“Hold on.” I say to the girl at the counter taking my order and I dash off down the boardwalk, searching through the groups of people in front of me trying to pick out a baseball hat and a pony tail. I start to suck wind; I haven’t run like this since I stopped working out in college.
“Sabina” I call out and dodge around another group of people skateboarding in front of me. “Sabina” I yell again and this time I see someone turn around and keep running.
“Thank god” I say and sprint to catch up to her. When I pull up next to her she stares at me in surprise and pulls out an ear bud.
“Can I help you?” she doesn’t even stop running so I try to explain why I’m here while trying to keep up with her.
“Remember junior prom? At riverside high school about 6 years ago?” I say and run around a family that’s walking down the boardwalk.
“Vaguely, but who are you?” she says and slows down.
“I was your date.” She stops and pulls out her other ear bud.
“Yes Jay Tapps.” I say and start taking in gulps of air. I am seriously making a bad impression.
“The kid who kissed me on my doorstep and then didn’t say a word to me for the rest of the year?” I nod slightly ashamed.
“Why are you here?” she glares at me, seething.
“I wanted to” I take another couple of deep breathes and decide to just say it. “I wanted to ask you out on a date.”
“Are you crazy?” she says with a short laugh. It’s one of those condescending laughs and it makes me feel self conscious.
“You just stopped talking to me Jay. I don’t forgive you for that.” I double over and cough with my hands on my knees. I look up at her totally in shock. How can someone hold a grudge for this long?
“Are you kidding me? You told me we couldn’t talk anymore because you were moving here” I plea in protest. She takes her hat off and reties her hair back.
“I did not.” She says and I just shake my head.
“You did. I remember it all but even if you didn’t, I don’t care. I haven’t stopped thinking about you since that night.” I stop and try to recollect myself. “There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I hadn’t wished that that kiss was something more. I’ve spent the past six years of my life torturing myself into thinking that maybe it was nothing and I’m just looking for closure. It cannot be that. It just can’t. I wouldn’t still be imagining you, standing there in your dress, waiting for me to come up and ask you out if all I wanted was closure. It has to be more than that Sabina.” She starts shaking her head in disbelief.
“Jay this can’t be right. That was six years ago.” She emphasizes the six so that it hurts more than I could’ve thought possible. Six years is a long time but there has to be a reason why I’m still thinking about her. There has to be a reason why I’m down here.
“Sabina this must be right. I wouldn’t be standing in front of you right now if it wasn’t.” My breathing finally slows and I stand up as straight as I can.
“No Jay, it can’t” she holds up her left hand. Wrapping around her forefinger is a simple band with a diamond stuck right in the middle. I stare at it uncomprehending.
“It has to be Sabina.” I say again, hoping that the ring was just an illusion, that my hunger is making me imagine things.
Sabina lightly touches my arm and says “Jay, I’m sorry but this can’t happen.” I stare at her. She tries to give me a light smile but I back away.
“No” Is all I say and start backing up. She looks at me apologetically.
“I’m sorry Jay” She says and I keep backing up. I can’t believe this. I drove 250 miles to see that the girl I’ve been thinking about for 6 years is married. To see that she has moved on from me, that I was nothing but a prom date to her.
This seems a little tacky to me... improvements?