Rushing out the door he swung down the banister grabbing the Wall Street Journal on the way out. Skimming through the paper, his eyes darting feverishly around the page, he sipped at his coffee. He liked routine, order, numbers, stocks, rules. Every morning was the same. And every morning he gave himself precisely 3.45 minutes to get to the bus stop. The bus arrived exactly at 7:42 a.m. which gave him specifically 15 minutes give or take 3 minutes to get to work. Sometimes with traffic the bus would get there exactly at 8am. Other times without traffic, or with a speedy bus driver, the bus would arrive with 3 minutes to spare.
Quickly glancing at his watch he sped up, spilling a little coffee on his shoe and cursing silently. His brown tie swung back and forth like a grandfather clock. Still reading the paper he saw that the bus stop was approaching through the corner of his eye and thus slowed down his pace. Still looking out the corner of his eye and sipping on his coffee he suddenly saw something strange. Pulling the paper away from â€¨his face and coming to a complete stop he starred at the woman to his left. His mouth and eyes wide open he continued to stare in the manner that children stare at the biggest lion in the zoo. Could it be? It couldn’t possible be…Oh My Lord, its Christy Stalesworth. He turned quickly on his heel and put the newspaper up, covering his face. Silently he whispered into the heavens “She didn’t see me, she didn’t see me, she didn’t see…”
“Joseph Edmund Goldstein Junior! Is that you?”
Why did she always have to call him by his full name? It was SO embarrassing! Slowly and sheepishly he pulled down the newspaper. His face red and hot, he gave a little nod.
He gave her a look up and down. She had sure changed since high school, but in a good way. Her hair was longer and more had more volume, her body more voluptuous and womanly. But her face, her eyes, still the same. Still so deep and shimmering blue. He realized he had been starring for a little too long and gave a little cough.
“God. Christy Stalesworth. It’s been years.” He reached over awkwardly and gave her an arms length hug, spilling more coffee on his shoe and cursing in his head.
“It sure has.” She laughed. “Summer, 1994.”
“1994.” He repeated and laughed.
Suddenly the memory of his senior prom in 1994 came rushing back to him. It was late spring and the flowers were still blooming. The night had been warm with a light breeze and a full moon hung heavily over the night sky. The young lovers had escaped out back to get some fresh air. Inside the pumping base of the music vibrated through the walls, they were hot and sweaty from dancing but they still held each other close. Even sweaty and disheveled Christy looked beautiful in her peach satin prom dress. Inside the DJ slowly changed the song to an all too familiar cheesy love song. The cheesiest love song of 1994. The words drifted out into the night air… “I swear by the moon and the stars in the skies, I’ll be there. I swear, like the shadow that’s by your side. I’ll be there.” Joe remembers singing it into her ear, and she was singing it back. Everything had seemed so perfect standing under that wide moon.
“So what have you been up to?” Christy said jolting him out of his flashback.
“Well I graduated from Towson got my BS in Finance now I’m working at H & R Block here in the city. You?”
“Yeah I’m working for a small publishing company.”
Silence. More silence. It seemed like the silence was like a snowball rolling, rolling, turning into an avalanche, it was unstoppable. They looked at each other then looked away. Say something! He screamed at himself. Say anything!
He remembered the last time there was this much silence between them. Freshman year at Towson he had called her in a drunken state. He told her he didn’t think this whole long distance thing was working out. He said he needed to be free and discover himself. All of his friends in college were hooking up and drinking and going wild, and he had to keep checking up with his girlfriend on the other side of the country. Girls were practically throwing themselves at him but he was always the gentleman and always thought of Christy first. After a few months he had became antsy to explore this new freedom he had gained in college. How was he even sure if Christy was really the ‘one’.
Christy had quietly listened to what he had to say. After the longest pause she said “Fine. If that’s what you want,” and then hung up. That was the last he heard from her.
Weeks later when he was kicking himself for letting her go he had tried to call but got no response. In the summers when he came back from college he would drive by her parent’s house, but she was never home. He even asked her old friends about her but she seemed to have disappeared.
The bus pulled up to the curb and ground to a halt. Joe and Christy looked at each other and then he coughed awkwardly again.
“Oh. Well. Um. This is my ride.”
“It was nice…” The both started at the same time and then laughed.
“It was very good to see you,” Said Christy looking deep into his eyes with a slight smile.
“You too,” He said with a little nod.
With that he boarded the bus and sat down as a few more people piled on the bus. Through the dirty scratched up bus window he saw Christy sit down under the bus shelter and look at her watch. She played with her hair just as she used to do in high school. She was nibbling on her lower lip, a trait she also had in high school.
As the bus pulled away Joe couldn’t help but be flooded with old memories. Her smell, her eyes, her smile, her laughter, her stupid sense of humor, everything came rushing back to him. Looking back out the window he realized he was doing it again. He was letting her slip away from him. But on the other hand, he though, I have to get to work, what am I supposed to do. However, how often do you run into the love of your life? The one you let slip away? But on the other hand, he was happy with his routine, he didn’t need a woman to come in and mess it up. But on the other hand…oh SCREW it.
Joe jumped up leaving his Wall Street Journal and cold coffee in a pile on the floor. He rushed up to the bus driver and asked him to stop. The bus driver mumbled something about waiting for the next bus stop but begrudgingly stopped opening up the doors.
Joe rushed out the bus and ran down the street. He hadn’t run in years but the adrenaline pumping through his veins only made him run faster and faster.
Back at the bus stop Christy was about to board a bus headed in the opposite direction.
Joe ran across the street, jumping in front of a taxicab and causing the angry taxi driver to honk and yell curse words in Chinese out the window.
Christy, still unaware of the hullabaloo around her searched absent-mindedly through her purse for the exact amount of change for the bus.
Now Joe could see her. He waved his arms up in the air and yelled her name but she couldn’t see him. She boarded the bus absent mindedly, still delving through her purse.
Joe ran faster finally making it to the bus stop. But then he saw she had already boarded the bus with the doors closed, and he dropped his hands down and stood still. His face was covered in disappointed sweat.
Suddenly the bus door opened and there was Christy. Her hair blowing slightly in the wind and a look of surprise on her face.
“I didn’t have enough change.” She said.
Joe lifted her off the bus and held her close. He brushed her hair from her face and, cupping her head in his hands, kissed her softly.
“I didn’t have enough guts.” He said.