View Full Version : To Love Another

06-08-2007, 02:52 AM
To Love Another
by kellycummings

His fingers ran over the small amber bottle as if he were caressing it. He felt along the white lid and the edge of the label. A corner of the label had started coming up and he teased it with his thumb, pulling it up even more. The lid had tiny smudges along it’s grooved edge, a testament to the countless times it had been opened and closed. He admired the brilliant simplicity of the childproof cap and wondered how the pharmacies of the world had come up with the color of the bottle. Was there a conference somewhere with the heads of pharmaceutical companies and *****tore chains gathered in a room, deciding what color a prescription bottle should be?

He had never looked, really looked at the bottles before now. The circular manufacturing mark centered in the bottom fascinated him. He pictured giant presses stamping out thousands of the bottles every minute, a different mold for every size but each one having the same circle at the bottom from the cutoff.

The light from the new day shone in the window behind him and he felt the warmth on his neck. He usually enjoyed mornings. They were a fresh start. Whatever happened the day before was wiped clean with the morning sun. It was different this time though.

He sat on the edge of his bed, his feet resting on the light blue carpet, his elbows on his knees as he contemplated the bottle. The invitation lay on the bed next to him, the white envelope standing out against the yellow comforter. He had read it countless times the night before and then again this morning. His fingers had felt each raised letter, tracing the words, not believing his eyes.

“How could this happen,” he mumbled to himself, “How did I let it go this long.”

She wasn’t supposed to be getting married. Not now. Not to someone else. That man was supposed to be temporary, someone to keep her busy until he was ready. He knew she had been seeing him for quite some time and it didn’t bother him too much. After all, he wasn’t her keeper, she was an adult who could make her own decisions.

Darren lifted one hand, ran it through his hair, and sighed. He felt the sweat on his forehead and wiped it off. Guess I can’t blame myself for sweating, he thought, it’s not everyday you sit down with a bottle of pills.

He was a tall man, almost 6’3”, but if anyone had seen him at that moment, they would have sworn he was less than six feet. The news had taken it’s toll on him and had made him almost literally shrivel up. He had showered already and his short blonde hair was still slightly damp. It hadn’t been combed yet and stood on end in several places, enhancing the image of a smaller, beaten down man.

The office Christmas party was always something to look forward to, the company being a generous bunch who believed in thanking their employees. It was always held in the executive suites of the building, the liquor was free and plentiful, and the food was always great.

Darren had been working for them for over ten years and was finally making a name for himself. His work was being noticed and the brown nosing was starting to pay off. He knew from the beginning that you had to not only be good at your job but also be good at kissing a little ass now and then.

The boardroom was being used as the buffet and Darren was in for the third time that night when he bumped into Sharon, the cute little brunette from the Chemical/Biological Division. He had seen her around for the last six months or so and thought her to be one of the better-looking women in the building. Darren had done some checking and found out that she had a PhD in chemistry, a masters in engineering and a masters in economics.

“Smart little woman,” he told his friend who had relayed the information to him.

“Better be careful about the little woman thing,” his friend had said, “She’s gonna end up running things before you know it and might not like being called ‘the little woman.’”

He looked at her across the large oval table that sat in the center of the room. She stood at about 5’5” with dark brown hair that fell straight down to the small of her back. Her eyes were a perfect blue, not too bright, not too dark. Just right.

She had a long neck that ran up from her shoulders and supported a not-quite-round face. Her lips were thin but pretty and her nose sat snuggly in the middle of her face, maybe being a little too long but that only made her look sexier. She had high cheekbones and small ears, which held the round John Lennon type glasses that seemed to accent her face in just the right way.

Darren couldn't help but look down at her body, the small breasts that showed just enough to let you know they were there, the narrow hips and small but round ass. She was a gorgeous woman, he thought to himself, and smart too.

He hurried around the table trying to look like he wasn’t in a hurry and worked his way next to her. She was talking to someone he didn’t recognize and he hung around, pretending to study the buffet, until she was alone.

“Hi,” he said to her, “I’m Darren Shank from Mergers. You’re sorta new here aren’t you?”

Sharon looked up at him, her eyes studying his, sizing him up. She was hit on a lot and had gotten good at figuring out if a man was out for something or just being friendly. She decided that Darren was being friendly.

“I’ve been here about half a year,” she said, “I know I’ve seen you around but I wasn’t sure what department you worked in.”

“The boring one. I hear you’re in Chem./Bio, the fun stuff.”

“It’s not all that fun, believe me. You know, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I saw your name on a memo a while back. Something to do with that pharmaceutical company we swallowed up.”

“Yeah, that was me. No big deal really.”

“Well, it seemed like a big deal to the boys on top. They were happy. My name’s Sharon by the way. Sharon Porter.”

