The Woman and Mr. Williams
The moment was palpable.
I was riding the elevator down from the 32nd floor, my mind still on the meeting I had just left. The music was irritating in a vauge way and the person behind me was standing too uncomfortably close.
I was just thinking about what i would have for dinner, and that maybe I would have a beer with it. Maybe I would even take John and Marie up on their offer to go listen to a friend of theirs play a club downtow…the doors opened.
The moment was palpable.
Everything was right; blonde hair cascading around her face and shoulders like a retro-chic waterfall, the blue eyes that were cold as ice and as warm as a summer pool, the high cheekbones and button nose, the business suit that fit just so.
I noticed other things while we talked; her grandmother’s ring on her right index finger, the black patent leather heels that made her feel taller, the same slightly worn Coach briefcase. But all of that took time to see.
All I could see were her eyes.
“How long did you talk to each other?”
The question brought me back. I had gotten lost again. I cleared my throat. “Not long. Maybe five minutes.”
“What did you talk about?”
I took a deep breath. The bastard wasn’t going to like my answer. “Nothing.”
“Linds.” I always called her that.
“Oh my G…Jake.”
You know how sometimes movies do that effect where they’ve mounted a camera on the guy’s chest and then do a strange time state so that the image behind him moves all jerky and weird, but the character stays perfectly center in the frame? That’s how I felt. Like the world was crumbling around me, but I was the calm center of it.
“Hi Linds.” The doors started to close. We both reached to stop them, our hands almost touching. I hadn’t even noticed everyone filing out around me. I’m sure they shot me dirty looks. It was hard to care at that moment.
“Umm…how are you?”
“I’m…,” how do you even begin to answer a question asked by your ex-fiancée while running into her three years later in the lobby of an office building. I chuckled at the ridiculousness. “I’m fine.”
“Good.” She didn’t seem sure. “What are you doing here?”
“A firm is wanting to do some remodeling.”
“Oh! We are renting some space on 14 while we wait for the Newbourne Building to finish it’s facelift. Wish they had given it to your group. It’s taken forever.”
“Yeah. Look Lindsey, we don’t ha…”
“I’m sorry Jake.” I saw tears welling up in those blue pools.
“No, really. I’ve wanted to call and…”
“Stop. Stop it.”
“And that’s how you left it?”
“Yeah. I told her to stop. I told her I was fine. She was fine. I told her that life moves on and things get better and… I told her to stop.”
“Have you stopped Jake? Have you taken your own advice?”
“Of course. Only reason I called was because I missed the view out of your window. Thought it might be nice to come poke a needle into an infected wound that’s five days fresh.”
“Have you moved on?” He has started ignoring my smartassedness. Not a good sign.
“Sure! I got a new apartment. Started a new architecture firm. Even started going to a new bar. I’ve totally moved on.”
“Are things better? Are you better?”
I turned to look out the window again. The ferry steam out into the harbor again. I thought about my life and how it had changed. I thought about how I would answer. About how much I wished he would have just let me have that drink at the beginning.
“We did a lot of good work today Jake. But that’s all the time we have. Let’s meet again next week.”
I walked down the street. The warm day was just developing an edge of coolness that spoke of evening arriving. A breeze was coming off the bay, and I knew soon the fog would come with it.
I was lost in my thoughts; about my feelings for Linds, about the life I thought I was heading towards and in so many ways, still clinging to. I thought about the changes I had made and why I had made them. Why no relationship of mine had worked in the three years since Lindsey had left.
When I finally looked up I realized I was in my old neighborhood. I had walked nearly 2 miles in the wrong direction. I chuckled at myself, “Typical.”
I looked at the cross-streets. There’s a pretty nice bar about a block down there, I thought to myself. “Let’s toast to old memories.”
I pushed the door open, and sat at the bar. It was empty and quiet inside. The bartender sidled over.
“What’ll you have?”
“Double Jameson, on the rocks.”
“You got it.” He busied himself with the drink.
A sign hung behind the bar, “Time flies like a arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” I read it as he handed me my drink. I raised my glass to it. “I’ll drink to that.”
The liquid burned just a little before the ice cooled my tongue. It was time to move on.
I took a deep breath, and lowered my glass.