Friday, March 26, 2010


The next morning, I awoke without the slightest hint of a hangover.  For that, I was grateful.  I had never been much of a morning person in the first place, and I couldn't imagine how unpleasant my first day back to work might have been coupled with a hangover.  I was tempted to go straight to my laptop to see if Eric had replied to my message, but I convinced myself it could wait until after work.

I sat down at my cubicle with a steaming cup of coffee from the break room in hand.  I had arrived early, knowing my work inbox would be full of emails I'd need to sort through.  I skimmed through the messages until one caught my eye, sent from our Workforce Management team.

"Attention Everyone:
We are now looking for employees to switch from First Shift to Second Shift.  We have three Second Shift options available:  2:30pm - 11pm, 3pm - 11:30 pm or 3:30pm - midnight.  If interested, please submit a Shift Change Request form to Workforce Management and send a copy to your direct supervisor.  You will be notified via email if your request is approved.
Thank you,
Workforce Management"

With Kate's late-night habits already interfering with my sleep schedule, and my dislike for being up early, an evening shift sounded perfect.  I submitted the necessary forms and smiled to myself.  Michael had all but insisted I work a morning shift to maximize our time together, and now I was going to do something for myself for a change.  I could only hope that my request would be approved.

The rest of the work day went by quickly, and at 4:30 I headed home.  The walk was short and my mind was focused on Eric and whether or not he had written back to me.  I had played out his responses in my mind throughout the day, knowing full well I was behaving like a teenager, but having an innocent crush for the first time in years was exciting and new to me.  I went straight to my laptop when I walked into the empty apartment, and logged into my Facebook account. I practically squealed with excitement when I saw that Eric, indeed, had replied to my message.

"Emma -  I wasn't sure if you would contact me, you seem shy :)  Text me so I can get to know you better, it's easier than playing message tag on FB.  Hope to hear from you soon.  -Eric"

A goofy smile spread across my face as I grabbed my cell phone and programmed in his number.  I wasn't sure what I should say to him, so I finally decided on something to the point.  Life was too short to be coy and play games.

"Hey!  This is Emma, I just wanted you to have my number.  We should hang out sometime if you're free :)"

The old Emma would never have been so direct.  The old Emma worried too much about what other people thought and never did anything for herself.  The old Emma would have waited for the guy to make a suggestion first.

I had a feeling I was going to love the new Emma.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's just one drink...

"So, are you gonna call him?" Kate slurred, taking another sip from her drink, which, by the smell of it, was more vodka than orange juice.

Dale had already gone home and it was quickly approaching midnight.  I was returning to work the following morning at 8AM, and thus far Kate hadn't taken the hint that I was ready to go to sleep.

"Who, the waiter?  Nah, I don't think so.  Certainly not at this hour," I replied, hoping the matter would be settled, "and I do have to be up early so I think I'm gonna go to sleep soon."

"Ok, ok.  Just have one drink with me before bed.  Just one, I promise," she pleaded, already heading towards the kitchen.

I had always been a social drinker, really, only partaking during holidays or on special occassions.  I rarely had more than three drinks and had only been drunk a few times in my life.  Kate had been drinking with Dale since we'd gotten home from dinner, and I couldn't be sure if this was a daily habit for her or if she considered tonight to be an occassion.  Either way, if a drink with her would let me get to sleep sooner, I would have one.

"Well, ok.  Just one then I am going to sleep.  And don't make it strong, you know I don't drink much."

Kate squealed with delight, and I could hear her filling my glass with ice.  She returned to the living room, weaving slightly, and presented me with my drink.  The smell of it was overpowering and I could only imagine the taste would be worse.  I took a small sip and grimaced.  The drink in my hand was by far the strongest drink I'd ever tasted.  I didn't know how she could stand it.

As I slowly sipped my drink, I could feel my cheeks becoming flushed and began to relax more.  Maybe having a drink wasn't so bad, after all.  We talked and laughed, and before I knew it, my drink was empty, I had quite a buzz and the conversation had returned to Eric.

"Seriously, Emma.  He's hot, way hotter than Michael.  You should call him, or at least look him up on Facebook!" Kate was pointing excitedly at my laptop.

I couldn't be sure if it was the drink I'd had or her enthusiasm that convinced me, but I smiled and said, "Well, Facebook couldn't hurt.  Hand me my purse."

I quickly logged on, and typed in his contact information.  His profile page popped up before me, and there were those beautiful brown eyes of his staring back at me.

"Shoot...his profile is private.  And I'm not gonna send him a friend request like a creeper."

"Well, just send him a message then.  But I'm gonna go to bed now.  By the way, I put 4 shots in your drink!" Kate was laughing and wobbling towards her bedroom. 

"Four shots?  No wonder I feel so warm and fuzzy.  Oh well, I'm gonna send him a message anyway and then I'm going to bed," I mumbled, mostly to myself.

"Hey, Eric.  This is Emma, the girl from the restaurant?  Sorry if I was acting weird, life has been kind of weird lately.  But I figured I'd send you a message because you seem interesting.  You can write me back if you want.  Sorry, I'm rambling!  Goodnight!"

I frowned at what I'd written, and realized I sounded desperate and silly, but maybe he'd find that endearing.  I sent it anyway, turned off my laptop and hoped I wouldn't regret sending it in the morning.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I awoke to a bright flash of light and the sound of a door clicking shut.  A strange weight had settled on my chest, and for a moment I was sure it was the metaphorical "heaviness" I'd just gotten rid of.  I opened my eyes and was surprised to see two bright green eyes staring back at me. 

