It started with little emails. We compared notes on the best hideaways on the Outer Banks, best low country broil recipes, best fishing spots. We compared notes on shipwrecks we dove for. We talked about trying to become an unlisted extra on Dawson’s Creek down in Wilmington.
When we shifted to personal email, we talked about where we thought we’d be right now. I lamented how I had never dreamed I would spend Valentine’s Day between two bloodthirsty couples. He joked about spooning with a private. I gave him my best eating-from-a-can-while-camping recipes. He lauded popcorn with Tabasco sauce and cold baked beans.
Months slipped by as they do when you hit a rhythm. I would wake up and immediately go running. My return would send me straight to a shower. Once breakfast was cooked, I allowed myself to check my email. I would read whatever he had sent to me, which was usually and email and some funny news clippings or pictures. During work, I would take breaks and work on his letter while he slept. It was fun to chronicle the wiles and ways of the erratic group of people I shared office walls with.
He was spending his R&R two hours away, surveying the damage of his belongings. She had decided waiting until he was home again wasn’t soon enough to be rid of his essence in her presence. She had apparently mailed him the key to his storage unit with a “Dear John” letter. He talked about how he got off “easy” and the horror stories of wives and girlfriends clearing out apartments and leaving treasure maps to find car keys. Or worse: No car, no apartment, no furniture at all.
We had agreed we’d meet up for dinner one night when he wasn’t busy. Dating had never been my forte. Some women seem to move seamlessly from one date to another, kicking expensive heels of of perfectly manicured feet. Their wardrobe goes from office savvy to sexy with the mere addition of some bangles and earrings. My transition seemed about as smooth as riding a bicycle up a ladder.
We had decided on a Friday as not to interfere with any other plans that boys generally make for Saturdays and Sundays. It just so happens we were going out to dinner at the halfway point, my hometown. My mind was only beginning to wrap around what wonderful things could possibly happen in my home town when I’m in the company of a man.
The movie theater was empty except for a couple a few rows behind us. It wasn’t until I heard the hushed whispers and a woman’s cackling that I found a way to sneak a glance at them. I immediately recognized the pair. More people poured in and I could pinpoint their voices amid the cacophony of the crowd.
Part way through the absurd cereal commercials that have taken place of the trailers at the beginning of the movies, our hushed voices have brought us close enough that I can feel the heat of his arm through the sleeve of my dress. I was midway through telling about how we used to lick gummy bears and chuck them at the screen when a cold rush runs over my neck and shoulder. The feeling is accentuated by the soft fall of a cup into a pool in my lap. Mouth wide open, I stand up and turn around to face my assailant.
She’s trying hard to hide a smile. She shrugs offhandedly, and continues a few seats down and sits. I walk into the restroom and blot off my dress and skin. My anger has heated my face to a deep crimson color. I think of the girls laughing behind me, triumphant in their childish display of superiority.
I push the bathroom door hard and nearly hit him with the door. He is talking on the phone, flipping his keys on his hand, and holding my purse on his shoulder. He grabs my hand and leads me outside.
Instead of a night out on the town, we pick up dinner as take-out and head back to my townhouse. While I’m showering the thick syrup of soda out, he is carefully arranging dinner on plates and taking it into my living room to start the movie. As the movie frolics on my TV screen, we share food, stories, and revenge ideas.
**Author’s note: ugh… I hate this one.