BellaOnline Literary Review
Bearded Iris by Lisa Shea


Missed Connection

Barnali Saha

It was just another one dollar twenty cent newspaper, rectangular when folded, ordinary and pale in its casualness, giving us a deluge of information about the society and the world we ought to be concerned about. The incident happened to me on one lazy Sunday morning; yes, it was another average day when I had missed the Sunday sermon. It was not that I had intended to be late, but such was the warmth of that lazy Sunday that I had opened my eyes at 10 am in the morning instead of 8 o’ clock, which was my usual civilized waking hour. After brushing my teeth and counting my usual twenty-nine brush strokes, I poured myself the morning coffee and unfolded my sunup greeting, i.e. the Sunday newspaper. And there it was, clear and completely legible, under the personal column in the Sunday supplement. Needless to say, I was stunned and started scratching my head. I stared at The Bloomsburg Street Journal with popping out eyes. I read it again and again, and every time the newspaper revealed the same thing; somebody was definitely looking for me. Me, Rebbecca Marquis, age thirty-six, 5 feet 3 inches tall, with brown eyes and auburn hair and a slightly elongated face with an equine significance (according to my mother). I decided to be shocked.

The way a human body chooses to react to shock solely depends on the person’s internal atmosphere, which includes her mental health, her sense of inner solidarity and most importantly, the postnatal principles that had been injected into her veins by her birth angels, i.e. her parents. As for me, I chose to swim in a pool of excitement for a while and when my exhilaration had abated, I chose to take one serious step to mend my life. Yes, you guessed it right; I decided to call the man, my blue-eyed beau. Now, I think I should enlighten you a bit about a series of incidents that had taken place exactly three weeks, if I count it right, before somebody had started looking for me. Let us knife out the possibility of coincidence here, that way one will get a complete view of the emotional picture of my mind. Three weeks before that ominous Sunday I was sitting at a disquieting cheesy smelling downtown diner. It was seven in the evening and I was guzzling a bottle of cheap beer, I forget what brand it was. The most mundane crowd of Wilson County surrounded me. A group of firemen was chewing fries, a couple of bovine-like women were drinking large sodas, some children were eating pizza rolls and amidst all of them, sitting in one corner chair was he. Yes, there he was— smart, resolute, with silky black hair and a couple of incisive blue eyes. He was drinking cappuccino; I could hear the sound of his small sips, the soft hissing sound shredded the mortal cacophony around me. As the soft music played on, my eyes dismissed all the other sources of attraction, and fixed their gaze on one object, one mortal with razor-sharp blue eyes. I stared at him oblivious of the fact that the hour hand of the clock had moved from seven to eight and that I had forgotten to order my dinner. A waiter, yes an unromantic creature, roused me from my trance and blurred my starry vision. I looked at the menu book and ordered a cheeseburger as fast as possible. Unfortunately, when I had finished my order, I saw him rise up, throw a couple of dollar bills on the table, push open the glass door and leave. I was shattered, well not literally, since at thirty-six you don’t expect to fall head over heels in love with a stranger. But contrary to the popular idea, I fell for him, my head did jump over my heels and before I could come to a considered deduction as to what was wrong with me, it occurred to me, like a flash of lightning, that I was in love. Yes, Rebbecca Marquis, the chiropractor who lived across the street was in love. Many people would laugh at you; some might call you wacky, if you had chosen to disclose the news that I confided in you. Well, you know how people are, they always got me wrong. My mother thought that I deliberately shooed my suitors out at high school by wearing braces, and my great aunt had labored under the misconception that I had lost my interest in the male species altogether when I didn’t present before her a significant other at the last Thanksgiving dinner at her home in Tampa. And then it finally happened to me at a place where I had least expected it to happen. I began spending my money buying Mills and Boons and burnt the midnight oil reading them. Those of you who are aware of the detrimental effects of first love should have warned me before I fixed Mr. George’s neck the very next morning after I had finished reading a complete Mills and Boons series. I did his neck all wrong and inadvertently gave him a neck sprain instead of easing the pain from his ligament damage.

So, there I was — lovelorn, disquieted and half loony. I couldn’t endure my situation and decided to take a solid step towards knowing him. But how could I do that? I didn’t know his name, his address, whether he was married or not and finally, if he had any interest in me whatsoever. You know logic isn’t meant for all of us, especially for me; it was a subject I had deliberately avoided all my life. Having no other option at hand, I began visiting that diner more than ever. I went there for lunch, for supper, for dinner and for snacks. Every time I was there, I scanned the restaurant with laser-sharp eyes, but there never was any sign of him. The pair of blue eyes that had taken away the peace of my mind had vanished, just like the way it had once materialized, magically, on one Sunday evening. Seven days and twenty burgers later, I decided to give up the quest. I was fagged out and emotionally drained. I wanted to get back to a normal, stale lifestyle of work, sleep and booze. I gave up hope.

