On the hour-long drive to Mom’s apartment, I sang along to the radio at the top of my lungs.
“Stop me, oh, oh, oh, stop me. Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before…”
It had been a while since I’d driven my car further than to and from the grocery store or to the mall, so it felt nice to be driving long distances again. I turned off the AC and pulled down the windows so that I could feel the crisp, autumn wind blow through my hair. The leaves were just beginning to turn color. This was my favorite time of year to be in New York.
That night after I’d brought up all my boxes into my old bedroom, I sat eating dinner with Mom, pizza from Lou’s across the street.
“How are things with Carl going?” she asked as she took a bite out of her slice.
“Oh yeah? You don’t sound too thrilled.”
“It’s just hard to trust him again, after what he did, you know?”
“Yeah, I know. Did you ever hear from Sebastian again?”
I almost choked on my pizza. Mom slapped me hard on the back.
“Drink some water, Emily.”
A minute later, after I could breathe normally again, I attempted to answer her question. “No, I never heard from him – from Sebastian – again.”
She silently placed a sympathetic hand over mine. I’d told her everything as soon as I came back from Paris, and I even spent a few nights in her apartment, where she accepted me with open arms (and plenty of Kleenex and ice cream).
“Why do men have to be such jerks, huh?”
I laughed. “I don’t know, mom. That’s a mystery.”
The next morning, I took care with my outfit. I wanted to dress to impress. This was my first serious interview for a professional job.
Mom adjusted my collar and smoothed down my hair.
“Go knock ‘em dead, Em.”
I croaked out, “Thanks, mom.”
The interview took place without a hitch. My jitters disappeared as soon as I started talking about my love of literature. The lady interviewing me was friendly and seemed impressed with my curriculum vitae.
I walked out of the office floating on air. I had a feeling they would hire me, but I didn’t want to jinx it.
Instead of taking the subway, I decided to walk. It was just a few blocks anyways, and the weather was nice and cool.
It was just after 9 AM and the sidewalks were jammed full of people. This was the first time I was part of the New York work-crowd. In my pinstriped suit and high heels, I felt like a true working woman, pounding the pavement like every one else. I relished the feeling.
As I rounded the corner to the block where Mom’s apartment stood, I saw someone, a man with dark hair, speaking to the doorman. Something about the way he held his head was familiar…
I walked closer and the man turned around. I felt the breath catch in my throat. It couldn’t be. His eyes locked with mine. Two different colored eyes, one brown, the other blue.
I kept walking as if I had no control over my legs. Like a robot. I walked right up to him.
He grabbed both of my hands. He said, “Hello, Emily.”