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Dean awoke with a small grin, but became instantly frustrated when he realized what had just happened; he was only dreaming. Dean couldn’t remember the last time she crept into his unconscious mind, but he hated every time she did.
?“Excuse me, miss?” Dean asked the passing flight attendant, she looked at him with a smile that asked how I can help you. And in that moment, he analyzed her.
?She wore her thick blonde hair back, but let her bangs hang to her eyebrows. Her eyes were a jaded blue, filled with disinterest, and judging by the bags under them, he could see that she was exhausted. Probably too many flights in one week. From her smile, Dean could tell that she must have a habit of grinding her teeth at night. A sign of stress. This middle aged woman was once beautiful, but because of her career choice she is now run down and obviously unhappy.
?Since Dean met her he hasn’t been able to look at any woman without analyzing or judging them. He sees a woman and instantly deciphers the differences between the woman he’s looking at and the woman he fell in love with. For that reason, Dean has not been able to move on.
?“Yes, could I please have some water?” Dean politely asked. She nodded and walked away, slightly dragging her feet.
Dean glanced at his watch. One more hour until he was back in America. This time, it was for good. He took out his passport to look at all the places he’s traveled for the past eight years. He used to think of the world in two ways. In terms of all of the countries and cities he had already experienced and all of the new journeys he would explore. That way of thinking, however, was years behind him. He still thought of the world in two ways, except now he thinks of it in terms of all the land he’s walked, caves he’s explored, and people he’s seen before her and all the less inspiring, countries and experiences he had after her.
?Dean can’t stand thinking about this woman and he tries so hard not to but at this point, he can’t stop the memories and images of her continually repeating in his head.
?It had been years since he last heard from her, three to be exact. He can still remember the distinct smell of the Pacific Ocean in the air as they said goodbye in Ica.
?“Voy a escribir a usted!” she had said to him. I’ll write to you. Those were the last words he heard her say.
?“She’ll write to me.” Dean mumbled sarcastically. He remembers showing her his passport and explaining every journey he took, what every stamp represented and all the amazing places he would soon travel.
?As soon as Dean left the airport in Arizona, he drove straight to the post office to check on any mail he had received. The address of the building was the address he gave to the woman in the first letter he wrote to her. He explained to her about his post office box and promised to check it every chance he could. And he did.
?Rebecca was focused on the words inside her book until she heard the soft ding that indicated a customer had just arrived. She looked up and was pleasantly surprised.
?“Ahh Dean,” she smiled, “long time, huh?” The last time she saw Dean was roughly two years ago, but she could never forget him. She has worked in the same building for 13 years. Rebecca started working at the post office when she was 22 years old as a way to make money for college. She was studying to become a biologist. When Rebecca was 24, her mother had died and she dropped out of college because she was overwhelmed. Working in a post office had never been Rebecca’s dream, but because of everything that had happened, it had become her reality.
Rebecca thought of Dean as her savior. She first met him a couple months after her mother’s death. She had been crying with her head down on the counter and he came in, stood by her and simply rested his hand on hers without saying a word. He never asked her what had happened and for that, she thanked him.
It didn’t take long for them to become good friends. He told her he traveled a lot and that he would be seeing her from time to time checking his post office box. Rebecca always looked forward to those days. He used to come in for hours describing all the beautiful countries he’d seen and all the wonderful people he’d met.
?“Yea yea, I missed you too Becca.” Dean gave her a warm smile. “Got anything for me?”
?“Well, it’s only been two years, but I guess I’ll check anyways.” Rebecca playfully joked as she walked to his box. She pulled out a stack of mail, mostly junk, and placed it on the counter in front of Dean. She watched as he slowly went through it.
?Dean hesitated. “Anything from…?”
?He didn’t have to finish, Rebecca knew who Dean was referring to. She remembers that story clearly.
?Dean had come into the office one day just beaming. He had passion in his eyes and satisfaction in his smile. Rebecca knew that a great story was about to be admitted and she couldn’t wait to hear it. His first words were; “Rebecca, I’m in love.” And she couldn’t help but smile. He then explained to her about the woman he had met in Peru and how beautiful she was. Dean told Rebecca that he wrote to her with the return address of his post box office and to expect her letter at any time. She reassured him that she’d be watching for it.
?Dean had stayed in America for six months, putting his travels on hold to wait for her response. He would come in every other day and ask if the letter had arrived and every other day, Rebecca would have to say no. She could see that as the days and weeks and months stretched on, his heart was breaking.
?After the sixth month, Dean came into the office with a hardened face expression and told Rebecca that he was leaving to Africa for a couple weeks and carry on with his travels. He gave her his international cell phone number and told her to call him if she ever got the woman’s letter. Rebecca never called.
?“Dean…,” Rebecca’s heart was breaking for him. After all these years, he still has this false hope. She thought she was past this by now and at that moment, Rebecca hated the woman that Dean cared so much about. Rebecca could not stand this woman who had hurt Dean and treated him with such disrespect and dishonesty. Dean deserved better than this hurtful woman and yet, he still yearned for her.
?“I know, I know….nothing.”
?“I’m sorry Dean. Maybe,” she hesitated, “maybe it’s time to move on.” She saw Dean’s fists clench. He swore under his breath.
?“You’re probably right.” Dean mumbled looking at the floor. He took his mail and walked out of the door causing the soft ding to echo throughout the lonely building.
?As Dean drove home, he thought about the letter he had sent three years ago. He still remembers every heartfelt word he wrote to her.
?Of all the gorgeous city lights I’ve gazed upon, your eyes are the brightest. Of all delicate and wonderful treats I’ve tasted, your lips are the sweetest. Of all the breathtaking landscapes I’ve witnessed, you face holds the most beauty.
?He remembers licking the envelope shut, feeling confident that his skilful words would melt her heart and she’d be quick to reply. After three long years, however, his confidence has dramatically decreased.
?Dean pulled into his drive way, shut the car off, and stayed sitting in his seat. He started thinking about her and Rebecca’s words. Maybe you should move on. This woman had caused Dean a handful of pain in the past years and he still couldn’t get over it. He was so sure that what they had together was love, that she felt the same way he did, and that they would eventually meet again and start a life together. Now, however, he feels that he was mistaken and a fool to think that such a lovely woman would stay in contact with him when he left.
?Dean was so hurt from her rejection that he had never been able to move on with his life. Every time he would even think about moving forward, she would crawl back into his head again, making that task impossible.
?Dean was suddenly filled with rage. He pounded on his steering wheel.
?“Why am I letting her hold me back?” He almost shouted to himself. Maybe you should move on repeated over in his mind again. Then Dean knew what he had to do.
?Dean walked into his front door determined. He went straight for a box that he hadn’t touched in years hidden under some books in his bookshelf. He then carried the box over to the trash and opened the lid.
?He prepared himself for the images the photos portrayed. And with each picture of her that he ripped and threw away, he felt a sharp sting in his chest. It was painful but he knew that this was the only way to start moving on with his life. He had to get rid of every piece of evidence that suggested that she even existed.
?He went to grab the last photo in the box but when he picked it up, he felt that it was a different material then any photograph that he’s ever touched. He flipped it over and stopped cold.
?Written in his handwriting on the brown envelope that he now holds in his hand, was the name of the woman he could only dream about:
?He gasped and dropped the empty box.
?“I never mailed the letter.”