Othiel pulled into the parking and hurried into the restaurant for a blind date set up by her coworker. She had been skeptical, but had finally given in to Sandra's badgering. On entering the vestibule, she gave her name to the attendant who escorted her to a table towards the back of the dimly-lit dining area. She could see a plump, bearded man looking intently at his watch. He looked up when they got closer and gave a relieved smile. She returned a coy smile as they greeted each other.
"I was beginning to wonder if I'd be dining alone," he said with a grin as he stood to his feet and held the chair for her. "Thank you for coming. You are looking gorgeous."
She apologized profusely for being tardy. Her detailed plans had gone awry because of a mishap that day. Now here she was, disappointed that she was late, but hopeful. She had tried her best to plan for this date, since she had not been on a date for a while. Her hairdresser had done an excellent job and her coworker could not stop expressing her delight over the outfit she choose when they went shopping.
The only information about the man in front of her that she knew was that he had a charming personality. She concurred with what she was told. He was neatly dressed, mannerly and easy-going. She felt comfortable. Soon they were engaged in conversation and she was able to relax as she realized they had much in common. They both loved nature, good food, and music. He was jovial. He had her laughing from the start. She listened to and enjoyed his antics as a boy. His sense of humor grabbed her attention. Sharing life's journey with each other was exhilarating.
The three course meal and the ambience of the restaurant made her evening one to remember. Her palate savored the taste of each delicacy. They started with creamy garlic mushroom on ciabatta which opened her appetite with a delicious rush. Next, they enjoyed pan fried sea bass with crispy pancetta served on a bed of sweet potato with crisp seasonal vegetables. Their meal was completed with velvety chocolate pots. Her mental camera captured the image of everything for her reflection later. She knew she would also remember the exquisite decor that was evidence of a professional designer.
When the meal was over they continued to enjoy each other's company while sipping on Pinot Grigio, until a glance at her watch reminded her that she had work the next day. Observing her actions, he quietly reached down beside his chair and retrieved a pot with a beautiful orchid and presented it to her.
"How do you know these are my favorite flowers?" She said with a gasp. "They are beautiful!"
"I have my ways," he said with a chuckle and a twinkle in his eyes.
"Thank you," she mouthed again.
She expressed her gratitude for a well spent evening and especially for her orchid gift. He, too, remarked on the wonderful time he had in her company. Holding her gift close she made a mental note to interrogate her coworker the next day. They planned to meet again in the near future as he walked her to her car and then turned and headed to his vehicle.
That was the start of a beautiful friendship. Each time they dated or visited in any capacity they were being drawn closer. That was not what she anticipated when she went on that first date, but it felt right. She was becoming a happier person and she could tell he felt the same way. Eventually, their friendship blossomed into love, and they relished every moment that they could be together. They started planning for a future together.
Enjoying the things of nature were special pastimes as they created memories. Lying on a grassy hillside watching the clouds floating lazily by, exercise walks on a nature trail, walking on the beach, capturing pictures of sunrises and sunsets were among some of their special activities. She often pinched herself to see if it was real for one person to be so full of happiness.
After almost a year of dating and receiving beautiful orchids once a month, she did not hear from him. She tried his number in vain Neither her coworker nor his relatives had answers. Not long after, she learned that he had planned to return to an area in the woods where he went hiking with some friends because he had seen a patch of orchids. He wanted to get some for her. The police were notified, but a search provided no answers. What had happened when he went to the orchid patch? Will he turn up one day? This was not like him. His parents whom she had met just the month before were at a loss. It was a terrible blow for them not to have closure. Everyone was baffled.
For weeks she cried herself to sleep, wondering what had happened. Her friend and coworker consoled her as best she could. Nobody had an explanation that made sense. Could it be that he fell into the nearby river and was washed out to sea? Did he meet someone that caused his demise? For a while the search continued, but eventually the case was closed since there were no leads. She could not understand why her life was turned upside down after it was just turned right side up with love. Her hopes for the future were dashed.
There were many days when she just sat admiring the orchid garden she had created from all of her gifts. They gave her a sense of peace and calm. One day after work, she walked slowly into a nearby flower shop, purchased the most beautiful orchid she could find and walked slowly to her car with tears in her eyes.
"This one is for you Denney, my orchid love," she whispered with a sigh, as she bent and kissed a petal.
Written by Andrea Ryan
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