January's short story. Finding love when it has finally found its way home.
|Satyra was pulled from her work by the familiar ping of her email account. There was a new email. She had forgotten to set a ‘Do Not Disturb’ message during her work hours, but she’d also conveniently ‘forgot’ so as not to miss any emails from PhotoTreker81.
Something about his messages intrigued her; reeled her in. It was like he really got her and it had been a very long time since she’d felt that kind of connection. Probably not since she’d had her last face to face, heart to heart with her best friend, Roger Harper. But then he’d gotten a job in another state, clear across the country, after university and life had interceded.
Last time they’d talked he’d mentioned a new job; one that had him travelling a lot. He was following his heart and putting his photojournalism education to work. He told her it was his perfect job.
His career was taking off and she had felt both ecstatic for him and a little bit envious. She felt guilty at having experienced that envy. She wanted the world for him, but part of her missed him terribly and wanted to be doing something just as exciting.
After their talk, he’d whisked off to parts unknown and their communication had petered out to only the occasional phone conversation at odd hours of the day and night. Not knowing where he was, bothered her. She missed not being able to talk to him at any time, about anything.
She missed those long conversations they used to have over pots of coffee or open pizza boxes scattered over the dining room table while they were studying. She missed the times they binged watched old black and white movies or episodes of Friends. She missed his smile, his laughter. She missed him.
After he’d gone out west, she had started to feel like a big part of herself was missing. It made her restless and edgy. She’d dated, but no one seemed to measure up to what she’d had with Roger. They had been just friends. Friends since they were little kids living side by side on Ancaster Street.
When he first left, she wondered if she’d felt something more for him than mere friendship. Part of her thought she’d missed out on something, but she’d tried to move on… unsuccessfully.
Finally, she decided to focus on her own career. She wrote more as well. The dating thing fell to the wayside, much to her mother’s disappointment.
Even her grandmother’s friend, Liliah was concerned about her. Liliah had always been close to Satyra, particularly after her grandmother had passed away. It was Liliah that often talked to her about getting out there and meeting people.
“You’re far too young to give up, Cher.” Liliah was fond of saying whenever Satyra called her. The woman was a good friend.
Then one day on her favourite writing site, Writing .com an IM message pinged up on her page and she had responded.
From that, a conversation had started up and flourished. It was not long before they where emailing each other. Satyra felt a renewed sense of connection.
Whoever this guy was, he got her and she got him.
Since then they had been emailing each other back and forth for several months. Each time the email pinged, Satyra’s heart beat a little faster and she smiled as she opened his messages.
She’d never seen a picture of him, but in her mind, she had conjured up someone sexy and sweet. They talked about everything. It had started out focusing on writing and how they both wanted to do more creative pursuits. She had told him about her position as a copy-editor at the Times. She confided that she wanted something more intriguing, like writing for the travel section. Her dream, which she had never shared with anyone, had been to travel the world and write… articles, as well as her novel. The one jammed in the bottom of her desk drawer. The one gathering dust because she was far too busy to really put the time into it. They were her secret hopes and wishes.
Phototreker81 had said he was a photojournalist who secretly wanted to portray images that helped to change the world. He’d told her his work had him going to the more dangerous areas of the world, like war torn Afghanistan. He confessed he wanted to take more beautiful and exotic photographs. Ones that people would buy and display as works of art. He also told her he wrote copy for his photographs, but he hoped to write a novel, either a mystery or a thriller set in some exotic port of call. He told her he had found this website purely by chance, but he was enthralled by the opportunity to spread his creative wings.
Satyra read over today’s email and felt her heart stutter, then plunge over a canyon head first. She read the email several times.
I’LL BE IN NEW YORK OVER THE NEW YEAR. I WAS HOPING WE COULD MEET. I’M SHOWING SOME OF MY PHOTOGRAPHS IN A SHOW AT ONE OF THE GALLERIES. IT’S PART OF A FUNDRAISING EVENT FOR HAITIAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF. I WAS HOPING YOU’D COME. IT’S A FORMAL AFFAIR. THESE FUNDRAISING THINGS OFTEN ARE…. I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO MEET YOU. PLEASE SAY YOU’LL COME.
She read the email over several more times. Her mind raced. Would meeting him break the spell? Worry crept over her like a panther on the hunt. Or would something good come of the experience? She really did want to see his work. She also wanted to meet him. Her body flushed hot, then cold and she found herself pacing around her apartment as her anxieties nipped at her heals.
After a time, she forced herself to sit back down at her computer and google the event. Needing to find out more. What she found out both intrigued her and set her anxiety up a few more notches. This fundraiser was a big deal. The gallery was the Guggenheim. One of the most iconic galleries in New York. Having his photographs shown there meant they really were something special.
