Seventh Regret (Part 1) Aug 22, 2006 15:51:20 GMT -5
Post by kris1907 on Aug 22, 2006 15:51:20 GMT -5
“I challenge any being to prove me wrong when I say that regrets are the worst kind of sins. They are simple at the core but messy along the border, they are easy to fall into, and with an effortless hand, a single regret can wipe away your life… your existence. But the most important element that links a sin and a regret together…”
Well shit, I use to do this all the time? Why would be the question.
I stand in the middle of the common area. My hand rubs the tense muscles in my neck as I look out over all the people. Commotion. Just a wall of commotion. People talking, phones ringing, bags being dragged and thrown to the ground, kids shrieking, and those ghastly little cars for old people… the ones that beep every three seconds and drive any normal person insane. They move at a snail’s pace so anybody who gets hit by it deserves to be. Any idiot can see it coming.
My eyes watch one of these carts roll but my sight is broken as my shoulder is pushed and I jerk forward. Instinctively, my head whirls around just in time to see a cluster of teens walk past me.
“Sorry about that… didn’t mean to be so rude… too busy flirting to realize you were there…” I shake my head and continue to mutter. This truly is shit. How did I survive this for all those years? Constantly moving, constantly on a plane and on trains and dealing with such... such… whatever this shit is.
I officially think I’m too old for this. Or at least, too tired and too out of practice. Need to get my lazy ass out of the office more often and back out into the world. Why did I stop? I guess that is the question. Didn’t really notice I missed it. Not so sure I do miss it. It just got all redundant and dull. Too many meetings about pointless things. Too many old men in gray suits and now, well now I’m the old man in the suit. I went everywhere. Met with everybody. Started charity after charity and business after business. When you have to hire people to keep track of all your office buildings- you need a life. Life- that’s something I don’t have. In some ways, I’ve never had one. There was a time I thought I did, but when it was taken away I ran. I made things and so it’s all quite simple, I burned myself out.
Now what? Grab something to drink, I guess.
I adjust the strap on my briefcase and begin to walk. I catch the view outside the windows of JFK Airport. Not really the most beautiful view. It’s actually rather terrible. But then again, New York really isn’t known for its beauty. The city has changed a bit too. Something in the feel. But then again, I gave it five years to change, so I guess it could just be me. Nothing about it changed, just my perception of it. Wonder if LA is the same? Has the feel changed? A shift in the vibe, perhaps.
I shake my head and continue towards the small café counter, “Really have to get out more.”
I pass by a couple dozen people, side step a few, walk through the middle of a group and stop abruptly as a kid runs out in front of me before I finally make it to the counter. I smile at the female, “Vanilla latté.”
“Umm… what’s it… a…” My eyes narrow as I attempt to locate the sizes on the very unorganized board, “Grande should do.”
I really could use a good tea, but no way in hell I’ll simply settle for a bottled version. She is staring at me. Processing it I suppose. Rather slowly I might add but then she nods at me and sets off to work. Hearing the machine start, I turn slightly and adjust the shoulder strap yet again. My right hand holds it in place as I turn completely and lean up against the counter. My eyes are caught by a plane pulling away from its gate and a bunch of kids line the windows watching in awe and waving madly. Nobody cares and nobody can see them, but they wave anyways. It’s rather cute. Especially the little boy who keeps jumping every time the plane moves an inch.
Businessmen in their suits with their newspapers. Just so dull. They stick out and have this air about them like they are something special to behold. When all they are, are businessmen in a suit. God, and I was one of them for all this time? It’s not that I hate the business or the job, just never realized how stale and common-place we all looked- I looked. Then there are the families heading off on vacation. The parents look ready to lose it and the kids are all in tears, what’s the point?
God, how I miss family vacations.
I laugh lightly as I watch a mother drag her son along the rug. This is why I always flew private. My own little entrances and exits. Alone. No fuss, no unnecessary people. And I can get a latté without it taking an hour. When did I become such a crotchety old man? The Scrooge of life?
About seven years ago I guess.
Turning back around to see what is taking so long, my hands lay flat on the counter, but something has caught the corner of my eye. It was brief and meaningless. Happens a million times a day and I should ignore it and yell about my drink, but instead, my head turns slightly to the left and I try to figure out what it was that had grabbed my attention. I simply see more chaos. Groups of people, but nothing all that interesting.
