Strawberry Fields ForeverbyEvendur_Dundragon©
Evan waited as patiently as he could. Even though it had been ten years, he felt like he couldn't wait another ten seconds. Technically, it had only been five years. Evan had seen her at the five-year class reunion. Seen being the operative word considering she came over long enough to say hi and introduce her husband. A husband who glared at Evan as if he wanted to stomp a mud hole in him and walk it dry. Evan spent the rest of that night avoiding her and wondering what she had told her husband.
Her. Her being Phoebe. Phoebe being the one he was waiting for. The one he spent four years of his high school on again, off again dating. The one he spent four years trying to hide their dating activities. The one that everyone knew he had dated on again, off again for four years. (He never was good at keeping secrets.) The one that had taken him to ten years to realize she was the only one he had truly ever loved.
Evan had been married at one time in his life. It was a loveless marriage that didn't last very long. There wasn't a lot of fighting and arguing. In fact the day they signed the papers, his ex-wife embraced him. She let it be known that she still wanted to be friends. Evan has not seen nor heard from her since she walked out of the door of the lawyer's office.
That had been three years ago this coming fall. There had been a few woman come and go through Evan's life. There were a few "I love yous" exchanged. Looking back now, he realized those words came almost as an auto-response when you've been with someone long enough. Evan had begun to wonder if there was really anyone that he has said those words to and really meant it.
These thoughts were weighing on his mind on a day a few months ago while helping his parents move. Actually he was going through some of his stuff while his dad made fun of his mother about the time she fell out of the back of a moving pickup truck into a mud hole. Evan couldn't help but laugh as he went through boxes of stuff that had lay untouched since he left for college.
Most of the stuff was junk that Evan was just going to throw out. Of course there were a few things that he wanted to keep: old newspaper clippings from his days as a an Academic achiever or as a competitive runner, various awards, his class ring, and an old shoebox with the name "PHOEBE" written across the top in bold, black marker.
Evan had forgotten about the box. In fact, he had found it buried in the back of his closet under a ton of clothes, old games, and other various boxes. He couldn't remember if he had put the box in the back intentionally or it just got pushed back there by the accumulation of junk over the years. He couldn't remember the complete contents of the box either.
Evan went home and sat up late into the night sifting through the contents of the box. Inside he found notes, pictures, ticket stubs from movies, and even a few score sheets from the old bowling alley that was in the process of being torn down. He read through all the notes; some good and some bad. The good ones would be about the evening they had shared or about an upcoming date. The bad ones would have to do with the dislike of who the other one had been dating at the time. Some of those notes had gotten down right nasty but in the end it always seemed as if they always found away to patch up their friendship.
After reading those letters, Evan sat wondering about why he had reacted the way he had, especially when she was seeing someone he didn't approve of. (Come to think of it, he didn't approve of anyone she saw.) Oft times he and Phoebe had a pretty stormy friendship. When they were together (In secret of course) things were perfect. There was no fighting or arguing. The hair pulling and eye gauging only came about when the other was dating someone else.
As Evan sat deep in thought, he drifted to all the happy times while growing up. There was only one constant in all those memories: Phoebe was in every one of those memories. She was there cheering him on at all of his track and cross-country meets. She was there when he tried his hand at acting, even giving him an ovation at the top of her lungs when he missed nearly half of his lines and all his cues.
All of these thoughts began to give him a feeling he hadn't felt in a long time. It was a feeling of warmth that started in the center of his belly and slowly spread through out his whole body until it slowly engulfed him in a warm hug. It was a feeling he got when Phoebe and he shared a stolen kiss after school when they thought no one was looking or when they passed in the hall and exchanged smiles. It was a feeling that he didn't understand then but was slowly coming to a realization now. It was a feeling of being in love.
The next several days Evan spent analyzing his past relationship with Phoebe. He kept coming to the conclusion that he had indeed been in love with her. He then began to think of what might have happened if he had told her that he was in love with her. Would they have stayed together through college, gotten married, and had kids?
