet- and a lot of other things I love about her that are completely true. Back when I was in my first marriage, it wasn’t like that at all- and I never could figure out what was missing. My wife was really self-conscious and never could accept that kind of behavior as something normal- it was always forced, never spontaneous- and she’d make a sort of a joke out of it, and that would just take all of the sincerity and sweetness right out of the moment leaving this awkward space where we’d both be thinking “Was that right?” It never really was, and I think over time we both figured that out on our own.

There was a time not long before my divorce when I fell terribly in love with a very good friend. She was a beautiful and sensitive girl- dark haired and small, Irish-Catholic, kind and gentle and sweet. To this day I don’t know exactly how it happened, or even exactly what did happen- but for a time we were two of the sweetest lovers that the world ever laid eyes on. We would meet for lunch up in the mountains by her work, and sometimes hold hands and walk, window shopping or just talking about nothing, me trying to steer the conversation to “us” and telling her how much I love her- she trying to steer the conversation the other way. I held her close to me a few times, and each time I felt as if it should last forever. She kissed me on the cheek a couple times, and once in a weak moment she told me that she loved me.

Otherwise that was about it, except for months and months of anguish and me nursing a terribly broken heart. We met and talked, and we chatted on the phone three and four and five times a day, for four or five months, I guess- maybe a bit more. The whole time she told me it could never be, but all the while we kept talking and meeting for lunch, holding hands and spending time together- and I never did figure that one out. Then one day she just stopped returning my calls, for the most part. I’d ask her “What’s wrong? What’s come between us? What’s changed?” and she’d just say that nothing’s changed, that everything’s good between us. She told me that she was just busy and didn’t have the time she used to have- though I guess before this point she must have made time, but I don’t really know a whole lot about it. So all of the sudden there wasn’t enough time for her to return my calls, and she didn’t talk to me the way we talked before. There was no more intimacy or sweetness- it was like I’d lost my best friend, and then some. I think maybe I did.

So I stayed right there, waiting, hoping she’d maybe come around and things could be like before- but she just called less and less and I became more and more broken hearted, until I finally was just crushed with the anguish and the heartache. I finally had to just steel myself to the reality of it, and refuse to let myself call her or look for her, and when she did finally get around to calling, and my phone would ring and her number would appear on the screen- I just had to make myself ignore it, not because I was playing some game, but because to talk to her only made me start all over remembering that we would never be together, and the pain was just too much for me to bear. I loved her more than I’ve ever loved anyone before, and here I was letting the phone ring and ring, tears in the corners of my eyes. That was a bad time for me, and it took me a long time to heal from that. I eventually told my wife that we had to separate, to split up, to divorce. I realized when I fell in love with this friend of mine that my marriage had been over for years and years, I had just refused to admit, and had fooled myself and everyone else for the longest time. But when I felt that feeling, the warmth and tenderness and spontaneity between Deb and I- well, I realized that this was what love was supposed to feel like- all of the spontaneity and chemistry and magnetism, just tenderness and warmth and sweetness- I knew that I’d never felt that before, and that I had to feel it again. Being the man that I am, I just couldn’t go through life pretending to be in love, knowing that a feeling as beautiful as that is out there, somewhere, waiting for me to discover it and nurture it and make it grow into something beautiful. To deny that feeling and stay on in the relationship I was in would have been futile, and eventually would have made me a wistful and bitter man.

