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This is a short love story I wrote after watching the movie the Notebook. I tried to capture the tone in a different setting. I hope you enjoy it.
Zoya’s love story
“That’s how it was with us”, Paul said his blue eyes gazing intently upon her. “That’s how it was.”
They were seated on a bench in Central Park. Talking for the first time face to face. Not a date. Just two people who had loved each other for far too long to live in avoidance.
She nodded, a lump rising in her throat. Speaking was impossible after what he just said. He looked away for a second, then turned back. His eyes focused on her cheeks, now slightly red from the kiss of the sun and the warmth of his words.
They had met in a usual enough way, but their relationship had been atypical. He was working for The Record, a small newspaper in New Jersey where Zoya had applied for a reporting position and was quickly turned down. When she called to ask why she hadn’t got an interview, the new secretary had transferred the call to the editor’s office, where Paul just happened to pick up the phone.
She recalled every word of that phone call as if it was a poem memorized in grade school. His voice was the reason why. Very masculine, very sensitive. A combination she was not used to.
“Mr. States cannot speak to you right now. Extremely busy.”
“It’s just that I got a rejection letter. No explanation and I was so hoping for an interview”
Paul had paused, not knowing a thing about her scenario. “I tell you what ma’am, do we have an e-mail address on file for you?”
“Yes”, she replied.
“Ok, I’ll get back to you. I’ll ask the editor and get back to you.”
The e-mail, received later that night had been brief. “Lack of experience,” it said. Something she already knew. Studying and dealing with a baby and a toddler had not left much time for an internship. But the last line of his e-mail had been very kind. It said that he had some freelance work. A job he had landed and had no time for. Would she be interested?
He looked into her unusual piercing shade of greyish-green eyes. Eyes that reappeared in the children of the war he covered. More vivid then the picture she had sent him. Haunting and intense, they matched the energy of her resolve. He wondered if she realised how amazing she was.
“You look more beautiful then that picture you sent me,” he said.
She looked him over. He looked worse.
“You’ve lost weight. Afghanistan could not have been easy,” she stated in a concerned tone.
Yes, not an easy place. But I’m here now.” His voice was strained yet even keyed.
“I was so worried about you,” she blurted. “I couldn’t sleep at night,” she thought.
Still at that moment her mind wandered to her relatives. The ones who didn’t live in the United States. The ones who had to survive one war after another and suffered humiliation at every turn. He had wrote about them news stories. Brutally honest and well written they had become syndicated.
“I’m here now,” he repeated the significant words. Words and actions. The speed at which his followed each other had them congruent. From the day he had promised her first job until the phone call that had her waiting for him beside the Donald Trump skating rink.
She looked away. Their relationship had been most unusual. Scary in many ways. Simultaneously full of trust and doubt. How could it have been otherwise? She was third generation Afgani-American and married. He was American of Irish desent and as decent as a man could be. His kindness at the end of every exchange had her wishing for more of him. It wasn’t long before thier remarks went from being just professional to partly personal.
Perhaps if he hadn’t moved to Michigan so soon after their first letters, they might have met. In her heart she knew that it was safer that they didn’t. Paul had become all too important.
Even then he had suggested that he wanted to come see her. “Just coffee,” he would say. She had maintained her resolve, and said no.
It wasn’t possible. All to soon partly personal became somewhat intimate, disguised in the frame of jokes. In any other context they would have been classified as delirious.
She would pretend she was kidding when she asked him to marry her. He would tell her to bring her children and come.
“Just come,” he would say. “we’ll work things out.”
The word love was never mentioned. She hardly spoke of her husband. He hardly mentioned his girlfriend. It was just a writing relationship after all.
Until one day he told her, “She dumped me. Said I wasn’t that into the relationship.”
“I’m sorry,” she had replied feeling her heart ache. Knowing full well that she was the reason. Both ignored the silent metamorphoses of a friendship that had caused an inevitable fusion of their hearts.
Yet here they were years later. He had survived grave danger as he covered the war. Her position at the newspaper grew as she translated arabic and afghani news pieces. Her career was soon secured and her need of him as a mentor was no longer there. But still she would write him
He cut in on her thoughts. “I waited for you to write and tell me that you had reconsidered.”
“I wrote you,” she replied. “Sometimes five six times in a row, before you would answer.”
“I waited for you to write and tell me you had reconsidered,” he repeated.
She looked away.
“You didn’t say you got a divorce in any of your letters. That was what I was waiting for.”
Two weeks before he had left for Aghanistan, something inside him must have snapped. He asked her to marry him. He may not be coming back but he wanted them to spend some time together. The tone of his voice on the phone had scared and pleased her at the same time.
"How could she possibly do that?" She wondered. The crasy thing about it was that she had actually considered it. A quick divorce. A quick marriage. Then she would wake up. She was Afghani. Her kids would never speak to her again.
And now here he was sitting across from her, just two hours after he had called and told her he was in New York city. She had left work early and drove straight over. Years had passed.
His last e-mail before leaving for Afghanistan had been somewhat odd.
Go on, do what you have to do,” he had said. “Go go.”
To that note she did not respond, but soon after he left for Afghanistan she had regrets. Concurent was a void and a mindset that knew things could not be different. Yet still she would write him. She asked him once. Doubting herself she asked him.
“Was your love real?”
His response was convincing.
“Sure, I thought I loved you. But before I left for Afghanisitan, I ran into my summer love. I realised how much I loved her. I realised that it was just the anxiety of the war that made me say these things,” he said. “Just the anxiety.”
Reading those words had changed the texture of her heart from muscle to glass. Shattered glass. But still she would write him, and they would talk about the war. Letters were grave and serious. In war there is no humor. It did not matter if you were predator or prey. Observer or warrior.
Yet here he was recounting the story of thier love. She looked at him, then bent her head down not knowing what to do.
She felt her skin tingle as his hands reached towards her and cupped her chin. She could feel the electron clouds as they elevated from a very warm face. It wasn’t something she could control, as her body followed her soul and her lips parted as she leaned towards him in want. An endless kiss ensued that passers by paused to watch.
She recalled a quote from a movie she had recenly watched.
To love someone is not a choice. It just is.
She pulled back and so did he. He stood up as his fingers slipped from her face.
She recalled what her father had told her when she fell in love in College.
Falling in love is part of life. It’s how you handle it that's important.
“Be well,” he said.
“You too,” she replied. “You too," she whispered.