My eyes move from one person to another. A man with an obnoxiously bright tropic shirt on, another sporting that ridiculous mouse and an old lady who forgot to look in the mirror before heading out into the public- some people just shouldn’t be allowed out in the world.
I’m not seeing anything of importance and just as I give up, I stop. Blonde, fair skin, talking with her hands, and perfectly shaped legs. Sure, that could make her just about anyone, but as she tosses her head back- I know it must be to laugh and I know it’s her. It’s an odd angle on her profile but th- -
I shake my head and blink myself back into the coffee situation. I look up at the woman to let her know I heard her but toss another quick glance back to make sure I was correct in what I was seeing, “Could I…” turning back around, “Could I get another one with whipped cream?”
“Instead of this one?”
Society is falling apart, doomed with no hope of survival because this is, “Along with this one. Need- -” Trying to make this easy, I place a possessive hand over this one, “I want this one. And now would also like a second with whipped cream.”
“Could have ordered them both together.”
I open my mouth. Close it. This is, after all, New York City. Have to be pleased she speaks English. “I could have. I’m sorry.”
I receive a look. Not a very nice look and I just laugh. Turning to the man next to me, “You may just want to run to another one… would be faster.”
He smiles at me, “Probably not. The workers seem to be clones.”
We share a laugh and I can’t help but look back in her general direction. Would hate to miss her, but she’s still there. In total concentration. My fingers begin to tap the counter and I watch the woman work with the machine. Can’t be that hard. You push a button, liquid comes out, spray some whipped cream on the top and its over. So where is she going so wrong?
My eyes are on my feet as I hear the whipped cream can and I look up and mutter out “Finally.” Hate waiting on people when I have things to do. Well more, people to see but it’s all the same. Pulling out my wallet, I snap it open and then close it. Flipping it over, I dig my fingers into the side pocket and pull out some American bills. Locating a five and two ones quickly, I toss those on the counter with a slight “Thank you” before I fix that damn strap, and place my hands around the coffees and move towards the left and head straight for her.
I’m staring at her back and accidentally catch the eyes of her company. I look away. Very away as I practically turn in the opposite direction. How pathetic am I? But it’s a weird feeling to be caught staring. So now I am going to feel really stupid and walk towards her while looking at a different destination. Move closer to her, yet hardly looking at her. Just as I get behind her, my arm reaches around her and I state quietly, “Latté? Vanilla with some whipped cream.”
She tenses. I’m not touching her but I can tell. But who wouldn’t? It’s a normal reaction as she tries to place the voice. Shouldn’t be hard. At least I hope not.
“I’m not so sure I should accept things from strangers.”
She’s smiling and trying to play with me. Wouldn’t have it any other way. “You’ve forgotten me? I’m hurt.”
Taking the coffee in her hand, she turns slowly, “You disappear for a couple of years and then yo- -” She breaks off as our eyes meet. Her sarcastic or bitter comment meant as a joke is gone. Not sure what she was going for. Don’t think she knows either. She’s still trying to adjust to the shock. It’s clearly written in her eyes. They are quite wide, but clouded over as she adjusts.
I smile slightly. It’s more teasing and cocky. I want her to smile. Trying to force that reactionary smile out of her, “Peace offering then?”
She’s not smiling. Why isn’t she smiling? If she doesn’t, I don’t know what to do. I look down at my feet and then back up at her. She lifts the lid on her coffee and takes a small sip. Her tongue darts out to remove the whipped cream from her upper lip, but she misses a small spot at the corner of her mouth. I shouldn’t but I’m already leaning forward, so there is no hope now. It’s too natural, not to. It’s an action that haunts my memory and all these years later, I’m often left wondering if any of the emotions were really as strong as I remember. So, I place a chaste kiss over the sweet spot, effectively removing the remaining cream before whispering in her ear, “Smile please.”
This gets her. Her face brightens and her eyes twinkle, “John.”
I laugh. There’s my girl. “Hey yourself. You’re lookin’ good… very very- -” I’m hit and I stop. “What? I’m just letting you know what I th- -“ I sigh, “Just letting you know that I missed you and that you are looking amazing. Seriously.”