He then came to the conclusion that it was even silly to think like that. Phoebe was married last he had heard. It really didn't matter if she knew he had been in love with her then or if he was in love with her now.
Evan dismissed the notion of love but decided that if might be nice to catch up with his old friend. The ten-year class reunion was in the planning stages. He decided that this would be the perfect opportunity for him to get back in touch with Phoebe.
Evan did a fair amount of searching. He tried old friends, the telephone book, and finally the Internet. None of his friends had heard from her, the telephone book turned out to be like searching for a needle in a haystack and the Internet started looking hopeless until Evan ran across a site called classmates.com. Here you could register with your high school class letting everyone know what you'd been up to since graduation.
It turns out that Phoebe was listed. Evan excitedly hammered out a short email and proceeded to check his email at least twice an hour for the next five days. Evan began to get despondent. He considered sending her another email but he didn't want to seem like he was trying to do anything other than touch base with an old friend. He decided that he'd wait two more days before sending another email. If she wrote back and mentioned the two emails, he could always say he forgot about sending her the first email.
Luckily Evan didn't have to send that second email because on the sixth day, he got a reply from her. It was a short email letting him know how glad she was to hear from him and her phone number so they could talk.
It took a couple of days but Evan finally forced himself to dial the last number and talk to Phoebe. The initial conversation was good. Evan filled her in on his failed marriage and his career. Phoebe went on about her three wonderful kids and amazing husband. They have several conversations over the next couple of weeks. Not once did Evan mention that he possibly had been in love with her. He did mention that he wanted to get together for lunch. Phoebe readily agreed and they set a date for a few days after their last conversation. They were going to have lunch at a place they frequented growing up.
Here we find Evan patiently waiting for Phoebe to arrive. They had agreed on meeting at noon but for some reason he arrived forty-five minutes early. There is nothing wrong with being a little early. In fact, Evan made a good habit of being five to ten minutes early. Geez, forty-five minutes is stretching it. It's not like he'd never been here before. He and Phoebe had eaten tons of meals here.
Evan was beginning to deal with a case of the nerves. He couldn't understand why though. He was just going to meet an old friend for lunch. An old friend he hadn't seen in ten years. An old friend that he had been in love with all those years ago. "I am not in love with her." Evan said as he shook his head as if that simple act would completely get the notion out of his head. He gave an older couple a sheepish grin as the looked at him like he was a raving lunatic for talking to himself. "Maybe I should just go inside and wait." He muttered to himself when the couple was out of earshot.
Evan walked to the front door of the diner, pushing it open. The instant he stepped inside, the sounds, sights, and smell brought back a thousand memories of gatherings with friends, good dates, dates the didn't end so well, and tons of evenings with Phoebe. He could almost mentally envision the two of them as teenagers sitting in a corner booth after an Academic Bowl competition.
The memories brought a smile to Evan's face. Where did all the simplistic times go? Where was the life where you didn't have a care in the world and everything was black and white?
Evan's thoughts were interrupted when the cook said "Sit where you want. Lunch crowd ain't what it used to be." The cook, an older guy in his late fifties or early sixties took a moment to study Evan. "You look familiar but if you've come in here before it's been a long time." The cook wiped a towel across his forehead as he said this.
"Mr. Devlin, it's Evan. Wow I almost didn't recognize you. Someone told me that you didn't run this place anymore." He had a monster grin on his face as he said this. Evan really hadn't recognized the old cook when he had come in. He really hadn't expected to see him here. Evan had heard through the grapevine that the old cook had passed away a few years ago. Of course, Evan wasn't going to mention this to him.
"Evan, Evan…" The old cook scratched his head trying to remember who he was talking to. "I remember now. You used to come in here when you were younger. I think I used to see you in here with a little blonde; your sweet heart. That's been at least ten years or more. Whatever happened to the two of you? Did y'all get married?" The old cook finished the last part of his speech with a smile.
"No sir, we didn't get married. In fact, we lost touch after graduation. I am meeting her here in a few minutes to catch up." Evan said as he took a seat at the counter to chat with the cook while he waited on Phoebe. "In fact, she is married and has three kids of her own." Evan found it strange that the place was totally empty and their was no one else around except he and Mr. Devlin.