She sat for a long time worrying her bottom lip, staring off into space. Anxiety swirled in her belly. It left her light headed and dizzy. She wanted to meet him. She could go. But would she? Could she?
Taking a deep, calming breath followed by a few more to help her find some modicum of balance, she set her fingers on the keyboard ready to give her excuses, but instead she found herself typing:
Before she could change her mind, he answered back. She was almost certain he had been sitting there waiting for her response. Expecting her answer.
GOOD. THAT’S GOOD. REALLY GOOD.
Even his email seemed to convey his nervousness. A wave of chills, then flashes of hot stroked through her.
OKAY. SINCE ALL THE GUYS WILL BE IN FANCY PENGUIN SUITS. I WILL WEAR A TIGER LILY IN MY BREAST POCKET. WHAT ABOUT YOU?
A Tiger Lily. That was her favourite flower. Had she mentioned that to him? Probably. The thought made her smile and her nerves seemed to settle a bit. Then another wave of panic engulfed her. What would she wear?
I’LL HAVE TO GT BACK TO YOU ON THAT, BUT I WILL BE THERE.
Once she sent the message, she grabbed her phone and called the only person she knew who would have a clue what to wear to something like this: Liliah.
Liliah picked up on the third ring. “Talk to me,” she said, her voice rough with years of cigarette smoke.
Nervously, Satyra giggled.
“Satyra? Is that you?” Liliah asked.
“Yes, sorry.” Setyra managed when she was able. She let her news tumble out. She was far too worried to care if she opened herself up. Liliah had always been like a second grandmother to her, but one so much more hip to the times.
“So. You do have a sweetie….” Liliah mused with a gentle laugh.
“No. No. Not really….” Satyra began but Liliah stopped her by saying.
“Oh, hush my dear. You most certainly do. I’ve never heard you talk so fast or say so much about anyone.”
“Cher, don’t be. I’m only too happy to help.”
“Oh, thank you.” Satyra gushed with relief.
They made arrangements to meet the next day. Liliah was quick to plan for tomorrow knowing any delays would only give Satyra reason to run for cover and cancel. In all the years she had known Satyra she’d never heard her be so animated about a guy, or so nervous. Satyra always seemed so calm and tightly wound. She was rarely, if ever, unruffled. Whoever this guy was, he was special. Even if Satyra claimed she had only met him online. She’d experienced stranger things in all her many years.
The next day Satyra met Liliah at Adelle’s, an upscale dress boutique that Liliah had insisted upon.
“I can’t afford those gowns, just putting them on gives me hives…”
“Nonsense. Besides this is my treat.”
“It’s too much….”
“Hush now, Cher. This is my gift to you. You’ve done so much for me over the years. I want to do this for you. Besides, your grandmother would want me too.”
“But this is too much and I…”
“I said hush, Cher. You need to just take the gift and be gracious. You can’t show up in your usual pencil shirt and blouse. You need something… sexy. Eye catching. Only Adelle’s can deliver that.” Liliah glanced around then headed for a fire engine red dress of exquisite silk. “Now this is lovely.”
Satyra held up her hands and began to shake her head, but Liliah ignored her and handed the dress to an attendant before moving on to look for more things.
“Oh, what about this. This shade of blue would make your eyes dazzle. That is most definitely your finest feature. One of many, I might add. I must see this on you.” She walked towards the change rooms, leaving Satyra with no choice but to follow.
Deciding to indulge the older woman, Satyra tried on each and every offering the woman suggested. But the most stunning of all of them was the royal blue silk gown. It was perfect. Breathtakingly perfect. Satyra didn’t dare look at the price tag.
Liliah stood staring at her with misty eyes. “You grandmother would be so proud of you…. And your momma, too.” She murmured.
Satyra felt like a princess. The dress was divine.
Liliah decided on a more refined gown more suitable for someone her age and stature. She had decided that this fundraiser would be just the thing for her circle of friends to attend and support. Not only would she get to meet Satyra’s man, but she would put a little money into the mix. It was an excellent cause.
“I feel like Cinderella.” Satyra whispered to herself as she gazed into the mirror.
“Oh, Cher, you are so much more than Cinderella.”
By the time Satyra arrived back home that evening, she was glowing and walking on air. Her nerves still rumbled, but the thought of wearing such a beautiful gown lightened her spirits and made her feel as if she could conquer anything. There was no way she could back out now. Liliah expected her to go with her and her friends. Seems word had gotten out.
She emailed phototreker81 to let him know what to expect her to be wearing. Liliah had made her order a gorgeous wrist corsage saying it would look absolutely divine and delightfully old fashioned. None of the younger set would be wearing anything so lovely. The idea of it warmed Satyra’s heart.
