Lubbock, Texas. 2000
Janet lay staring at the ceiling. The buzzing in her ears had settled into a drone. The beeping of equipment played a high pitched counterpoint. She wondered, absently, why medical equipment played such a boring, annoying tune. The pitch alone was enough to set her teeth on edge.
The door opened with a thump and a young, dark haired nurse stood in the semi-darkness, silhouetted by the light of the corridor. “Hi, Mrs. Macy. I’m Flora. I need to click on the light and check vitals.”
“Call me Janet. After tonight, I’m not Mrs. Macy anymore.”
The light above the bed flickered on. She squinted, the dim illumination causing auras. The young woman checked the machines, writing down the data. Once that was done, she turned to Janet with a sad smile.
“How’s your head?” Her strong fingers probed the dressing gently.
Janet hissed in pain.
“Rate your pain for me, one being….”
“I know the scale, dear. A glance my my chart shows you that. Six.” She signed. “But it’s not all physical.”
“I can imagine. I’m so sorry. Want to talk about it?”
“It’s a long story.”
Flora made a note and sat on the edge of the bed. “I’ve got all night. Tell me.”
“I really loved him once. At least, I thought I did. But there was always Diego….”
Flora did something that made the pain subside a little. “Tell me about Diego.”
“He was beautiful. I know that’s a weird way to describe a man, but he was. Dark, chiseled, sculpted, buff…. Very well equipped. And he knew how to use it.”
“He sounds dreamy.”
“He was an Adonis. We had to snatch our moments. After my parents moved, I stayed. We had a magical school year. Then it was over and I had to move. It tore us up. We’d talk on the phone, write letters. Sometimes, we’d talk to a tape and send that. It helped a little. That fall, after he graduated, he went in the Navy. The letters were less frequent. But there was always news through Ramona. He loved me, he missed me…. I clung to that news with both hands. It’s all that saw me through.”
“Did you get back together?” Flora leaned forward expectantly.
“Oh, yes, but not for several years. By that time, I’d met and married Tex— That’s another lifetime—another story. I loved him once….”
“Tell me how you met. I love stories of how people get together.”
Janet lay back, remembering. “It was 1979, right here in town. I was going to Texas Tech….”
Lubbock, Texas. Summer of 1979
The hot west Texas wind had a storm in it. Janet walked across the campus to the cool confines of the library. She inhaled deeply when she got inside, the chill washing over her. Sounds of the indoor fountain greeted her. This was why she came here. The music of the fountain helped her relax. She found a chair and dropped her backpack. Digging out a book, she noticed a man staring at her from the other side.
Flipping open the book, Vonnegut’s Slapstick, she made it clear she was there to read, not encourage conversation. She was sick of men hitting on her. She’d grown from an attractive teenager to a sultry, mocha skinned beauty, over the last few years. Men couldn’t seem to leave her alone. Sometimes, she went out, but it was rare. Memories of Diego kept her from succumbing to their more dubious charms.
Someone sat in the chair to her right. His scent drifted to her nose. He smelled like outdoors and hot, sexy male. Janet squirmed uncomfortably, hiding it as shifting her position in the chair.
“Vonnegut fan, huh?” He had a deep, husky voice laced with an Southeast Texas twang, not the West Texas drawl. “I was a little disappointed with that one. I have to say Slaughterhouse-Five was my favorite.”
She glanced at him over the top of the book. He wasn’t looking at her, he was staring at the fountain.
“As far as war books, I found Catch-22 much more interesting. But I think Heller had some serious problems….”
“Did you want something?” Janet tried to keep her voice level, neutral, but the more she looked at him, the more interesting he became.
“Yeah. A chance to go out with you.”
©2020 Dellani Oakes