Anyhow- where is all of this going? Well, I guess this left me a little bit wary. Maybe I was a little more careful about relationships and marriage and things like that than would be reasonable and prudent for a man of my age. Maybe I should have jumped at the chance to be together with a woman that I’m so deeply in love with, a woman that makes me terribly happy- forever and ever. I couldn’t be sure- I just had to take a chance, and I was afraid to take that chance, to just leap in and commit. But nonetheless, the feelings I had for Kim were making me begin to wonder, and I was doing a lot of thinking and evaluating, comparing and soul-searching, and I knew that soon I’d have to make a decision. That evening I watched the sun set from a picnic table at the shore of Lyman’s Bay, my board leaning against a big Keawe tree and me just sitting back, talking with some of the people who hang around down there. There’s a regular crew down there, and I know most of them. Mostly layabouts and hardcore surfers, they spend a lot of time hanging around down there, surfing and swimming, talking story and just generally avoiding work. I’m not sure how people like that make ends meet- I suppose it’s a pretty meager existence, but on those beautiful winter days when everything comes together, and the surf and the sky are just perfect- those guys are out there living life, while a lot of us are pushing through our days work and just trying to get by. So maybe there’s a trade there that’s worthwhile. The sunset was beautiful, and we all talked quietly, watching it with appreciation, and then after, when it was nearly dark some guys started a bonfire and a dozen or so people stood around while two local guys played guitar and sang. There was some beer in a cooler in the back of a truck parked close by, and I had a beer with them and told them I was taking off. Everyone bid me goodbye and see you later, and I took my board under my arm and walked off into the darkness.

I could hear them laughing and talking, singing and playing guitar, and a half a block away I stopped and looked back, and it was pitch black except for the glow of the bonfire, illuminating the characters standing around it. It would have made a great photo, capturing the essence of these free spirits that hang around down here, working so hard to avoid working. They’re good people, doing what they love. I turn back and continue homeward, walking across the lawn in darkness. I’d forgotten to leave any lights on, and I walked cautiously around to the backyard where I set my board on the lawn. I climbed the three steps to the kitchen door and reached inside, turning on the light. The empty house had a lonely feeling without Kim there, and I turned on some Marvin Gaye and took a long, hot shower, leaving the bathroom door open so that Marvin’s soulful style could keep me company. It had been a long time since I saw Deborah, or even talked to her. When things fell apart between us, I guess she just felt that she needed to be away from me. It hurt me a lot, because I loved her deeply and sincerely, and I only wanted to be with her. It was a tough time for me. For a while I was just devastated, and I’d go into these dark depressions that would stay with me for days. I’d try to go run to take my mind off of her, but I’d think about her the entire time. I’d think about her when I surfed, and while I worked, when I was at the gym. She’d be in my first thought when I awoke, and my last thought before I fell asleep. It was a difficult time. I guess in a way we avoided each other. I know I avoided a lot of the places we went together, and a lot of places that I thought I might find her.

I assume she did the same. The sad thing is that I really wanted to see her in the worst way, but it was just too painful to watch her go home to her family leaving me there to sort out what I think and feel. I would wait for her to call- just hoping every time the phone rang that it would be her. I had already decided that if she called I wouldn’t answer- not any kind of game, but just because hearing her beautiful voice would set me back weeks or even months- but even now I know that if the phone rang I would have picked it up. I had worked really hard to try and keep our friendship alive and then one day she just decided that it would be best if we went our separate ways, I guess. I actually don’t know, because she never really told me. It was like one day she was there with me, laughing and holding hands, telling me to just accept it all- and the next minute I’m wondering where she went and what I’d said to make her want to ever hurt me like she was. So it was just better if I ignored the ringing phone and tried to forget.

It was tough. I always knew that eventually we would run into each other. It’s a small Island, and a small town. We couldn’t avoid each other forever, and I only hoped that it would just be a warm hello and how have you been and I miss you. But I really couldn’t fathom what it would actually be- had no idea what to expect, or when to expect it. I had some time to kill before I had to pick Kim up at the airport. She had left me a message that she’d catch the noon flight out of Honolulu, and so would land at 12:45. It was 9:45 now, so I decided to kill some time at a bookstore and coffee house. Deb and I used to meet here sometimes and just wander around, touching the books and holding them, talking. We were in the fiction aisle somewhere near Doestoevsky when I asked her if she’d run away with me if I were a millionaire, and she looked me right in the eye and said “If I could, I’d run away with you for nothing at all.” The bookstore was a favorite place for both of us, and I suppose we’d both just been sneaking around it, half hoping to run into each other and half hoping not to.