They talked shop for a few minutes, switched to some semi-personal small talk and Darren felt like he might be getting somewhere.

The night went on; people got drunk and went home, the crowd slowly thinning out. Darren spent as much time as he could with Sharon but he wasn’t the only one who wanted her time and he spent a could part of the night just trying to stay close to her.

He was talking to one of the dickheads from his department, paying no attention to what was being said, keeping his eye on Sharon. He saw her going for her coat and quickly broke away, catching her before she got to the elevator.

“Hey there,” he said to her, “You leaving already?”

She slipped her coat on and looked up at him, her eyes instantly turning him to jelly. “Yes, it’s time for me to get home. I’ve stayed too late as it is.”

“Well, I was thinking, maybe we could go out for a drink or something.” Darren could tell he was being too timid and mentally kicked himself for it. Be confident, he told himself.

“That sounds like fun, Darren, but I really have to get home. A rain check maybe?”

“Ok,” he said, not being able to hide the disappointment in his voice, “I’m gonna hold you to it though.”

“Good, sometime soon then. I hope you have a good night.”

He watched as she got in the elevator. The doors closed between them and she was gone.

Darren fell back onto the bed, the memory of their first meeting so fresh in his mind, as if it were just last night. He sighed and picked up the envelope, pulling the invitation out. He held it above his face and read the words again. It could have been me, he thought to himself, I could have pushed harder, tried to get her out more.

He had met the other man once and the guy seemed to be ok. He was good looking, obviously did well for himself financially and was easy going. Darren couldn’t blame her for being attracted to him but it was supposed to be a fling, nothing more. She had told him that not so long ago. Why would she lie to him? Maybe she didn’t lie, he thought, maybe she really thought of it as a fling.

I could go to the wedding, the thought, and maybe break it up or something. No, this isn’t a movie. It would only embarrass me and infuriate her. The pills are the way to go. Why suffer through this? What good will it do?

He got to cash in his rain check a month later.

The snow had laid down a thick layer of fluff the night before but now the temperature was in the forties and the air was clear and crisp. They had decided on Italian for dinner and Darren knew of a place just a few blocks from work. It was perfect, high-backed booths, quiet, dim lighting.

Since the weather was cooperating, they agreed to walk there together after work. Darren had wanted to have a later dinner but Sharon insisted that she had too much to do at home that evening and had missed lunch anyway so an earlier meal was perfect for her.

He admired her as they walked down the street. She was wearing a knee-length black skirt with black hose, a low cut red blouse that showed just enough to make his heart beat faster and a red pair of short heals that clicked on the sidewalk with each step.

The meal was nice, not great, but nice and after a bottle of wine they were both loose enough to relax and talk about more than work.

Darren looked at her over his glass of merlot, “Have you ever been married?”

“Oh, no. I came close once but it didn’t work out. I’d love to be married someday if I can find the right guy but I’m not in a rush. What about you?”

He gave her his best sly grin and said, “Never married, never engaged, never really serious about anyone. That might change though.”

“Do you date often?”

“Not really. I’ll go out once in a while but I’m not big with the bar scene and work keeps me pretty busy. It’s hard to find someone.”

She smiled at him, “You found me. Aren’t you as ruthless in your pursuit of others?”

Ruthless? Was that good? Bad? Shit, he didn’t know what she meant by that. He decided to try to play it off.

“I guess you just bring it out in me. I’m usually quite shy.”

“Now, I can’t believe that. You hit on me pretty hard.”

He knew he should make some kind of move here. I can’t go too far, he thought, or I’ll scare her off. I gotta be smooth about this.

Darren reached out and put his hand on top of hers. “I couldn’t help myself. You’re so attractive and once I started talking to you I realized that you were so much more than a pretty face. I had to do something before you got away.”

She smiled back at him and put her other hand on top of his. “You are so sweet. You know, you’re a really nice man. Even when you’re hitting on me I get the feeling that you’re afraid that you will offend me.”

“It’s not so much that I’m afraid I’ll offend you, it’s more like I’m afraid you will say no.”

Sharon patted his hand, “Well, you shouldn’t worry so much. Just let things run their course. I’m a firm believer in letting things go and seeing what happens.”

They sat and talked for another hour before finally getting up to leave. Darren helped her on with her coat before slipping his own on and they walked out into the cold.

“Do you want to go get a drink or something?” he asked her.

“No, I really have to get home. I have so much to do yet tonight. I had a great time though, Darren. Thank you so much.”

He turned to face her and grabbed both of her hands. “Hey, it was a lot of fun. I hope we can do it again soon. Maybe this weekend?”

“Well see, I’ll have to check and see what I have going on,” and with that she reached up and kissed him quickly, turned and walked away.

The kiss lingered on his lips all the way home. He could feel her lips touching him. When he licked his lips, he could taste her lipstick. The feeling stuck with him, haunting him all that night.

