This story is by Monica Heller and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
How did I get here? How did we get here? I never thought that we would find our way back to one another. Yet, here we are…
My birthday, the Autumnal Equinox, the beginning of all my favorites. The season, the flavors, the colors and the most beautiful night skies. It’s supposed to be a celebrated day. A day to do what I want, drink and be merry, cry if I want to, but, for now, I’m heading home after another long day of work. The ride is short and one that I could do with my eyes closed. Like normal, I am in my own little world. I find myself wondering if I’ll order in or make something at home between loads of laundry. I have been craving Thai. I snap back into reality when my notifications chime to alert me to a text message. I reach for my phone at the stop sign to see if anyone has remembered that it is supposed to be “my special day”. Instantly, a smile spreads across my face. It’s him. The man who has never given my heart back completely and who still haunts my dreams in the most pleasant of ways. He never forgets me. Regardless of how much time may pass, sometimes as much as a year, I always know that on my birthday I will up get that long anticipated text from him.
This year, the text is a picture of a dessert and it says “Hey Shawty, It’s SHERBET Day”. It makes me laugh out loud, as much of what he sends does. He always seems to reach out at the perfect time. Today has been an especially disappointing day. It is not only my 40th birthday but also my 5 year anniversary at work. No one has remembered or acknowledged either. I don’t celebrate in any grand fashion, but a few calls, a card, an email, something would have been nice. Nate Ramsey never lets me down.
I briefly lose myself in thoughts and memories of him. This is until the impatient woman behind me honks her horn like an audible assault on my delicate senses. It appears that she is trying to remind me that I’m at a stop sign, not a rest stop. I put the phone back down and think of how I would like to respond to Nate. Six minutes later, I’m pulling in my driveway with a silly grin still on my face. As soon as the car is in park, I pick my phone up to respond. I’ve decided on a simple “Hey Stranger! Long time no speak!”. I don’t realize until the next text has been received that I’ve been holding my breath. We’ve always been able to pick up where we left off. Any conversation, current events, recent dealings and life in general. I don’t have many friends and I’ve not had many loves but Nate, he is both.
Since going our separate ways 11 years ago, I haven’t been in a serious relationship. I’ve tried, twice, but the reality is that I find fault in everyone. While they may be wonderful, they aren’t him. He is an educated, sexy, towering man with the most captivating eyes. He has been the standard for every other man that I’ve come in contact with since we split.
We never labeled our ‘relationship’ but when it was us, there was no one else. The electricity between us was tangible. It’s the kind of thing that you read about in romance novels, not what you’d expect to find in real life. We met at a mutual friend’s party and were both dating other people at the time. We had one of those eye locking, stomach rolling, life altering moments. The kind that makes you know in your soul that you have met the person you were made for. I felt it when he walked through the door and I’ve never been the same since.
We found ourselves single shortly after the party and began talking daily. I felt like I was in high school again. He was my first thought in the morning and my last before bed. I still experience this when I hear from him. I get giddy and can’t wait for my next fix of Nate. He is my kryptonite. Here is where it got complicated. He was a business man, set in his playboy ways. He said that he would leave that life behind to be with me. The catch is that he never wanted to be a parent and I was a ready made family. I had a 5-year-old. She was and still is my life! Now, she is getting ready to go for her learners permit and it’s a whole new chapter of life. Then, she was a very impressionable beautiful little munchkin. My divorce was especially difficult on her. It was important to me that she didn’t know about Nate. Not in any other capacity than we were friends within a group of friends. He understood and was happy with this arrangement. After about a year together, I knew that I’d fallen madly in love with him. What was supposed to be fun, light and detached became anything but. So, I cut it off at the knees. I went cold and started to distance myself. I told him that I wanted to remain friends but that I needed to concentrate on me and my daughter. I couldn’t continue with something that wasn’t going to go anywhere. I didn’t give him a chance to tell me if he agreed with me. I also didn’t ask if he was willing to move to the next stage in our relationship or not. He’d wanted me, but not a child and I was a mother. What choice did I have?
To this day, I’ve never experienced that jolt when touching or brushing up against someone. The longing in my stomach when I look into someone’s eyes. The somersaults in my stomach when I hear their voice. I did with him though. He is my once in a lifetime love. My soulmate. My other half.
My phone chimes in and again I realize that I am lost in my own thoughts. He responds that he is in town and would love to take me out to dinner if I’m free. As it turns out, Raven is with her father this week and I have no significant other, so, I’m as free as they come. My response “Would love to meet up. I could use some intelligent conversation!” I end it with the little winky-kissy face emoji. Keep it light Roux, we don’t want to scare him off…
He tells me when and where. I am so excited. Now, I’m flooded with anxiety. Is he seeing anyone? Did the last relationship work out? Does he miss me? Did I leave an imprint on him as he did me? I get dressed in my normal earth tone, hippy-chic attire that I’m known for, even before it was chic. I’m comfortable. I’m… me. He has always accepted me that way and it is one of the most endearing qualities that he has. He never wanted to change me.
As I pull into the restaurant, Thai as luck would have it, I see him there. He is so handsome. He is wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. He is down to earth, like me. As I catch my breath and walk over to him, he says “Roux, where have you been all my life?” I smile, quite possibly the biggest smile ever and I say, “I’ve been here all along.” To that, he scoops me up into the warmest hug. Could I be imagining things? I swear I hear him smell my hair. His embrace feels good. It feels right. I miss his arms around me. He puts me down, looks in my eyes and as he opens the door for me, says “Shall we?” We walk in together, his hand on my lower back and immediately, my day is everything I hoped it would be. He pulls out my chair at the table and as I sit, he leans down and kisses me on the cheek. His lips graze my ear and he says “You are still as beautiful ever. I’ve missed you.”
Did I mention it is my special day? He is and always has been my special guy. Turns out, he doesn’t have a girlfriend. He hasn’t been able to make it work with anyone else either. Today may turn out to be the start of something wonderful. Something beautiful. Something hopefully forever. It is my favorite season, with my favorite colors, my favorite scents and the most beautiful night skies. Now, I also have my favorite man to enjoy it all with me and this time, I won’t get scared and run away. This time, I’ll allow myself to fall!