Misty grabbed the ringing alarm clock and threw it straight across the room. That did nothing to stop its incessant ringing and so she pulled the thick blankets over her head pressing the pillowy softness into her ears. But she was awake, and she was mad.
"Fuck. Fuck this day, and fuck you John Browne."
Misty had gone to sleep angry, and had awoken just as mad. She had waited for his call from 11 o'clock last night to 2:00 am, and still he had not called. She had checked her cellphone; calling her mother late to make sure it was working. She had gone online several times to make sure she had internet connection. All of that, and still no message from John. No message on her cellphone. No email message on Facebook. No Whatsapp text. Nothing, nowhere, so fuck John she thought.
This had not been the first time she had felt this way. She had met John online in a chat room for computer analysts, of all things. It was uncanny how their two technical minds had quickly succumbed to romanticism. They were practical, but within the first three weeks of knowing each other they had privately thought, and then had finally admitted, they had fallen in love.
"In love my ass," she said out loud, looking into the mirror. "He's in love with his own fucking self."
Misty quickly got dressed for work. She was going to be late, and thinking about John in the shower wouldn't help her one bit. She decided to skip it; it was going to be a short day anyway as she only had to drop off some reports, and brief the young man who was taking over for the two weeks she was going to be gone.
She had needed a vacation, but with so much work still to do, she couldn't afford to go anywhere. Having time off to make a daytrip at whim would have to suffice, and if she played it smart, she could turn it into a vacation. Sort of.
Sitting on the horn during the morning rush hour did nothing to abate her anger. The drivers in the nearby vehicles turned to look at her, and she considered sticking her tongue out at them, though she felt more grown up by giving them all the middle finger and mouthing "fuck off."
Yes, she knew she was being obnoxious but she couldn't help it. Not today. She had so wanted to talk to John last night. Where was he? She had never been a possessive sort, and now she did not understand why, nor even how, she had become so attached to him. She had gone from disbelieving him totally, to completely trusting him. To this. What was this?
They would usually text back and forth, always at inconvenient hours. Misty lived in Florida relatively close to her retired parents, but John lived in England with his son, in a town she had never heard of. They had talked about one day meeting each other, and "seeing" how it worked out. She hadn't really known if to believe him as she had heard of the many lonely hearts that had been broken by online dating.
He had not been the first man she'd met online, though all those other men had been on dating sites like Badoo. On and offline dating didn't much suit her. None of the men had really turned out to be as they had presented themselves. She had gone out on a few dates; two guys in particular had been interesting beyond the first three dates, but then the relationships had gone sour. She was busy with work anyway, and had decided to give up on the dating for awhile. Then she met John. She had not been looking, and he said neither had he.
The four hours in the office had gone by quickly enough and she was already back on the road heading to her parents house. Her parents lived close to Lake Wallenpaupuck and so she looked forward to spending some time out in the sun close to the water. She would give herself two vacation days and then get back to work.
Pulling up to the carport, both her parents came out to greet her. She was their only child, and though they respected her as an adult they secretly worried about her as her fiery tempereminder d them more of their still willful little girl.
Misty fell into her mother's embrace who instinctively knew something was wrong, and when she pulled away, she watched after her as she barreled through the house examining the new souvenirs. Her parents never had a dull moment traveling on cruises, and collecting tropical souvenirs. Misty envied their love and their devotion and wished that she would find a partner like her dad. Secretly she knew she never would, she was not like her mother. She was not sweet.
Misty decided to push John from her mind for the rest of the day. It wasn't too difficult as she had fallen asleep almost immediately after lunch on the patio. When she woke up in the late afternoon, she saw that John had finally sent her a message. Her anger had calmed but as she looked at the message she thought she should just wait to read it depending on how she felt. She figured if he was calling her now, at 5pm, it was too late to even have a proper conversation. She hated when he only texted to say goodnight.
In the early evening Misty went down to the beach with her mother. They walked along the shore, dipping their feet into the silty sand. Her mother, who was a semi retired counselor, coaxed her into talking and Misty found she revealed deep feelings for "a man I met online." She hadn't mentioned John to her parents before, knowing in her heart that he would never exist in her real life. Misty pushed the sand away with her toes, and felt a hot tear sting the corner of her eye. She would never let it fall, but she felt as the emotion soften her inside.
Misty hadn't expected to reveal anything to her mother, but then she found she couldn't stop talking about John. She told her how he made her laugh, and how they acted silly as if they were really in each other's company. She told her about his son, and how he liked playing cricket and going fishing. She told him about where he lived, and about his friends. With sad eyes, she turned her face to the older woman, who had automatically reached out to squeeze both of her hands.
"You know Mom. I love him," she said in a matter of fact way, as the tears slipped down her face.
Misty hadn't expected to say that, and now she was afraid to hear what her mother would advise. It wasn't the way in their family to be anything less than practical, so it was a great shock when her mother told her to go to him.
Misty spun around with incredulity written on her face. "OMG. What did you just say? "
"I said you should consider going to him. If he makes you feel this way and if he makes you act this way, then you should go to him. And if he makes you, you Misty, tell your mother about him, then he must be more important than you realize. So I suggest you go to him. I am telling you as your mother, and as a woman who is still in love with the only man that deserves her"
"To England?" Misty interjected.
"Well unless you didn't tell me the whole truth, then yes to England."
"But what if he isn't real?"
"Then your heart will break, but you will know what it means to really have loved. It doesn't really matter who loves you, the greatest thing is to give and feel love."
"And if my heart breaks?"
"Real love mends broken hearts quickly."