I went inside and back to the coffee house portion of the store. I got a cup of coffee from the coffee bar. Dominique- the counter girl- was always fun to chat with when I had a spare couple minutes, and we talked a bit about nothing in particular, and had a quick laugh and then she went back to serving her coffee and I wandered over through mystery and science fiction and settled myself down in fiction, my favorite place on the shelves. I wandered along the aisle, a cup of coffee in one hand, running my free hand along the bindings of the books, waiting for one to catch my eye. I got to the end of the aisle and stopped to pull out a book by Haruki Murakami, when Deb walked around the corner and suddenly there we were, face to face.

I looked up from my book, surprised. “Hey beautiful.” I said softly, and it slipped out as naturally as if we were together yesterday. “How’ve you been?” I was still holding my coffee in one hand, and I put the Murakami book back where it came from without really looking. “I’ve been alright.” She smiled but there was a lot of uncertainty in her face. “How are you?” “I’m doing Ok.” I shrug, uncertain how I’m doing. “I get by- y’know.” “I heard you and Lisa finally split up.” I can see she’s waiting for an answer. “It was inevitable.” I shrug, trying to be matter of fact but sure a little anguish still shows through. “Things weren’t that great for a long time. It was really just a matter of me committing to moving out, and us parting friends before things got really bad.” She reaches up and touches the bindings of the row of books on the bookshelf at eye level in front of her. “That’s too bad.” Looking into my eyes- maybe my face- searching for something. “God- you look gorgeous.” I smile at her, and at myself for being so Me. “You still take my breath away, even now- y’know.” “Toby- Stop it.” She smiles just the same, looking down to check her watch. “I’ve got to go. Can I call you?” She’s back-pedaling, and I know she won’t call. “Would you have a cup of coffee with me?” I smile, remembering how much I miss her. “I promise to be a gentleman.” She laughs now, I suppose because I was never really any kind of threat. “I’ve really got to go.” She takes a step back, as if to initiate the ‘leaving’ part of the conversation. “I’ll get you a cocoa.” I wink at her, smiling, and hold my hand out to her. “Please?” She takes my hand a little reluctantly, and we walk away together. “You know it didn’t get any easier being away from you.” We’re sitting at a table in the coffee house portion of the bookstore. “It took some time.

I used to lay awake at night thinking of you, and I’d wonder if you were laying awake thinking of me.” I smile a rye smile at the irony of it all. “I miss you, you know?” “You seem fine- you look good.” She looks down at her hands in front of her. “I miss you too.” She toys with the ring on her left hand, spinning it round and round her finger, absentminded. “Are you training at all?” They’d trained in the martial arts together for years- that’s how they initially met, though when they last parted company neither knew if they’d continue or not. “Nah- I just can’t do that anymore. There’re too many memories in the dojo- I’d just sit there and wait for you to show up. I guess you could call it a habit.” The conversation pauses for a moment. I take a sip from my coffee and wipe up the spills with a napkin. “I’ve been surfing a lot. The surf this year has been more consistent than usual and I’ve been just running, swimming- working out at the gym, and then surfing whenever there’s any surf. Anything to distract myself, y’know?” Looking deep into her with what she’d once referred to as my “typically Irish” eyes- unsmiling yet warm, maybe a little wistful. I sigh a long sigh and then force myself to snap out of the melancholy mood I’m fast dropping into. “I met a girl- she reminds me a lot of you, actually.” Deb laughs at that, because she told me many times that there was a girl out there for me- one that would win my heart and fall in love with me- it was a fairy tale of our own design, and I used to say to her “Yeah, but she’ll never be you.” And Deb would tell me terrible things about herself- that she’s ugly and mean and all kinds of silliness, and I’d laugh and tell her she’s just the most beautiful woman I ever laid eyes on, and funny and smart and cute and mischievous, and that I loved her. Deb smiles across the table at me, and I wonder if she’s genuinely glad. “I’m happy for you.” Her face takes on a serious cast, and she leans forward a bit, asking softly, “Do you love her?” She waits, hoping something, though which it is I can’t really tell so I just do what I always do and tell her the honest to god truth. “I think so.” I smile, trying to grasp at how to put it. “ Maybe? I don’t know. I like her an awful lot, and everything’s great between us, but I’m so careful these days what with my spotty track record and all, as far as love goes.”

