She awoke on the couch the sun streaming through the window. A sense of peace washed over her. A feeling of a new day, a fresh start settled in her inner self. She set her feet on the wicker rug and rubbed her toes back and forth, allowing the straw to tickle the bottom of her feet. She looked out the bay window at the sparkling water moving with the current under the early afternoon sun. She spotted far off in the distance a seal riding the blue waves. The sun beckoned her into the warm air. Pushing herself off the couch and out onto the sandy patio, she felt for the first time, lighter and freer. She stretched her arms up to the sky like a child thanking the heavens for this beautiful day. Her eyes closed, feeling the sunshine penetrated her mind and lighting up her insides. Adina came and laid down on the porch next to her feeling the sunshine on her own long hair.
Her phone rang from inside the house, snapping Zehira from her thoughts.
“Hello?” Her voice sounded sounded…happy, even to her.
“Uh, hi. Zehira?” A familiar male voice came over the phone. Her heart stopped at the sound of Ray’s voice.
“Ray?” Her voice shook, hoping from the bottom of her heart that it wasn’t her ex-boyfriend.
“Yeah! Hey, how’s it going?” His chipper voice came through the line.
“Ray, what do you want?” She regained her composure and confidence.
“I wanted to see if we could meet up. I have some good news. Well more like great news.”
“What about your girlfriend? Wouldn’t she want to hear the great news.” She retorted sharply.
“I broke up with her. I realized that you were the one I wanted and I was too scared to admit to myself so I didn’t treat you with the respect you deserved. Will you please meet me? Just coffee. I know you can’t say ‘no’ to coffee.”
Zehira agreed. She didn’t know why, or maybe she did but she didn’t want to admit it to herself. Her mother’s words echoed through her brain once she hung up the phone. Never make a decision based on fear. Her mother was a big part of her life growing up. She was her best friend and when she died, it completely tore her apart. The Marines were the only thing that saved her, knowing that maybe one day she could prevent someone else’s best friend to be taken away from them. She thought back to the days leading up to that fateful day.
She was a senior in high school, a very average student. She never cared much for school since she spent most of her time like any other high school girl, hanging out with her friends, shopping at the mall and her personal favorite, surfing. Just a week before she received the worst news of her life, she had broken up with her boyfriend, a quarterback on the football team. Her friends never understood why she called it off. She told everyone that she was simply too busy with homework to continue a relationship, but the real reason that she didn’t tell anyone was that he pressured her for sex. She had told him in the very beginning that she wasn’t going to sleep with him. However, like many guys that age, he just figured that he would convince her otherwise; he couldn’t.
She thought back to when he found out about her parent’s death, he came up to her at school. She thought he was going to offer condolences like so many other students had, but instead he tried to use her grieving to “comfort” her in the privacy her empty house. Repulsed by his immaturity and selfishness, she turned around and never spoke to him again.
Coming back to the present situation, she felt that maybe if she still had no feeling for Ray after seeing him after many months then she would feel like she could allow herself to fall for David. With this in mind, she hoped that she would feel released from the past and she could finally look to the future.
She met him a few hours later at a nearby coffee-house. She got there a few minutes early and found an open seat overlooking the ocean. Ray walked in the door wearing a pair of really nice dark pants and a dress shirt. Zehira raised her eyebrows at the unusually formal attire. He caught her eye and flashed a smile showing off his recently whitened teeth and sat across from her.
Within a few seconds of seeing him, she realized that it would always be about the money with him. That he wanted someone to be by his side and support him through each decision because he had the money. Because the money made him deserve it. He would never respect her decisions and would constantly use the money to manipulate her into doing what he wanted. She wanted to be an equal partner in life. Not a trophy. Not a prize to be won, and the only reason the prize stuck around was because of the money to support a lifestyle she had no desire to live.
Instead of staying and talking, Zehira rose from her seat and walked straight out the door without a word. Turning the corner, she walked the short distance to David’s medical office. A few minutes passed when she heard the slowing of a black sedan pulling up near the sidewalk next to her. Ray stepped out of the back, obviously used to being driven around by a chauffeur. Not even bothering to slow down for him, Zehira kept walking. It took Ray a second to catch up to her, grabbing her wrist and turning her toward him. Of course, this confrontation happened to be right in front of David’s medical office where he had a great view of Ray and Zehira having from what seemed to escalate from a conversation to a heated monologue from Ray. She stood there taking each fiery word from Ray in strides. It wasn’t until he spat in her face that he ‘was glad that her parents weren’t alive to see her throw her life away instead of being with someone who would make her life easy and comfortable’. Tears stung her eyes and her hand instinctively raised and met his cheek, making an impressive thwack sound. Seeing he had lost the battle, he made a last retort that she couldn’t here and walked back to his car and drove away.
David watched her through the window of his office. More than anything, he wanted to be there for her. Hold her in his arms and tell her everything was going to be okay. He saw her wipe away a tear from her green eyes. His gut ached with the desire to make her smile. Somehow, he felt an undeniable pull toward her; a love for her unlike anything else he had felt before. His eyes followed her as she turned around and trudged back the way she came.
David rose from his desk and stood, still staring out the window to where she stood. He knew. Somehow, he knew. She was the one. The one he was going to share his life with. The one he wanted to tell good news to for the rest of his life. The one he wanted to hold his hand through the worst times. The one he wanted to fight for, the one he wanted to prove himself worthy of for the rest of his life. This realization, there at work, shook him to his core.