Letting Him Go
Lorena tossed her long flowing dark hair over her shoulders and set her books on the wooden table. She knew she was in for a long afternoon at the library. For ever since their expensive high-end laptop had decided to turn on no more, she and her mother had become regulars at the local public library’s computer lab. Usually, they finished at nearly the same time. However, on this languid afternoon, Lorena had completed all of her computer work speedily. And feeling very grateful for having the foresight of bringing something with which to occupy her time, since checking messages on one’s cell phone gets to be rather monotonous once one actually has the time do so, Lorena pulled out her chair and looked forward to spending the remainder of the day reading.
After a short while, Lorena looked up from her books and took in the familiar sight of the other regulars at the computer lab busily filling out job applications online. The fact that the same crowd earnestly returned week after week was proof enough that those online job forms are a fruitless red herring. It was summertime, so both she and her mother were on a well-deserved break from their teaching jobs. But it did seem like a cruel twist of fate that these people were trying so very hard for so little reward. Sighing, Lorena glanced around further and then she noticed him – the enigma.
He was a well-dressed guy, by the looks of him a young professional in his early to mid-thirties, and he was staring at his computer screen rather intensely. Lorena had noticed him before. But, today, she found herself particularly intrigued by what his backstory could be. For by his grooming and demeanor, he definitely stood out from the other regulars at the public computers. Yet, she couldn’t figure out what compelled him to return to the lab periodically until an announcement came over the intercom.
“The young lawyers association is meeting in fifteen minutes with clients pro bono today in the meeting room. They are here to help with any questions and legal issues you may have.”
So that’s it! Lorena thought to herself. He must be a lawyer. But as the fifteen minutes passed by and he made no haste to attend the meeting, Lorena found herself puzzled by him once again. However, as the summer months came to an end, bringing with them no further clues with regards to the young man’s identity; Lorena and her mother returned to their respective teaching positions. Only coming to the public library computers on the weekend. That is until one Fall afternoon when Lorena felt she needed a break from the usual work-and-go-home-to-rest routine, and she made her way to the library.
Pulling into the library’s sizeable parking lot, Lorena parked her car and made her way up the familiar stairwell to the public library computers, blinking her eyes to make sure she hadn’t conjured up an image out of her own rather vivid imagination. For sitting right there at the computers was the guy, the enigma. And to make matters even more surreal, there was an empty computer right beside him. Lorena trembled out of excitement but tried to feign tranquility as much as she could while taking the seat right next to him. Offering only a mere “excuse me” as she placed her purse and other belongings on top of the counter.
Lorena logged in and responded to a few e-mails when much to her dismay, the enigma stood up and gathered his own belongings. Tears threatened to well up in her eyes. Dear Heavenly Father, she prayed. He’s leaving and he hasn’t even spoken a word to me. What do I do? Lorena felt incredulous that she’d actually prayed over something that trivial. But, she immediately felt grateful that she had. For as soon as she finished her silent prayer, the guy pounded his fist on the computer counter and turning to face her asked “Do you know any words that rhyme with success? I watch a weekly program about success and I’m looking for words that rhyme with success.”
He spoke so quickly and excitedly, that Lorena felt taken aback at first. But then she started trying to come up with some words, only to realize that it wasn’t easy. Words like “possess”, “dress”, and “coalesce” came to mind, but they had precious little to do with the topic at hand. Nonetheless, the guy persisted. And after a few minutes, he asked her what her name was. Glancing at his structured face, not bad, thought Lorena before offering him her name. While he, in turn, explained that his name was “Bobby”.
“That’s my cousin’s name!” exclaimed Lorena. Which, curiously enough, didn’t meet with much approval on his end. As he leaned forward in an authoritative manner and said “My name is Bobby and don’t you forget it!” before leaving. After all this time, she finally had a name for the enigma. Lorena’s fingers tingled with so much delight that she found it most difficult to respond to any e-mails the rest of the evening.
A couple of weeks passed by with no signs of Bobby. It figures, thought Lorena. For she had long ago established the notion that it was mother nature’s revenge for having been spurned by father time to ensure that good looking and interesting fellows vanish into another dimension as soon as one meets them. Leaving only the homely and down-and-out types to be seen again. So, climbing the library’s stairwell once more, Lorena focused on taking her place at one of the public computers at the end to type up a worksheet she had prepared. When, suddenly, her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a tender masculine voice saying “Hello!”
Lorena looked up from her work, rather startled. She had been so focused on her work that she had failed to notice him altogether. But, there was Bobby, sitting two computers down from her. Incredulous, Lorena smiled broadly as she exclaimed “Oh, hey!” in return. Realizing that the fact that she was able to pull her head down from the clouds to focus on her worksheet afterward, was a true testament to her level headed nature. For it was no easy task.
Upon completing her worksheet, Lorena got up to leave and Bobby began speaking to her. He had a very effusive smile and an effervescent nature that made it delightful to speak to him, even though, Lorena felt a sting in her chest when he asked her for her name with the comment that “I can’t remember”. Making light of his slight, Lorena gave him both her first name and her last name this time, while he, in turn, offered only his first name once again. “I remember it is just like my cousin’s name” she answered, noticing a faint glimmer of memory dawning upon his face. While this time he added the detail that he was in outdoor advertising.
