Then and Now


Chapter 26





My alarm shrieks waking me up and introducing me to a room full of sunshine. My hands reach all around me, begging my brain to stay rooted where it had been only seconds before. I had seen my Jenna.

But of course, it had only been a dream.

I brush my teeth and comb my hair. I put on my suit for work and make sure my papers are set for my case.

This is a typical day.

I say goodbye to my Jenna as I touch the gold framed picture on my night stand. That should have been a clue--the picture is on my night stand, and not in my office.

I speak to my clients who have future court dates with me on my cell phone on my way to court and I sip casually on an espresso that my driver had ready for me.

This was the big case--the make or break case of a lifetime. No whimsical dream was going to ruin this for me.

And it didn't, considering that five long hours later, my client was walking freely down the stairs of the Toronto City Hall on Queen Street. She is pretty, my client, and she is talking to me about how we should go celebrate over drinks. Her blond hair creates waves like an ocean in the summer heated breeze and her blue eyes twinkle, much like they had in court while giving her speech about not knowing the defendant; she was good.

"I'm sorry," I say as I try to politely reject her request. True, my heart may be made of steel right now, but I am still a feeling human. I have emotions and trust me, if there is anyone who knows how rejection feels, I'm your man. "But I don't date my clients."

"I didn't say," she smiles at me with her brilliant crest pearl smile, "that I wanted to date you, I simply asked you to join me in a toast over a possible meal." She raises her eyebrows in a come hither stare. Honestly, I am sure this has worked for her since she was in diapers, but I am different. Maybe I am a cold-hearted bastard like I have heard my co-workers call me.

"That suspiciously sounds like a date." Women, they try too hard. "If you will excuse me, er, madam, I do congratulate you on your success, but I have other business to attend to. I believe you know where to pay the legal fees?" When she looks up at me from the bottom of the stairs with a confused look on her face, I respond on her part, "Oh, then you must know. Well, good luck with any further endeavors and please, stay out of the bad side of the law." I smile politely and walk right past her. She steps back as if winter has come three months early and has decided to hit her first.

Maybe I am a cold-blooded lizard who selfishly ignores all around me while trying to gather the heat of the sun. A blind spectator in a world that continues to function, not caring whether I succeed or not in gaining my heat, which I obviously hadn't received--me being a jerk and all.

But, it isn't fully my fault. You see, ten years ago, my sun was stolen from me.

Okay, stolen is a strong word. She disappeared.

She took my heart and soul with her too, leaving nothing but my empty shell. All I had going for me was the money I was making and the hearts I was breaking.

Maybe I need therapy. Or maybe, I need a doctor. Is your heart supposed to hurt this much?

I check my phone for any missed calls that I had received during court and erase any voicemails from telemarketers and any clients who were calling for other reasons that were not work related. When suddenly, a long silence fills my last voice-mail. I almost click delete when I hear a little cough and a soft whisper of my name.

"Michael?" Her voice is gentle, almost shy. "Hi, I don't know if you remember me. And if you do, and if you're mad I understand completely. If you don't remember me, then please delete this. I do have a lot to say to you, if you are willing to listen. If you want to meet me, if you aren't busy, I am waiting for you at The Diner today, I will stay until four-thirty, any later than that and I will understand why you wouldn't want to see me."

I check my watch, four-ten. Crap.

"And Michael?" She adds in the same voice that makes me think of the best possible solution to my sudden time restraint. "I never stopped loving you."

There is a click, and she does not leave her name. She doesn't have to.

The streets are packed with workers going home and teenagers driving home from school and to whatever jobs that they have attained. I urge my driver to hurry it up and he apologetically informs me, in broken English, that it is pointless to try and veer into different lanes, "Tarafic is tarafic, what'ver ways you take."

I look at my watch, four-twelve, and notice for the first time that we are near my old neighborhood. In fact, we are a mere five minute run from The Diner.

I open the door to the car, despite the loud protests from my driver and other drivers stuck in the crunch of traffic and I run through the gaps left open. I pass bedazzled families and fascinated ten year old's. I soar past hot dog stand owners yelling, "Eh, where's the fire Son?"

The diner where I had spent so many nights before she had come into my life comes into view and I see her, a vivid light at the end of my tunnel. She is wearing an angelic white sundress and her hair has grown longer; it hangs heavenly down her tanned back and arms. Her back is to me, and I find myself yelling, "Jenna!"

She turns back to face me and her face embodies shock. Her scar, made brilliantly clear, contrasts her tanned face and she looks absolutely different than in my dream. I come to a stand-still in front of her and pinch my arm. I gasp in pain and I look up to her confused face.

"What," is the first thing she says to me, after ten years of heartbreak, "are you doing Michael?"

"I'm pinching myself," I say back, equally as witty, "to make sure that you're real this time."

The End

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