Being Inspired, maybe - 102

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

But there was more to the story.

"Trentgard, of course, had called Ferguson to forewarn him, but Ferguson knew I was coming anyway. It was all a bit of a letdown in the end.  I handed him my letter of resignation effective immediately.  He asked me to reconsider, that there was going to be a reorganization and new opportunities coming up.  There might, but it wouldn't be soon enough for me, and it would just go to the favored few. I told him I was over the discrimination.  He said that management would be sorry to see me go."

So would I.

"Were you hoping for more?"  I'm not sure what more could be expected.

"No, not really.  Ferguson is basically the face of the faceless hierarchy, he generally mirrors their out of date attitudes, and it won't stand them in good stead in the coming years. I'd be surprised if they were still in business in three years’ time.  Which of course leads me into what I'm here for."

To say goodbye.

"I thought you, and the others whom I worked closely with, deserved to find out from me in person that I'm leaving.  I shall miss them and particularly you.  I like to think we made a good team, and you always seemed to know instinctively when to make me feel better."

As much as I'd hoped one day she might feel the same about me, it was probably too late now.  I had thought often, in the past, that I should tell her, but there never seemed to be an appropriate time.  Now, it was hardly appropriate given the circumstances.  Coming back to see me in person was going to be the gentle let down I think I deserved.  It was as much as I deserved for my procrastination.
But despite any misgivings, it was the time, appropriate or not, to say something.  It was going to be the only opportunity I was going to get.

"I could see you were not happy.  Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do except lend a shoulder for you to lean on.  God knows, in such a large city with so many people, it's very hard to find just one person you can talk to, and who might even begin to understand."

"Which was you.  I know.  I think I might have begun to take that for granted, which was not my intention, but somehow with everything else going on, I got too wrapped up in my own problems to see what was happening.  One I got away from here and had time to think about things I suddenly realized what an ass I'd been.  At least to you.  You were always there for me, and I wasn't really there for you.  I'm very, very sorry about that."

Perhaps she realized how I felt about her, but from what she was saying, it might not be reciprocated.  Should I plow ahead with what I was going to say?

I smiled wanly. "I cared about you, perhaps more than I should have."  There, I said it out loud.

"I know.  And I failed to see what was there in front of me.  To be honest, I wasn't expecting it.  I'd got so wrapped up in work, and everything else, that I forget that there might be another life outside, and I never considered your invitations for what they were."

"It was never my intention..."

"I know that now.  God, what a fool I’ve been.  Why do you think I’m here, now?”

If I’d been listening, I would have realized it about half an hour ago, in fact, the moment she said ‘Hello, George’.  Instead, I was too busy thinking I was about to lose the best thing that had ever happened to me.

Was it too late to say you had me at hello?

“To tell me you’re quitting the company but not leaving New York?”

It was a rather stupid answer, and presuming too much, especially when she had already said she wasn’t staying.

“We’re not really big city people, George.  I know you hate this place as much as I do, not so much for it being, well, New York, and all, but of what it does to people like us.  We get swallowed up, and just disappear.  We can live anywhere; it doesn’t matter where.”

We could. We’d talked about it often enough, getting away, even going on a holiday together, as friends, you know, the separate rooms and everything, but it was always next week, next month, next year.

“Together?”  I had no idea why I was stumbling over that word, and what it meant.

“Of course.  Together.  You don’t think I’m going to leave you here?  I came back for you, for us.  All those grandiose plans.  We have the money, and we have the talent to do whatever we want.  Except I don’t want to be a lawyer, that’s definitely out, and not so much a mother, yet.  Things to do before that happens.”

“With me?”

OK, so I was a bit slow on the uptake.  But it was a huge turnaround.

“You are still the same George that I knew a week ago who told me he loved me in a rather strange but very endearing way.  Oh yes, I heard you when you thought I had gone.  Luckily for me I’d forgotten my train pass.  You cursed yourself for being so afraid to tell me the truth.  And, like wow!  Until that moment I never realized.  I’ll admit it scared me.  The last boy who professed his undying love for me was at the Prom and said he wait for me to return.  That he did not.  Married with six kids, and a drunk.”

“I wanted to tell you, but there never seemed to be the right time.”

“There never is.  You have to seize the moment.  I feel the same way about you.  I guess I didn’t want to think about it, not until you weren’t there anymore.  So, I came back, to see if you still felt that way.”

“I do.”

“Then that’s the first hurdle and solves a small problem I have, nowhere to go.  Hotels are so expensive.  But, first, I’ve always wanted to go skating, not necessarily here, but it’ll do, and then dinner.  You do skate?”

“Frequently on thin ice, but yes.”  Who didn’t have a frozen pond in their back yard?

“And then we talk some more.  I’ve found this quaint little bookshop in a very picturesque town where the people are really nice.  I think you and I will fit in very nicely.”

It had begun to snow, and it looked very cold outside.  Inside it was warm and settled, and I didn’t want to leave because it might break the spell.  It was scary too because I’d never been in love, and she was a formidable woman, it was probably why I’d kept that wall between us, but now, that wall was disappearing.

It was in a sense a case of being in the right place at the right time.  The bookshop, of course, had always been at the center of that dream each of us had, but what was more interesting was the fact we both had always wanted to be writers.

What were the odds?

Now it looked like three of our dreams were about to come true.

© Charles Heath 2020


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