For a very long time I always had kept telling myself that life was all but a fairy tale where the man of one’s wildest dreams would accidentally drop from the sky and suddenly land at one’s feet.
Except for the day where it actually happened.
Well, almost. Not really, but at least it seemed to be the case at first. On second glance I realized that this tiny, stout deer in the headlights was definitely not how I expected my third husband to look like. With the unkempt halo of golden curls around his head, the random guy in question almost looked like those little angel statues to put on your shelf for some old school decoration.
He wasn’t anywhere near my type of guy and it didn’t help that he seemed to be just like five feet and a few inches short, but I simply couldn’t ignore the way he stood in front of me, chewing on his lips as if he was about to say something but didn’t dare yet. He stared at me with big brown doe eyes. In the middle of the crowded mall this scene seemed almost surreal.
Blinking rapidly, he then opened his mouth for what I hoped would be an explanation of these weird antics. I expected - or at least hoped for - a very good excuse for interrupting me in my well-earned shopping spree with his odd behaviour that almost crossed the lines of being creepy.
I wouldn’t say I ever cared much about random strangers in general, but this guy was starting to bother me without doing more than just existing. As I was already about to either ask him politely what the heck his problem was or otherwise just gently shove him out of my way, he seemed to finally manage a little crooked smile, before his eyelids fluttered dangerously.
Then he just fell and dropped down directly to my feet.
Mine, out of all these various different feet, belonging to countless people here at the ample hall between the stores. As if I was supposed to deal with that man suddenly laying on the floor. Out all these people it seemeed to be me who had to keep up with those deeply disturbing convulsive movements and jerking limbs, telling me he had in fact not been tumbling down from the Heavens above, but was having a seizure. And I knew both what a seizure looked like and how I was supposed to react.
But neither was I in the mood for first aid nor even capable of any coherent thought, so I did the only thing I could do to at least try and help him: I panicked.
My nervous breakdown combined with the helpless yelling did the job well enough for some other strangers to notice what was happening. While my heart was racing violently, a few people rushed towards us, an old woman even asked if I was alright, but I just pointed a shaking finger towards the not exactly young man on the floor. They should worry about him, not me.
And as I just was about to silently vanish inside the quickly forming crowd of a few helping hands but mostly nosy bystanders, I had the feeling that I was close to having what seemed like a war flashback from middle school.
Stricken with sudden waves of guilt, I did the opposite from what I was planning to do and, now in retrospective, probably made the biggest mistake in my life. I stayed.
Roughly an hour later we sat together at a tiny table for two at the nearest Starbucks. He still seemed a bit flustered and I almost had the feeling he kept dozing off from time to time with his elbow propped on the surface, hand pillowing his head. Then he softly shook his head, opening yet another two packs of sweetener to pour into his Pumpkin Spice Latte, only to forget stirring before taking a sip and probably deciding it still wasn’t sweet enough.
“Thank you, Babs”, he sighed out of any context while he reached for the sugar sprinkler.
This situation had turned out to be even more complicated than I could have guessed. Because first, this man was no stranger at all, and second, he actually had come up to me on purpose. Not exactly to ask for help at that time but to ask if I was actually myself because he had recognized my face.
“For what?“, I frowned, shrugging off all of my insecurities. “Not calling you out in front of all those people that I strongly assume you forgot to take your meds again and therefore don’t deserve any compassion because it’s your own fault?”
He snorted and tilted his head the same way he always used to when we were making fun of each other as spotty teens with greasy hair. This was not just a creepy at the mall having found a very rude way to demand attention from others, but the guy I had been thinking about instantly when seeing a man collapse and seizing.
This really was Edward, my crush from middle school.
The broad grin on his face made him look more alive again, “What if I actually did take them but they’re not doing their job properly anymore? Does this earn me the privilege of your sympathy?”
After pouring half the content of the whole dispenser into his cup, he finally stirred, took a sip and I was delighted to see him grimace at the epitome of drinking liquid sweetness.
“You always said you don’t need anyone’s pity”, I reminded him, then finally brought myself to smile. “Now tell me, how have you been? We got a lot to catch up after like- how long has it been, fifteen years? Sixteen?”
Edward snorted again, “And you’re asking me, out of all people, to remember that? I can’t even put a finger on what I was about to do before I woke up on the floor and why I left the house in the first place.”
"Ah, I see", I frowned and rolled my eyes, then demanded to know, "How come you remembered me then?"
He just shrugged and smiled almost as sweet as his coffee was supposed to be by now, "You know, this is a simple way of dealing with a foggy brain - I tend to forget useless information and only hold onto the good things in life!"
The playful wink he gave me then made me feel like he was actively flirting with me. In a very odd way, of course, because I couldn't deny that after all these years this was definitely still Edward. And it didn't even make me uncomfortable. Instead, my prevalent emotion would be better described as exasperation.
“Finish your coffee already, will you”, I groaned. “Then let's just call this a day, I'll drive you home. You surely need a nap and I urgently need some peace of mind!”
Standing in front of the little suburban town house he had navigated me to with calling 'left' and 'right' mostly in the last second I could barely react, I left the motor on and waited for him to leave so I could go on with my day already.
“Thank you”, he said again, almost gentle this time.
My gaze wandered over the cute place he called home, complete with a tiny garden, white fence and all. He unlikely lived alone here and I didn't understand why it made me frown.
“For what?“, I grumbled, annoyed at the way his beaming smile almost managed to turn the sad, squishy features of his doughy face into the little ray of sunshine I once had a major crush in middle school. For not apparent reason, as I want to emphasize.
“For keeping me some company”, he replied softly and it made me deepy uncomfortable how honest his gratitude sounded.
“You mean for keeping up with your bullshit?“, I tried teasing but he didn’t give me any chance to turn this into foolish antics again.
“For being there for me when I needed someone”, he then stated with disarming nonchalance and looked directly into my eyes.
I had no idea how I managed to keep a straight face at this almost heartfelt moment. This wasn't flirting anymore, it was on the edge of being romantic and almost made me nauseous. But thankfully, this was still at least to some point the same Edward I knew from middle school. He giggled like this exact silly school boy, then finally got out of my car. And as he waved goodbye for a moment too long before starting to search his pockets for apparently some keys to enter this little dream of a home, I couldn’t help but question my sanity.
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