Sunday, February 13, 2011

Destinee Week 38: Excuse Me

Destiny Cullen

Picture 1

Picture 2

Destiny Cullen’s Choice: Picture 1

Excuse Me, That’s My Life You Just Walked Into

“Do you love me?”

The question hung in the air, kissing the wind with all its emotions as it floated to his ears. His chocolate eyes swam with unsaid thoughts and dreams that were locked behind bars. His mouth parted and every exhale could be seen in the frozen air. Slowly his tongue touched the top of his mouth as his lips formed the condemning word.

“No.” He couldn’t pull himself to stare into her wounded soul any longer. “I’m sorry. Goodbye Ana.”

Her heart stopped, she forgot how to breathe as he walked away with his hands shoved deep in his coat pockets. Snow began to fall around her. Anastasia refused to move. She wasn’t cold or tired so she stood. He had been with her for 2 years, 7 months, 27 days, 3 hours, and 56 minutes to the very second. And now he wasn’t. Why wasn’t he? Why did he just now figure out he didn’t love her? He could have saved her 3 years of her life counting the 4 months of passing glances and smiles in the beginning. Why now? The eve of Valentine’s Day. February 13th at 7:15 at night. Snow was on the ground and swirling in the air, hearts were plastered on store windows announcing their extensive collections of cards and chocolates.

“Ma’am?” Anastasia looked up to see a man in front of her. “You want to come inside? It’s pretty cold out here.” He breathed into his cupped hands as he bounced on his feet. She was standing outside a fancy French restaurant on the main street.

She wiped her eyes, not realizing she’d started crying. He didn’t realize it either. “Ohh, I’m sorry, ma’am. Those look like heartbroken tears.” He quickly pulled out a tissue and handed it to her. She took it graciously as he led her inside the restaurant.

A dressed up waiter took them to a table where a bottle of wine was waiting. He obviously had reservations. He pulled her seat out and she took it. Once the waiter left, the man spoke.

“These tears weren’t premeditated or planned.”

“How would you know?”

He gave her his folded up napkin to dry her eyes. “You would have worn waterproof mascara,” he chuckled.

She wiped her eyes, embarrassed.

“So this must have been an unexpected breakup?” He poured some wine.

“Dreaded, but not unexpected. And I had hoped to be stronger than this. Maybe if I knew it was coming it would lessen the blow.” She admitted.

She didn’t notice the shadow cross his brow. “Why did he break up with you?”

“He didn’t love me anymore.” She wasn’t going to admit how bad that hurt her. Was she not worth loving? Quietly she gulped her wine down.

“Did he buy you that dress?”

She looked down at her silky red, low-cut dress she was wearing. “Yes, he bought it for my birthday last year.”

“Isn’t it a little cold outside for that dress?” He raised a curious eyebrow.

She nodded slightly with a bitter smile. “I wanted him to see me in it. Maybe remind him of the time he loved me.”

“Did it work?”

She was silent for a long time, staring at the man in front of her before finally answering. “No.”

He poured her another glass of wine. “How did you two meet?” he asked.

“I’m a photographer. I was taking a picture of the park one day, about to capture the perfect picture when he blocked my view and ruined the shot,” she laughed as she drank her wine down. “I still have that picture, framed in my apartment… I think I’ll burn it later.”

He nodded, taking in every detail as he listened intently.

“What about you?” she finally asked. “Seems odd for me to dominate the conversation.”

He smiled. “I’m not the one crying, am I?”

A ghost of a smile showed on her face as she stared at him. “I guess not.” He was really handsome now that her eyes weren’t watering. His hair wasn’t long, but it had just enough length to subtly wave over his forehead. His eyes were vibrant blue and he had a five o’clock shadow, but not in the lazy sense, more of the hot gruff look.

The waiter came up with their food and gently placed it in front of them. “Bon appetit,” he said with a slight French accent.

“Thank you, Frank.”

“No problem,” he said with a normal accent.

She stared at his retreating figure with a laugh. “I…didn’t order,” she said confused at the place in front of her.

“You don’t want it?” He asked cutting his filet mignon.

“I’m a vegetarian,” her voice was thick with apology, feeling like she imposed on his night already.

