I’m sorry I stood you up last night. That’s the short of it. I could make up a bunch of excuses but that’s all they’d be - excuses, any way you view it.
I chickened out.
I stood there in the parking lot of the hotel, in the shadows. I saw you come through the front door. You were on your cell phone. As usual! You must have been talking to a client. You had that earnest look, thoughtful, concerned. I imagined you tugging nervously on your necklace and, of course, you did.
You looked around. I was late. You knew that was unusual. At one moment I thought you saw me and I stepped back into the shadows a little too quickly and nearly fell over. You ended your call, put your phone in your purse, and pulled your coat around you against the night chill. You began to pace along the sidewalk. I had to change my point of view to keep you in sight.
I pulled out my phone and sent you a text:
Sorry late notice. Stomach bug. Can’t make it tonight.
I watched as you pulled out your phone, read the text. My heart sank as you appeared to shrink two sizes. Your arms fell to your sides. You looked around perhaps hoping it was a lame joke, but, resigned, you turned and walked back into the hotel. You never looked back.
I stood there for a while, my thoughts a jumble, cursing my cowardice, disappointed at giving in to my insecurities.
Zöe, I planned this evening for months. I wanted it to be so special because I had something special to tell you that couldn’t be done over the phone or in an email or text. It had to be in person, just the two of us. Just for the two of us. When you told me you’d be in town for a night my heart soared. I booked reservations at our favorite restaurant, bought you a cheesy little gift to go with your collection and even a book of poetry. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
As each day passed I grew absolutely giddy with anticipation with seeing you again, about the conversation we would have and how wonderful it all would be.
That’s when the anxiety monsters began their attack. It started with “what ifs.” What if it all went wrong? What if I wasn’t witty enough, smart enough, good enough? Slowly a sense of dread fell over me. My self-doubts became convictions. Surely, I was just a fool. It was never going to work; I couldn’t risk the ridicule.
Zöe, I don’t know when something changed in me, how I look upon you, how I feel about you, but it did. As audible as a click, something happened and you went from being a friend and colleague to something more. Much more. Tonight I was going to tell you how I felt, how I feel, about you, but I failed. Perhaps not failed you but failed myself and I’ll have to live with that.
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Sorry about last night. Felt awful, still do! Next time, OK?
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