Staying home was not something Elsa wanted to do. Accustomed to being at her office from sunup to sundown was the norm for her. The pandemic had changed everything, and everything seemed surreal.
Elsa’s apartment was modestly decorated. If not been for an insisting girlfriend, she probably would most likely not have any furnishing, except maybe a bed and chair. Entertaining was not a priority for Elsa. She just needed a place to come home to shower, have a glass of wine, and get some sleep.
Things were so different at her office. Elsa had spent tons of money decorating and making her office beautiful. Her office was unusual. It had a large area for the entertaining of, at least, thirty people and furnished with couches, comfy stuffed chairs, and a full bar. A separate small kitchen was off of the entertainment room and two bathrooms with exquisite artwork on the doors distinguishing between his and hers.
The actual office, where Elsa worked, was a room of its own with a massive closet full of shoes, evening attire, jewelry, makeup table, and a private shower. Also, it had a hidden door coming into it from the entertainment room. Both the office and the entertainment room had entries from the large foyer, just after the entrance to the building.
Sometimes Elsa wondered why she had bothered with renting the apartment, but she knew it was her escape from late-night office parties and gave her total peace. Never did Elsa think she would be confined by herself for any length of time in the apartment, but here she was isolated from the world.
Most of the day, Elsa worked from her computer, and then there were those constant conference calls, face timing with coworkers, and an occasional call from a close friend. She ordered food from restaurants that she had frequented before the pandemic and even ordered some groceries to see if she could still cook. It had been years since Elsa cooked a meal. She only kept coffee, wine, crackers, cheese, and fruit in the kitchen; Elsa did not have time for cooking, nor did she have anyone in her life wanting to share a meal she had cooked.
A long time ago, Elsa had picked a career over love and marriage, and definitely, she did not want to think about that now. Oh, how that man loved and adored her, but try as hard as she could, Elsa could not return his love. She was glad that he had found another woman to marry and who could reciprocate the love he gave them. Elsa had received a few Christmas cards from them, and they had three sons. She was happy for them, but at thirty-nine years old, Elsa knew children were probably not in her future.
Elsa sighed as she walked to the glass door to her balcony. Until now, she had never looked out the door or even cared to. What was so different about this particular evening? Elsa did not know, but she felt pulled to the balcony. Was she supposed to wear her mask out there? Elsa decided that she should probably wear the ugly mask, so she grabbed it, put it on, then opened the door to the balcony. Once Elsa stepped outside in the evening breeze, she felt like she had escaped prison confinement. As the breeze gently blew, Elsa ran her fingers through her long brown hair. Elsa never really wore her hair down except at home because it looked more professional up. She could not remember the last time anyone had seen her hair down.
As she looked at the streetlights, and they slowly began to glow. Above her, the night sky was clear, and the stars were shining. Elsa did not know how long it had been since she had noticed the stars in the night sky. Regrets began to filter into Elsa’s mind of what she had missed, and her body started to shiver in the night air.
Suddenly, Elsa was startled as a voice came out of the night, asking, “Are you cold? I have a clean throw on my balcony.”
Elsa looked in the direction the voice came from, and there stood a man wearing a mask. He was standing on his balcony, about six feet away from her. The railing on the balconies almost touched one another. All Elsa could see was the man’s eyes and his head full of wavy brown hair, but the sound of his voice had mesmerized her.
Not knowing why, Elsa walked toward the railing then said, “Thank you, but I am fine. My name is Elsa.”
The man stayed where he stood, then said, “Hi, my name is Jake. I just moved into this apartment about a month ago. I am still unpacking, although, with the pandemic, that unpacking has gone a lot quicker. Have you lived here long?”
Mystically drawn to Jake’s voice, Elsa moved closer to the railing, then answered, “Although I have lived here for years, I am rarely home. I spend a lot of time at my office downtown.”
Elsa was feet away from Jake but could see his eyes twinkling in the moonlight. Although he was wearing a mask, she could still see his smile behind it. Elsa wondered why this man was so attractive to her, but she decided it had to be her loneliness.
Jake asked Elsa, “What do you do at your office? I have some more beer in the refrigerator. Can I get you one, then we can sit out here a while and get acquainted?”
Elsa hesitated a moment then answered, “No, but thank you, I don’t drink beer, only wine. I’ll get my bottle of wine and glass, and then we can chat.”
Walking into her apartment to get the wine and glass, Elsa wondered what to tell Jake about her work. Did she need to confess to him that she owned a large company? Elsa was more interested in knowing about him. Elsa grabbed the wine bottle, and her glass then stepped back on to the patio, she would thank her best friend later for being intuitive enough to buy three pieces of balcony furniture.
As Elsa pulled one of the two chairs from near the table to the railing, before sitting down, she asked, “Jake, what kind of work do you do?”