"Whiskers, you scared me!" I laughed, reaching up to pet her.  Kate had two cats, Whiskers and Roofus, and I had nearly forgotten about them with everything that had been going on.

I sat up, blinking, and looked around.  It took me a moment to realize the light had been Kate opening the front door to leave for work.  I was impressed with how quiet she must have been, as I hadn't heard a sound while she got ready.

I stretched and reached for my phone.  I was hesitant to turn it on and see if Michael had flooded my phone with messages, but I needed to call my job and let them know I would be returning the next morning.  We were entering the slow season and I'd been approved by our Workforce Management team for unpaid time off for the past few days to get my affairs in order.

When I hung up, I took a glance at the screen of my phone.  Of course, the "New Message!" icon was blinking cheerily.  With a sigh, I opened my inbox to discover 6 new text messages from Michael.  I didn't want to see what he had to say, so I simply check marked the boxes next to the messages and hit "Delete".

With that, I folded up my blanket and tucked it away in the front closet.  The day was dragging on slowly and I busied myself cleaning the apartment.  Kate was a bit messy and I knew she'd appreciate coming home to a clean house.  I discovered that the fridge and cabinets were nearly bare, and made a mental note to discuss groceries with Kate when she got home.

That night, Kate walked in with her friend Dale.  I had only met him briefly before, but I knew Kate was fond of him and we'd probably get along.  Dale suggested we go to a local Italian restaurant for dinner on him and I hungrily agreed, as long as he would let me and Kate take care of the tip.

We settled in to a booth and glanced over the menu while we waited for our server to come by and take our drink orders.

"My name is Eric, and I'll be taking care of you this evening.  Have you decided on drinks?" a voice asked.  I looked up and realized our waiter was gorgeous.  He was at least 6'3" with warm eyes, a sexy smile and a confident air about him.  He was also staring directly at me.

I stammered, "Uh, yes, just an iced tea for me.  I mean, please."  I blushed, feeling foolish.  Kate and Dale placed their orders as well, giggling the whole while at my expense.

"Emma has a cruuush!" Kate said in a sing-song voice as Eric walked away.  I blushed again, and playfully slapped at her hand.

I wouldn't call it a crush after seeing someone for all of a moment, but I certainly did think he was attractive.  I only wished the timing had been better.  I was barely single, and developing a new crush seemed inappropriate somehow.  I made it a point to avoid eye-contact with our handsome waiter for the rest of the meal, knowing I wouldn't be able to help but stare at him.

After we finished our meal, I headed to the bathroom to avoid Eric while Dale settled our check.  I met Kate and Dale in the parking lot, and Kate was giggling again and staring at me.

Kate held out her hand, and said, "Eric said to give this to you!"

I took the scrap of paper, and read it to myself.
"I'd like to get to know you.  If you don't feel comfortable calling me, send me a message sometime. -Eric"

His phone number and Facebook link were included.  I blushed for a third time, and crammed the paper into my wallet.  I hadn't yet decided if I would contact him, but I would hang on to his information, just in case...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Endless Possibilities

Kate and I lugged my clothing up to her apartment building, which, as luck would have it, was seperated from my job's office building by a small shopping center that housed a few businesses and a hair salon.  I would be able to walk to work every day while I saved up to buy a car of my own.

She unlocked the front door, and with a sweep of her hand announced, "Home sweet home!"

I'd be using the coat closet as my own and sleeping on her couch.  I immediately began digging through my bags of clothing, wanting to get settled in as quickly as possible.  She watched me curiously as I set about hanging up my shirts and pants.  I could tell by the look on her face that she thought I was just trying to keep busy.

"Emma, you're okay, aren't you?" Kate smiled gently, her eyes scanning my face for a sign of how I was feeling.

I took a deep breath and looked back at her.  I loved Kate, she was always there for me when I needed her and I tried to be there for her as well.  We'd been friends since high school, having met in class, and our first apartment had been one we'd shared right before Michael and I had started dating.

I smiled back at her and felt my uncertainty fade away completely.

"You know what?  I really am.  I mean, I'll probably always love Michael but I've realized I'm no longer in love with Michael.  All of our couple friends were getting married and I guess I thought that's what we needed to fix what we had.  But this feels...right.  I just want to get settled in so I can really feel like I'm moving on instead of just visiting."

Kate nodded and hugged me, saying how proud she was that I'd had the courage to leave my comfort zone and how much fun we'd have living together again.

Later that night, after I'd finished unpacking most of my things and Kate had gone to bed, I curled up in my blanket on the couch.  Luckily for me, Kate had splurged on a nice couch and I knew I'd have no trouble sleeping, although I wasn't quite tired yet.

Alone with my thoughts, staring at an unfamiliar ceiling, I smiled.  I'd been one half of MichaelAndEmma for so long, that being just Emma would take a little getting used to.  This would be a big change for me, and I couldn't wait to see what life had in store.  I let my mind wander aimlessly for a bit, envisioning the endless possibilities of where my life would lead now.  I finally felt myself entering that comfortable, hazy stage between being awake and falling asleep as I settled deeper into the couch.

The buzz of my cellphone on the coffee table startled me back to the waking world, and I grabbed it to take a peek at the message, knowing I'd lay awake wondering who it was from and what it said until I finally looked.

It was from Michael.  It contained only two short sentences.
"Can we talk?  I can come pick you up."

I sighed, and considered ignoring the message entirely.  I knew he would just keep texting me or possibly even calling if I didn't write back, so I simply replied, "No."

With that, I turned off my phone and fell into the most beautiful sleep I'd had in months.