What a plot twist you were. A sudden gust of wind blowing into my life and grabbing my hand, pulling me with you. A whirlwind of music and excitement, stolen smiles from across a crowded room and soft kisses. Yes, what a plot twist you were. Nothing like I thought. Nothing like I expected. And yet, everything I wanted.
I had never been on a blind date before, and honestly I scoffed at it the first time my best friend brought him up to me.
“So, Haley,” Jane said it slowly, so I knew something was up, “I have this friend.” I shook my head. She was always trying to set me up with these guys she knew. I always laughed it off. But, she kept bringing them up. “His name is Todd, he graduated last year, he’s tall enough for heels, he has the cutest dog, he owns a sports store across town…” She kept listing things. I nodded every now and then. I brushed a piece of chip from my jeans. A milkshake sounds good. I can get one on the way home from…
“Haley, are you even listening to me?” I jerked my head back to Jane.
“Yeah, I was completely listening. Cute dog. Tall. Owns some store…” I laughed. “Okay, so you caught me. I zoned out.” Jane rolled her eyes. “What distracted you so badly?” I smirked, “Take a guess.”
“Were you thinking about getting a milkshake?” I busted out laughing, she knew me way to well, but 8 years of friendship would do that to you. She rolled her eyes and shoved my shoulder playfully. “You’re horrible!” I smiled, at least I’d gotten her mind off Tim, or Tyler, or Todd, whatever his name is. We finished eating out lunch, paid, and headed to the parking lot.
“Haley!” She stopped mid-step and grabbed my arm.
“Oh my word, what,” I nearly tripped trying to catch my balance.
“Todd! I didn’t finish telling you!” A grin covered her face and I caved.
“Okay, fine,” I rolled my eyes, “tell me about this magnificent Todd.” Sarcasm oozed from my voice, but she didn’t seem to notice.
“So, he is so smart! Funny, totally your type!” She was so excited, I tried not to laugh. “I told him all about you, and you have a date on Thursday!” I jerked my head up at the last part. She did not just say that, I had to have heard wrong.
“I’m sorry,” I brushed the hair from my face and scrunched my nose. “Did you just say that I – me – Haley Ann Jones – has a date on Thursday?” I was in complete disbelief.
“Yes!” She sounded beyond proud of herself. The smirk on her face told me there was more to it. “And, I already told him how excited you were and that you couldn’t wait to meet him.” I was obviously in shock. “And,” she continued with a twinkle in her eye, “I set up a reservation at that cute Italian place by Target!”
I remember being livid and threatening to just not show up. She returned my threat with one of her own. Let’s just say you can’t be friends for eight years without gaining SOME blackmail on each other. But, here I was. Dressed in my favorite black lace dress, some cute red wedges -she did say he was tall- and a long sparkling necklace, I had even curled my hair. I may not want to be on this date, but at least I look good.
I opened the door and the smell of bread and pasta made my mouth water. I am so ready to eat. I didn’t know what he looked like, Jane forbade me from looking him up and refused to show me a picture. “It’s supposed to be a BLIND date, Hales. Emphasis on BLIND.” I should have just looked him up. I walked up to the hostess stand.
“Do you have a reservation with us tonight, ma’am?” The kid, probably still in high school, asked me.
“Yea. It should be under Todd.” At least that’s what I think Jane said. He looked through his list and nodded. Grabbing two menus he swept his arm toward the tables behind him.
“Right this way.”
I followed the kid to a table in a quiet corner away from the majority of the people there. I guess this Todd was running late. Strike one. I glanced at my phone as I sat down. Nothing. I rolled my eyes and ordered a glass of wine. A few minutes passed and I checked my phone again. I already knew what I wanted to order. Where was he? Finally, I noticed a man walk up to the host stand and the kid pointed toward me in my little corner. I sat a little straighter as the guy walked closer. He was very handsome. At least Jane knows my type. He walked straight up to me, nearly out of breathe.
“Haley?” I nodded.
“You must be Todd.” He smiled, showing off his dimples. Oh my.
“Yea, that’s me,” he slid into the seat across from me and ordered a beer for himself. Then he faced me again. Those dimples. “I must apologize,” he began, “I lost track of time and by the time I realized it was time for me to leave, I hadn’t so much as put on socks.”
“I’m not saying its a strike against you, but usually when people are going to be late somewhere they tell whoever they are meeting.” I couldn’t just let it go, I had to give the guy a hard time. He grinned and laughed.
“You’re absolutely right. And I was in such a hurry to get here that I left my phone sitting on my bed.” He held up his hands as if to prove his story. “On the positive side, you’ve got my complete attention for as long as you’ll let me give it tonight.” He winked. My face flushed. What the heck is this? I’m not the blushing girl on a date.
Their arms wrapped around one another for the last time. It was a long embrace. Longer than it seemed. It felt like it didn’t last nearly long enough. Neither of them wanted to let go. Both hearts breaking, both knowing that this was the best thing for now. His arms loosened their grip first. She followed suit. They looked each other in the eyes for what seemed like an eternity to anyone passing by. But to them, it felt like it ended too soon. Tears fell from both of their eyes and brave, sad smiles crossed their faces. It was the first time she’d seen him cry.
He took a step back. He could feel his stomach turn at the sight of her tears. Lord help me. He knew he had to leave. He tore his eyes from hers and turned to walk toward his car.
She stood there. Tears streaming down her face. Wishing him, willing him not to leave her as he turned to go. She wanted to run after him. Please don’t go. Not yet. But she didn’t. She stood in the same spot and watched as he walked away from her slowly. She took a step backwards, not taking her eyes from his back.
He reached the car and forced himself not to look back. He knew if he did, he wouldn’t be able to go. He opened the door and slid into the drivers seat. Closing the door behind him. Only then did he look back at her. She was still standing there. Her hands reached up to wipe the tears from her cheeks as she slowly turned and walked toward her house. He watched as she reached for the doorknob and stopped. She looked back one more time before turning the knob and walking inside.
They both sat there. Him in his car, and her on the floor inside the house. Tears still coming down their faces.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but I love you.
I mean in how I care about you and you’re well being. I want for the world see your worth and your talent. I want for all of your dreams to come to true. I want you to know that I’m rooting for you, even if I’m not around. I want you to know that even if you don’t need it, I’m here for you. I want you to know that you have one of the best hearts I’ve ever known and it hurts me to know it’s hurting. I want for you to realize that you are a better person than you even realize. I want you to grow and mature into the person I see you to be. I wish that I could explain it all. I wish that I could be the one by your side for it. But, at least right now, that’s not in the cards.
So for whatever happens, know that I’m always here. Know I’ll always believe in you. And don’t forget that you are a better person than you think you are.
It’s like I can’t feel anything. Not anger. Not sadness. Not happiness. Just… nothing all day.
And then I feel it all at once. This downpour of emotions just drowns me and my breathe is knocked out of my lungs as though someone punched me in the stomach. I can’t move. My eyes close and I just stand there as this flood of tears burns my eyes. I just stand there as this pain sweeps through my shaking body. I’m just there for little while. After a minute of trying to fight back the tears, they begin to fall down my face leaving little marks in their wake. I let out a quiet sob hoping no one can hear me. It seems like an eternity before my breathing slows down. It seems like hours when the tears finally stop.
And I can’t feel anything. No anger. No sadness. No happiness.
I don’t understand your fear of me. Your fear of being with someone. I don’t understand how hard it is to show someone you care. It scares me, too. Opening up to people is hard, but that’s life. You can either hide behind it or you can put yourself on the line. Just let me in, don’t keep me at arms length.