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Romance

Something’s Amiss

I really should check my Facebook postings more often. I found an attempt to reach me two years after it was written. There he was. My high school boyfriend wrote me a messenger friend request. Two years ago. Anything could happen in two years at our ages. That’s how busy I was. I never checked. When I finally saw the photo of a man kissing a cat, I said, “Ah, how cute.”

Don’t think I haven’t thought about Hal. I left my home state of New Jersey thirty years ago but visited my siblings from time to time. My brother lived near a sporting goods store, and when I shopped there one time, I ran into my ex’s cousin working at the cash register.

“Hi, Max.” He was in my class, and his cousin was in the class behind us. I always dated younger men.

“Hi, Cecily. I hear you moved far away.”

“Yes, I live in Florida.”

“So does my cousin Hal. He lives with his wife. Charlotte and their two daughters. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.”

“Screech,” my brain yelled. Yeah, whose wife doesn’t love it when an ex gets in touch with her husband?

“He lives in West Palm Beach. You should call him. They’re listed.”

There’s the they word again.

“Sure,” I said and paid for my backpack.

“Thanks, Max. Great to see you.”

I didn’t get in touch with Hal. Maybe that’s my problem. I put myself in the shoes of other people a lot. (And that’s hard to do since I wear a women’s size eleven.) How would I feel if were them?

Anyway, I didn’t live around the corner from Hal and Charlotte. I still lived about three hours away by car, so I wouldn’t pop in to visit him/them.

A two-year-old request. A gap in communication. And his Facebook page isn’t in his name. It’s in his cat’s. I hope that cat is still alive, I thought. I responded by Private Messenger in case he had a jealous spouse.

Minutes later, Hal messaged me back: I wondered what happened to you.

I responded, this time right away, not years later.

He said he worked for a school system. I said I used to work a corporate job and quit for joy. Now I was a writer, songwriter, instructor, and editor, and I shared my six-word memoir with him: Wrote off old job. Teaching writing.

I signed off for the evening, leaving the non-relationship dangling.

A few days later, he wrote to me; actually, his feline wrote and asked me for my phone number.

I wrote back to him with my digits. Part of me thought What if it’s not him? What if it’s someone else using a pet’s name to write to women. I thought about this after sending my phone number.

He called. After living in Florida for decades, he still had his New Jersey accent. I’m an auditory learner; his familiarity put me at ease. Memories jumped into my brain. Yum.

“The reason I wanted to get in touch with you years ago...” he trailed off.

I knew there had to be a catch.

“...is I think I saw you in Orlando. I hadn’t seen you in decades, but the way this woman walked and carried herself made me think it was you. I tried to follow you, but you were gone. You still walk fast, if it was indeed you. Also, the last I knew, you lived in Los Angeles, so why would I think you’d appear in Orlando?”

“What do you mean? Where?”

“At the Orlando Fringe Festival. My daughter was in it. I drove up to see her.”

“I live in Orlando and volunteer there every year. It probably was me.”

“Great. I knew it.” He paused. “Let’s get together, okay?”

“What? What about your wife?”

“Oh, I’m divorced,” he said.

A lot happened since I saw his cousin.

Hal and I talked for a few months. I wanted reentry to be slow to feel how I felt about a reunion. We both still wrote music and stories and loved the blues. I told him about my songs that are staples in the music scene in Orlando like “The Pregnancy Blues” and “The Green Money Blues.” YouTube features those and other hot hits I wrote.

He wrote “I’ll Never Forget You” about me only three years ago. I saw him perform that and other songs like “I Have No Words for You” on YouTube. He looked slender but great, gray, and enthusiastic.

Let’s get together Father’s Day weekend,” he said. “I’ll drive to O-Town to see my daughter and you, okay?”

My heart pounded. My place was a mess as was my mind about dating. I stopped dating ten years before, when I realized my picker was broken.

“Uh, well,” I stammered, “I’m a messy.” I liked it that way. I had a great excuse to be alone. One man a had dated thought I was married because I never let him come over.

“My sister’s a hoarder too,” he said. “I’ll stay with my daughter and see you for lunch. How’s that?”

“Great,” I said.

I never heard from him after that phone call. I didn’t know his daughter, although I thought it would be inappropriate to track her down. After waiting all these years, I guess he got cold feet and changed his mind. Did he tell me the truth about being divorced? He was always truthful in high school.

I chalked it up to another miss in life. A miss that kept me a Miss when things went amiss.

Two months later, my phone rang. “Hi, it’s me,” Hal said. “I almost died in the hospital. I had emergency intestinal surgery, and then it got infected. I felt so miserable, I even told my best friend to go away. I wanted to see no one. May we try this again in the near future?”

I thought, Thirty years. What’s another couple of months?

“I weigh 120 pounds,” he said. “I feel so weak, I can’t drive there. Can you visit me?”

I weigh way more than that. I gained fifteen pounds since the last time I saw him. Did I want to hug a man I could crush?

My own condition exacerbated. The pressure in my eye went off the charts. I had eye surgery, so I had to detain my visit to Hal. Because I saw crooked, I tripped and fell into a wall in my house in the middle of the night and broke my right foot. I listened to my foot doctor; I wore a cast for months and used a foot scooter to propel myself. My body got flabby, but at least my arms got stronger. Four months later, Hal said he felt a little better. My car transmission broke. The old car’s value was 636 dollars, and the fix was 4000 dollars.

Hal offered to drive to me, but his car lights didn’t work, so he had to drive in the daytime only. That seemed fine. Then his car broke down. A week later, he bought another old car, one with lights that worked 24/7.

“I’m so thrilled we’re going to get together,” I said. After the phone calls, messaging, YouTube songs, and time, I really liked him again.

We decided on March 27, 2020. I sighed relief, prematurely.

“I have asthma,” I said. “I can’t go out during this virus. Are you wearing a mask?”

“No,” he said. “I just stay six feet away from people. I just see my daughter, ex-wife, my best friends, and neighbors. I avoid people at the supermarket.”

I wasn’t comfortable with that answer. I couldn’t image kissing someone I haven’t seen in years except performing on YouTube. He could be a disease spreader. I chose to stay at home and isolate.

On March 24, 2020, a friend of mine contracted Covid-19. He died a few weeks later.

Hal calls a lot. I refuse him a lot.

So here I am, still isolating. Hal and I reunited, sort of.

This story 1. Gives me something/someone to look forward to after the virus goes away.

2. Gave me fodder to write this story and my new song titled “I Haven’t Seen You Lately, But You Know I Love You Greatly.” Everyone can see me sing this on YouTube, including Hal.

August 15, 2020 03:30

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1 comment

Elaine Person
04:27 Aug 28, 2020

A lot of this story is true disguised with fictitious details and names. Now I want to write those songs I made up titles for. EP

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