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Modern-Day Antigone Part 6
“Nat, is it Chris?” Wes noticed something was wrong.
“No, of course not. It’s just Khadijah.” Natalie felt guilty lying to Wes, but she didn’t need an argument with him right now; she had to decide if she was going to meet Chris.
Natalie thought about Chris’ message all day. She had sent no reply. Her heart of course implored her to see Chris, but her mind cautioned against it. The heart’s winning streak continued.
Wes decided it better to just shake off Natalie’s expression from in the car. “It was probably nothing,” he convinced himself. Wes gave himself the task of finding something to keep his mind off Chris. This was simple; Wes needed a new job since he quit the drug dealing business. He climbed back into his Jeep and drove through town trying to imagine himself working at the different restaurants and businesses. He didn’t make ample progress, but he did find a few possibilities. He could see himself working at the local coffee shop, the country club, or as a little league baseball coach. Wes noticed it was getting darker around five and knew he needed to stop by the park before the sun completely faded. He was an all-star track runner at Breckenridge and believed in the saying “Practice makes perfect.” He ran at least three miles a day, usually more. Wes rolled into the parking lot just ten minutes after five, he had enough time for a few miles. He retied his shoelaces, making them as tight as possible. The track he chose circled the entire park passing the playground, soccer field, and parking lot. Every time he completed the circle it equaled one mile.
After almost completing his second mile, he jerked to a stop at the parking lot. He saw Chris’ red convertible mustang and Natalie’s silver BMW parked there. His heart raced as he started sprinting around the circle to the playground. His thoughts were everywhere from anger to depression to hope to worry. As he neared the swings, his worst nightmare came true. He could clearly see Chris and Natalie sitting on the tire swing. The sight made him sick to his stomach and he wanted to run out and snatch his girl from his best friend. Finally, his mind took over and he knew that was a bad idea; Natalie wouldn’t understand or forgive him for that. Besides, curiosity never killed anyone besides the cat and Wes was filled with curiosity. He continued his run around the circle making sure he wasn’t in view of Chris or Natalie. He stopped again behind the big oak tree; he partly feared they would actually be able to hear his heart beating. He focused everything on their conversation; it was difficult to hear over all the children playing. He could make out most of their words:
“How have you been, Nat?” Chris asked her.
“Good.” Natalie wasn’t thrilled to be talking to Chris.
“Wes has been taking pretty good care of you I hear.”
“Yes, he’s great.”
Wes grinned from behind the tree and thought of Natalie smiling back.
“Look, Natalie,” Chris grabbed her hand and Wes winced. “I can’t express what I felt the night I left you. It was the worst feeling I have ever experienced: a mixture of guilt, depression, and sadness, nothing pleasant. I know this is not what you want to hear, but I still have feelings for you, very strong feelings. I love you, Natalie.”
Wes almost walked away at this point. He didn’t know what he was going to do if Natalie said she loved him too and he prayed it wasn’t about to happen.
Natalie tried to come up with a response but confusion clogged all trains of thought.
“Can I ask you something?” It was the best she could come up with.
“Well now, you didn’t really give me a choice there did ya, sunshine? Chris tried to add some comic relief to the tense situation.
Natalie gave a faint smile and asked, “Why Chris? Why did you have to leave without saying goodbye?”
“Natalie, I didn’t think I would be able to. I had to go on a business trip; I didn’t have a choice about that. I knew if I saw you and tried to let you go I couldn’t. But I thought maybe, somehow it would be easier to let you go if I didn’t see you, if I didn’t have that last memory; I was wrong. I’m sorry. Can’t we just start over? I don’t want to lose you forever, especially to Wes.”
Wes’ ears were pierced at the sound of this. He wasn’t expecting Chris to say something like that; his palms and forehead began to sweat.
“No Chris, we can’t. I trusted you and you hurt me; I gave you everything and you gave me a broken heart. I’m happy with Wes; he’s doing his job. He takes care of me just like he promised he would, Chris. I love him.”
Wes was awestruck. “I love you” was not something Wes and Natalie had ever told each other. He did love her, but he was never sure she felt the same way. He was elated to know she loved him back.
Chris had no response but to storm off to his car and speed away. Natalie was left with tears flowing down her cheek and Wes could hardly stand having to stay hidden from her. He waited until she drove off and then left.
Wes decided against calling Natalie that night, he text her instead.
“Hey beautiful. Sorry it’s so late, I’ve been out looking for a job all day. I’ll pick you up again tomorrow bright and early :) Goodnight.”