My eyes fixated on one raindrop trickling its way down the plate glass window, oblivious to the drenching downpour just beyond. Nervous. Yes, I admitted to myself I was as I sipped on the steaming hot cappuccino. The last time I'd seen her, ten years ago or more, had come to an abrupt ending with her hand landing soundly across my face, dropping me to the floor. Whatever had possessed me to make contact again? My mind searched for the answer as the raindrop vanished out of sight at the bottom of the window.
As I stared at the cup in front of me, my senses alerted me she had arrived.
My attention was drawn to those long legs as she entered the coffee shop. As my eyes ventured upward, a clear raincoat covered a short black dress...I knew those legs. With a pounding in my chest, I raised my eyes and peered into the greenest eyes...I knew those eyes.
"Sherry!" I exclaimed as I rose suddenly from the table and quickly stepped toward her.
"Hello, Rusty." she replied with the faintest smile.
I pulled a chair out and took her raincoat as she seated herself.
"Let me get you something to drink. What would you like?"
She brushed speckles of rain from her hair with her long fingers, "Oh, I don't come to Starbucks much. I'll just have what you're having."
I returned momentarily with her drink.
"You haven't aged a bit, Sherry." I forced a nervous smile.
"You have. You look ten years older...in a good way, I guess."
"So, tell me what you've been up to."
We spent the better part of an hour catching up, telling each other about our mostly monotonous lives. The jittery feeling in my stomach began to ease as I decided the meeting was actually going well.
"Sherry, tell me about this vampire princess thing you posted on the dating site. It definitely caught my attention."
She smiled and ducked her head as if embarrassed, her finger twirling a strand of her long, brunette hair.
"Well, truthfully, I was just curious what kind of man might reply to such a headline as that. And look, here YOU are!" She waved her hand as her green eyes twinkled.
A cloud seemed to fall over her face, a cloud I had seen before.
"I want out, Rusty. Out of the real world. I don't handle this world well, as I'm sure you have noticed in the past."
I remained silent, intently listening.
"No, not a make-believe vampire world, but I do want to escape. I want to find someone to leave this world, just the two of us. Just take off down old Route 66 to parts unknown and never look back. Remember...'Me and you and a dog named Boo, traveling and living off the land?' She sang the words to the song softly, her green eyes focused on mine.
"Or escape to Mexico! To the western beaches of Mexico and live in a hut and sip tequila sunrises while the sun falls into the ocean, sprinkling its glow into the waves. I want to make love all night while the tide laps against the sand, and wake the next day and do it all over again. That life is never going to come to me. I have to go searching for it. And I want someone to come along to enjoy it with me."
She reached across the table and took my hands in hers.
"Come with me, Rusty. Leave this all behind. Look at you. You're still doing the same thing you were doing ten years ago...chasing women at the bar. You are never going to find whoever you are looking for, not there...not anywhere in this mediocre world we live in. I told you a long time ago that I had never fallen as hard as I did for you. I fell madly in love with you. Never before nor since have I had the feelings for anyone like those I felt for you."
Sherry paused and stared at the table before her, "I still have those feelings for you after all these years."
It was at that very moment I realized the hold Sherry had on me all these years. I gazed into her eyes.
"And never before nor since has anyone...anyone so wholeheartedly given their love to me. Not just a little of their love, but all they had to give. Only you, Sherry, have honored me with your true love. Ever since that time so long ago, you have always been right here," I touched my heart, "You've always had a place in my heart...and you always will."
"Then come with me. Pack a bag. We'll leave tonight. I'll show you how much more love I have to give. Every day and every night, you will have all of me. More love than you ever knew possible, I promise you. It's there, in another world. Come with me, please?"
Somehow she made sense. Cast the bills, the rent, the job aside. Drive off and leave the stress and strife far behind. What more is there than what this woman offered so generously?
"Sherry, I am a creature of habit. I thrive on structure and schedules. I sleep at night with the knowledge that I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge. I am not a spontaneous person. I think everything to death before I make a decision, even what pair of socks to wear. I cannot carelessly and haphazardly throw my life away with no guarantee that another one exists in this other world you talk about."
I shook my head slowly, "I just can't do what you ask."
Sherry rose from the table, slipping her raincoat over her shoulders.
"Then you are not who I am looking for...sadly, you're not."
She turned and stepped out into the rain.
"Sherry, I want to talk more. Can I have your number?"
The pouring rain muffled my plea as Sherry turned her back to me.
" No, don't call me...I won't be there!"
She turned and rushed into my arms. Gripping my face in her wet hands, she kissed me passionately, her tears intermingling with the raindrops on her face. She pushed herself away and disappeared into the torrential storm.
I think about Sherry often and wonder if she ever made it...to another world. I hope so.