Something was about to change her life. ‘Intuition’ wasn’t a strong enough word to describe it, and ‘magic’ was too cliché, but he’d asked earlier “what do you want, from this?” It was too big of a question to answer within word bubbles on a tiny white screen from someone Kristin hadn’t known existed only 24 hours ago. She just knew that the loneliness of her chaotic life was wearing, and it needed to change. The passing of too much time made it easier to hide away inside of herself.
David had arrived as an email response to her personal ad, the one which described an ideal that she knew didn’t exist. Those that fell short of the moon were the stars that have shined the brightest in her life and gave her the will to search still. He listed his wants, which read like the standard list of dates; long walks, coffees, Sunday drives. It wasn’t convincing of anything other than that he knew what would appeal to most any woman. How could he know that she wasn’t like any of the others? She answered anyway, with a polite decline and wished him well. Then another short note arrived from him, and so it continued throughout the evening. She found herself wanting David to know what he didn’t yet.The change to come lingered in the air around her with a soft, crisp scent. It was almost tangible, but Kristin knew better than to reach out and touch it. She only wanted to revel in it because it didn’t come round very often. A funny desire for a girl like me. Change had weighed heavily on her in more than forty years of life.
The week had been a dreary one, as she read the responses that passed through her inbox. They were quite discouraging in their abrupt tones or lack of originality. She’d met one right away, but he was more focused on himself than on what was at stake. Later he texted her, proclaiming them to be ‘kindred spirits.’ When she asked what that meant to him, his answer was paltry and unmoving. She told him that she appreciated his feelings, and while she couldn’t name what she wanted, it wasn’t there between them. He had said he thought it ‘cute’ that she was too shy to make eye contact. She didn’t have the heart to say she simply didn’t try to. He tried to persuade her to see him again, but she remained firm. Kristin hated that part, it seemed so much like a job interview. She couldn’t even give a reason for disqualification, and wouldn’t apologize for it. That’s where the guilt came in, but life had proved itself too fragile to settle in comfortably with what didn’t feel right.
Kristin met another the next day, and while they had an intellectually stimulating conversation over cocktails for two hours, they both conceded that it was best left at that. For the next few days, she engaged in benign conversation over emails and online messages with a few others, but none struck her with any sort of a spark. She had come to believe long ago that fate guided everything and she had no choice but to wait. Perhaps that’s what made her the fool. It seemed so trite to say it aloud to anyone else, as though she didn’t understand responsibility and consequence.
Fire and magic had come her way more than once. Kristin often felt she’d somehow been given more than most, and there was a selfishness in asking for more. She needed to feel something, though. She needed a change, even if she hated to admit it. Life couldn’t continue devoid of any attachment that came from a hurtful past. Fear of moving forward had shadowed her for too long, because it meant letting go of former lovers. She didn’t know how to do that because it wasn’t her choice to lose them, but now she needed to find acceptance and remember that doors couldn’t be opened until one was ready to walk through them.
Today, there was a door before her.
She had texted David this morning. “I went to sleep thinking about you.”
“What were you thinking?”
“That even if we only ever have that one conversation, it was special and I was glad for it.”
He later asked what she was doing that day. “Work.” She waited for several minutes before finding the nerve to add “And meeting you.”
* * * * *
Kristin sat at the table in the fairly quiet bar of a trendy restaurant and checked her phone for work related emails as she waited. She’d freshened her lipstick, run a brush through her hair, and pushed away the insecurities that nibbled at her. Looking up at the sound of her name, David was as familiar to her in an instant as any other time her life had been changed. When he easily slid into the chair beside her at the small high-topped roundtable, there was an absence of reluctance in her. She was right where she wanted to be.
His voice was warm with its subtle British accent, likely mellowed from twenty years of living in the States. As he explained how he had come to live in the Bay Area, she felt no fear in saying “because all of that brought you here to be with me today.” David could have left right then for her being so serious beneath the banter – she knew she was softly challenging him - but he stayed.
Again he asked her, “So, what is it you want?”
“Didn’t we have that discussion earlier?”
“Yes, but now we’re having it in person.” Just then an alert came from his phone. He pulled it out to look at the message.
“Saved by the bell.” Now she was apprehensive, knowing she was on the verge of blurting out too many thoughts. After he apologized for needing to address the text, she deftly dodged the line of questioning. “Is this your ‘get me out of here!’ friend bailing you out?” Kristin laughed. He assured her it wasn’t.
Probing discussion ensued as she navigated her way through the small talk. Tumbling into their conversation was the song from the overhead speaker. She caught her breath and was struck by a sudden sting in her eye. It was a haunting sign that revealed her vulnerability. Dammit, don’t do this today she cursed at the memory. “I believe in serendipity, and it usually shows up in the form of a song.” she sighed. He appeared to take note of the change in her demeanor as her words trailed off, and he looked at her with concern. “I’m sorry, can you excuse me for a moment?” she asked.
She stepped down from the chair and hurried down the nearby hallway. Kristin was reminded that her grief was never far out of reach. For every tiny step she took away from it, she still fell backward at times. Time had brought little relief after the death of her best friend, her love, just over a year ago but he still followed her in song. The hard part was in not knowing if he was holding her back or prodding her to move on.
Making her way back to the table, she offered a small smile.
“Are you okay?”
“I will be.” she answered with all of the honesty she had. They talked a bit more, he fidgeting with the straw in his water – first taking it out, then putting it back in and stabbing at the lemon slice. Kristin wanted to lean inward toward him but stopped herself, not wanting to seem eager.
“Listen, I have to go.” David pointed at his phone to indicate the appointment he had to keep. “I’d like to see you again.” His voice spoke her thought aloud and then their eyes met. This is it Kristin thought. This is our moment. It was their moment, even if there was never another. Life had a way of making lies out of the best intentions. “Would you like that too?” Kristin nodded her head and reached inward for her voice.
He winked at her and touched her hand, then turned to walk away.
“Wait…” she stopped him. He met her eyes and the connection was so strong that anyone looking would have felt the indecency of it.
“Yes, Kristin?” he challenged her in a quietly commanding tone. “Tell me.”
This.” The word left her flushed in shades of pink because it was the only one she could summon. “There isn’t a word to define this… but…” she whispered. “This is what I wanted.”
Something was about to change in her life.