Six years later after my “non-proposal”, I had my Bachelor’s degree and was working as a rebel programmer/analyst for Hercules Aerospace Company. My sister had been working for the Department of Transportation but had left and hired on in the computer department where I worked. We rarely got together. If you read my blog, Workin’ Man Blues, you’ll remember that because I was part of the rebel programmers, members of the computer department didn’t like us. I didn’t want to ruin my sister’s reputation. LOL Besides that, Sis and I hardly ever went to the cafeteria for lunch. This day we did.
Rattled about a program that wasn’t working and giving me fits, I couldn’t decide what to order.
Sis nudged me. “Isn’t that your old boyfriend in front of us?”
All I could see was a heavy-set, older guy in dirty coveralls and a baseball cap. “Where?” I asked.
“Him,” she whispered, nonchalantly pointing at the same guy.
My brain slowly stopped and rewound like an old reel on a tape recorder, remembering the past. This guy looked way older than his early twenties. Realization dawned on me, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember his name. “What’s his name?”
“Jake. Don’t you remember?”
I never have understood how Sis remembers my old boyfriends’ names better than I. Taking several steps back with my hands clenched against my stomach, I tried to keep my rushing anger at bay.
Jake! Jake who practically left me at the altar? Jake who used me to get through his college classes? Jake who I cried over for weeks and weeks. My fists balled. I wanted to strike out both physically and verbally. Think, Cindy! What were all those snarky things you wished you’d said to him?
He turned and looked at me in surprise. “Cindy?”
I flashed him a cold smile. “Do I know you?” After all, I never would have recognized him. It was Sis who had. Darn her.
“It’s me. Jake.”
I feigned ignorance.
He held out his hands. “You know…Jake…college…uh, Business Law.”
“Oh, yes.” What could I say to stab him in the heart?
The lunch line moved forward. I reached the tray of silverware and picked up a butter knife. Dull blades hurt more than sharp blades. I took a deep breath and put it back. I couldn’t do that. Jake nodded to my sister, and I tried to ignore him as I continued down the line.
He followed. “Do you think we could talk?”
I rolled my eyes. Are you kidding me? Do you know the pain you caused me? Forget it! Wait! “Sure,” I said instead. On second thought, I did have a thing or two to say to him. Things I should have said that day in the car when he announced he was marrying someone else. “Yeah, sure. Let’s talk.”
Sis departed, and I lead Jake to my cubicle. As we walked, he explained he worked in Clearfield where they assembled the various motors. Imagine, ending up working at the same company only different divisions.
I’d gathered my composure by the time we reached my desk.
“I’ve missed you,” he said right off.
I stammered. Missed me? The jerk. I leaned back on my heels. “Was that before or after your wedding?”
“You mean, Janet.” He looked down and shook his head. “That was a mistake. Our marriage didn’t last long.”
A moment of joy flowed through me. Serves you right. Then a twinge hit my stomach. What was I thinking? I didn’t wish him unhappiness, divorce, or a thousand years of misery…at least not anymore. I just wasn’t that sort of person. “I’m sorry,” I said. I’m sorry! I couldn’t believe I said that either.
He took off his baseball cap and exposed his balding head. “You look as beautiful as ever,” he said.
I held back a burst of laughter. I studied his face, a face I thought I once loved. I felt nothing. Right then I realized there was no attachment to him any longer. I didn’t care. He couldn’t hurt me any longer. It was true what they said: The opposite of love isn’t hate but, instead, indifference.
“Thank you,” I said, smiling.
“Are you married? Seeing anyone?”
“Jake, it really doesn’t matter.”
He knew what I meant, and although I really wasn’t trying to hurt him, he looked pained.
We never saw each other again, and I was finally over the pain of that day, thinking he would propose. I was proud of myself for who I am and that I didn’t say all those awful things I wished I’d said years ago. Life moves on.
Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at: http://www.dragonflyromance.com
Partial photo credit to: damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo