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It had been a long time since Joe had last seen Ariel. Possibly a year, possibly ten; he didn’t know. It was just long. He still hadn’t gotten over the traumatic lost of his girlfriend and someone had the audacity to knock on his door at 3:00 am at night! Forget that! Lying on the floor of his bedroom, he closed his eyes shut to drown his sorrows in slumber; perhaps he could find his happiness there.
“KNOCK, KNOCK!” went the door pounding from outside.
Squinting his eyes in frustration, Joe gets up aggressively and pounds his feet to the door.
“What?” he growled. “Oh, hey Jiro. What are you doing here so late at night?”
“Late at night??” Jiro scoffed. “It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon!”
“Come on, I have been waiting for you for a while,” Jiro smiled. “Let’s go.”
“Where?” Joe asked.
“Mike and I are going to take you to eat,” Jiro patted his buddy on the back. “We know you’re still living like a zombie so, c’mon! Let’s get some sunlight back in your body.”
As Joe grabbed his small, thin jacket, Jiro led him to the nearby cafe where there friend, Mike, had already been. Ever since Joe could remember, Mike was there for him, especially during this time. Mike was such a good friend that if he had to he would probably cut off his left leg just to help out a friend. That was why Joe idolized him a lot; for that and because Mike had the life they always wanted. Mike had a beautiful wife, Rainie, and a kid, Robbie. To say the least; Mike had everything that Joe lost. He didn’t exactly lose a wife, but something similar, and not exactly a kid like Robbie, but something similar. So Joe believed Mike was precious in a sense that Joe would do anything to protect him from ever losing what he had. One could say Joe lived vicariously through Mike.
“JOE!” Mike called from afar. “Come, come.”
As the three guys sat down, Mike and Jiro could already see Joe’s lifelessness emit from his gloomy eyes.
“Wow, can I borrow one of those tea bags from under your eyes,” Mike cracked at Joe. “I think my ice water is kinda bland.”
“Shut up,” Joe lifelessly said.
“I’m just messing with ya!” he laughed.
“Enough,” Jiro interrupted. “C’mon Joe. Loosen up. It’s seriously been a while since you had a decent meal.”
“I haven’t gotten the appetite,” he dully muttered.
“Good, more for us,” Mike snickered.
“Mike, shut up,” Jiro echoed. “Joe, I know it’s been a while since…well Ariel and all…but we all have faith. I know we had a funeral…but- but I still have faith that she’s somewhere just living the life she…”
Scoffing at his hideous reality, Joe turns to the window. Shifting his eyes around the edges of window, he tries to look at every direction his mind could take him. Suddenly something caught his eye. It was a small, slender young woman picking flowers at the nearby flower shop. For a moment, she caught his attention, but he quickly resumed with the conversation.
“Jiro, stop,” Joe squinted. “It’s been, what, 3 years?”
“Something like that,” Jiro answered.
“I’m over it,” Joe said seriously as he looked at Jiro, and faked a small smile. “I have already decided. I’m going back to school.”
“Really?” Mike asked in shock. “FOR WHAT??”
“I’m going to do what I always wanted to do. Before Ariel came into my life, I had a dream. Now she’s gone. I can finally pursuit it,” Joe softly said as he twiddles his fingers.
“Are you finally taking flying lessons?” Jiro asked. “Finally taking me up on my offer huh?”
“I started training a couple weeks ago,” Joe stiffly smiled. “In a couple more months, maybe I can even work with you guys and become an aviation pilot.”
“That’s excellent!” Jiro nodded. “You’re actually getting your act together! It’ll be like the three amigos!”
Occasionally, Joe would look back to the woman in the flower shop. She would tuck in the loose fringe from her side bangs to the back of her ear but to no prevail. She looked… a bit like Ariel. She moved like her too. The way she would gracefully smell the flowers with that bright smile plastered on her face. That smile…NO! It can’t be. Joe quickly shook his head clear and wiped a bead of sweat off his forehead. It can’t be.
“It’s about time I got a bit of change,” Joe sighed as he turned his attention back to the guys. “How are your parent’s, Jiro?”
“There fine,” he smiled. “It’s been getting tougher every year but we’re getting there.”
“God, c’mon, we’re dwelling too much on the past!” Mike rolled his eyes. “Let’s eat already!”
“How’s Rainie?” Joe randomly asked. “Are you guys still fighting?”
