**121 italic 323 bold**
2 missed calls on a Thursday afternoon. Too much to be done, and far too soon.
“Its just lunch , I promise I don’t want anything from you; I will even pay!” he pleaded. “ I must do right with God as my witness, and this is part of that”. Tripping over a moving box, nearly face planting; I snapped back. “FINE! Lunch ONLY, and yes; you ARE paying”. I hung up, toe still throbbing.
“How about the garden centre for our first meet?” He sheepishly inquired. “Well I do enjoy gardening!” I half heartedly replied, deeply disappointed he did not want to be alone with me. “I think it’s a fine place to meet, I look forward to it!”, he exclaimed with exuberance. I was torn.
The cold riverfront air whipped our faces as we clutched our warm drinks.“You look great, El. Now please listen to me with an open heart”. I could see it in his eyes, it was still lingering as a third party. But those eyes.. even with the new wrinkles and the bags. They were like a mythical creature of the underworld, but more seductive; and much more addicting. “Say something, please”; his shaky voice pleaded.
“I .. need time” is all I could get out. We departed to drop me off at home.
The scent of Begonias filled the air, but I had much on my mind. “Hey! What about this one for your mum? I might get one for mine too”, the silence was broken. The bright eyed, pure hearted man was holding the hanging coral begonias in one hand, and my heart in the other. “They are beautiful!” I exclaimed, and for a moment; I felt okay. Gentleness, integrity, empathy vibrated from his clear minded body. Was I even worthy of this pure of a man? Should I risk soiling this perfect soul?
“I can’t be alone right now” He said , smashing down the frying pan, trying to open a can of soup that he stole from the corner store. “Let me do it, go sit down.” I calmly exclaimed. I briefly glanced at 4 missed calls and turned it to silent as he finally fell asleep on my couch watching a violent action movie. He left before she awoke.
He picked me up at 7. We were on our first dinner date. Dark red lipstick contrasting the sleek black dress, my phone set to silent; I prayed tonight was the night I found solace and assurance that mister 323 was truly for me. A wonderful dinner had finished, and he lead me to my condo door. With a gentle kiss to the forehead ,it was goodnight. I froze. Every hair on my body stood up. Eyes locked, I dare not push it.
Locking the door behind me, my heart on fire; I hear a rustling in the kitchen. “RATS?!?!” I grabbed my pepper spray.
“Not rats, just me baby girl!” a weary voice exclaimed , his foot popping out from behind the kitchen counter floor area. “I was hungry, so I came in through the back. Like those old people commercials, I seem to have fallen; and I cannot get up”. In shock, I froze; hearing his maniacal laugh echoing throughout the kitchen.I helped him up, placing the leftover chicken leg he was eating onto the counter; and plopping him on the couch. “Oh wow you look good, hot date?” He added, still chewing a piece of chicken. “Why are you such a mess?” I asked him.
“I am your mess” he grunted, passing out. He was gone when I woke up.
“Your mom seemed to love the Begonias!” He said, smiling fiercely ; both hands on the steering wheel. “I think it was you she loved”, I replied blushing . “I look forward to our next adventure, El. When you are ready , I would be most pleased to take you out again”; he added.
“Yes, of course”, I quietly replied; looking away .
“Look outside , friend!” The text read. “WHAT IN GODS NAME IS THIS?!” I texted back , staring out at a string of items resembling a 1990s garage sale strewn across the lawn; neighbours looking at me disapprovingly . “ Every one of my earthly belongings”, the text replied. “You WILL explain this” I angrily texted back, sick to my stomach. “Yes, but for now you can start bringing stuff in, I will be home for supper around 5; I am just getting some stuff from an old friend”.
I , horrified; started plucking various items from the newly sodded lawn.
The morning came, house littered with foreign items; the phone started ringing . “Turn that off for fuck sakes do you not use your brain?”,He spatted out; covering his throbbing head with the couch throw blanket.
Throwing my sweater on , I went outside to answer it. “Yes I am not feeling very well, I am going to go back for a nap then have an early night; I would definitely love to reschedule our date”. I had no time to think about it, for satan was awake; and hungry.
Later that night. A voicemail dinged. “I really like you , El. I just don’t think you are in a place to accept what I am willing to offer”. The voicemail played over and over as I laid in my bed, the house vacant again. I was numb.
“Pack your things friend, we are going on an adventure” the text read while I laid in my crowded bedroom. “I have nothing to lose anymore” I thought.
3 Months Later
Screaming at the top of his lungs, my adrenaline on full blast; I felt so alive. It could have been the death coursing through my veins, or what we just sped away from. Maybe it was the sight of his beautiful , greasy blonde hair falling into his glossy sapphire eyes . Where were we? Somewhere in Saskatchewan? It did not matter, neither of us had a fixed address anymore. “Baby girl, we are Bonnie and Clyde ; no one else would ever stick out this kind of ride”.
Flat land flew by as I reminisced the gentle comfort of sipping green tea on my old couch , the times I knew for certain when my next meal would be. Staring down at my grossly stained sweatpants, I was interrupted. “Babe, you need some more?” Wiping a drip of sweat off of my cheek ,EDM music blasting our eardrums; I replied. “ I think I do ”.
The pit stop came unto us. Burnt out and exhausted, we did what we must. I got back to the car before him. Weakly grabbing my cracked phone, I scrolled through my contacts. His name popped up. My shaky finger hovered over it. Before I could do anything, the door opened. “Look what I scored”, he exclaimed; putting the car into drive sooner than my mind could comprehend the moment. Gazing out at the barren land, I pondered the “what if” for a sole moment; until he offered me numbing.
The car lulled me to sleep, with the help of our loyal friend. I drifted off into a memory.
Laughing like pigs in mud, all 4 of us roasting various meats on a backyard fire pit I got on amazon. An impromptu long summer blackout made this a very useful activity. My Dad providing the provisions, me the pit, mum the humour, and you ; the poise. The way you made my mother laugh; something I had not heard in over a decade. The tears from our eyes came from deep belly laughs.
I knew not what became of my parents after I took this ride, as I stopped paying my phone bill and thus had no contact. Still, this memory of purity always had you featured alongside it.
A jolt of the car woke me from my heaven.
“FUCK!” He exclaimed, as the car came to a stuttering halt. “We have no fucking gas”, he slammed his fists on the steering wheel. Looking out into the foggy cornfield , I submitted to the situation. “Why don’t we spend the night here, and resume in the morning ; we have enough stuff” I asked.
“I guess it doesn’t really matter now does it , i’m going to take a piss” ; he spatted back. I wandered out from the road, to the gravel; and onto the cornfield. “At least it’s not wheat!” my celiac brain joked to myself. “ Grab the stuff , and follow me !” I yelled, trotting barefoot into the cornfield; in my ripped black sundress I had changed into some 100 miles back. We stopped to catch up to our own delusion, and then continued trotting along ; singing “toy soldiers” out loud unto the late summer moon. Laughing and twirling, i drifted off into a poem. Purely Platonic Partners to Perish, in my mind song. The moon dancing, his laugh echoing..step by step; we finally fell down.
Laying in the corn field ,hands intertwined; his stuttering voice started on as he passed it to me. “ this must be heaven baby girl, and there is no one else I wanted to enter the pearly gates wi—”. He stopped speaking, and our hands fell apart.
The sky seemed to be closing in on me. The dancing moon faded out, and a scene faded in.
At your writing nook. Pensive as always. Writing your “Day 98” entry, in contact with my parents as you all searched for me.
I wanted to hold you, but I was only energy. I could not touch you. With all of my might, I kissed your face. You felt the cold flush of energy fly past you. In that moment, you knew I was gone. The wedding I once joked about flew past your minds’ eye, the sound of the bapipes piercing your soul. My mothers shaky voice tore your heart apart. My dads’ fierce attempts at finding me safe griped your mind . Drifting towards the light, the mate to my soul calling out for God to make this right.
With a tear from your royal cheek..
I wake up. The cool , late February air flowing through the condo; past the moving boxes.
2 separate missed calls on my phone.
Sitting on my couch , drinking my green tea ; I throw a coin high up in the air.
Will it be the Tortoise, or will it be the Hare?