Another week passed by with no sign of his presence. Even so, Lorena found herself going to the library to scan some attendance sheets that couldn’t be simply photographed and sent in. Bobby was actually there this time, but Lorena merely acknowledged his presence with a nod of her head as she made her way to the other computer lab where the scanner was. She regretted not having said anything more by way of explanation as she saw him nervously get up to leave, so pressed by work had she been. Yet, time marches forward with no chance for a redo, and Lorena felt a weight sink deep inside of the pit of her stomach.
“I’ve run him off from the library,” Lorena thought to herself, dejectedly. For several weeks went by with no hint of his ebullience in sight. And, finally, after searching for a couple of days and concluding he must have given her a pseudonym, she found him on Facebook as “Bobbie”. Fearing that her mental faculties must be waning for her to have tarried so long in figuring out an alternate spelling for his name, she decided to brave fate and send him a friend request. Which he accepted within a half-hour, much to Lorena’s glee.
A brief perusal of his Facebook page made it clear that they were political opposites, which was disconcerting. But that weekend, when Lorena and her mother went to the large bookstore in town that also featured a cafe, she was amazed at how briskly she tossed politics to the side upon seeing that he was there. Walking up to him, she realized with a touch of chagrin that her theory of running him off from the library may have been correct, as he had his laptop plugged into the socket next to him. But he greeted her very nicely and after a few pleasantries, Lorena introduced him to her mother who came up just then.
Setting their belongings down on the table in front of his, Lorena soon left to do the usual inspection of her favorite sections in the bookstore. And upon learning that the latest season of their favorite British period drama had just been released on DVD, Lorena rushed back to share the news with her mother, feeling stunned and at a loss for words upon returning and seeing that Bobbie and her mother were having quite a detailed conversation. With her mother quizzing him in her charming fashion, for she had a way of finding out everything one wanted to know about new acquaintances, and Bobbie being gracious enough to respond. Somehow, Lorena hadn’t anticipated that when she went to scour the shelves of the bookstore, but since all seemed to be well, she interrupted with the news about their favorite television drama.
“He’s not a handsome man” her mother stated with a tone of slight derision after he left to meet up with a friend.
“I think he’s just a friendly fellow” Lorena responded in an attempt to hide the fact that she had indeed developed a crush on him over the past few weeks.
“He’s not ugly” her mother elaborated. “But not handsome, either. He’s plain at best.” Lorena laughed in response. Her mother could be quite the looks critic when she chose to be and a remarkably accurate one. But, at this point, Lorena did not care. She just loved the fact that he talked to her and looked straight at her eyes, not her rather ample bosom while doing so.
With the passing of a few more weeks, Fall yielded to winter, and after singing at a Christmas concert at a local assisted living community, Lorena felt upbeat and the need to still be out and about rather than heading straight for home. Often referred to us as the local middle-class country club in town, she headed to the main bookstore and decided she would spend the evening writing in her diary about the Christmas concerts she had sung in this season. After purchasing some hot apple cider at the cafe counter, she headed to take her place at one of the tables, when much to her surprise there was Bobbie waving at her. Lorena couldn’t believe it. He complimented her on her sparkling snowflake pin that she had donned for the concert and then they talked about their Christmas vacation plans. He informed her that he was meeting up with a friend and then Lorena sat down to write in her diary at a table diagonally across from him, on the other side of the short wooden divider that separated the cafe area from the rest of the bookstore.
Enthralled by her writing, Lorena didn’t notice when his friend came in to the bookstore. But his animated voice as he spoke with his friend soon became difficult to block out of her mind. Consequently, when his friend stood up to retrieve a magazine, Lorena jerked back slightly in her seat. For she was a petite blonde. Not particularly striking in the face, but in the era of bottle blonde hair being an automatic passport to prettiness, this girl would make a young man’s heart flutter. Which she did as she returned to her seat and informed Bobbie that she would be only too glad to accompany him to the party that weekend. Making him sing out loud part of the song being played over the intercom system at that moment. And revealing to Lorena that his “friend” was probably more accurately described as a “girlfriend”.
Lorena kept writing. And after penning all she could about her Christmas concerts that season, she got up to leave. Expecting to wave goodbye to Bobbie, she looked over at his table only to find that he and his gal had left their belongings but were shopping around in the store. Somehow, she had finally been able to block their voices out of her mind so well that she hadn’t picked up on that detail while she had been writing. And taking in the sight of the empty chairs made her heart feel vacant.
Lorena then glanced at the long line of folks at the cash register and while she was very near-sighted, she could faintly make out the blurry outline of Bobbie standing in the middle of the line. Who, upon noticing her looking in his direction, merely shrugged his shoulders. Making Lorena feel a flood of tears hovering behind her eyes and threatening to burst forth – at first. For they were soon overpowered by an overriding sense of peace coming over her as Lorena realized that it was time to let him go. Past time, really and truthfully. So with a beatific smile on her face as she focused her mind on her upcoming vacation plans, Lorena exited the store via the cafe’s main entrance, and didn’t look back.