They became friends. He had a first chance and he didn't take it. So what does he do when he gets a second chance when he opens the door five years later? Oneshot
She had this habit of biting her fingernails when she was thinking. Our offices were parallel but were a pedestrian crossing apart; nevertheless I saw her clearly. She wasn't what many would deduce immediately as pretty but once you examine her for a very long time she's actually very, very beautiful and charming, even when she was biting her fingernails like a little girl. I called her the eleventh floor girl.
The first time we met was during a party at a small restaurant that was a block down our buildings, through some common friends. Her name was Jordan Fitzgerald and she had a firm handshake. Thoughts rushed through my head. The most prevalent thought was that we may not connect because as we sat at a corner table and chatted I found out our interests were at odds. We talked about music; she was a rocker while I tuned in to Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Tony deSare and the like. She loved Japanese food whereas I felt the complete opposite for raw fish. She was a republican and I was a democrat, need I go on?
But boy was I ever wrong. At the end of the party, our difference of interests actually led to a wonderful night; it was a heated debate all the way combined with a lot of respect for the other's opinions and a little flirtation here and there. She was very smart lady.
I offered her a ride home, expecting absolutely nothing in return. She lived in downtown Manhattan near China town. It was already two in the morning and we knew that we should have been tucked in our respective beds. Office hours started at eight, but she offered to walk around the lively China town.
"It's beautiful here at night," She said with a smile. "Lights shine brightly, especially during Chinese New Year."
When I got onto bed at half passed three, I couldn't forget the smile she flashed when we strolled amongst the Chinese. She looked absolutely breathtaking.
Five months passed by quickly. We exchanged emails, random thoughts and jokes throughout the day. We looked at each other from across the street and then smile or laugh. But we weren't dating... we weren't.
She even helped me search a house in Greenwich Village when I made a final decision to buy one.
"There are a total of five candidates for your future home." She chirped when she sat down with our coffee at hand. "Have you made a decision?"
I looked away. I wasn't really thinking about the houses we narrowed down. I was thinking about her. "What about you? Which one do you like best?"
Why did I ask that? I pondered as I waited for her reply and almost jerked back to reality when she answered
"I like the third one." She paused then continued. "If ever you decide on something else, I'll buy that house for myself."
"Maybe we can be neighbors." I teased and the conversation went on until dinner.
A week later she emailed me she found someone. While I read her email I accidentally dropped my mug and coffee spilled on my pants. I didn't know if it was the burning sensation of the steaming coffee or there was a tugging feeling in my heart making it painful. Whatever it was, it really hurt a lot. Whatever it was I tried to shake it off. I wasn't about to ruin the one real friendship I had with a girl without sex in my mind.
A month later, she left Manhattan. She was still with that man who I finally admitted to myself I felt great loathing.
She said her goodbyes, I said my goodbyes and that was it. When her plane departed it was then that I realized. You're so stupid Adrian.
I loved her. Ever since that day I first saw her biting her nails, I was really, truly in love with her. She was my opposite. Jordan was everything I was not.
She emailed and called me lots of times after she moved to Boston. She came to New York for meetings and we would meet up for lunch or dinner or whenever our schedules would allow us. I never told her what I felt but every time I tried to move on her bright smile always haunted me day and night.
Three years later I received a square white envelope in the mail. Printed in black embossed letters was my name. I studied the font a little longer and I recognized it was her handwriting. I let out a chuckle; she finally got around to making her own font.
I opened the envelope and read the letter inside. It was an invitation. She was getting married to Mark, the man she described from her email before when I dropped my coffee.
I attended her wedding to show her my support even though I was unwilling to see her finally walk down that aisle to the altar to meet Mark. To Meet Mark and not me. It was at a beach in California just like she always wanted, just when the sun was setting and the waves crashed on the shore with a soft, calming sound. It was simple and elegant, just like she always wanted it; just like she was, simple and elegant.
I went back to New York that night with the picture of Jordan in my mind and the way her red hair danced when the summer wind blew our way, giving her and Mark a sense of something wonderful. The way her eyes sparkled showed everyone she was welcoming forever with Mark with her whole heart.
But there was something missing in her eyes despite the glint in her emerald eyes. There was a void in them that no one else saw but me. And I remembered the way Mark's arms embraced her. Those should have been my arms.
Two years passed. I tried to move on and dated other women. I even came close to getting married but we couldn't compromise our differences in the end. We couldn't compromise the way Jordan and I compromised.
One day, I opened my door when someone rang the doorbell. I was taken aback to see her standing on my porch. "So you bought the third house."
She was biting her fingernail. If she had changed, she had changed to be an even more beautiful lady.
"It was even beautiful when I moved in."
She never told me why she was there that day but the conversation turned to dinner and then turned into something we both never expected to happen. Our souls might have burned in hell for eternity for the sins we committed but we didn't mind. We knew what we possessed when we were together was a beautiful mistake.
We kept that affair for almost a year. She went to New York, I went to Boston, I was always by her side and she was always by mine, especially when her marriage was on the rocks.
"We can't keep on doing this." I told her one night she was in New York. "We can't keep on hiding."
Maybe I was beginning to be selfish. I wanted her to be with me, only me.
"I know." She looked away. She was never the one to cry and I admired her for it. She was always so strong but even though that night she didn't cry I saw the hurt in her eyes. It was an ultimatum. Him or me? New York or Boston?
Before she went back home to Mark, she asked for time.
"I need to think." She whispered into my ear before she left.
And so I gave her time. I was tempted a couple of times to call and ask how things were going and then to ask if she had made a decision but I decided against it. I was always true to my word, especially when it came to her.
A week later she came. She said she would only be a while in New York and then she dropped the bomb.
"Mark and I are going to work things out." She said that day and I remembered everything clearly. We sat on a bench in Central Park, a few inches apart. The sky was blue and the sun was merrily flaunting to New York its golden splendor. I stared directly into the sun, wishing for my eyes to burn, wishing for me to wake up, wishing for anything else to happen. It was ironic, really. Spring was supposed to bring love, to let romance unfold before everybody's eyes. Instead there we were, seeing other loves being brought to life as the death of our passion transpired.
At the end of the day, when I dropped her off at the airport, it was the first time I saw her eyes shed tears, drops I've gently wiped away with my fingers, when her skin once again burned mine.
"You know it's entirely your fault." She said looking straight ahead, focusing all her attention on the people entering and exiting JFK airport. I looked at her, intently watching her, memorizing every detail of her face that seemed to become even lovelier through the years. "If only you had asked me out six years ago."
There was silence for only a few seconds and then she continued. "But there's nothing we can do now. I love you."
She shrugged her shoulders. "Just so you know."
She kissed my cheek and then stepped out of my car. She started walking towards the entrance but looked back.
"I love you." she mouthed and as she walked into the airport, she walked out of my life forever.
It was my second chance and I didn't grab it. If I did take the chance, would she have left Mark and stayed with me? Or would the same happen? If it was any consolation, I let her know I love her, with all my heart.
Pins and needles pierced my heart as I drove with a heavy feeling back to the office. She was once and always will be my eleventh floor girl.