I look around to see who’s within earshot, leaning forward until our faces are just a foot apart. “You know, I have more than a little trouble forgetting you.” She immediately frowns, not wanting to hear this. I smile at that, because she’s the same old Deb. “I try and forget, and I do pretty well most of the time, but I still dream of you, and a lot of times when the phone rings, I catch myself wishing it was you.” “Oh- Toby.” She has a way of frowning and smiling all at once that leaves me wondering exactly how I just fared. I never can tell with her, she’s so damn ‘careful’ with herself, her feelings. “I never stopped loving you, you know? I don’t suppose I ever even tried- not really. I learned to keep my mouth shut and my head down, to just let things lie for a while, but I never have stopped loving you, even a little.” I reach across and take her hands in mine. “That day in Waimea- the day I went to say goodbye to you- I had tears in my eyes a lot of the way home, just devastated that I’d finally given up, that I’d never have this woman that I love so deeply- I was hurt that you wanted me to stop chasing you.” Drawing a long breath, I smile across the table at her, hoping she understands. “I knew I had to stop, though- I was after you like some teenage schoolboy, just determined to have you- and you me. But in my heart I know now as I knew then that we were there for each other, perfect matches, a perfect set. I had to stop because I’d make myself crazy- and you too.

But I never stopped loving you even for a second. I figured you’d come around maybe, given time to think about it, time alone. I waited longer than I had a right to, I suppose.” A tear formed in her eye, and built, and then made it’s way down her cheek. She left it where it was, her hands held in my own. “The loneliness was what was killing me. I was alone no matter where I went, for the longest time- no matter how many people were around me, when I didn’t have you by my side.” I look down at our hands together before us. “Pitiful, eh? Hopeless?” “No.” She replies softly. “It’s not pitiful- but you know I couldn’t do anything about it- I can’t even now.” She looks into my blue eyes, imploring, wanting so much for me to understand. “Oh, Toby. I’ll always love you- you know that- and there will always be a special place in my heart that belongs to you. But I couldn’t be with you- not 100%- I have my children to raise and commitments I’ve made that would never have allowed me to do what you wanted.” I look up at her, smiling. “You know from day one I always said I’d have you and the kids too- I’d have loved to, you know that.” I hold her delicate hands up to my lips, giving each one a loving kiss. “But I understand- it’s only me that was the stubborn one. I never did know how to take defeat. I never learned how to take no for an answer. There’s never been a problem that I couldn’t figure out, up to this.” “That day when I held you- the day we said goodbye- I felt defeated, the loser.”

I try to smile but only manage a wince. “The only thing I ever really wanted, the only thing I’ve ever been passionate about- I finally find it and love slips through my fingers like so much sand.” I take a sip of my coffee, long gone cold. “I felt like I’d lost that day, and he didn’t even know a race had been run- funny thing, that. “ I look at her and smile that ironic smile. “He doesn’t even know how lucky he is to have you- has no idea, I’d say.” She smiled that beautiful smile that I fall in love with over and over, taking her hands free of mine and wiping the tears from her eyes. “You just have to learn to accept. If you could only accept what you cannot change, you’d be a happier man. There are worse things than loving a friend- you need to learn to be happy with what you have and just forget about the things that are out of reach.” “ I don’t know- there’s merit to that, I’ll be the first to admit- but I guess first and foremost I wanted what would make me happy, and that was you, in my arms, loving me back forever. That’s just me.

