“I can’t find my left shoe. Have you seen it?”
“The left one, I already said!”
“No, what does it look like?”
“Like a shoe! It’s red. Honestly, how many heels have you got lying around this apartment?”
She had a point. Matt’s apartment was decidedly male. The couch was leather, the tv was the largest he could afford and his refrigerator would be empty were it not for the beer and pizza left over from the night before.
“Did you look under the bed?”
“Never mind…found it.”
Holly was running late. She had never intended to spend the night and she needed to get home and change for work. No time to shower.
“I’m late, that’s what!” Her irritation was misdirected and she knew it. It wasn’t Matt’s fault she was late. Not really.
“Well c’mon then. Let’s go. I’ll drop you at home on my way.” She hunted for her purse, finding it behind the couch, and together they hurried out the door. None of this was new territory.
Holly was born with only one speed setting…rush. Life around her was a whirlwind – one Matt felt lucky to be caught up in, although it did come at a price. There was no planning with Holly. She did as she pleased and had a habit of forgetting anything that didn’t much interest her. She was; however, brilliant at remembering faces and could chat up anyone anywhere. When Holly turned her attention toward you, it was as if you were the only person alive. Her energy was infectious and you couldn’t help but have a good time when you were with her.
In the car, Holly fumbled through her purse in search of a rogue tube of lipstick. The visor mirror would have to do and she painted on a shade of red most women can’t pull off. But red was made for Holly. Satisfied, she pressed her lips together then blew a kiss at the mirror. As Matt watched out of the corner of his eye, Holly transformed herself for work. Pulling her hair up with one swooping motion, she secured it with a clip for a look that spoke to the way Holly made life appear…both beautiful and effortless. By the time she’d finished her mascara, they’d reached her apartment.
“Absolutely! I’ll meet you at Gary’s.”
Matt watched her red shoes hurry up the steps, impressed with the speed at which she could manage in those things. As they disappeared inside, Matt pulled away from the curb and made his way to the office, tucking that vision away to fuel his daydreams of her. Holly never fully left you…like bar room smoke in your favorite sweater…she had a way of permeating the very fiber of your being.
In the months that followed, there were many more late mornings and even more late nights. Matt had inserted himself firmly into Holly’s life and was having the time of his. He loved her for the freedom she embodied, for the zest with which she lived, for how she made him feel when he was with her. Touching her was like playing with fire, worth the risk of being burned.
It was late now and Matt fingered the small velvet box hidden inside his left pocket. He’d told her 7:00 but by now he really should have known better. It was Holly after all. In the past 6 months she’d maybe been on time twice. When she finally arrived he saw her red dress coming first. It clung to her in all the right spots and he loved knowing she was his. He stood and pulled out her chair and motioned to the table where her favorite drink sat waiting. Holly smiled.
“You know me so well,” she said.
“There are a few things I know,” Matt grinned. “Like how to tell time.”
“Hey! Not my fault! The cab driver was a complete idiot and traffic was horrible besides.”
“I’m just kidding…you’re worth the wait, gorgeous.”
“Nice save, Matt. I’ll let you off the hook with that one.” She leaned over and kissed him, leaving a trace of red upon his lips. She reached out and wiped them clean and he nipped her thumb playfully as she did so. Holly giggled.
“Ok, I’m starved…what are you in the mood for tonight?” Matt passed a menu across to Holly and she scanned it briefly.
“You pick,” she said. “You know what I like…I’m too hungry to read. Besides, I know you too and you probably read through the menu three times waiting for me to get here.”
On any other night, that would have been true. But tonight, the ring in his pocket held his attention instead and he was still waiting for just the right moment. They lingered over dinner, talking about work and friends until the conversation turned to Susan, Holly’s sister.
“I mean I love her and all…I just don’t get her. She’s got this brilliant chance to travel overseas…a year in Europe, her company will pay for all of it. All she’s got to do is be willing to float while they open a couple more offices over there. You know, kinda organize it for them…go where she’s needed. But she’d be IN EUROPE. Bouncing around from place to place. Just imagine all there’d be to see. But she won’t go because she and Richard want to start trying for a baby….a baby! Seriously? If I’m going to lose sleep at night it’s going to be for something loads more fun than a baby!
And in that instant, Matt knew it was over. He could see into his future and she wasn’t there. She was somewhere off in the distance, off on another of her never-ending adventures. He’d been intoxicated with Holly since they first met…intrigued and beguiled and tempted to imagine himself a part of her world. But her world is not where he desired to live. It was a fun place to visit, a memory for his older self, a wild oat to sew. How do you walk away from something so enticing before it’s too late? Too late to take the other path…the one you know is yours but right now seems so distant? How do you do it? Matt reached across the table and touched her hand, smiling warmly at her.
“Want dessert,” he asked?
“Oh my gosh, no. I’m stuffed. Thanks, though.”
He motioned for the waitress and paid the check.
“C’mon then. I’ll take you home.”
© Kelly Rainey and 500wordsandcounting.wordpress.com, 2016.
Want to explore what else this blog has to offer, receive emails when I post new stories, or send me a private message? Just click on the menu icon near the top right corner of the page.
But before you go…scroll down if you’d like to share your feedback about this story or see what others are saying.
*Reading this story from within an email? You’ll need to click here first to be able to see the menu icon, to scroll down for comments, etc.
Become a Patron and get audio versions of all new stories! Click here to learn more.