When you’re ready

short stories

The room around us is bustling with the many conversations that surround us. We’re sitting in a booth in the far back of the restaurant that you could almost miss us. I mean, the waiter missed us twice. Walked straight past with our food.  

Looking at her now, I can see the heartbreak on her face that it breaks my heart. She has such a caring heart that it hurts to see this beautiful woman turned inside over a guy who doesn’t deserve her.  

“What is wrong with me?” she asks, her face falling into her hands.  

It wasn’t a question that she wanted answered, so I didn’t. I stayed silent. She didn’t need me to give her advice, she needed me to lean on. The way it has been for us since we were in high school.  

“What will my boss say?” She looks up at me, her mortified expression mirroring my own. 

I have missed part of this story; how did I miss parts of this story. 

Cringing, I ask, “what happened?” 

She closes her eyes for a second.  

I twirl some spaghetti onto my fork and put it in my mouth.  

“I had a work party last night. The ‘Christmas in July’ one that we have every year.” She begins her story of the night before.  

I take a sip of my drink and motion for her to continue as I ate another fork of spaghetti. 

“Kurt bitched and moaned about having to go with me. I wasn’t making him do anything, he came on his own accord but he still bitched about it all afternoon as I was getting ready to head out.” She pauses to sip on her own drink.  

“Anyway, so we pull up at my boss’s place and he refused to get out of the car. I tell him that he should go home and head out with the boys. That’s why he didn’t want to come, you know.” She shrugs her shoulders but I can tell it bothers her. That he would prefer to spend the night out with the guys instead of a night with her.  

“So,” she sticks a fork full of salad into her mouth. “I’m in with the rest of the party for about half an hour. Yep, he sat in that car for half an hour. He came in, pulled me aside and very loudly tells me that I need to move out because we’re breaking up.” 

She drops her fork on her plate and places her face in her hands again.  

“I’m so embarrassed.” She cries.  

This is torture. This woman, this beautiful woman doesn’t deserve to be treated like dirt. It’s not fair. She deserves better.  

I get up from the side of the booth that I’m sitting and slide in next to her. I wrap my arm around her shoulder and pull her into me. Her head resting on my chest, I can feel her body convulsing as she cries.  

I don’t know what to say to make her feel better. Anything that I would usually say always made her feel worse.  

“How about we go for a walk?” I say, rubbing my hand over her arm.  

She nods and we move out of the booth and follow the wooden floor towards the exit. 

When we get out onto the street, the ocean breeze hits us in the face. The smell of the salt water and the sound of the seagulls calms me. I’ve always loved the beachfront. Stella though, she hates the cold and at this time of day during the winter months, it gets freezing.  

She shrugs on her denim jacket and wraps her arm into mine.  

“It’s freezing.” She shudders, the breeze hitting my bare skin and I erupt in goosebumps. 

She’s right, it is freezing but I wasn’t going to admit that. She’d never let me live it down, especially since before we left the car to head into the restaurant, she reminded me to grab my jacket but I said I didn’t need it.  

We get to the end of the jetty and she releases her arm from mine before leaning on the white wooden fence.  

“What do you think I should do?” She asks, staring out at the ocean.  

What do I say to that? That she deserves better? That she needs to move out and never look back?  

Sighing, I take a step closer to her, wrapping my arm around her shoulders.  

She smiles and wraps her arm around my waist.  

It feels nice. At least it feels nice to me. Maybe I should tell her something that I probably shouldn’t.  

Staring out ocean. I take a deep breath and pull her closer to me.  

“You deserve to have someone who will treat you the way you should be treated. Who will tell you that you’re beautiful every day. Someone who has waited their whole life for you.” I bite my lip.  

Should I say it?  

Page Break 

“I know I do.” She agrees.  

“Stella, I know you like the back of my hand. I’m never not thinking about you. When you’re ready, I’m waiting.” I confess.  

My heart beats like a jackhammer, wondering what she’s going to say next.  

“Scott, I.. .” She starts to say but nervous me cuts her off. 

“It doesn’t have to be now, it could be ten years from now. I’ll wait, no matter what I will wait.” I say, facing her and taking both her hands in mine. 

“What I’m trying to say Stella, is when you are ready; I will be here.” 

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