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Valentine's Day

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For me and all my friends, Valentine’s Day usually brings images of chocolates and flowers and packages tied with red silk ribbons to mind. We usually went stag to clubs and restaurants and movie theatres, in a group, wearing our red-bottomed stilettos, bringing a cloud of Chanel 5 perfume wherever we go.
Then, I met Arthur. Well, actually, I met Derek first, but, I prefer not to think about him.
Arthur was everything my first boyfriend, Derek, wasn’t. Arthur was genuine and caring and trustworthy. He made me feel calm and collected. We talked for hours, and he was one of the smartest guys I had ever met, with an air of geeky cute about him, with black Ray-Ban glasses.
Arthur and I had a great first Valentine’s Day planned. Dinner at a five star restaurant, and roses and a movie in the city. That was before I had gotten a call-back from one of my auditions, and had to rush downtown to the old theatre.
That is why was I here, standing in the pelting rain, one of my Guess heels soaking in a puddle. My hair had expanded under my umbrella, and half had fallen out of my bun. My messy bun had really become messy.
I watched another taxi zoom by, and quickly stepped away from the curb as the wheels sprayed a thin layer of mist onto my bare legs. I rubbed them together, and shivered under my black felt coat. Inside my pocket, my phone buzzed.
“Hello?” I fished it out and pressed it to my ear.
“Hi, darling, how did the interview go?”
“Pretty good,” I cheer up at the sound of Arthur’s voice, “They just sat me in a room and a woman asked me a bunch of questions about myself.”
“I don’t even have to ask if they liked you, I know it,” He assured me, “Where are you now? Do you want me to pick you up?”
“Downtown still. I’ve been unable to get a taxi. I swear, it must be the busiest day of the year.”
“Weird, I figured that was Christmas Eve,” He laughed, “Should I drive down?”
“No. I’ll manage,” I shift the phone to my other ear, juggling my umbrella, and try to wave down a speeding yellow taxi.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to miss our reservations.”
“I’ll be there. Bye.”
“Love you.”
“Mwah,” I say, and press the red button to hang up.
I spend forty minutes in the rain, chilled and soaked to the bone. I kept checking my phone, as three-thirty changed to four, to four ten. A gust of wind blew my umbrella out of my hand, and I lunged for it. My long legs got tangled, clunky heels weighing me down, and I pitched forward.
Lovely. I checked the damage, but, luckily, no blood was shed, just mud and grit all over my palms, and my favorite heels were certainly ruined. Happy Valentine’s Day to me.
“Hey, miss, you okay?”
I looked up, and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw a yellow taxi cab idling by the curb.
“Not really. Can you take me?” I rub the mud and water off my knees and stand.
“I have another passenger in the back, but, I’ll take you. You look like something else.”
I nod, and he unlocks the door. I pick up my umbrella and my bag, and open the door.
“Well, look who the wind blew in.”
His voice was just as I remembered it: gritty, deep, and slightly lazy. I could hear the smile in his voice, and didn’t have to look up to see the way his eyes crinkled a little at the sides, and how his smile was slightly crooked.
Well, if it isn’t Derek Chambers, in the flesh.
“You know what? I can get the next one,” I snap, backing out.
“Hey, if you want to sit outside in the rain, be my guest. It’s nice and warm in here.”
Derek slides closer to the window, and gestures towards the seat beside him. I cautiously slip inside, and place my bag on my knees.
“Two-five-five-oh West Broadway, please,” I say to the driver.
“Sure thing,” He says, and peels off.
For a few moments, there is silence, as we both stare out the window, watching rain drops roll down the window.
“So, Val,” Derek says, “How have you been?”
He glances towards me and gives me a crooked grin.
My heart dropped all the way down to my damp Guess heels.

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