Jake sat near the railing on the farthest side of his balcony, away from their close railings, and watched as she sat down, then replied, “I am an ER Doctor. Today is my first day off in two weeks. We have been a little busy with this epidemic. Oh, and if you don’t mind me saying so, you have beautiful hair.”
Uncomfortable by his compliment, Elsa took a sip of her wine, then said, “You have an essential job. Thank you for what you are doing.”
They talked and laughed for another hour, but before saying goodnight, Jake asked Elsa if she would be on her balcony the next evening. Elsa told him that she would, then they left the terraces. While walking to her bedroom, Elsa felt so alive. She could not wait to see and talk with Jake again. Elsa never dreamed, but that night did. In the dream, Jake and she walked hand in hand through a garden, and then he gently kissed her.
The next morning, Elsa awoke early, made coffee, and a lite breakfast, then did some conferences on the internet but found her attention span suffering. Her mind kept wandering, thinking about seeing Jake again. What should she wear, should she wear light makeup, and should she roll her hair are just let it stay naturally straight?
That evening masked Jake was on his balcony when masked Elsa walked out on to hers. Immediately, Elsa noticed how ruggedly handsome Jake was in the evening sunlight. His hair was not dark brown, but dark auburn brown, and his eyes were the color of sweet dark honey.
Elsa’s heart began to beat fast as she said, “Hello, Jake. How are you doing today?”
Jake replied, “Well now, Elsa, since you are there on your balcony, I have never felt better. Do you like music? I brought my guitar outside with me, and I would love to play and sing you a song. ”
Of course, Elsa wanted to hear him play and sing, so she answered, “I would love that, Jake.”
Jake began to play his guitar, then sang a love song, and Elsa marveled at the beauty of his voice as he sang. Elsa did not know how faith had brought this man into her life, but she knew he was her soulmate. Did Jake feel the same way about her, Elsa did not know, but she hoped he did.
They talked into the wee hours of the morning. Jake shared his whole life with Elsa, as she asked him question after question, but as if Jake knew, he did not try to pry into her past. He could read her like a book, Jake knew Elsa would tell him her life story, but not until she was ready.
That night as Elsa told Jake goodnight, Jake removed his mask at his balcony door, then told her, “Elsa, I will be gone for a while, but I promise you I will be back as soon as possible. I care deeply about you. Please, pray for me.”
Jake opened his balcony door, paused, then smiling, turned to Elsa, and said, “I love you.”
Being caught off guard, Elsa could not reply before Jake disappeared into his apartment. Elsa slowly strolled into her apartment with her heart beating fast. Did she hear him, right? Did he say he loves her? Where was he going? Was he in danger? That night Elsa dreamed again, and Jake held her in his arms, telling her he loved her.
Elsa tried to stay busy the next week, but she was giving more and more responsibilities to her employees on the conference calls. Each night she prayed for Jake, asking God to keep him safe and bring him home soon.
After a week and a half, Elsa heard the siren on an ambulance outside her apartment building. Knowing the pandemic was in full swing, Elsa knew that someone was sick in her apartment building. She knew very few people in the building, and the only person she had ever had a conversation with was Jake. Before the virus, she had always worked late into the evenings at the office.
Elsa strolled to the balcony door, opened it, then walked onto the balcony. She looked at the ambulance sitting in front of her apartment building, and then she saw two EMTs pushing a stretcher with a man on it up to the back of the open doors. Suddenly, Elsa felt weak in the knees, and could not breathe. Jake was the patient on the stretcher. She called out to him, “Jake! I love you!”
Jake made no sign that he had heard Elsa, and she had no idea where they were taking him. As the ambulance drove away, Elsa collapsed on to the floor of the balcony and emotion overcame her, then she looked up to the sky and prayed. She prayed that God would hold Jake in His loving arms and heal him. Why had Jake not told her he was sick? Had Jake been ill all alone in his apartment? Did he have the virus? She could not lose Jake now because she had just found him.
The next morning, Elsa called every hospital in town, but none of them could or would tell her if Jake was there. Of course, her information was sketchy, only including his first name, Jake, and that he was an ER Doctor.
For the next two weeks, Elsa barely ate, and her work online was impossible. Her best friend called her, but she could not tell her about Jake, it hurt too much. Every night, Elsa prayed for Jake, hoping God heard her. Elsa believed in God, but she had not been to church since a child. Somehow during the years, Elsa had lost all contact with God. Was God punishing her now for only caring about her company and making money? She begged God to forgive her and heal Jake.
The next morning, after her prayer, Elsa was surprised to hear her doorbell ring. Not wanting to see anybody, but wondering who was at the door, she went to look through the peephole. Elsa quickly opened the door then threw her arms around a smiling Jake.