It was on the Sunday of that week, after I had given up my hope, that I noticed the advertisement in the Bloomsburg Street Journal Sunday supplement. It read:

“Moonshine on a cloudy day
Do you remember me? O’Charley’s restaurant, June 8th. You, striking woman with green cardigan, pearl necklace, brown shoes. If you are the one, then I would love to talk to you sometime.
~ Walter Johnson

Of course, I was the one who had been to O’Charley’s on June 8th, the fateful Sunday evening when I saw my blue-eyed beau. You see why I was shocked? Did it ever happen to you that the person who you are looking for was also looking for you? He must have been crazy to give an advertisement in the local paper and that too for me; a woman who people think had lost all interest in men. I thanked the heavens for showering upon me the unmistakable rain of beauteous love. And I decided to get a grip on my life by calling him.

“Yes, I am the one you are looking for. I too have been looking for you, Walter. I remember your perceptive glance. Meet me at O’Charleys, next Saturday at 7:00 pm. I will be wearing the same dress. See you there, bye.” I put down the receiver after I had finished recording the voicemail and went to my closet to inspect the historic outfit I had worn that day. My cardigan wasn’t exactly green, it was more grayish in tone; never mind I thought to myself, it must have been the light that had caused the color to distort and look green. I examined my shoes, and yes, they were brown. Did I wear the pearl necklace that day? I questioned myself, I must have, I thought, ruling out any possibility of mistaken understanding.

A week later, on the designated Saturday evening, I brushed my teeth twice (each time counting my twenty-nine brush strokes), wore my celebrated outfit, posed before the mirror and applied makeup. And at 7:00 pm sharp, I was at O’Charleys to meet the blue-eyed man who had given me the taste of a forbidden emotion—true love. I sat at a bench sipping a glass of diet coke and waiting with bated breath for him to arrive. I finished the first glass of soda and ordered a second; I was apprehensive and I had already used the bathroom a couple of times, still there was no sign of him. I waited for an hour and then another. My calm face flushed, my facial bones hardened and I realized somebody must have played a prank on me. I finished my second coke, banged my clenched fist on the table and decided to leave. Just as I was about to pull open the glass door, I saw him in the parking lot. I strained my eyes and focused my vision. Yes, it was unmistakably him— tall, ice blue eyes. My heart began to pound in my chest, possibly trying to alert me that he had arrived, the wait was finally over. I donned my best smile and walked out to greet him. Then something very strange happened; a blonde woman in a sea green cardigan and brown shoes came out from his car. She went to him before I could and held his hand. He whispered something into her ear and she giggled like a child. As I stood stunned and shaken by the lovey-dovey vision, the two walked towards the door, pulled it open and went inside without paying me the slightest attention. I felt betrayed and angered; I rushed to my car and whizzed back home. My mind was nebulous with doubts, which I tried to ignore. My brain painfully continued debating with my senses as to how a logical person could be so wrong. How could I be so stupid to have been fooled by a mere baseless advertisement in the Sunday newspaper? I cried a long time that day; I disgorged all my stress, my doubts and apprehensions and slept at midnight.

The next morning, which was another Sunday, I found a new message on my answering machine. It was from Walter Johnson. He said in a crisp tone that he was sorry he couldn’t be at the restaurant the night before due to an impromptu business meeting and that he would be there today at 7:00 pm. I couldn’t believe my ears and thought it was another prank somebody was playing on me. I erased the voicemail and gave a loud shout that vibrated the collectibles in my bookshelf for a second. I tried to prevent myself from getting a stroke by reading Wodehouse. And at evening, I wore the most horrifying Halloween outfit I had and headed to O’Charleys to end the game once and for all. And there I met him; Walter Johnson, 6 feet 1 inch tall with light gray hair, black eyes and a quiet and confident smile. He was there, waiting for me, and as soon as he saw me, he recognized me. There was no confusion in his eyes, and no embarrassment whatsoever. He ignored my Halloween witch outfit and dismissed it as a joke. That night I had the most wonderful dinner I ever ate in my life and I was glad that I had decided to come. A year later we married and now I am Mrs. Walter Johnson, the neighborhood chiropractor.

You know, I believe life often tests your perseverance. For thirty-six years I had aimed for a blue-eyed dream that never was meant for me. Many times I had lost my perseverance and accepted the downfalls of my love life and endured the vile comments people made about me. A time came when I was about to surrender too and then the unthinkable happened—a missed connection changed my life. Now I don’t have to bother about my great aunt’s vexation that I did not have a significant other to bring to her Thanksgiving party, nor do I have to listen to my mother talking about my braces. Life did give me a boon, and yes it happened in a place where I had least expected it to happen. But it was good, maybe I didn’t get my blue-eyed beau but I do have my black-eyed groom to love me. I took my life as it came and now after all those years of loneliness, I am finally happy. My resume now reads: Rebbecca Marquis, Age: 40, Marital Status: Married.

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