Chapter 3: The Bench
They happily past the next half hour talking and laughing. By the time the waitress came by to see if they needed refills, they had discussed everything from their latest album purchase to the names of childhood pets.
“Is there anything else I can get you two?,“ the waitress asked, pouring each of them another cup of water.
“No thank you, Shirley.” He said reading her name tag. “We’ll be leaving soon.“ He dropped a couple dollar bills on the table and pushed them toward the waitress.
“Thanks,“ Shirley said with a smile.
They started to collect their things when he offered to carry her bag.
“It’s alright, I’ve got it.”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
He opened the door for her and let her pass through. They strolled across the small parking lot and crossed the street. She got caught up in their simple conversation. Their words and the comfort they brought left her feeling safe in a way she never remembered feeling before.
“Jonathan and Samantha,” he said with a giggle.
“You and Michael’s kids.”
“Oh, them. That is kind of funny, isn’t it.”
“No, I think it’s cute. Any particular reason for the names?”
“Not really, I’ve just always liked them. I just always saw myself with a little boy and a little girl and the names just seemed to fit.”
“I could see that.
“So, a . . where are you from, away?”
“I’m from Brooklyn. Born and raised.”
They reached the bus station again and sat down on a bench out front.
“I guess I could’ve figured that out by your accent.”
“Hey, no problem. And you?”
“Me? Born on I-95 and I raised in Fairfield, Connecticut.”
“You were born on a freeway? Really?”
“Yes. It wasn’t really a freeway back then, but it was were the freeway is now.
“Now, I’ve heard of people being born in a barn or in their parents’ bedroom, but on the open road? That’s a new one.“
“I know. Well, my father was a banker. He worked for a pretty big place. He loved counting money, but he really didn’t like to spend it. Even though they could afford it, they only had one car. That was fine with my mother.
“She like to be pampered and with my Dad willing to drive her everywhere, she always felt like a princess. She never went anywhere without him.
“The day I was born was no different,“ she said. “He left for work and she was at home, same as always. About lunchtime, she started to feel a little strange, so she called Daddy. He told her that he’d come home and take her to the hospital. He’d be running errands later so it would be easier to come home now. She told him not to worry about it and that it was probably nothing. Of course, it wasn‘t. Her water broke and she was in a panic. She called everyone she could think of. They finally tracked my father down and he came speeding home. A couple of people stopped by the house to try to take her to the hospital, but she wouldn’t go without Daddy. When he finally made it home he carried her out to the car, put her into the back seat and started driving. They were on the “freeway” when Mom started yelling, ‘Pull Over! Pull Over! We’re not gonna make!’ Dad panicked. He pulled over and climbed into the back seat. He’d left the door open, so a passing police officer pulled over to warn him. They ended up delivering me right then and there.”
“Really? You’re joking?”
She held up her right hand and said, “I’ll swear it on a stack of Bibles. Honest truth.”
“Well, then what happened?”
“Well, as my Dad was looking for something in the trunk to wrap me in, a man tapped him on the shoulder. It turned out this guy was a doctor. He asked if he could make sure that my Mom and I were okay. Of course, Dad said yes. He checked us each over and gave us a clean bill of health. Dad walked over to close the trunk and said, “Sir, what do I owe you?” But there was no answer. He looked up and realized that the man had completely disappeared. There was no trace of him anywhere.”
“Wow, “ he said in amazement.
“The policeman and my father questioned other people who had stopped and no one remembered seeing the doctor.
“Seems to me that someone up in Heaven wanted to make sure you got off to a good start.”
She didn’t know if it was the stress of the day or just the sound of his voice, but she couldn’t stop herself. Before she knew it, she was leaning forward and so was he. She closed her eyes a second before she felt the caress of his lips against hers. She went limp as she felt his arms around her and felt him pull her closer to him. The kiss wasn’t gentle but carried with it a feeling of peace that she’d never experienced in any other kiss. His arms enveloped her completely. He took her breathe away, but for this moment she could live without air. This was it.
Then it wasn't. When the kiss was over, they pulled apart and took a good look at one another.
"What was. . ." He said trying to figure out this feelings.
"I know that was weird." Realizing once again that her word choice was off. "I don't mean weird "bad". . ."
"No, I know what you mean."
"There is something there, isn't there?"
"Yes, but something doesn't feel right."
"Like maybe. . ."
"It's not time."
Starring into each others eyes, they ran through all the reasons why it could work and all the reasons why it couldn't. In their silence, they seemed to be speaking volumes to each other.
All at once she had feelings of loss and surety come over her. "I don't understand how I can feel so good and so sad all at the same time."
"It's funny how fate seems to bring people together."
"I guess God knew I needed you tonight."
He held her in his arms, trying to figure out a way to make the moment last as long as possible.
“I don't know how to explain this. You're gonna think I'm crazy," he said. "But I have a feeling that if we play our cards right, we’ll meet again. And if and when we do, we’ll know it’ll be for keeps.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because sometimes you have to say goodbye to say hello, again.”
With a lot of regret, he looked down at his watch and realized his bus would be arriving shortly.
“I think you know what you need to do.”
"Yes. I know.” She said looking down.
“Do you want me to call you a cab?“
“No, I’ll call my roommate, Wendy. She should be off work by now. I’m sure she can come to get me.”
He finally broke their embrace, but still held her hand. He walked over to the phone with her and listened while she placed the call.
“Hey Wendy. . . Yes, of course I’m okay. I’m here at the bus station. Can you. . . He what? Well, he’s the one that’s going to have to wait now. Can you please just come and get me? Don’t tell him where I am, okay? Okay. . . I’ll see you soon.”
“Is everything alright?”
“Yes, Wendy said that Michael’s has been looking for me for the past few hours. It seems that he’s had a change of heart and thinks we need to talk.”
“He’s right. I still think he’s an idiot, but I have a feeling that your absence tonight will be just the wake call he needs to help him realizes what he’s got in front of him.”
“Do you think it will take a few “smacks” for it to sink in with him, too?”
“Maybe more than a few.”
The next fifteen minutes passed without much conversation. She enjoyed being held in his arms and he enjoyed holding her. She looked down and realized that his thumb was wrapped around hers again. Fate sometimes could be so cruel. She somehow knew that it wasn’t meant to be. . .yet. ‘Maybe another time, another place.’ Inside she was screaming, Please God! Let him be right!
His bus pulled into the parking lot. He grabbed her bag and helped her place the straps on her shoulder. He grabbed his suitcase and made his way over to the bus.
Her feet were planted. She wanted to run to him, but something was holding her to the ground. “So this is it?” She yelled to him a few feet away. “What if we never see each other again?”
He put his suitcase down by the cargo hold and ran back to her.
“We will.” He leaned down and kissed her forehead and gave her hand one last squeeze.
They stood starring at each other, each trying to memorize the features they each knew they’d forget.
The headlights from Wendy’s car caught them by surprise. Wendy pulled along side her while he let go of her hand and started walking back towards the bus.
Wendy stopped the car, slid over and opened the passenger side door.
“Angela?“ Wendy said.
Not paying attention to Wendy, she waved to him as he boarded the bus.
“Who was that?” Wendy questioned.
“Does you’re future have a brother? Because boy is that guy cute.”
Angela was too caught up in the moment to say goodbye. She simply waved as the bus drove away.
“So what’s Mr. Future’s name?”
“I don’t know." She said with a little regret. "I forgot to ask. But you know what? I think he looks like a “Tony.”