It takes time (first draft)

The first time I noticed you was months after we were introduced. Betty introduced us, but since I came out of a relationship, I wasn’t interested in taking a proper look at you. Betty was disappointed, she had this fantasy of hooking us up, and when I did not react to you at all, she felt discouraged.
I was in a haze back then. I had been with Mark for half of my life, and I had no idea how I was supposed to live without him or how it felt to love someone else. He was there, like the yellow watch I wore daily or the stain on the ceiling that we couldn’t reach to overpaint. Navigating without him felt alien to me. And Mark was a good man; he still is; as you know, and yet, we had not worked out as a couple. Figuring out what to do when you are single is hard; one of the hardest parts is the friends who are trying to fix you up with someone. I was the pitied friend who was sent on too many worthless dates. The most memorable one was when I saw you across the pub. Your handsomeness took my breath away. I knew that your face was familiar, but I had no idea where I had seen you before. And that’s why I didn’t approach you. My date was forgettable; I can’t remember if his name was James or Jason, and it doesn’t matter; he is irrelevant to our story. I immediately took a liking to the way you dressed and the way your hands moved when you spoke. And when you laughed, there was no way of not noticing you. It was a happy sound that came straight from your belly. I wanted that carefree attitude for myself too. I drank you in. All of you. The Adidas sneakers on your feet, the worn jeans, the shirt that was tugged in, the open collar; revealing the hint of a golden chain, everything. Especially the way your trousers hugged your frame and the stubble hiding your face. I tried to make out the colour of your eyes, but the pub was dimly lit, and you didn’t look in my direction. Later that night, I recalled Betty and I finally knew where I had seen you before.
Exactly one week later I saw you climbing into the car of another woman. Now I know that it was your sister, but at that particular time, I was trying to gather the courage to ask Betty for your number. I was angry to see you with someone else. Not because I was angry at you, but because I was mad at me. And jealous. I missed the intimacy of a hug and a butterfly kiss on my lips.
Around that time, I became aware that I needed to change my life, and so I moved cities, took on a new job and relished my freedom. There were no memories of an old love on every corner I rounded.
Everything was fresh and new and exciting until a bicycle ran me over while I was rightfully crossing the street. An ambulance was called, and I was driven to the nearest hospital. The EMTs were worried that I had a concussion along with a broken wrist. Some of it is a blur. I must have had x-rays taken, but I can’t remember when or how. Pumped with morphine, my gurney was pushed into a quiet room. A curtain was drawn all around me, and I had my privacy in public. My wrist was throbbing, but I was not in pain. I loved these drugs, and maybe I thought about using them recreationally; better not. The first person to push the curtain aside was the nurse who had accompanied me to my kingdom and who had set me up in my home for the night. She put a whole plethora of things on a small table and waited for me to initiate a conversation, but I couldn’t. I was shy, and I had nothing that I wanted to share with the metaphorical class. She left, and the next time my curtain was rattled, you appeared.
At first, you didn’t look at me; you scanned the papers on the clipboard, but then you looked up and straight into my eyes. I had moved cities to leave my broken heart behind, and yet there you were. You had moved too. But why? You were careful when you touched my hurt wrist and winced when I did. We didn’t speak. I was scared that the drugs were playing tricks on me, and I was only dreaming that you were tending to my injuries. You started with some chit chat about this and that. I let you do the speaking while you put my hand in a plaster. Your voice was comforting, a blanket that kept me warm.
Gently, you touched me. It was a simple brush of your skin against mine, but it set off a yearning in me that I had almost forgotten. I had missed these barely-there feather-light touches since my divorce. And you were only doing your job, and yet, I broke down in tears.
I went from chuckling to laughing hysterically and then, I sobbed. At first, you didn’t know what to do. You looked panicked, and the nurse assisting you was not helping either. You dismissed her, and dismayed, she left us alone. It was only us in a shelter made of cloth. And only one of us was keeping it together. You almost reach out to pull me in a hug, but then you remembered where we were, and you refused to be anything but professional. I rubbed my face with my good hand, giving a watery smile. I was fortunate to be a master at pretending to be well. I shook my head with a chuckle. I must have been quite a sight. You finished my plaster, and before you left, you retook my charts, scanning the information for the one you were searching. You tapped it with your finger twice before you looked up at me with a lopsided smile.
It was cheesy and probably drug-induced, but I fell in love with you right then. “I’ll make a house call to yours tonight. You shouldn’t be alone. See ya.” I closed my eyes, opened them, and you were gone. I felt sober now, unsure if you had been real or not. But I was weirdly calm.
I was discharged and went straight home. I put on a movie and fell asleep. When the doorbell woke me hours later, I was disorientated for a moment, padding to the door. I opened it to see you. You held up a brown paper bag. “Ice cream,” you said. I waved you in, stunned that you were there. You made yourself right at home, and you never left again. It was not the all-consuming lust we see in romantic movies; it was something much deeper that made our connection.
I believe that every person comes into our lives when we need them. And I needed you. I still do. I need you every day. Just to feel whole.
Betty was right to have tried setting us up, and she never tired to tell everyone that she had introduced us in our old lives. I give her this small victory, I allow it, but it was not the first time I saw you that I fell for you.

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