"It's a shame that the two of you didn't get married. There was a lot of love between the two of you. The whole staff could see it. The two of you might have been trying to hide it but I think everyone could see it." Mr. Devlin said as he patted his forehead with a towel. This struck Evan as odd considering the place was fairly cool. It even looked as if none of the cooking equipment had been turned on.
Evan had to let out a chuckle at that. "Were we that obvious?" The cook nodded his head as Evan continued "For some crazy reason we tried hiding it from everyone. I guess everyone knew." Evan shrugged. "I didn't even realize until recently that I actually loved her." Evan shook his head again. Why do I keep thinking that he thought? "What does it matter now? We are all grown up. She is married and has kids. It doesn't really matter in the big scheme of things."
"It's never to late to tell someone that you love them." The cook said as he glanced at the front door. Evan couldn't tell if he was expecting someone or was trying to will a customer to walk through the door. He and the old man were still the only ones in the diner. Evan found this very strange but before he could ask Mr. Devlin about it, the cook continued his thoughts.
"Tell someone every chance you get. It can brighten a day, unburden a heavy heart, or -" Before Mr. Devlin had a chance to finish, Evan cut him off.
"First of all, I don't know if I really love her or not. I just think that I loved her long ago. Second, and most important, she is married. It doesn't really matter if I love her or not. "
The cook cracked a smile and said "You loved her then and you love her now. Why else would you be here?" He looks at Evan as if he expected an answer but continued without waiting long enough to get one. "You don't get many second chances in life. When she comes through that door, tell her how you feel. Let her know you love her. You -" Evan cut him off again.
"What's the use? What is it going to change?" Now it was Evan's turn to get cut off.
"It can change everything. You can tell her you love her and when you walk out that door, you may be a different man with a different life."
As the cook finished speaking, he turned around and walked into the back of the diner without so much as a word.
"I tell her that I love her and my life is sure to change. I go home to find her and her three kids on my doorstep." Evan said to himself as he left the counter and decided to wait for Phoebe in a booth.
Normally if he were waiting on someone in a restaurant, he'd sit near the front so as to be easily found. Since the diner was a virtual ghost town it wouldn't be a problem if he decided to sit in a back booth. This would also allow him to get a good view of anyone that came in.
How hard is it going to be to get a glass of tea around here he thought as he slid in the very back booth in the farthest corner from the front door. Evan still hadn't seen the first customer or even a waitress since he arrived. He was about to walk back to the counter to see if he could find one or at least get a glass of tea when his cell phone rang.
Evan flipped it open and saw that it was Phoebe calling. His eyes practically lit up as he pressed the talk button.
"Hey Pheebs! I am a little early but I am here." Evan's smile faded to a frown. "Of course I understand. Any day is fine with me. Don't worry about it. I just hope little Bob starts to feel better. Talk to you later." Evan slammed his phone shut in disappointment. He wasn't mad. Her little boy was sick and she was doing the right thing by staying to take care of him.
He had to admit that he was really looking forward to seeing her. He wanted to see if she was still as beautiful as always. He wanted to see her smile. He wanted to see if her eyes lit up when she saw him for the first time. (Secretly, he hoped they did.)
Snap out of it silly boy. You are beginning to act like you are in love with her. He thought as he grabbed a menu and began to look through it. Evan closed it in disgust. Pheebs wasn't coming, he was hungry, and there still wasn't a sign of anyone in the diner.
Evan was ready to yell at the top of his lungs when the front door opened and what walked through caused him to forget any language he knew.
In the door walked Phoebe. It wasn't the Phoebe Evan had expected. It definitely wasn't the Phoebe that had just called to reschedule because of a sick child. This Phoebe didn't look like she had had one baby much less three.
This Phoebe looked like she had just walked out of the year 1992 right into the diner on present day. There were the round cheeks. The freckles and the full blue eyes that seemed to light up the room whenever she walked in. The blond hair was there also. The blond hair that Evan had so loved running his fingers through when they were alone.
