She stands in front of the solid, wooden door, hands frozen above the shiny, brass knob. Too scared to grab it and turn. What if it is locked? The humilation would be too much to bear. What if it is unlocked? Does she have the guts to step inside and embrace the future? Trust issues be damned! Perhaps she should knock and run? Then she's never have to know the answer to the decision. She laughs at the thought. It's icy outside and she's in her stilettos. She can feel that she's turning blue, fingers and toes going numb. Her long winter coat only covers her knees. An exhale gives body to her breathe, a hazy white, air-brushes the present and flashes her back to a fateful yesterday.
"Shelly, look over there!" Mimi points a freshly manicured finger at two soldiers lounging against the bar. They are obviously trolling, no doubt for for one-night stands. She knew they would ship out sooner then later, totally not worth the time! Or the chance to be on antibiotics for two weeks.
Shelly rolls her eyes. "Mimi, gross, I don't want a..." Her voice trails off as the the taller infantryman puffs a ring of smoke towards her and insolently winks. It couldn't be? Could it? Shoving her purse at Mimi, she leaves her startled friend at the table.
"Hey, Shel!" His voice in the same low timber that sent thrills down her spine years ago. Still does. Damn it! The heat between her legs makes her mad as hell. Her temper rises even higher watching his eyes knowingly roaming the swell of her cleavage and the length of her long legs, enhanced by her red heels.
"Brian," she coolly acknowledges. Then she positions herself into a solid stance, cocks her fist back and punches him in the jaw. His friend spits out his beer, guffawing so hard. Brian ruefully rubs his face. "Shel, you still have a mean hook."
Refusing to respond, she turns on point, walks back saucily swaying her hips. Snapping at Mimi, "Stick your tongue back in before a fly lands, girl!" Taking back her purse, acting like nothing happens, she finishes her Mai Tai in silence. Then her funny bone kicks in and she busts out laughing. Mimi giggles in relief. Bad move! Brian and his buddy saunter over. Brian knows that it's always safe to approach Shelly once the laughter comes out.
Mimi flirts with older soldier, Colin. Shel's blue eyes become glacier. But Brian's hazel eyes stare intently into hers. His voice deceptively mild, "Shelly, you never showed up."
Her mouth falls open in shock. "I did so, you f'in a-hole!"
"Girl, I waited at..." He voices falters as he feels Mimi and Colin's interest focus on his conversation with Shelly. "I waited for three hours for you with the minist..."
"Bullshit!" Shelly counters. Her fists curling again. Eyes glittering evil intentions. The stool scooting back abruptly, told of her desire to do more physical violence.
Brian grabs her and places her arms behind her, guides her out the door. He lets her go and she falls against him sobbing. "Brian, I waited at the St. Helen's Church on Mary Street. You never showed. I waited until midnight, like a fool."
Horrified, he stutters, "I was at the St. Mary's on Helen Drive." He pulls her in and kisses her passionatetly, murmuring how he still loves her and still wants to marry her. No other girls can compare to her.
She listens hopeful, wanting to believe.
Tires crunching down the road bring her back to the present. Yesterday's haze gone and yet, she still wants to believe. She firmly grasps the handle, turns and steps across the threshold. Yes, all will be right this time, on the inside.