April 13th, 1991
Night flight from LAX – LHR
To say I’m sad to be going home is a serious understatement and there’s no way an hour of crew rest will allow me to write about everything that happened today. Once again, mum is cocooned in the First Class cabin, no doubt having her every whim attended to.
Another early morning walk before breakfast, after which I wanted to change before going to the pool. Mum was eager to soak up as many rays as possible so I told her I’d meet her there.
I sat on the bed, starting at the phone and next thing I knew, I was dialing David’s number! Being a Saturday, I knew nobody would be at his office, thereby granting me the luxury of listening to his voice on the recorded message.
After three rings, I heard, “This is David,” and felt my heart do that flutter thing, then the voice stopped and I realized it was him and not a recording!
“Day vid,” I stuttered, a wave of panic washing over me.
“Ehm, yes, hi, it’s me.”
“Wow! This is a surprise!”
You can say that again!
We talked for what felt like ages before he asked where I was.
“Are you serious?”
“Deadly,” I smiled.
“How long are you here?”
“About another five hours!”
“Can I take you to lunch?”
“Yes! That’d be lovely,” I blurted, surprising myself. “Oh but wait, ehm, my mum is with me!”
He laughed. “I miss your expressions. And I’d love to meet your mom. I can be there in an hour. Does that work?”
“Totally,” I drawled, feeling the smile spreading over my face.
I paced around the room for a while before making my way down to the pool, where, needless to say, mum was all ears. “Are you sure you want me to go with you?”
“Of course, you have to come!”
“And are you sure you want to see him?”
I nodded. “I think it’ll help me to put it to bed, so to speak.”
“Right then,” she said. “Let’s get the glad rags on and show him how it’s done!”
Watching the familiar sight of David’s car pulling in, I took a deep breath and readied myself for the wave of emotions I expected I’d feel. He stepped out of the car looking as gorgeous as ever (maybe even more so with slightly shorter hair) and made his way first to mum, whose gushy reaction was the perfect ice breaker.
“Hey you,” he smiled, reaching to kiss my cheek, that culminated in a hug. “You doing good?”
“Very,” I nodded, a sudden sense of relief that the initial meeting was over. We stepped back from each other, smiled, then went in for another solid hug.
“You look awesome,” he said.
“Thanks,” I chirped, as he held the door open for mum.
Being in the car with mum and David felt very natural and we laughed about the times David rang the house, only to be bombarded by questions from mum, before she’d finally tell him I was away on a trip!
“Is there anywhere special you’d like to go, Karen?” David said, catching my eye in the rearview mirror. “How about Malibu?” I suggested, if only for the longer car ride and the chance to glance furtively at his baby blues.
Not far from the PCH, we found a cool looking Mexican restaurant and sat outside. Once the starter plates were cleared, mum excused herself and headed for the loo. David reached his hand across the table and I rested my fingers in his palm.
“I’m glad you called. It’s so good to see you.”
“You too,” I smiled.
“Your mom is a blast. It’s so awesome to finally meet her.”
“She’s really enjoying herself. I can’t believe she’s fifty.”
“She makes fifty look good, huh?”
I nodded and he gently squeezed my fingers. “How are you doing, Karen?”
I choked back the lump in my throat and said, “I’m getting on with it.”
“Good, that’s good.”
“And you?” I asked.
“Better.” He paused. “Last year was tough. For you, as well. I really wanted to call, write, do something but I didn’t think it was…appropriate. I’m so sorry for the way everything…ended.”
“Me too,” I sighed. “But that’s all behind us now and we need to live in the present.”
“I always loved your attitude.” His use of the past tense stung so I quickly moved my fingers away and picked up my glass.
“Karen,” he said, slowly. “You need to know how special you were…are…to me. It’s important to me that you know that.”
“Likewise,” I uttered, unable to look at him.
“Are you happy?” he asked.
“Like I said, I’m getting there. And you? Are you happy, David?”
His gentle smile reminded me why I left my contact info in his jacket pocket on the flight to Delhi almost two years ago. But then his answer, “I am,” and the way he said it snapped me back to the present, making me feel cheated. “Does your happiness have a name?” It came out exactly as I felt and he hesitated before replying. “Do you really want to know?”
“Yes,” I stated.
“Michael. His name is Michael.”
I felt my stomach lurch as I mouthed, “Michael,” before saying it out loud. “Michael.” Saying the name brought everything into focus and when I looked at David, I thought of them together in the way he used to be with me and a shot of rage passed through me, swiftly followed by a deep sense that this was finally, “It.”
“Are you seeing anyone?” he said, catching me off guard.
I told him about my upcoming holiday to Antigua to see William, touching briefly on the long chats and letters we’ve recently shared.
“He sounds cool.”
“He’s a little… different. I can’t put my finger on it, but he’s a nice guy and I believe his intentions are good.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted mum coming back and either to lighten the mood or maybe for the purpose of acknowledgement, I blurted, “I just hope he isn’t gay!”
David’s expression was one of shock but when I started laughing, he did the same, so much so that when mum returned, we were still chuckling.
The remainder of lunch and the drive back was entirely pleasant and bittersweet all at the same time and with only forty minutes to spare before call time, mum said a quick goodbye, before heading into the hotel.
“I’m so happy you called,” David said, opening his arms wide. I tucked myself into him, closed my eyes and slowly breathed him in.
“Be happy,” he said, kissing the top of my head. “Be really, really happy.” His voice cracked and when I looked up, I wasn’t surprised to see his tears.
“You too,” I croaked, before pulling away, for what I knew would be the very last time.