The man seated across the table pried me with questions.
“Who played Wendy?” he asked. “Was it you?”
“And who played the Hooker?”
“Really,” he drew the word out as if chewing on it. “Both you?”
We were celebrating closing night at a local eatery. My questioner was not a familiar face amongst our usual theatre crowd, but I could tell by the way others were addressing him that he held some position of esteem.
“Have you done a lot of acting?” he persisted.
“High school, mostly.” I loved acting, and had contemplated pursuing it at University. Just recently, I had purchased a ticket to travel to Great Britain. It was my plan to investigate theatre school there, hopefully Shakespearean.
“I am currently writing a play that you would be perfect for, if you are interested. You have heard of me?”
I recognized him now – playwright and critic. He was well-known in our area, although this was my first meeting.
“I’m flattered,” and I was. “I am leaving for England shortly.”
“Of course you are. It would be a shame to waste that talent locally. If you have a change of mind, look me up, will you?”
The play had gone well. Even though I had bit parts, apparently I had made an impression. Maybe there was hope for me. I looked forward to the future.
The date of my departure was fast approaching. Disillusioned with life in my hometown, I was anxious to explore the world and embrace adventure. To celebrate my move, my sisters threw a party.
Seven years older than me, Mae is a classic beauty with dark eyes, and a perfectly sculpted face draped with beautiful flowing brunette hair. She stands 5′ 8″ and has curves in all the right places. I was used to being eclipsed by Mae’s presence, but she made up for it in sweetness.
My other sister, Lily, was eleven years my senior. Also a brunette, she was a fireball, who commanded attention and rivaled Mae for attention.
I shrank into a corner and disappeared into my dreams. This was not my crowd. Apart from a fellow I had been casually dating and a mutual friend of my sisters, I really didn’t know these people. Just when I thought the night was a total loss, I heard a knock at the door.
I opened it to find Stewart at the door. Stewart was one of Mae’s many suitors, and I knew he’d be disappointed. Mae’s current boyfriend was also here. I offered him a drink and some friendly conversation. I felt bad for him.
“I’m headed to England,” I offered. Stewart had a very distinct British accent.
“In three weeks.”
“Really? I’m headed to England in three weeks. Where are you flying into?”
“What date are you going?”
“No way! You are flying to England on the 19th!”
“Yes, I am. We might be on the same flight.”
I have to admit, he had me going. Turned out he was just playing with me. Always fun to tease the little sister.
I busied myself in the kitchen, playing hostess. Stewart made his move on Mae.
Last to arrive was the last to leave. Mae had already left with her beau, and Lily was nowhere in sight. I escorted Stewart to the door, where he paused before stepping out and turning around to face me, leaning in for a kiss.
“Good night,” he whispered leaving me alone and slightly stunned.
What had just happened?
“Don’t pay it any mind,” Mae told me the next day. “He has a crush on me.”
I knew she was right, but it was me that Stewart invited out later that day.
Our courtship was a whirlwind race against the ticking of the clock and my imminent departure. Stewart made me laugh, and caused my heart to flutter. I couldn’t sleep, didn’t care to eat, and was certain that this was love.
He was all I could think of while in England, and I wrote to him everyday – long, lengthy letters oozing with mush. When I’d received no reply, I finally called him. He hadn’t received one letter. I had sent them care of Mae, and she had forgotten to check the mail. I couldn’t stand the emotional turmoil.
I came home.
Stewart and I would later marry and have three children, ending a seventeen year relationship in a bitter divorce.
I always wonder what might have happened, had I stayed in Britain, but I have never regretted the gift of my three children.
Isn’t it miraculous that life turns out the way it does, despite our plans to the contrary?