The days leading up to the event were busy and left little time for her to worry. Still, Satyra found herself swimming in nerves. Anxiety pulsed through her, making sleep harder to find, but accessible once she took hot baths and calming tea. She was terribly excited, but also scared half to death. Her body flushed hot, then cold and Satyra thought for sure she was beginning to come down with something.
But the night of the fundraiser found her energized and ready to face anything that came her way. She could face her fears and meet this man. She wanted to know why he could make her heart race and play her body like a violin simply by sending her an email. It was all so crazy.
Liliah sent her car around to pick her up. There was no turning back now. Liliah and her friends were a feisty bunch. She didn’t doubt they would manhandle her if she backed out now. She slid into the car after shielding herself from the blustering January winds.
They arrived at the gallery – the Guggenheim. Such an iconic place. Its swirling interior never ceased to amaze Satyra. She was only too happy to follow the ladies, but Liliah would have none of that. She pulled her to the front of the group so they could walk in together.
Liliah gathered two glasses of champagne for them and they toasted the evening. Satyra’s nerves swirled and contracted. She took a tiny sip not wanting the liquid to muddle her mind. She was already feeling light headed. She looked around her, searching for any sign of a tiger lily. But she didn’t see him. Her eyes caught on several beautiful images and she moved closer to the photographs for a better look. They were poignant. So real and honest. Her heart ached and her eyes misted over.
She stood mesmerized by the photographs completely transfixed. It was not until she felt the presence behind her that she blinked the tears rapidly away.
“That one’s mine. Do you like it?” said a voice that sounded so familiar she thought she must be dreaming.
She turned and found herself looking at a lovely tiger lily. It was him. Her eyes traveled up to his face. As recognition dawned, her lips parted in surprise. She had not been dreaming at all.
“Roger.” She gasped. Her eyes wide. Her hand flew to cover her mouth and her shock. She was completely gobsmacked.
He grinned down at her. His eyes shone with fondness and something more.
“You’re phototreker81?” Her voice was barely a whisper.
He nodded, his grin deepened letting his dimple wink at her. “And you’re copygirl.”
“I am…. Are you disappointed?”
His warm, chocolate brown eyes seemed to shimmer as he stared down into her upturned face. “Not at all.” He said with a husky timbre to his voice. “Are you?”
A laugh escaped and she covered her lips with her hand again. Shaking her head, her eyes glowed. His voice alone was like a caress. Her body trembled.
“Are you cold?” he asked concerned as he shifted closer to settle her shawl, which had slipped off her shoulder, back up where it had been when he’d first approached her. His fingers grazed her silken skin and she trembled again.
She shook her head keeping her eyes on his. Almost afraid to blink and have him disappear. She could hardly believe it. He was her guy. He was phototreker81.
“Did you know?” she asked when she was able to find her voice. She held his gaze.
He shook his head. She swore she caught a brief look of bewilderment as he did so. “I hoped, but I thought that was me just being crazy.”
“You hoped?” she asked puzzled consternation marring her brow.
He reached out and smoothed her brow with his thumb. He gave a slow nod as he admitted, “I’d hoped.”
“I don’t understand.”
He grinned again, this time a little more sheepishly, then shrugged. “You’ve always been it for me, Satyra.”
“I have?” Her voice was small with uncertainty.
“You have, but you didn’t see it. So, I….”
“But you went away.”
He nodded, “I went away. I thought if I went away it would help me sort out my feelings for you, but…. Nothing ever worked. Not even when I left the country. You were always there in my mind… in my heart.”
Satyra’s heart flew. “In your heart?” she whispered and before he could say anything more, she admitted, “I missed you.... so much.” She kept her gaze steady on his.
He nodded. His smile deepened. “Good.”
Brows up, she repeated, “Good?”
“I wanted…” he blew out a breath, then went on, “I wanted more than we had, but I was afraid to ask. I didn’t want to ruin our friendship. It meant too much to me. It still means so much to me. But…”
“You went away.” She said again trying to make sense of it all.
“But you couldn’t.”
He shook his head, his serious eyes never leaving hers. “I still want more…. I have to know…. Can I ask for more now?”
She nodded, a smile blooming on her lips. “Yes,” she whispered, “I don’t ever want to miss you that much again.”
“I travel.” He told her.
“But you’ll always come back.”
“Yes, I will always come back.” Taking her hands in his he pulled her closer. “You, Satyra are my home. I want to come home.” He stepped in close still and brushed his lips over hers.
Sparks flew. To steady herself, Satyra moved her hands up to rest them on his muscled biceps. She needed to hold on. “Welcome home,” she whispered before he dipped his head and sealed his lips over hers once again.
Word Count = 2946