"Thanks Mom, but you know what, if he loves me HE will come for me. I'm staying right here with you and Dad if you don't mind. And thanks for helping me make my decision, I'm done, I'm not going to contact him anymore. He has done this disappearing act before. Nah, I deserve something more."
"Than love?" her mother asked.
Misty walked away and picked up a rock that she skimmed across the water. Turning to her mother she said, "there are other fish in the sea."
Her mother smiled and said, "and one is just across the pond."
That she found herself in a foreign airport listening to a foreign English was her greatest surprise. She had read John's message, which as she expected only said, I'm sorry about last night. Talk to you soon." She hadn't answered as she had decided to erase John from her memory. For the next few days, she had not opened any of his messages, or answered any of his calls, erasing each voice mail message. Then there had been no messages for a few days, and she had gone wild.
Her mother had come to her again, begging her to consider going to England and finding out. When she was truly besides herself, Misty agreed to book a flight. She didn't know then what she would say to him if she called. She expected that he was probably annoyed with her by now, and she had held her pillow high above her head and said to the fictitious John, "if you care you will call again. You won't just let me slip through your fingers." But she had decided then to go and confront him.
Finding his house was easy. He had told her everything about his day, about his life and she had lived it through his words. The bakery where he bought his morning coffee; the cleaners down the street, where the owner's daughter had eyes for him. Everything was as he had described, but she was nervous that he might not have told her the whole story. What if he were married? A mass murderer? Someone else in the photographs? What if he had some ailment; a disease? What if he were a woman, though she had heard his voice many times? All these thoughts plagued her up until she got to front door of his house.
It was now or never, she thought as she rang the doorbell. He answered as if he had been standing there expecting her to walk up to the door, and then her heart flopped. She knew that all couldn't have been true. John, the man that she had fallen in love with, was not standing with arms opened wide ready to greet her, but rather he was sitting, confined to a wheelchair. His thin, atrophied legs, were clamped to a pair of bedroom slippers. She wanted to cry. Why was life so unfair? She had loved him she knew, but he had not been fully honest with her.
John had opened the door and stood staring at her for a second before he found his voice."Misty? What are you doing here?" he had questioned.
"I, I, just came." She hadn't known what to do. Should she go to him? Should she kiss him, maybe on the cheek?
Standing there outside the door she had felt nothing for him. It was true that he was the man in the photographs, though it was clear those photographs had to have been taken years prior. John was at least 20 years older, and now here he was paralysed and confined to a wheelchair.
John had already pushed his wheelchair aside, leading her inside.. She had been so excited and now she felt the weight of disappointment, cloaking her. She felt her heart crush against her sides. How could he have been so cruel to lie to her; yet she was confused as she had known that he loved her. In her mind she started to question if she could love an older, disabled man. It was clear that he was happy to see her, and had already taken her hand, holding it and squeezing it firmly. In his touch she felt warmth and acceptance, but it wasn't like what she had experienced during those endless nights of longing.
What could she say to him? She had been real. Her love had been real, and now she felt something completely different. Her eyes wandered around the room, everything was as he had explained, she felt she knew everything, except the man in front of her.
John was still squeezing her hand and said, "what a beautiful lady you are. But why did you come here now? Did you not get the messages?"
Misty waved him away, and with a thin laugh said, "I came on a whim. I'm glad I did though. It's so nice to meet you."
Nice to meet you, she rolled around in her head. What else could she say? "How is Christian?"
"Christian? Ah he is going to his mother's house after school. You probably won't get to meet him."
"Ah, I thought he lived with you?"
"Oh no no. Goodness. Me no. He lives with his father."
"What do you mean?"
John looked at her quizzically. "Christian is John's son. I'm his grandfather, Thomas."
" What," she said, "you're not......"
Thomas laughed. "Did you think I was John? Well you've just flattered an old man. John is my son."
"I am so embarrassed. I am so sorry. Oh gosh, I knew I should have called, But, wow. I was so convinced you were John. Goodness, you look exactly alike, and then you even mentioned the messages"
"Yes I'm afraid he didn't fall far from the tree. He does look quite like me, I've been told. But I think I should urge you to leave. You see, John left you several messages."
"I am sorry. I didn't mean to intrude. But please tell me, is John okay? I didn't get to read his messages. In all honesty I erased them."
"Yes. Yes he is well. Well you see, John came to stay with me at my house. He was very out of sorts as he thought he had lost you. That's what he said. He also said you're a hot tempered American woman, and you don't always understand."
"Oh my G-d. He said that?" Misty asked, feeling her cheeks flush.
"He said that and a whole lot more. That, I'll leave for him to tell you. But there's a problem. When he came asking for advice, I suggested he should go find you. So yesterday morning he finally decided. I can't understand why he hadn't thought of that. Anyway, I can tell you for a fact that John is right now sitting on a train headed towards the airport. He rang me a few minutes before you got here."
"Oh my G-d. No way. Are you sure? Oh my G-d!"
"Oh I'm very sure. He couldn't talk about anything else after I nudged him."
Thomas then suggested that she ring John right away so he could turn around, but Misty had a better idea. After mapping out the route on her cellphone, she decided to take a small commuter plane to the international airport. Time was of the essence.
They had always imagined when they first meet it would be in an airport, they never could decide who was going to meet whom, and on which continent. Here they were both going to meet each other in unexpected places. This could not be more perfect. They had both taken the chance and had gone searching for each other across the pond.
Copyright © 2014 Susan M. Wolfe GOING ACROSS THE POND. All rights reserved.