An Almost True Love Story.
Oh my love. I’ve missed you so. What the fuck took you so long?
He rang the doorbell again. For the third time. He was sure this was the place.
He stepped back off the porch and looked up at the apartment building, then turned around and studied the eucalyptus trees behind him, comparing them again to the picture on his phone.
He saw the edge of the porch swing and garden boxes in the picture. He swiped to the next one and saw the trailhead with the side of what he assumed was the wooden library box at the edge of the sidewalk.
This was it. This was definitely it.
One more time, he thought. I’ve come this far; I can’t just walk away.
He was about to knock, when the music on the other side of the door stopped and the song changed.
He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
Was it? Holy shit! Yes.
Radar Love. It was their song.
He let his palm linger on the door long enough to feel the vibration of the music and leaned in closer to hear the words.
“When I get lonely
And I’m sure I’ve had enough
She sends her comfort
Comin’ in from above
Don’t need no letter at all…”
She was here. She had to be. And she was thinking about him. She’d told him that she always played it when she thought of him. It made her feel closer to him and she imagined that whenever she played it, he was thinking of her too.
He pounded on the door with a renewed urgency, hoping that it would be heard above the music.
Still nothing. He sighed. He looked at the door handle and contemplated just opening the door, thought better of it and turned toward a window instead.
The blinds were open. He could see a sofa, blankets and pillows scattered haphazardly across it. A laptop open to…what was that? A book?
He knew she loved to read on her Kindle. She gave him a hard time about being an old man and still reading “paper books”.
Maybe this wasn’t the right place.
A whiff of pot tickled his nose and he looked around. There was a woman walking down the trail while smoking a joint. A little brown dog followed closely at her heels kicking up small puffs of dust as it ran to keep up.
He waited for her to slowly amble into the trees. When she was out of sight, he looked around again. Seeing that he was alone, he stepped closer to the window, squinted at the laptop and read:
On Monday, when I went down for the morning mail, the card of Holly’s box had been altered, a name added: Miss Golightly and Miss Wildwood were now traveling together.
He read further.
Yes. She loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
She had spoken to him at length once about how much she loved both the print version (“despite its blatant and repulsive racism”) as well as the film. Though, in her opinion, the two were nothing alike.
She had said that the film was a great work on its own. Mostly because of Audrey Hepburn. But it portrayed Holly very much like a lost little girl in need of saving. She said that it didn’t capture enough of Holly’s true spirit; her deep sadness, her strength, her streak of defiant rebelliousness and ruthless independence. Capote created a much richer character in the story than what the screenplay allowed Hepburn to be.
He didn’t find either nearly as enjoyable as she did, but he’d read and watched them both. For her. Just like she read Voltaire’s Candide and pretended to like it. For him.
He leaned in further and his eyes slowly scanned the room. There was a boho macramé on the wall and Mala beads draped over a lamp shade. A hammock chair hung from the ceiling and a yoga mat was laid out on the floor. There was a record player open, but not playing. He wondered where the music was coming from. And there were plants. Everywhere.
She’s here. In all her California hippie glory, she’s here.
He pressed his palm to the door again and thought, she’s right on the other side. He hadn’t been this close to her in twenty-seven years.
Hearing a shuffling sound behind him he turned to see a man coming down the path with a cat sitting on his shoulder. Where the hell am I? He thought.
The song ended, pulling his attention from the man with the cat. He took the opportunity to bang on the door again.
The next song began:
“If you ever,
Change your mind
About leaving, leaving me behind
Baby, bring it to me
Bring your sweet loving
Bring it on home to me…”
He smiled. Sam Cooke. How appropriate. Like something out of an old romantic movie.
He pounded on the door again and saw the windows shake slightly.
Turning around self-consciously, he saw the man with the cat standing in the garden looking at him with an eyebrow raised. The cat was looking at him with a very similar expression.
He smiled sheepishly and searched his mind for something to say when the volume of the music lowered. His eyes looked back at the door expectantly.
“Hold on, I think there’s a package.”
That voice. It was her. Holy shit. It’s really her.
His heart began to pound.
It seemed like an eternity passed before she opened the door, and then finally, after all this time, there she was. Standing right in front of him. So close he could actually touch her.
She stood still as if in shock. Neither spoke a word, just staring at each other in disbelief. He could swear that their hearts were both beating so loudly that they could be heard over the music. Beating slowly, as if time stood still, but in unison. He could hear her heartbeat.
She looked older, a few streaks of gray, thin lines in her face, more curves. After all, he hadn’t seen her in person since she was 15 and she’d had two kids since then.
Despite that though, she somehow hadn’t actually changed at all. Her eyes, her cheekbones, her lips, she was still every bit the girl from yesterday. The one he remembered and the one she’d become. The one that she’d been in his mind all this time. And so much more beautiful than he could ever have imagined.
A crow flew to a tree behind him and squawked loudly, breaking the surreal enchantment that had fallen over them both.
Her expression changed. She looked angry. Then her eyes welled up with tears. And finally a beaming smile broke through. A smile that made his heart feel as though it might burst.
She squealed and lunged at him, wrapping her legs around his torso and arms around his neck. He held her to him so tightly that he thought he might break her.
After a moment, she leaned back in his arms, cupped his face in her hands and looked him in the eye.
“Oh my love. I’ve missed you so. What the fuck took you so long?” And then she kissed him.
Slowly and yearning and intense. So much more than the kiss he’d imagined a million times in his dreams.
It was real. She was real. It was really happening. Not just in his mind this time. He really had her in his arms. After all this time, he finally had her in his arms. What the fuck had taken him so long?
After waiting their entire lives for this moment and they were both completely consumed by each other and oblivious to any semblance of a world around them. It was only a pinprick of an instant in time, but to the two of them, lost in their own world, it seemed to last forever.
Then it all shattered instantly when her husband cleared his throat behind her.
Image: Luiz Clas