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This may turn into a multi-part story. Well, probably it will, because there is so much more to tell. But this seemed a really good place to resume my writing after such a long hiatus.

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I sit with my elbow on my desk, tapping my thumbnail against my teeth absently as my eyes move across my computer screen. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the same few sentences because I’m not truly reading. I’m just trying to convince myself that I’m busy, to keep my mind off the cell phone that sits beside my mouse. I turn my head just so, and the reflection of my monitor shining from the tiny glass screen makes my heart leap. I check my notifications. Still empty.

Chill out man. I tap the sleep button and set my phone back down. I hide my face in my hands as I breathe deeply, exhaling slowly through pursed lips. I don’t understand why I’m so anxious. It’s not like any of this is uncharted territory for me. But my racing heart won’t be stilled, and my stomach ties itself into a knot every time I consider my plans for the day, and who they’re with. It’s a strange sensation, not foreign, but forgotten since my days as an undergraduate. I don’t know how I coped with it then, or why I can’t seem to control it now. So I lift my eyes and resume trying to read the journal article on my screen.

Then my phone blinks. Legitimately this time. I can tell the difference even in my periphery. I quickly check the notifications. One new message:

I’m outside.

My stomach forgoes knots for gymnastics.

I rise and step into the hallway. I am the sole occupant of my building because the university is closed for the Christmas holiday. Every step echoes down the empty hall. My clothes brush against my skin, louder than usual. My neck itches for reasons I can’t identify, and rubbing doesn’t help. A shaky hand grasps the handle of the door to the stairwell. I wonder if she’ll notice as I push open the side entrance and step into the crisp afternoon air.

And there she is, standing beside her companion’s vehicle, removing suitcases and boxes from the trunk. A cute red dress that is not nearly warm enough for the weather, and a grey waist coat that certainly is. Black stockings that contrast starkly with the snow and ice and low heels that match her dress. She turns toward me and smiles brightly, blue eyes shining under long blonde bangs swept to the side.

I stop dead in my tracks. Somehow I find my voice. “Hey Tina.”

She races to me and throws herself into my arms. She feels so small, but she squeezes me so hard it forces the air from my lungs. I return the embrace just as fiercely. She presses her cheek against my chest and whispers, “I can’t believe it’s you.”

I rest my cheek against the top of her head. “I understand.” I resist the urge to kiss her hair. “I missed you so much.”

We maintain the embrace for a long moment, then she releases me and turns to her companion. I just catch the glint of a tear in her eye, but she hides it well otherwise. She retrieves her luggage and gives her friend a hug. They say something I can’t distinguish, hug a second time, and part ways. She rolls her suitcase behind her as the car pulls away.

I take the suitcase from her and open the door. “How was your day?”

She steps through. “Good.  Awkward, but good.”

I glance at her. “Why awkward?”

“Wearing a short dress with no underwear while having lunch with my family,” she answers.

I node sagely. “That would do it. But I’m glad you remembered.”

She smiles at me, and we engage in idle chit chat as we trudge up the stairs toward my office. She speaks and laughs as easily as she ever has, her awkwardness apparent every moment. But I can hear the nervousness in her voice, the quavering tones, and I see the unsureness of her steps. She is every bit as nervous as I am. I find that reassuring, but also worrisome. I will need to be careful.

In a few moments, I open the door to my office and hold it wide for her. I set her suitcase to the side as she steps through. She looks around idly. “It feels smaller in here than I remember.”

“New furniture,” I respond, watching her from the doorway.  She removes her coat and places it on the standing rack, and begins examining my bookshelves. Her nervousness is still obvious. I don’t know what to do. But there’s only one thing I want to do.

“I’m sorry,” I blurt out, and I shut the door, “but there is something I have to do.” She blinks in surprise as I close the space between us. I reach out to her and gently cup her face in my hands.

I press my lips to hers for the first time.

And I have never felt happier.

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2 Comments

  1. You have no idea the void you left in the writing world, my friend.

    • That is quite the compliment, my dearest Hyacinth, coming from as gifted a writer as yourself.


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