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Adventure Romance African American

“Yes sir, we have it. It’s a beautiful piece,” the woman on the phone said, igniting a fire in me.

“Okay, can you hold it for me, please?” I asked, biting the nail of my manicured hand. There was silence on the other end of the line. Well, not silence. I could hear Bing Crosby singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire loud and clear. But I wasn’t interested in him, his chestnuts, or his fire. I wanted to know if she was going to be able to hold the one thing that my wife wanted more than anything.

“Well, Mr. Moses, that’s the thing.”

Her voice was filled with hesitation. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I could feel my dreams shattering with the force of Thor’s Mjølnir and my marriage crashing down like shards.

“What’s the thing, ma’am?” I asked, prompting her to get on with it. She was hanging the end of my world as I knew it over my head instead of just dropping the gauntlet.

“We have it, but it’s not here. It’s showing in the computer, but it’s in our Dallas store.”

“Dallas? Did you say Dallas?” I asked, not meaning to raise my voice. “Why would you check that far away? I mean, you might as well say Jupiter, or Pluto, or the sun!”

“You said you really needed it for your wife and that she’s coming back from deployment. I was just trying to help, Mr. Moses,” she whined, and I could tell that she was about to cry. That wasn’t my intention. I knew she was probably already stressed with the holidays and all the patrons that I was sure weren’t all pleasant to work with. And now, here I was sitting on the phone yelling at her when all she was trying to do was help me.

“I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to yell,” I said, rubbing my hand down my face in frustration. “You really have been a huge help. Do you have Venmo, Zelle, or CashApp? Let me tip you for your trouble.”

“That’s not necessary, Mr. Moses, but thank you. That’s really kind of you. Do you want me to call in a favor so that it will be there for you when you get there?” she asked, the smile returning to her voice.

“No, you’ve done enough. Thank you for understanding. And I apologize again for taking my frustration out on you. What was your name again?” I asked, hoping that she didn’t get offended that I didn’t remember. 

“Lilian, Mr. Moses. And the pleasure is all mine. Let me give you the address to our Dallas store, so that you can call them and let them know you’re coming.”

“Okay,” I replied, unable to hide my smile. I really appreciated her. “Are you ready?”

“Yes, I am.”

“It’s 4287 Potomac Way. The number is 972-655-1212.”

“Got it! Thank you again, Lilian! Are you sure that I can’t tip you?” I offered again.

“No sir. That’s unnecessary. It’s all in a day’s work. I hope your wife enjoys her gift and appreciates the lengths you’re going to so that her return home is a special one.”

“Me, too,” I said, before hanging up the call. “Now, how the hell am I going to get to Dallas during the Christmas travel season, and back before Marilyn gets home?”

I was talking to myself, because no one else was here with me. But sometimes, speaking my thoughts aloud made them easier to process. Dialing the number that Lilian had just given me, I put the phone on speaker while simultaneously opening the Delta app and searching for flights. There was one leaving in 2 hours, and even though it was going to cost an arm and a leg, it was my best bet.

“Hello, thank you for calling Uniques and Antiques Dallas. What relic can I add to your family’s legacy today?”

The woman on the other line was chipper and eased my frantic mindset. They hired the best people for this company, because their demeanor on the phone, and in person, was enough to make you want to become a return client.

“Hi, I spoke with Lilian in your Birmingham, Alabama store, and she says that you all have–”

“Mr. Moses, yes?” she cut me off saying, shocking me.

“Yes.”

“Yes, sir. We’re holding it for you. Are you going to make it tonight? We’re closing soon. If you don’t want to rush, we’ll be here tomorrow, and can have your wife’s gift waiting for you when you arrive.”

I sat there speechless, because I didn’t know how Lilian had called before I’d had the chance to. That was some customer service for you, and I planned to find her and tip her handsomely, whether she wanted me to or not.

“Hello? Mr. Moses? Are you still there?”

“Ye-yes, I’m here. I’ll be there when you open on tomorrow. Thank you.”

“See you soon, Mr. Moses. Safe travels.”

This was proving to be a labor of love, but it was worth it. Marilyn was going to be over the moon when I presented her with this gift. Recently, her complaints have been how I don’t listen to her and don’t put forth enough effort to make her feel special. I was about to dispel both of those myths in one foul swoop. I knew it was just the time apart that had been wearing on her. This deployment wasn’t supposed to last as long as it did, but this was what happened when I chose to retire, and she decided to continue her career in the Armed Forces. Not that I was upset with her or anything, but the distance wasn’t something that I wanted for us anymore.

