The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real people or events, present or past, is utterly serendipitous.
When it rains in Seattle, it weeps. Mass exoduses of precipitation blanket the city, rapping on windows with a fervor only matched by the humidity in the Empire State of the South. After being in the pacific northwest for nearly two weeks on business, the man would gladly trade the best coffee he’s had in five years for just one day out under the sun — sweat, moist shirts, alternating watering days and all. He had been in Chicago the two weeks prior and as much as he hated to admit it, he was growing homesick. He was always adept at moderation but being on the road for so many consecutive days downgrading clients’ information systems from “artificially intelligent” to “artificially not-a-total-idiot” was draining his soul. He missed his bloodhound, good beer, better burritos, and most of all, he missed her.
She was supposed to meet him in Chicago for a few days since she was en route to Hong Kong for a conference on stopping the illegal (and even legal) ivory trade. She promised that she would stop by if only for two hours. But she was a no-show. He’d re-scheduled an entire day’s worth of seminars and live demonstrations, no doubt inconveniencing the most lucrative clients, and she didn’t even have the decency of letting him know she couldn’t make it. This kind of behavior was uncharacteristic of her, though, so he couldn’t stay mad. He came up with a very convincing, very plausible explanation for her absence: a coworker had passport problems, her phone died, her boss was being a dick, she blacked out in the kitchen and never made it to the office.
But the man stopped hypothesizing because he was only worrying himself. He was just really looking forward to seeing her grin, talking to her, and listening to her bemoan the absurdity that is everything that happens before one arrives at their gate for a departing flight. It had been five weeks since he’d touched her. The man had gone years without this type of human contact before, but after she ever so unassumingly entered his life, he couldn’t fathom going five days without so much as a handshake from her. And now, he would have to wait at least three more weeks. The man only had to be in Seattle for the remainder of the week, but she was going to be across the Pacific Ocean. If the conference goes well, and she persuades very influential Mainland Chinese trendsetters to stop adorning themselves with the tusks of slaughtered elephants, then a trip to Africa was sure to happen.
The man took a few deep breaths, put his head against the window, and pressed play on his mp3 player. Aerosmith serenaded about being spent like money and then being hung out to dry before quickly being shushed for the beats of TLC, who wouldn’t go chasing after waterfalls. He was so engrossed with the music that he didn’t hear the door to the hotel room open. He didn’t hear the footsteps made by a very particular brand of boots. He thought he heard someone laugh, he even paused the music but resumed upon being met with silence. As T-boz, Left-Eye (Great Spirit, recycle her soul), and Chilli preached about not wanting guys who think they are fly, the man suddenly whirled around when he felt a hand on the middle of his back. He tore off his headphones when he saw her standing in front of him.
“I didn’t think you … you’re always making fun of me for getting down to V103 playlists and here you are, smooth-jamming like you were about to take a midnight train to Georgia — the remix,” she said as she put down her bags.
The man blinked several times, took one big stride over to her, and pulled her into his warm embrace. He smelled her minty, rose-scented hair and kissed her very lightly on the mouth.
“I’m so sorry, Ryan,” she said as she unbuttoned her dark blue coat. “My boss was being a dick; Su-Chan lost her passport in a Chipotle somewhere in Washington, DC; I fainted in the dining section of a Restoration Hardware; and I called Beatrice to fill in for me. If anyone can save the elephants by putting the fear of Ares into the Chinese, it’s Beatrice.”
The man started laughing, assured her everything was okay, and told her to breathe.
“Really,” she continued as she removed the coat, revealing a translucent, blue silk tunic dress. “I really feel badly for not being able to get a hold of you to tell you I couldn’t make it to Chicago. I called your office and they said to leave a message with someone named Ephraim, who probably wasn’t even pretending to take a message.”
“Hey cute one, it’s oh-kay,” the man said as his gaze tilted down and back up. “I’m just glad you’re here. This city is…”
The man chuckled. His smile morphed into a smirk after she leaned in and whispered into his left ear that she wasn’t wearing any underwear.
“And if you were, what would be on them?”
“Cello strings and a lyre.”