He smiled softly, putting his knife down. “So was my wife.”

“Oh, she left you?” Anastasia was sad for him, knowing how he felt.

The man stared into her eyes. “Yeah about 5 years ago. Today was our anniversary.”

“Why did she leave?”

He didn’t say anything for the longest time until finally he smiled, taking in a deep breath. “Our time together was just up…even if I wasn’t ready for it.”

Anastasia smiled kindly. “Maybe you should have worn waterproof mascara too.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I guess so.” He called the waiter back and asked for a vegetable dish for the two of them. They ate in silence until dessert came.

“You know, I wouldn’t normally have dinner with a stranger,” she said casually.

“I guess under the circumstances, it’s okay,” he replied.

“Yeah, I guess…” She bit into the moist cake and smiled. “Thank you.”

“For...the cake? Yes, it is quite amazing. My favorite dish on the menu.” He took a bite.
“I mean thank you for this night. For talking to me when I’m so brokenhearted,” she said sincerely.

“You don’t look so brokenhearted to me.”

She smiled. “Not anymore.”

He cleared his throat and placed his folded hands on the table, leaning forward thoughtfully. “How long?”

She cocked her head to the side. “How long…”

“Your boyfriend. Ex, I should say.”

She was still confused. “How long had we been together? About two and a half years.”

“How long did it take him to realize he didn’t love you?” He asked.

She sipped her wine thoughtfully. “About as long as it took him to find a new girl at his office, I suppose… At least, that’s what I heard his friends talking about.”

“And how long did it take you to realize you didn’t love him anymore either?” His eyes fixed on hers intently.

Anastasia froze with the glass to her lips, slowly she lowered it, keeping her eyes on his. “I guess a few minutes before I asked him if he loved me…” she whispered.

He nodded with a warm smile. “You’re not sad about losing the man you loved, you’re only sad about losing those years of your life with him.”

She just stared at him. “Yeah,” was all she could say. He was right. It wasn’t like she missed her boyfriend, he was gone and out of her life for good. It was the life they had that was now gone that she missed. She smiled narrowing her eyes slightly. “Are you a psychiatrist?”

He chuckled, leaning back again. “Just a really good observer.”

Suddenly his phone rang and he gave her an apologetic smile. She waved him off saying it was fine as she sipped her wine some more thinking about what he said. “Hello? Hey, sweetie, what’s going on? Did you finish your homework? Alright, two friends, max. …Fine, four, but I’m not paying for the pizza - you guys have to figure that on your own. I’ll be home in a little bit. I love you, too. Bye.” He hung up and smiled.

“You have a daughter?”

“I have two. That was my oldest. She’s fifteen.”

“That would put you at age…”

“Too old to have at slumber parties. I’m 34 now. Had her when I was nineteen and freshly married.”

“I always wanted kids. Promised myself after college,” she laughed. “I’m 32 and single again.”

The man called for the bill. “You’ll have them. Don’t worry.”

She smiled again, not really believing him.

“Well I have to go chaperone a slumber party. You’ll be fine?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I’ll be alright. I never got your name.”

He stood up and grabbed his coat. “I’m Ned.”

“Well, Ned, your wife made a mistake when she left you.”

He chuckled to himself. “That’s what she told me right before she died.”

Anastasia’s face went blank with shock and embarrassment. “Oh I’m so sorry! I didn’t... I thought you meant... When you said she left you—“

“It’s alright,” he laughed.

“And today was your anniversary, too,” she wanted to cry of embarrassment as she covered her face with her hands.

“It’s alright. I promised my wife I’d meet someone else on our anniversary. I’ve failed for the past five years, but as if by some miracle… I met you.” He smiled, pulling her hands from her face.

“I’m Anastasia,” she whispered.

“Nice to meet you.” He shook her hand. “Have a good Valentine’s Day. I have reservations for this same table tomorrow. Maybe I’ll see you outside again.”

“Maybe,” she smiled as he walked away.

How long did it take for her to realize she never loved her ex? Roughly two and a half years. How long did it take to realize this man just walked away with her heart? Roughly one minute upon meeting him.