Love Across the Distance. Short Story.

Jack stared at the screen, pausing and rewinding when he needed. The sound of her voice was perfect, like angels singing. Her skin was pale and flawless, her make up applied with artful perfection. He listened to her every word with rapt attention. It did not matter that she was talking about which make up brands she recommended, he just wanted to listen to her. This video was one of his favourites, though it wasn’t the one he watched before he went to bed, that one would come later. This one was relaxing, listening to the soft cadence of her voice, the words behind them held no anger, no angst. He rewound the video again, it was approaching his favourite part, but he didn’t want it to play just yet, no, he wanted to wait just a little longer. Finally the moment came, his hand was ready on the mouse, “Ok, so that’s it for today, hope it helped someone! Love you-” He clicked pause and sighed, “I love you too.”

Jack had been watching Sarah for almost a year now, he had watched all of her videos at least once, and many of them again and again. Most of them were only ten minutes long, far too short for his liking, but he would make do. Through out that time he had learned so much about her, little bits and pieces that she let slip, the untrained ear would miss it, but not him. He understood the message. They were all secrets and code, a verbal map on how to find her, she knew he would figure it out eventually and she wanted him just as much as he wanted her. He knew why she needed to keep it a secret though, he was older than her, over twice her age and though it was accepted more and more these days people wouldn’t approve. She had a family friendly image to uphold and dating someone like him wouldn’t keep with that image. He held no anger over it though, he knew she would wait for him just as he had waited for her. He hadn’t realised how long he had truly waited until the first time he saw her, then it hit him, it was like she was the first woman he had ever truly seen. She had been so real, not like all those women out there with their faces plastered in make up and their fake personalities, only wanting selfish, arrogant, rich pricks. No, he knew her, he could see her soul, captured on video. She was pure and she was his, just as he was hers.

Jack watched his night time video twice, he needed to keep himself calm, tomorrow was a big day, an important day. It was the day he would finally meet her. All those tips, all those messages hidden in her videos would finally pay off. He had held off messaging her, he wanted it to be a surprise, for it to be like a movie, where their gaze would meet across the room and instantly they’d know. He knew that she expected him, but the meaning behind it wouldn’t change. She had told him that she enjoyed saving Sunday as a day for herself, and another time had mentioned a few places she liked to visited when she was having one of her relaxation days. It was simple really, he knew that she’d go to her favourite coffee shop, The Tea Rooms, because she hadn’t been in a while, she had told him that herself the day before yesterday. He saw it in that little smirk she had when she mentioned it, by the longing in her voice. It was time.

Jack woke nice and early, he had set an alarm but he was up before it, too nervous to stay in bed. It was going to be an exciting day. He showered and dressed, putting on a pair of jeans and a dress shirt. He needed to look good for her. A suit would be a bit too formal and it reminded Jack too much of work. He wanted their first meeting to be a bit lighter, a bit more casual. He shaved carefully and gelled his hair. Once he was done he added a spritz of cologne, not too much though, he remembered the time she told him that she didn’t like guys who reeked of the stuff, she preferred just a touch. He looked at himself in the mirror and smiled. Downstairs he made himself eat some toast to settle his stomach and followed it up with a cup of tea. He still had some time to kill before he would meet her. He couldn’t wait for the meeting, and their first kiss, he had dreamed about it a thousand times, her lips, soft and yielding, her tongue exploring his mouth, carful and nervous at first before gaining confidence. He took a deep breath, he hoped for a kiss but he didn’t expect one, after all she was a good girl and it was only their first meeting. It wasn’t even technically a date yet. Though he felt they both would be comfortable calling it that in a week or two. He grabbed his car keys and his wallet and left the house.

He parked in town and got out, it was a lovely day, the sun was shining down, even the universe itself was prepared for their meeting. He strolled around the place, the drive into town was three hours, so that had helped eat into a lot of the time he had to wait. Not that he minded of course, he would traverse the world for her. While he waited he went into a few shops, looking at things she had recommended to him. He bought a few items, shampoo that she had raved about, she loved the smell of it and how soft it made hair, perfect for running fingers through, and some soaps that she absolutely adored. He had already bought the soaps before, but he was running out. They helped ease the pain of the distance between them. He glanced at his watch and saw that it was almost time. She always had her coffee at 12.30 and now it was just past noon. He walked quickly to the coffee shop and joined the queue, anxiously scanning the small café. There was no sign of her yet, but he was early. He ordered a pot of tea for himself and sat down at one of the tables. He poured himself a cup of tea and sipped, it was quite nice, she had recommended it to him once. He pulled out a book, which, coincidently, was the one she was currently reading and prepared himself. He tried to read, but he was too distracted, every time the door opened he glanced up, hoping it would be her but it never was.

Five o clock came and went, the staff were starting to give him looks, the place was only open until half five. Sighing, he gathered his stuff and left. He wasn’t angry, just disappointed. She could have let him know she wasn’t coming, it would have been the polite thing to do. He knew something important must have happened to keep her away, but still. He got into his car and took a few slow, deep breaths. There was a reasonable explanation and getting angry wouldn’t help anything, he knew he did stupid things when he was angry and he didn’t want to do anything stupid. What if he did something and she never spoke to him again? No. There was nothing to be angry about, she’d tell him what had happened, he knew she would.

When he got home he turned on his computer and went to her page, clicking refresh every few minutes, but no new video appeared. She posted every single day without fail. What if something had happened to her? What if she was injured or in hospital? He typed out a message a hundred times, deleting and revising before finally deciding not to send it. He didn’t want to be smothering. She’d tell him when she was ready. He watched his usual videos then got into bed. It wasn’t a good nights sleep, he spent it tossing and turning, imagining terrible, awful stuff happening. He understood why she couldn’t contact him, she had to keep their relationship a secret, he knew that, but it didn’t make it any less upsetting.

He woke up early the next morning to check if there was a new video before work, but still there was nothing. He spent most of the day distracted, trying to check on his phone if there was anything new. Finally at just after two she uploaded a video. The rest of the day passed with agonising slowness, but just knowing she was ok helped a lot. When five stuck he was the first one out of the office and home within twenty minutes. He probably broke a few speeding laws on the way but he knew if he was pulled over the officer would understand.

He watched the video three times, he listened to her apology several more, rewinding and pausing. “Sorry for missing yesterday guys, I-” rewind.
“Sorry for missing yesterday-”

Rewind. He left out a sigh with every apology. He accepted it and he always would. He knew something had happened, something that would keep her away from him. She told him that her grandmother had suffered a stroke, but thankfully was expected to make a full recovery as it had been caught in time. He typed out a comment, short, quick and too the point and pressed send before he could second guess himself.

“Sorry to hear about your grandmother!! Glad she’s going to be OK!! Passed by that coffee shop you’re always talking about and popped in, it was fab!!!! XOXO”

It was risky, but she needed to know that he had followed her signs and more importantly, that she was forgiven. He knew it was subtle enough that it would blend in with the other comments, but she would know, she would know.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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