“Why are you asking me about her???” Mike whined. “I haven’t done anything wrong!”
“You still can’t find her an anniversary gift, huh?” Jiro scoffed. “Try not giving her something that YOU really want for a change?”
“I thought she really needed a power tool!” Mike defended. “She’s always yapping about how she can’t fix things. How am I supposed to know that she wanted ME to do it?”
“Because you she told you!” Jiro snickered to the side.
“Throw that in my face, why don’t you,” Mike shook his head.
Half drawn to their conversation and half drawn on the other woman, Joe couldn’t decide what his mind wanted to do. Every glance took his mind away to another place. This couldn’t possibly be her. But…then why did she remind him so much of her? He looked more closely this time. It was her…It most definitely was her!
“Ariel…” Joe suddenly thought to himself.
What to do? What to do? Getting more anxious by the minute, Joe let his mind wander as Jiro and Mike kept bickering. Nope, can’t do it…can he?? He must fight the temptation…he was going crazy. His heart kept pounding, “do it, do it!” but he didn’t want to take the chance. What if it were a stranger? That would be embarrassing. But what if it really was her? Why come back now? Why not search for him the way he was searching for her? Figuring out nothing, Joe let his body and his heart tell him what exactly to do and the next thing Jiro and Mike saw was Joe getting out of his seat.
“I can’t wait any longer!” Joe quickly spat as he ran out of the café.
That was the last thing he heard as the wind went past his ear and into the clear sky.
Running as hard he could, Joe could feel his heart pounding like before; he was getting light headed, that lump in his throat hardened, the spirit in his legs were alive and his body shook him down. It was her!
The people walking on the streets and the shop keepers turned their heads over to Joe to stop and stare. When he reached his way to the flower shop he grabbed the woman with the flowers and hugged her from behind, hard. A loud scream could be heard afterward but Joe couldn’t hear anything from his love-deafened ears. He just wanted to feel her warmth surround his heart once again; to be loved so deeply that he could feel weak in the knees just by holding onto her.
“Ariel!” he shouted to her. “I found you! I never stopped having faith! I never stopped loving you!”
“G-get away from me!” the woman screamed. “Stop! Stop! Get off of me!! HELP!!”
“I found you!” he continued to say.
The people around them didn’t know what to do. They were too scared to interfere but the woman was screaming her head off for him to stop.
“Get away from me!!!” the woman cried.
Tearing herself away from him, she screamed aloud and ran.
“Wait!” Joe called out. “Wait, where are you going?”
“Help!!” The woman continued crying. “Help!”
“NO!” Joe called out. “You said you wouldn’t leave me!”
He grabbed for her and gave her another tight squeeze; unwilling to ever let go.
“I won’t leave you again you hear me? I am so sorry I left you….” He said as he began to cry. “I am so sorry!”
“GET AWAY!!!” she screamed as tears streaked her face.
“JOE!” Jiro suddenly grabbed him. “It’s not who you think it is!”
“I love you, Ariel!!” Joe cried.
“AHH!!!” the woman continued to scream.
“C’mon, HELP pry him off!” Mike screamed to the scared citizens.
“I won’t let you go Ariel! I love you!” he said as the men tried to rip his arms away from her.
As Jiro and Mike finally grabbed Joe off the terrified girl, Joe turned to the woman only to see what he never wanted to see; his soul and sanity dissipating right before his eyes. Jiro grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him clear.
“It’s not Ariel!!” Jiro screamed in front of Joe’s face.
He looked closer at the girl and realized that his mind had been playing an awful trick on him. It really wasn’t her. She didn’t even look like Ariel, not one bit.
“Get him away, I don’t want to see him,” cried the woman, still traumatized.
As Jiro tried to explain to the woman what was happening and what Joe had been through these past couple years, Joe ran for it. It was horribly embarrassing and painful to mistaken a poor girl off the street as his lost girlfriend.
“JOE!” Mike and Jiro called out as he bolted out of their sight.
His heart had already been crushed. He had already tried to forget the past but…everything led him to her! He had been hurt to the point where he had become obsessive. Stopping at a nearby corner, where no one was, he settled himself on the floor and calmed his aching body.
“No more,” he said to himself. “I’m never going to be happy like this. Forget it; I don’t want to suffer anymore. It’s over. I can’t live like this.”
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