I stand in the doorway of the restaurant and watch the couple sitting at the corner table. They look like they are in the middle of a serious discussion. He runs his hand through his dirty blond hair with the bangs that never curl the right way as he tells her something. She doesn't look at him, but keeps her dark brown eyes focused on the table. Whatever he is saying isn't very good news.

I've known this couple for a year now. The man with the bangs is my best friend of three years, Brian. We've always been there for each other. He tells me if my stories are good or not, and I'm his cheering section whenever he plays basketball. The woman is his girlfriend, Cheryl. I've always tried to be nice to her, but her cold demeanor was very hard to like. I suspect that she never liked me hanging around him.

As I continue to watch their conversation, I try to understand why he asked me to come. Maybe I have the time wrong. Brian says that I'm always doing that. I check my Tigger watch again. He said 5:30, and it's 5:30.

I stand there a while longer, debating on whether to stay or to run. Before I can decide, Brian looks up and sees me with those blue eyes. Or, at least, I think he sees me. His lips part into a familiar, toothy grin, and he waves. Cheryl follows his gaze and just glares at me. My nerves get the best of me, and I turn and run.

The cold, hard, wet rain stings my face and covers my glasses to the point where I can't see as I race down the sidewalk. What am I thinking? Why would he ask me out when he has her? She can play sports, for crying out loud. I stop to catch my breath, take off my glasses, and sweep back my soaking red hair.

Just as I put on my glasses and get ready to move again, a strong grip catches my arm. I whirl around to see Brian standing behind me. He is as soaked as I am with his bangs plastered to his forehead and water dripping off of his strong jaw line.

"Amy, what's wrong? Why did you run?" he asks in his Southern drawl. His eyes bear right into me. Does he have any idea how much he means to me?

"I-I thought I had gotten the time wrong again. It looked like you were having a private conversation, and I didn't want to intrude," I stammer. God, those eyes!

He laughs and pulls me into a hug. I just want to sink into the floor. I bury my face into his shoulder and smell the sweet scent of his Safari. We step apart, and he smiles. "No, you actually had the time right. What I had to tell you involves you both." He looks at the sky, then back at me, and continues, "I did want it to be in a dryer setting, but the rain will do."

"What do you want to tell me? Are you guys getting married?"

Brian looks at me, and his eyes sparkle as he laughs again. He slicks back his bangs, and his expression grows serious.

"Not hardly," he begins. "I've known you for three years now; ever since you helped me with freshman English, and I helped you with college math. It took Cheryl to make me realize something about you."

My heart stops. "What?"

He puts his hands on my shoulders and looks me square in the eyes. "This whole time I've been looking for the right girl when she's been standing here right in front of me."

The whole world seems to stop, and I'm speechless. I've never been one to cry at the drop of a hat, but I can feel the tears beginning to fall. He reaches under my glasses and brushes a stray tear away with his thumb. His touch is rough from playing the guitar all the time.

I finally manage to say something. "Are you sure?"

Another laugh. "Of course I'm sure. What makes you think I wouldn't be?"

I want to believe him, but I've had this joke played on me one too many times by other people. I don't want to fall for it again. "Well, you and Cheryl seem so perfect for each other. She's beautiful and athletic. I'm just plain, ordinary Amy. What if you're kidding?"

"I wouldn't do that to you. You know that. And you're not 'ordinary.' You're very real, and you don't pretend to be someone you're not. With Cheryl, it was like I was dating myself. It was boring. I love the differences between us. I love the challenge that you are."

Once again, I'm speechless. We stand there looking at each other. I barely notice that the rain has stopped.

Brian smiles, "Am I going to have to prove it to you?"

I smile back, feeling more confident and comfortable. "Yes," I tease.

Before I know it, he takes off my glasses. He then gently takes my chin, tilts my face towards his, and kisses me. I can feel his soft warm lips on mine, and I can taste the salt from my tears. At that moment, the world stops.


© 1998 Crimson Idealist