We’d been married for six years and had only spent a total of two of them together– and that wasn’t even a consecutive two years. Checking the airline again and thinking of the fact that the shop was about to close, I weighed my options. I could fly, spend a thousand dollars to do so with this last-minute round trip, or I could drive the nine hours to Dallas. Marilyn wasn’t due home for another two days, so the drive wasn’t an unrealistic goal. I would probably have to get a hotel room for the night if I drove. But I could sleep on the flight. But, what if the flight crashed?

My mind was whirling because there was no win here, except for the fact that I would be able to give Marilyn something that she’d been wanting forever.

“Drive. I’ll drive.”

I’d made my final decision and was going to stick to it. Booking a room at the Hilton, I grabbed my keys, wallet, and made my way out the door. I was on a Love Mission, as I’d dubbed this adventure. I selected my Road Warrior Playlist on Spotify and let the music be the soundtrack to my journey. I felt quite superhero-ish, now that I thought about it.

Three hours into the drive, my stomach started to sing louder than Bruno Mars. I pulled into a local restaurant, never really liking fast food because there was a higher chance of them getting my order wrong and I wasn’t willing to take that chance tonight.

When I sat down at Mama’s Cookin’, the smells of the soul food being prepared had my stomach howling like a wolf at a full moon.

“Sounds like you’re ready to grub,” the woman that had greeted me at the door said, coming to my table and pulling the pencil from behind her ear and the pad from her apron pocket simultaneously.

“Yes ma’am. What do you recommend?”

“Well, everything’s good, so tell me what you gotta hankerin’ for,” she countered, sporting a smile that went all the way up to her eyes.

“Give me your favorite,” was my final answer, and with a wink and a nod, she walked back towards the kitchen to put my order in.

Ten minutes and three thousand stomach growls later, she came back and placed a plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and cornbread in front of me. I knew I couldn’t eat all that or I wouldn’t make it to Dallas. The furthest I would make it was to a rest stop to sleep in my back seat or some motel on the side of the road if I dared to try to drive a few miles more.

“Thank you. This all looks good, Miss?” I asked, wanting to know her name. It was a respect thing. I always preferred to refer to people by their names because it validated their existence more than pronouns and pleasantries.

“Just call me Mama. Everybody else ‘round here does.” She winked at the stunned expression that I sported at just being served by the owner and went to greet the couple that had just come in. I didn’t hesitate to dive in and from the first bite to the last, I moaned at the taste never being less than delectable. I didn’t know what kind of magic Mama was wielding in that kitchen, but I was definitely going to give her a great review on Yelp!

I paid for my meal, leaving Mama my monetary thanks under the tin that held the napkins, and headed back to the car. I was at least going to try to get through Mississippi before I stopped and got a room. Walking back outside, I hopped in, full and happy. Turning my music back on, I gunned it, trying to make at least the three more hours to Louisiana.

Pow! Skrrrrttt!

I didn’t know when I’d fallen asleep, but the sound of my tire hitting something and blowing out, paired with my car jerking in the direction of the ditch on the side of the road, woke me up. I managed to get a handle on the car and slowed down enough to pull off the road to assess the damage. I wanted to complain but chose to be grateful that I was the only one on the road, or this could’ve ended worse than a flat tire. I had Triple-A, so this was a small inconvenience.

Checking my phone, the inconvenience grew larger with no bars to call for help. I looked around and realized that I was in the middle of nowhere and now no one else being on the road was a concern. Was I about to be stuck here? For how long? Would I be able to call for help?

Sucking it up, I decided to pop my trunk and change my tire myself. It was in that moment that I realized that I’d become spoiled since retirement. I went from a serviceman who could survive in the wild and war zones, to a civilian panicking over something as small as a flat tire. Marilyn saying that I’d changed was making a bit more sense now.

I changed my tire in no time and was back on the road on my mission to show my wife that I was still the man she married. That she still mattered to me. That I would go anywhere and survive anything just for her. With this new motivation came a burst of energy. I was alert and planned to reach my destination using the training that I’d received when serving our country to serve my wife and my marriage.

Five and a half hours later, I was entering Dallas, Texas, and had to admit that I felt more like myself than I had in a while. I pulled up to Uniques and Antiques, parking directly in front of the store.

Brrrrrng… Brrrrrrng…

Looking at my phone, I smiled at the beautiful face of my wife before answering.

“Good morning, Beautiful. Have you made it Stateside yet?”

Sniff-Sniff

“Yes. But I won’t make it to you until after Christmas. We’re stuck in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, and there aren’t any rental cars because of the holidays. I’m hoping to get a hotel room and try to figure this out.”