Evan's brain was trying to register some thought, any thought. His eyes saw a younger Phoebe; a ghost Phoebe perhaps. She couldn't have been more than eighteen years old.
His brain was screaming "She isn't real. You are just seeing things." Evan sat there with a totally confused look on his face as Phoebe joined him at the booth. Evan knew she was real. He didn't know how though.
"You look like you just swallowed a bug. Are you okay?" Phoebe asked.
"No I am not okay. I am sitting here with the eighteen year old version of you." His brain was screaming but all Evan could do was nod his head.
"Glad you are okay. What did you need to tell me? I got your note asking me to meet you here. Nortie is waiting for me in the car and you know he doesn't like you at all. " Phoebe looked out the front door and thrust her hand as if she were telling someone to wait. Evan look out the front door and could see no one.
This was sending his brain into overdrive. First an eighteen-year-old Phoebe walks through the door. Then she starts talking about a note asking her to meet him here. Then Nortie, her boyfriend from either tenth or eleventh grade, was supposedly waiting in the empty parking lot. He and Evan didn't get along at all. Nortie was extremely jealous of Evan if he remembered correctly.
"Hello Evan? Anyone home? I told you I have Nortie waiting." Phoebe said. Evan couldn't think of anything to say. He knew that he needed to say something and do it quick.
"How old do I look?" Evan blurted out. He regretted saying it almost as soon as it left his mouth.
"Are you sure that you didn't swallow a bug?" Phoebe eyed him like he was a little crazy. "You look you always do, eighteen. That little mustache you try to grow might make you look older if you could grow it in completely."
Evan felt above his lip and felt nothing. He had shaved that morning; something he usually did every morning. Then he remembered having problems growing a complete mustache when he was younger. If he was seeing her as an eighteen-year-old, did that mean she was seeing him the same way?
"Damn it" Phoebe said as she looked out the front door at an otherwise empty parking lot. "Here comes Nortie." Evan looked at the door half expecting it to open letting Nortie in yet knowing that wasn't possible. "What do you need to tell me?" Phoebe's tone clearly showed she did not need to be the source of conflict between the two of them.
Evan's mind started to race. He was supposed to have something to say to this, whatever it was that looked like Phoebe had back in school. If he didn't tell her soon, her boyfriend would walk through the door and who knows what would happen. (If the high school version of Nortie walked through the door, Evan was sure he could take him.)
Then Evan thought about the conversation he and Mr. Devlin had earlier. When not tell her that he loved her? He did. That much he realized now. He did want to be with her. What could it hurt to this Phoebe how he felt? Maybe he was getting a second chance. Maybe he was just day dreaming. He didn't know anymore. All he knew was that he had to tell her something quick and he wanted to tell her this more than anything.
"I love you, Phoebe. I guess that I always have. We have dated in the past so I know the feelings are there. We don't get along as well when we are dating but I don't ever realize how much I enjoy being with you until I see you arm and arm with someone else or I see you kissing someone else good night. My arms know this. My lips know this. You and I know this. Now I want everyone to know this. No more secrets! I want the world to know I love you, Phoebe."
Evan could see the magic of his words light up in Phoebe's eyes. These words meant something to her even if she was only a ghost or a figment of Evan's imagination. The words meant something to Evan also because he knew this was the first time he had truly ever meant those words he just said.
"I need to go. Nortie is waiting for me." Phoebe said as she rose from the booth. Evan wasn't disappointed she was leaving though. She knew that he loved her. The look on her face as she leaned across the table to give him a kiss, not a full on kiss but one that Evan imagined Dan Fogelburg got from his old girlfriend in the end of Same Old Lang Syne. Then she turned and slowly walked out the door.
Did I just imagine that? Evan thought. It all seemed so real. In fact, he could still feel the warmth of her kiss. Evan didn't have time to ponder it any further.
"How did you get in here? We don't open until 2 p.m.," asked an older lady in a waitress uniform.