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General

I remember always waiting for you.

At crosswalks, when you were distracted, and I would already be halfway across as you were lost in thought.

At restaurants, when you told me you wanted everything to be perfect and ended up forgetting to call a taxi to get there.

We almost always ended up eating late dinners at your place.

I miss that.

I was always waiting for you. You had a nice job at the bookstore, one that would let you take a break or get off of work early enough for us to spend a nice afternoon together, if you weren’t so absorbed in explaining why that one book was so magical to a customer.

When I first started hanging around you, I would get a little annoyed, yeah. But seeing that sparkle in your eyes as I sat on the storytelling mat, it was all worth it.

That one time my car broke down, I waited a good long time for you. I was about half an hour outside of the city, remember? I could’ve called a taxi along with the tow truck, but that would cost money I didn’t have, so I thought I’d call you in.

What was your excuse that time? Maybe your phone was dead, or maybe you had been blasting music as you read so you couldn’t hear me calling, couldn’t hear the ping! of a text come in over your thoughts.

I didn’t care.

Well, that might be a lie. It was a bit of a hassle, and sitting for an hour or two in my car or on the road didn’t do much for my mood. So sorry about that.

But you felt so bad, I remember, that I couldn’t tell you off too much. You always wanted to do good, you said. It frustrated you that your mind pulled you every which way into worlds that didn’t exist.

If I didn’t say it enough, let me say it now: don’t worry about it. That’s your gift. Something a lot of people lose, or never had in the first place.

Whenever we met outside the restaurant that we’d lost our reservations at, that little frustrated frown on your face, I couldn’t help but smile. How could I expect my traveler to make it on time? You were millions of miles away, dreaming of worlds far better than this one.

For such a scatterbrain that had such terrible punctuality, you made some damn good meals. I looked forward to getting sick because the endless supply of your chicken noodle soup was worth it. Even if it was a little cold by the time you got to my place.

You gave me life. Even when you weren’t there, you’d help me to notice the good things. Waiting for you on that park bench, I saw how beautiful the leaves were, how cute small children are with their parents. I could never resist buying you flowers when I could, just to see what you had to say about their tiniest details.

You might say that you wish you could focus on the important things. I think you were always focused on them. The little things were your specialty, weren’t they? The rest of the world would be focused on threats of nuclear war, and I know you knew about that, but what did you choose to talk about? The way the light hit the buildings around us, how it highlighted certain things. I never would have thought about that. I probably wouldn’t have even looked up. Maybe because I was too busy watching the smile on your face.

That night I was waiting for you to come to my place to watch that movie, I didn’t think much of it.

“I’ll be there around nine,” you said over the phone.

I figured on about 9:45.

I heated myself up some frozen pizza and ate a couple slices while I waited. Scrolled through my phone.

At ten, I sent you a text. Hey, you alright? You didn’t ditch me, did you? :)

I didn’t know what I expected.

About a quarter past, someone called me. I thought it was spam. But hey, I was bored. Why not mess with them a little?

“Henderson’s Morgue, you stab ‘em, we slab ‘em,” I said unenthusiastically.

“Is this Sebastian Holding?” A business-like voice asked.

What? “Uh, sorry, yeah.” Why are they calling me? Who is “they”?

“This is Officer Davis of the NYPD. You were listed as Kristin Moore’s emergency contact. There’s been a break-in at her apartment—”

“Oh my God, is she okay?” I could feel my heart pounding, jumping into my throat.

“We can’t say anything for sure at this point, sir. She’s at the Metropolitan Health and Hospitals, you know where that is?”

“Yeah, yeah I do,” I responded shakily. “I can be there in ten minutes.”

“I suggest you do that,” the officer said grimly.

“Okay. Uh, thank you, officer,” I said, hanging up.

Your typewriter. Of all the apartments in New York, of all the rooms filled with plasma screens and expensive Apple products, the bastards broke into your apartment to steal your typewriter. The typewriter I got you for Christmas.

“They’ve got good taste,” you probably would’ve joked.

Oh, to see you smirk again.

I remember always waiting for you. You were always running late.

I’m still waiting, dear. I’m not watching that movie without you, and you know that it’s killing me to wait.

The doctors say you’re still alive, that you can breathe on your own. So you’re still in there, somewhere. I can’t resist buying you flowers any time I see them.

Can you point out the freckles on that orchid for me? Please?

Your family brings you books sometimes. Some of them are good. Some of them I don’t get, but I know that you would enjoy them. For some reason, every time they come in, they ask, “You’re still here?”

That’s what I do, they should know. I will always wait for you.

We still eat late dinners together. But the hospital cafeteria doesn’t make nearly as good food as you do. And the IV, I’m pretty sure, doesn’t taste too good either.

All those times I waited for you, you always showed up eventually. You were always smiling, and maybe looked a little guilty.

Don’t feel bad about being a little late this time, okay?

You can take your time. Just show up eventually.

I’ll always wait for you.

July 09, 2020 15:51

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2 comments

Brittany Gillen
16:45 Jul 15, 2020

Anthea - Thank you for sharing your story. I loved all the little details both characters notice that bring joy to their lives, and I loved how patient Sebastian was while waiting. At the end, the reader is desperate for Kristin to wake up. I would love to read about her relationship with Sebastian from her POV. I bet it would be amusing. My only feedback is that until Sebastian buys flowers and eventually their names are mentioned, there are no gender/character clues to let you know who the speaker is and who the slow character is. I wasn’t...

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01:45 Jul 14, 2020

This story made me sob. What I like about it is the relationship starts out a bit vague. The only thing that tells you at first that they aren't family is "when I started hanging around you", but still is it romantic, platonic, best friends? The way he views her with totally open eyes is what I think made the resolution so moving.

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