Marilyn was rambling so fast that I couldn’t get a word in, so I just listened, not believing my ears. I saw a woman walking towards the doors of the shop and wanted to get to her as quickly as possible, because all of this was too perfect.

“Baby, calm down. I’m going to call you right back, okay.”

“Marcus, did you hear me? I’m stuck at the airport and won’t get home in time to see you. Are you even listening to me? Do you even care? This is what I get for trying to surprise you and coming home sooner? What could you possibly be doing that’s more important than being here for me right now?”

Marilyn was frantic and I knew that she was ready to hang me up by my toenails, but she was just going to have to be upset with me a little while longer.

“Baby, I heard you. But I really need to call you back. I will. I promise!” I pled with her, hoping that she would hear in my voice that I was doing the exact opposite of what she thought I was.

“Screw you, Marcus. Don’t worry about calling me back now, or ever. I’m filing for divorce!”

She ended the call and that stung, but I knew she was just upset. At least I hoped she was just upset. I shook off the hurt that her words had caused before stepping up on the curb and entering the shop.

“Good morning, welcome to Uniques and Antiques Dallas.”

“Hi. I’m Marcus Moses and–”

“You made it! I’m Susanna. I spoke with you on yesterday. Let me get your item for you.”

She rushed to the back and came back with a small black box. Opening it, I smiled looking at the antique princess cut diamond ring that had been in Marilyn’s family for three hundred years. I’d seen it in pictures on the ring finger of every woman before my wife.

It was supposed to be passed down to her, but her father lost it in a poker game. She’d never forgiven him for it. But now, I hoped it would be enough for her to forgive me.

“How much do I–”

“It’s already taken care of.”

I looked at her, confused and her smile told me that she knew that wasn’t expected.

“I don’t understand.”

“Lilian took care of it. She said you said it was a lost family heirloom that you wanted to recover for your wife. After the owner heard the story, he packed it up and said that he was glad to return it to the family it belonged to. Apparently, he’d won it in a poker game some time ago and vowed that if anyone came looking for it, he would return it. He lost his best friend because of that game.”

Susanna shrugged like this was no big deal but I wanted to jump across the counter and hug her, then search for the owner and hug them, too. However, right now, I was on the verge of losing my wife because of this ring, and I had no plans of doing that.

“Thank you so much. You have no idea what this means!” I said, feeling like all of this was happening for a reason.

I had a hotel room booked, just got the gift I’d been searching months for to give to my wife, and now, she was stuck in the same city that I was in. Talk about luck.

Rushing to my car with my gift in the bag that the clerk had given me, I gunned it to the airport. Calling Marilyn back-to-back, she kept sending my calls to voicemail. I didn’t give up, even while parking, getting into the airport, and having no idea where I was going. I would search every terminal until I found my love. Until I showed her what she meant to me. Until we were us again. I could say I was closer to the man that she married right now than I had been in years. I understood now. And I was about to show her.

Taking a chance, I went to baggage claim, hoping to catch her there. I called her phone and heard my ringtone, Bruno Mars’s “That’s What I Like” blast over the hustle and bustle of the busy airport. Instead of dismissing the call this time, she answered.

“What do you want Marcus?” she asked with attitude. It was comical watching her from a few feet away, rolling her neck with her hand on her hip like I could see that through the phone.

“I wanted to say I was sorry. There was something that I had to take care of, baby. But now, I’m here. You have my undivided attention.”

“It’s too late for all of that, Marcus. It’s over. I mean it. We’re just not compatible anymore. I love you but I’m done.”

“But…”

“Done, Marcus. Goodbye!”

I didn’t waste time calling her back. Instead, I walked up behind her, tapped her on the shoulder, and when she whirled around, I was on one knee with the ring box in my hand.

“If you mean that you’re done, please do me the courtesy of saying it to my face. Or–” I paused, opening the ring box. “Understand that I would travel the world to make you happy.”

I watched her eyes travel from the box’s contents to my face before glossing over with tears.

“Is that? You found…!” She threw her hand over her mouth in shock.

“For you, I will do anything!” I vowed.

Standing up, I put the ring on her finger and leaned in, kissing her with all the love I’d always had for her. 

November 26, 2022 04:21

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2 comments

Ebony Bowser
06:32 Dec 02, 2022

I enjoyed this story so much I wish it were longer! Great job with this short it was a very touching and loving story.

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Vetra Daggs
23:38 Dec 01, 2022

I enjoyed your story! It were a touching story. Luz it....

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