I wouldn’t be me if I weren’t determined to a fault. It’ll be the end of me, y’know?” I grinned across the table at her, wishing I could bundle her up and carry her off and keep her forever, but knowing that my window of opportunity eased shut a long time ago, and for me at least things are a lot different today than they were back then. I had never meant for the conversation to go where it’s gone- it was just going to be chat-mundane, harmless, innocent- friends over a cup of coffee. That’s the way it’s always been, though, with the two of us just going where our hearts would take us- that was the beauty of the two of us together. It just worked so perfectly. I gaze across the table at her, giving her that rye smile. “I still love you, Y’know.” “I know...” She replied quietly, a small, sad smile appearing at the corners of the mouth making her seem even more beautiful than I had thought possible. “and That may be the end of you, Mr. Gibson.” We sit for a long moment, just looking into each other’s eyes as if searching behind the blue of the iris for an answer, but in all actuality we’re just soaking each other up, one last time I suppose- longing for another time and place, another easier, more workable situation. I smile at her, willing to be the one to break the silence. “You think the two of us are gonna be okay, then?” She smiles back at me, understanding perfectly. “You mean can we be friends again?” I nod. “Yeah…” She says softly, “I missed you too.” We sit there for a long moment, just enjoying each other’s company for the first time in a long while, not really wanting it to end. She looks up, a beautiful smile, maybe just remembering the time, possibly realizing how bad this could be for both of us.

“I’ve got to go- I’m supposed to pick up the kids at 4:15.” She stands, taking her purse in her hands and putting her sunglasses on her head, smiling down at me fondly. “Are you going to be OK?” She always does worry about me, but I suppose that these days I need to worry a bit about myself. “Yeah, love. I’ll be all right. You be sure and take care.” He smiles that wry smile and doesn’t get up, letting her turn and walk away. He watches after her long after she’s out of sight. There was a long time after we’d last spoken that I was all mixed up, just a mess inside, not sure what I was going to do or if I was going to ever be alright. I was heartbroken, and in the middle of my divorce, and I really didn’t know how to feel. The reason I tried to avoid her for so long was that no matter how good I seemed to get, just one soft word or a glimpse of a smile from her and my heart would be just flooded with all of those feelings I worked so hard to forget.

Being left alone the way she left me allowed me a lot of time to consider every little thing that had happened between us and I came to believe that she had just wanted someone to love her, to value her, to tell her that she’s beautiful and funny and smart. Me, I was the wrench in the deal, because I wanted it all, the whole ball of wax. I asked her to marry me many times, just to come and be with me and we’d love each other forever. That may have scared her. Perhaps in the beginning she thought that it was a fun thing, to have the kind of attention I showered her with- but I think the novelty soon wore off, and it wasn’t just some flirting game anymore when I told her that I just ache for a time when I can hold her in my arms and tell her that I love her terribly, and she’d tell me that she loves me too, and we’d just be like that forever. But I’m a man that follows my heart where it leads me, and I think I take these matters more serious than anyone she’d ever run across. Perhaps I didn’t understand her intentions, and maybe I didn’t let her off the hook as quickly as I could have. I was being naïve, and was thoroughly in love with her.

Maybe I’m just an uncommon man, and she’d never run into someone like me. I don’t know. I can only guess at what she thought, because after a time she didn’t confide her feelings in me again. Despite all of this I loved her still- perhaps because I’m a foolish and sentimental man, possibly because I’ve never loved anyone before like I loved her. Maybe I’m just a stubborn and determined man, as she used to like to laugh and tell me when I would ask her to run off with me. Whatever it was, I know I’d never felt that wonderful feeling in my heart before like I did when I was with her, and I just wanted very badly to recapture the tenderness we’d had between us and keep it going forever. One thing I did learn from the whole affair is that although I am a streetwise man, and can be very hard when I need to, careful and wary in most facets of my life- when it comes to affairs of the heart I can be quite naïve. Love has a certain magical quality, the un-quantifiable un-nameable something that appeals to that softer side of me. It’s that magic that makes the hardships of life bearable, and brings a fairytale quality to everything we must endure. It’s a powerful kind of magic that brings a hard man to his knees, and makes him lost and confused, just a pup where there once was a lion.