She blushes and I can’t help but smile. Been so long since I’ve seen her blush. Been so long since I’ve seen her nose wrinkle and the turn of her head, as she tries to hide in her hair. But why does it seem so much redder than I remember? Time… been awhile since she’s gotten one from me. She takes a step forward. Placing her leg in between mine and wraps her arms around my waist. My left comes around her shoulders as I pull her closer to me and whisper, “Don’t spill on my shirt.”
Marlena laughs and buries her face into my shoulder. I never thought how hard or perhaps, even unfair this might be for her. Paying little attention to my bag, I allow my cheek to rest against the side of her head and I can’t help but inhale the scent of her hair. We almost fit perfectly together. She always said that are bodies must have been built from the same mold, because we are like puzzle pieces meant to be put together. Never did ask her if she said that to Roman. I never wanted to know.
As she backs up, she begins to move around me, but stops and smoothes down my shirt, “Barely noticeable.”
I laugh at that. Laugh harder than necessary but I have missed her. “So, heading back to Salem?”
“Actually, down to Florida.” She looks down for a minute, as if the words are caught within her throat. Simple question, wasn’t it? Nothing too prying. “Eric will be meeting me down there, he’s uh, he’s moving into his dorm tomorrow.”
That explains it. Massively awkward now. “Oh. Wow.” That’s a good response right? Haven’t seen the kid in over six years. Went from entering middle school with me to college in a matter of seconds, so yeah, that was an appropriate answer. “I, uh sorry, just wow. Blowing my mind a little here. But of course, they would be college age.” I have a million questions for her. Sami has kept in touch a bit over the years, but I have always wondered just how well High School and the change over really went for them. But it’s not like I’ll get an honest answer out of her right now anyways, so why bother prying too much deeper? “Graduated.”
“Yeah, scary huh? I still feel like it was yesterday that I was bringing them into nursery school.”
“God, I remember the first day of kindergarten. Sami dropped me so fast and Eric wouldn’t let go of me. I was totally prepared for the opposite. I ended up sitting in this tiny chair, paranoid that my butt was stuck forever, with Eric on my lap for half the day. He was so little.”
Marlena smiles softly, “You never told me that story before.”
“Well,” What’s an appropriate comment here? I take a sip of my drink to buy me a few seconds, “Someday we’ll have to sit and share stories. Where is he going?”
“He decided on FIT. He wants physics or chemical engineering, he hasn’t quite decided which. I fear he’ll go after both and cause himself to burn out.”
“Nah, he’s a smart kid. He’ll figure out a balance. He always loved his chemicals.”
“Yeah, he was always reading about science. I’m sure you remember, how many books he went through, experiences, and how many phones calls we got about him sneaking into the chemistry room when he was just in the…” I join in with a laugh, “second grade.”
We both laugh at the memory, “Yeah, I remember that. I think the teacher had us on speed-dial. She said that this was her first time having to call about a good student constantly. Just couldn’t keep the boy out.” I readjust my bag, switch hands with my drink, and look out towards the window, “Wow, all grown up. No longer playing with a chemistry set in the basement, ordering me to stay out. I was honestly afraid that one day Frankenstein was going to walk through the kitchen.” I can see where she is about to take this conversation, it’s my fault. I opened it up too much to reminiscing. That won’t get me anywhere, need to bring it back on line. So as she takes a drink, I jump in with, “And Sami?”
“She’s sticking around Salem for now. Things have been a little hard on Sami, she’s not the biggest fan of change so she is going to start at Salem U and will, perhaps, transfer out next semester or next year. She’s going for journalism currently.”
“And what will she be-”
I stop so she jumps in, “Do with it? Heavens know, but knowing my little girl, she’ll change her mind a million times over.”
“Just like her mom.” I step back playfully as she moves to hit me. Pointing at her cup, “Watch it or you will end up spilling. Carrie?”
She says it quietly, like if I hear it softly, I won’t feel quite so horrible. “Engaged? To be married? Not to that Austin guy.”
Marlena has a small smile on her face and I can only assume it comes from my tone. “You never did approve of him, even when they were so young. But no, things between them ended a few years ago. Not long after… after you left. Too much stress and strain.”