"It's now or never," I tell myself as I pace up and down my living room. My eyes are fixed on my allied and enemy, my phone. The instrument of salvation and damnation. The portal to instant gratification and vanity. The possible demise of humanity or instant salvation of the world. All that in one little box, a little portal to everything I could ever want. And at this moment, in the middle of this historical snowstorm, I find myself wanting only one thing. Her.
It's been seven years since we graduated High School. Seven years since we said our last goodbyes. Seven years since I saw that captivating smile of hers catch my heart for the last time. It's been seven years since I've been having her number on my phone. Seven years of talking myself into calling her just to find myself pulling out at the last second. I've gone as far as changing numbers so as not to answer her calls back. Such a coward.
This is something about men, we're scared of talking to the woman we actually like. We dread the moment. It's an evolutionary fear (my favorite excuse). Rejection meant that we would be exiled out of our tribe for incompetence, for being incapable of increasing the numbers of our people, for not having alpha genes, for not being man enough. Funny as it may seem, we're not inhibited by that fear when we want to talk to someone we don't really care about.
I keep telling all that to myself to see if it'll make me feel better. It doesn't.
"It's now or never," I repeat. "There's a historical snowstorm outside. I have no means to distract myself. The audiobooks are narrated and finished, the novels are edited and sent to be published, electricity is out and there's no internet so the only mean of distraction is drawing and I already went through my sketchbook... so... this is it, Leonardo Montoya, this is the day you call Sarah DeSol and tell her how you feel about her." I say aloud, grab my phone, and dial.
The seconds last forever with every ring I hear. My heart pounds against my chest, my breathing gets short and shallow, my hands start to sweat. She's not answering. I look out the window of my penthouse. Snow everywhere. She could be out there driving, she could be doing something more important, she could be--
"Hello," I hear her say. My mouth goes dry, my heart skips a beat, my mind haywires. It's her. I recognize her voice from anywhere in the world. "Hellooo," she says again, "is this about my vehicle warranty? or is this the guy who keeps calling every now and again just to hang up?" She says half-joking, half irritated.
I'm about to say my name when a thought occurs to me. 'What if she doesn't remember me?'
"Hi, is this Sarah DeSol?" I play my part by lowering my tone of voice so it sounds like a midnight FM radio host.
"Yes, this is she. Who is this?" She asks with her high-pitched voice.
"Hi, Sarah, this is Leonardo Montoya I'm calling regarding the electric service in your area," I say hoping it would ring a bell.
"Oh my god, thank you." She says without even stopping to think if the name meant something, "I've been trying to reach you all morning. My power is been out since yesterday, my food is going to go bad, it's cold in my apartment, and my husky is the only one enjoying it."
"Don't worry, Sarah," I say celebrating the non-mention of kids or husband, "We're here to help." I stand in front of the floor-to-ceiling window and stare down the snow-coated city of Dallas that looks more like a heavy powdered funnel cake. I stand and smile on my own melancholy hill. Her voice is as sweet as ever, her demeanors haven't changed a bit. Even through the phone, I can see her waving her arms vividly and energetically. I press my forehead against the window. I close my eyes.
"I'm not from the electric company. I'm Leonardo Montoya." I say, once again, hoping she would remember me.
"Oh," She said, "wait what's going on? Did you just said you're not from the electric company?" she asks clearly unsettled. I gulp, clench my fist, bite it, and push myself. No turning back.
"I don't mean to startle you, but I've been rehearsing this call for seven years. You might've forgotten me, but I never forgot your smile." I say. The phone goes silent. The line goes dead.
I toss the phone on the table, serve myself a cup of wine and sit on the couch hoping for this storm to turn me into a popsicle. I chug the wine down, get up to get the bottle, pour it in a single glass, I'm about to chug it when I hear my phone vibrating. I look at the screen. Caller ID... Sarah DeSol.
It might be the wine, or it might be the cold, but I reach out for the phone. I slide the emerald icon and place it to my ears.
"Hey," She says.
"Hey," I say back a bit tipsy.
"I'm sorry," she apologizes, "I didn't mean to be rude. It's just that I don't remember you..." she winced in embarrassment from the other end of the line. I sigh.
"If you could put a billboard anywhere in the world, what would it say?" I throw the question out there.
"Hmm," she hums, "Text first then call." She chuckles. I laugh and cover my face with my palm. I'm embarrassed. I apologize for startling her and she apologizes for not remembering me even tho I mention key moments in our relationship.
"I'm really sorry," She keeps apologizing, "I usually don't tell this to anybody, but I feel like I can trust you," she pauses. I'm expectant, the moment becomes eternal. She gently sighs. "I had brain surgery a few years ago to remove a tumor from my head. They said that one possible side effect would be memory loss and potential blindness. I'm lucky I can see." She says as I place my glass of wine down.
"I didn't know that." I sink on the couch. "I wish I would've been there for you." I rub my forehead. "Sarah, I--"
"Don't worry, Leonardo." She says, "If there's something I learned during those dark times was that the heart never lies, and tho I don't remember you exactly, my heart does." She says and I'm shot to cloud nine. I'm dancing like a kid. I feel complete, happy, fulfilled, capable, man enough. I feel lucky so I try it out for quality assurance.
"Hey, I know it's crazy out there and we just met again, but I'd like to pick you and your pup up and bring you to my apartment," I say crossing my fingers hoping to hear what she always said when I asked her something spontaneous.
"Why not?" She smiles. I'm not running, or driving, I'm flying. I'm flying, whistling, and on my way to pick my crush. The one who doesn't remember me.