And it’s a hard kind of lesson that takes a sweet man capable of so much newfound love and tenderness and turns him a little bit bitter and very, very wistful. It’s an overwhelming sort of magic that can only be countered with time and tears. The sad thing about the whole affair was that I really did think she was in love with me, and I really thought that if I just said the right thing, or held her in the perfect way- that she’d change her mind and stay with me forever. That was very naïve of me, typically Irish in my optimism, naivety and romance. I fell in love with a girl that was inside of this woman somewhere, buried deep inside under a lot of other stuff that had nothing to do with me. That girl had come to the surface for a time and we’d held hands and laughed and played a bit, and she was tender and sincere and told me that I was a sweet man and that she loved me. But then she got scared at my commitment and hid behind the woman that hides what she feels and is scared at what might happen if she let’s her feelings really show. It’s too bad, because I’m afraid I’m still very much in love with her, and I only hope that someday she’ll let her heart take the lead. Seeing Deb has left me shaken, introspective, confused. I had pretty well resigned myself to the realities of the situation, and the intimacy between Kim and I had made me feel that maybe I could leave all of that behind and I actually felt that maybe Deb was right- that there was someone out there for me, and whatever there had been between us had another purpose entirely, and we just weren’t meant to be. But what about all of the hesitancy I was feeling- my unwillingness to commit to anything permanent with Kim? Firing the engine I looked at my reflection in the rear view mirror. “Stupid man.”

I mutter at myself, chirping the tires as I back the MG out of the parking spot. “You’ve got a lot to learn.” As I drove North towards the airport my head was filled with questions. What about Deb? Did I see a bit of disappointment carefully concealed behind her purposefully blank expression? Was she really glad I was in a relationship? Did she want to rekindle something between us, or did I really just catch her unawares. Would she even have come over to where I was if she had known beforehand that I was there? What does she still feel? What do I feel? I think of the beautiful girl I’m picking up at the airport, and I laugh out loud, putting my foot into it until the little convertible is red lined. I shake my head- laughing at myself- I’m either a pretty lucky guy, having trouble deciding which woman I love- or a pretty stupid one. I park the car out in the pay lot at the edge of the airport. Hot arid gusts blow across the lava fields, whipping up bouganvilla leaves and dust as I cross the parking lot. I make my way into the terminal and stand near the gate. The plane is already taxiing down the runway and its just minutes before the door opens and passengers begin to disembark. Two people exit the aircraft before Kim steps out, squinting at the bright sun despite her dark sunglasses. Searching the crowd at the gate she spots me and gives a quick wave. She’s wearing a dress and heels, and has her brief case in one hand and a magazine in the other, so it takes her a minute to get down the stairs. I meet her at the bottom of the stairs, reaching to take her hand. “Hey lover.”

She smiles, a brief embrace, a kiss on the cheek. She takes my hand and I take her briefcase, and we walk off of the tarmac and into the walled terminal. “You looked kind of sad there at the gate.” She looks over at me. “You looked sort of sad and alone- is everything okay?” I smile at her “What do you mean?” “Well, I don’t know- you just had a really dark look on your face- like you were upset or something.” She gives me a concerned glance. “Really the only way I can put it is you looked really sad and alone.” I look over at her, and it all makes sense in an instance, everything just falls into place by itself. “I was, til I saw you.” I smile at her, loving her and realizing again just how much I missed her this past week. “Awwww…” She smiles back at me, her hair blowing back across her face in the hot wind. “Hold it a sec, mister.” She says, stepping out of the rush of people and pulling me along with her. She pushes her glasses up on her head and wraps her arms around my back, leaning up and planting a kiss on my mouth. I reach out and set the briefcase on the rock wall next to us and wrap my arms around her, lifting her into the air a bit. She leans away from me, smiling into my face. “I missed you, you sweet man. Now take me home, would you?” I chuckle, picking up her valise and taking her hand in mine. “I think I will.” We walk towards the baggage claim together. “Between Lovers and Friends” or “ One of many possible futures”


© Copyright 2019 immi. All rights reserved.

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