I know five years from now people are going to ask me how I felt. It’s strange, but in a good way, I think. It feels like tiny mice running around in my stomach. Some would say butterflies, but no, these are definitely larger and would eat any butterflies. This morning I packed up my Volkswagen and I left California FOREVER. I also left my wife, of course we were on the outs anyway and I believe emotionally she left me months ago.
I reach the Nevada border and consider a diversion to Las Vegas, but I can’t because I need to make it to New York in two days. I push until Oklahoma and then pull into a Days Inn for the night. I’ve never felt this alive, well maybe once when I was a Senior in High School, Tina a girl I was dating made what those close to me consider the greatest scene ever. It was Prom and she thought she may be pregnant. Instead of being rational she handled the situation by grabbing onto my leg in the middle of the dance floor and scream from the top of her lungs “I don’t care what you say, I’m keeping it!”
The Days Inn has a small bar so I go unwind with a drink. A couple next to me is discussing the hypothetical question of if given the chance would you go back in past to spend a week, or spend a week in the future. “FUTURE!” I shout. They both look over; I finish my drink, and go upstairs to my room to sleep.
In Southern Ohio I contemplate calling Cheryl to give her a heads up, but instead become distracted that a white van is following me. After two hours I realize it is not and I no longer feel the urge to call Cheryl which is a little weird considering we haven’t talked in almost ten years. Our only form of communication has been Christmas cards. That was the deal; continue sending the cards until it’s over. Tomorrow I will see Cheryl.
I believe it’s a Wednesday when I reach Long Island, around ten o’clock in the morning I spot another white van, and it’s around noon when I reach her driveway. I slowly pull in, catching a glimpse of the backyard. No swing sets, no jungle gyms, and no white vans parked. Thank you.
Cheryl answers the door. We stare.
“I know this isn’t exactly…” I fumble for the right words.
Cheryl smiles, “I know.” She opens the door, “Its okay, and he’s not here.”
I walk in and notice her medical degree, framed above the sofa. Ten years ago, to the day we split, it was the right thing to do. Cheryl was off to medical school and I was off to sell my screenplays in Hollywood. We both married five years later.
Cheryl looks at me, and then around the house, “This is weird, right? Let’s get out of here. Just give me a second, I’ll pack a bag, we can go to the beach.”
At Long Beach we sit on a bench, at the same time both the Ocean breeze and aroma from a hot dog vendor hits us in the face. I grab Cheryl’s hand. “Did you know that today was…”
“Yes.” Cheryl begins laughing and then tears run down her face. “I was hoping you’d show up, and now you are here.” Cheryl grabs my hand tighter.
Ten years ago to the day we made one of those pacts that if we weren’t in love we would reunite. You know, those pacts that are just conversation.
“What about..” I nod back, “him?”
Cheryl wipes away the last tear. “Oh, he’ll be fine. He has his practice.” She looks into my eyes, “Do you have a place for us to stay?”
“No.” I sigh. “I guess I didn’t think that far ahead…”
Cheryl smiles, “How much gas do you have in your car?”
“Full tank, I think?”
Cheryl jumps up, “Woah, a full tank, that sounds like a lot of gas, let’s go!”
Behind us, a white van slowly rolls by.
David S. Grant is the author of BLOOD: The New Red. Follow David on twitter: @david_s_grant