Darren lay on the bed with his eyes closed, the bottle of pills held tightly in one fist, the invitation in the other. “Why didn’t I push it?” he asked the empty room. “Why didn’t I just keep pushing for another date? I let it go.”

She had said that the next weekend was too busy for her but that they could try for another time. He had simply lost the nerve to pursue it because he didn’t want to seem pushy or desperate. Darren kept hoping that she would come up to him and say something about it but she never did. So many times he contemplated going up to her office and asking her out again but every time he lost his nerve.

The office gossip spot wasn’t the water cooler, it was the side door of the building that led into an alley. That was where the smokers went since the city had banned smoking in public places. Even non-smokers went out if they wanted to catch up on the office bullshit.

Darren was standing huddled inside his parka. It hadn’t snowed in over a week but the temperature was down to the single digits and he silently cursed his nicotine addiction as he slowly froze to death.

The two women next to him were from Sharon’s department but he wasn’t thinking about that now. He just wanted to finish his smoke and go back inside before frostbite claimed some of his fingers. They had been chatting about the different people they worked with and Darren only caught bits and pieces of their conversation. His mind was on the last couple of drags he had left on his cigarette when he heard Sharon’s name.

“Haven’t you noticed Ms. Porter has been in a great mood lately? She’s been all smiles and nice comments,” the short blonde woman who was standing right behind Darren said.

Her friend was an attractive auburn-haired woman whom Darren didn’t know. His ears perked up at the mention of Sharon’s name.

“I think she must be getting laid or something,” auburn said.

“Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s it too. Yesterday she said something about some guy she’s been seeing. She said he was some kind of broker or something,” blonde responded.

“Is he hot?”

“No idea but she’s attractive and rich so I’m thinking he probably is too.”

Auburn said something he couldn’t hear and blonde replied, “He’s some guy in mergers. I heard they only went out once or twice and that was it. I overheard Ms. Porter tell somebody that she would have gone out with him again but she thought he lost interest in her.”

Darren’s head began to swim. He forgot about the cigarette and the cold. The idea of her seeing someone else was bad enough but to hear that he had so blatantly screwed up was worse. He began to get a sick feeling in his stomach, his guts tying themselves in knots.

He had lost track of the conversation behind him but didn’t care. He wanted to get out of there. He dropped his smoke, turned and pulled open the door, practically falling inside.

The warm air hit him but it didn’t make him feel any better. If anything, it made him feel worse. This couldn’t be. He had asked her out again but she said she was busy. She could have come back and said something later. Made a new date.

So could you, dickhead, he thought to himself. Why didn’t you go up and ask her again?

He couldn’t deal with this. He went up to his office and told his secretary that he was ill and was going home for the day.

Once he was at home, he fell on the couch and tried to relax. Why are you acting like this? He thought. You only went out with her once! Why are you overreacting like this?

“Because I’m in love,” he said aloud. He had never thought about it before. The idea of being in love with her had never really occurred to him. He thought that at best he was just infatuated or simply attracted to her. To be in love with someone you hardly know, that didn’t seem possible. Nevertheless, there it was, all the signs pointed to it.

Love. She loved someone else and he would never have her. Darren knew that it was his own fault. That he had let her slip away. Still, the thought of her married and growing old with another man made him physically ill.

How had it happened? He thought she was attractive and smart. That was it. There wasn’t supposed to be any love yet. This had never happened before. How could he have let it happen?

He had talked to her a few times after hearing about her other man and had met the man once at a bar that a lot of the office people visited after work. She had told him in casual conversation that he was a fling, someone to have fun with, nothing serious. He had believed that but looking back he knew that it was only because he had wanted to believe it. He wanted to think he hadn’t lost his chance.

There had never been love in his life before. Sure, his parents loved him and maybe even an ex girlfriend or two. But he had never loved, not romantic love. Not this.

He sat up on the bed and looked at the pills. You want to kill yourself over a woman you went out with once, he thought. So what if you love her. Big deal. She doesn’t love you and never will. You’re going to kill yourself over that?

He got up off the bed and walked into the bathroom. The mirror had cleared after the hot shower and he could see himself now. His hair had dried without being combed and was a mess. His eyes were red and dark circles hung under them.

I’m lonely, he thought. I’m so tired of being lonely. I had my chance and blew it. I don’t deserve another. Hell, I’m pathetic just for acting like this. I don’t deserve her or anyone else.

He stood and stared at himself, his haggard face looking back at him. Do you deserve to live? He thought. Do you think you should go back out there and find someone else? Do you want to risk feeling like this again, just on the off chance that you might find someone who loves you back?

“Yes,” he said to himself in the mirror, “Yes I do.”

06-08-2007, 03:10 AM
Thanks for that.