Continued from last week’s post, The One That Got Away Comes Back. Please read that one first. 🙂
In the weeks following Valentine’s Day, Rosa often wondered if turning Miguel down was the right decision. Whenever she would begin to forget about their strange encounter, her brain would spin into overdrive and remind her just how handsome he was and how good he smelled and how much she had missed the electrifying, breath-hitching feeling of his hand in hers.
After a few minutes of this, though, her pessimistic side would turn back on. It had been ten years. She knew nothing about the man, only about the boy he had once been. And who knew how much war had changed him? Inside his sparse apartment, they had cuddled on his cheap futon like old friends rather than ex-lovers. He had refused to answer any questions about his personal life–not about the war or anything he’d done since. Rosa wasn’t even sure what he was doing for work now that he was a civilian again.
He had kissed her by lunchtime, but even in the moment it had felt off somehow. Too desperate? She couldn’t name exactly what the problem was, just that she felt it even underneath their immense chemistry.
Miguel had wanted more almost immediately, too, and that was when Rosa pushed him away and said she had plans. She took a long bubble bath in the middle of the afternoon and tried to quantify what was off about him. Instead she mostly fantasized about what he looked like underneath his form-fitting sweater.
As she passed Starbucks on her way to work one morning in March, she thought about him once again. She’d been tolerating the tar-coffee at her office in an attempt to avoid any awkwardness, but today the line was short and she needed some caffeine that tasted good. Caramel macchiato in hand, she strode confidently to her desk.
She sat down, but something seemed off. Her mouse had been moved slightly to one side, and in its place was a chocolate chip cookie. Definitely store-bought, but it still looked tasty. Maybe she hadn’t needed the fancy coffee after all. “Who bought cookies?” she called out, grateful.
“What? Someone brought cookies?” Justin yelled from three cubicles over. “Where’d you find them?”
Fantastic. Apparently, cookies weren’t waiting on everyone’s desk. “It was just sitting here. Must be the cleaning crew didn’t throw it out. I brought a cookie for a snack yesterday and took it out in the afternoon but never ate it,” she lied.
“Day-old or not, I’ll take it!”
“I’ll just eat it myself, but thanks.” Though it was still early, she figured it must be a special occasion (Rosa firmly believed that any time you are randomly given cookies is a special occasion), so she ate it. Definitely not day-old. It must have just come out of an oven, and it tasted fantastic. There was nothing like a breakfast of caramel macchiato and cookie to make you feel like you can do anything–even eight hours of data entry.
The weird thing wasn’t the first cookie, or even the second or third. Within a week, though, what had been a welcome treat became eerie. No one saw who left them, although her co-workers insisted the fresh cookies weren’t there when they arrived.
“Must’ve been looking at my computer,” Emily said.
Alison said, “I never notice those kinds of things. Sorry, Rosa.”
“Well, maybe you should!” Rosa said. “It wouldn’t kill you to pay attention.”
With her co-workers being zero help whatsoever, Rosa changed her routine and began getting to work early, trying to catch the culprit herself, but he was always faster. (Rosa had already labeled the cookie-bringer a “he,” certain she had an in-office admirer.)
As the second week began, her suspicions that her co-workers knew and refused to tell her were basically confirmed. By Tuesday, Emily’s answer changed to a simple “no,” but one she couldn’t let out without some escaping giggles, too. Alison always answered her with, “Still no clue, Rosa,” but she stopped meeting her eyes. As if Alison could ever be absorbed in a spreadsheet.
By Thursday that week, Rosa gave up asking. Maybe it was just Danielle McGregor out to make her fatter. Rosa wasn’t even sure why she cared so much about who it was. They were just cookies. (Delicious cookies that melted in her mouth and tasted like heaven, but still just cookies.)
Like things tend to happen, Rosa got her answer right when she’d given up guessing. That Friday, next to the cookie there was a note written in careful handwriting and all caps.
It’s been ten years since I let you go and they are ten years I’ve constantly regretted. You always were my cookie, my love, and now you have ten cookies–one for each year I’ve missed you. I don’t know how I screwed Valentine’s Day up so thoroughly that you won’t even call me back, but please give me another chance. Mi querida, eres mi vida. No tengo un razon de vivir sin ti. I’ll be waiting for you. The details of when to meet me and where (and what to wear–the past ten years have taught me something [still sorry about our six-month anniversary date]) are in your email.
The note was sweet–like a concentrated version of the Miguel she remembered. And she definitely hadn’t forgotten the catastrophe of their six-month anniversary, when she’d shown up in jeans and a crop top for what was supposed to be dinner at Chicago’s fanciest restaurant. She looked across the room at Alison and Emily. They were grinning. Of course Miguel had sworn them to secrecy. It was just like him to be unnecessarily secretive and romantic.
She opened her personal email account in a browser, wondering what he had in mind. As the page loaded, she couldn’t help but wonder how Miguel had always beaten her to the office. And now that her last cookie was gone, she was sure she would be missing it the next week.
The holiday weekend through off my writing schedule, but I’m back with Rosa and Miguel! (and will continue their story with the next prompt)