(Chapter 1 can be found here)
Maggie opened up her laptop computer and placed it on the desk in front of her. She had an assignment she needed to finish up for work before the meeting the next morning and it was getting late. The television flickered in the background. An old Humphrey Bogart movie played out scenes of spies and beautiful blonds in the background. She clicked on a folder to find an old document, and accidentally selected the wrong folder. Instead she found herself looking at a thumbnail image of Oliver.
“Oh, Oliver. Whatever happened to you?” She wondered aloud. After a moment of just sitting there quietly, she closed the folder containing his image and opened the one with her project notes that she needed to work on. Her mind kept wandering as she tried to work, though. She couldn’t concentrate on what she was doing.
She reached over and picked up the remote to the television, intending to shut it off. It was nothing but a distraction. She turned to look at the set and saw Humphrey Bogart take Lauren Bacall into his arms and kiss her passionately. Maggie suddenly burst into tears and buried her head in the pillow. The movie was The Big Sleep, filmed in 1946. Maggie had grown up watching these old movies, and the women of the Silver Screen were her heroes. She studied the way they walked, talked, and even dressed when she was a child, and often she was told that she reminded someone of one of the black and white stars like Lauren Bacall or Shirley Maclaine, but never by someone of her own age. Those comments always came from people much older than her – until she met Oliver. Oliver had a lot in common with Maggie. They even loved the same movies, and for Maggie, that was a new feeling. He understood and appreciated the grace and charm of the times. He liked that the men always wore hats and suits while the women dressed in elegant gowns. Yet he didn’t mind that she would smoke an occasional cigar and drink Scotch, a typically male-dominated alcoholic beverage.
She sat up and dried her eyes, flicking the television off at the same time. She’d had enough of those old romance movies for a little while. They always reminded her of Oliver for some reason.
Oliver would often walk up behind Maggie and gently kiss her on the back of the neck, or just brush the hair out of her face. Occasionally he would cup her face in his hands and kiss her sweetly, the way Bogart would have kissed Bacall on the big screen. He was so romantic with her all the time. He was exactly what she’d been searching for! She made the mistake and jumped the gun, though. She scared him off. She let it slip through a letter she thought she had destroyed that she was falling in love with him. It was a shame he didn’t love her in return.
Maggie drained the last bit of water from the glass next to her computer and refilled it from the sink. Her head was beginning to pound with the pressure of the day. She knew that she couldn’t keep on going the way she was. Finally she gave up. Maggie reached over and shut off her mobile phone before plugging it into the charger. She closed the lid to her laptop again, turned out the lights, and headed off to bed.
It wasn’t long before she started to dream of Oliver. She remembered sitting on the foot of his bed one night, watching the moon come out over the harbor to the east. An orange glow surrounded Earths satellite, and the heavens were filled with bright stars. The door to the bathroom creaked open behind her and she turned to look at Oliver. There he stood in the doorway, the low lighting behind him outlining his body. She didn’t have to be able to see his face to know he was smiling at her.
She smiled back at him, and said in a low whisper, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
It didn’t seem like a corny line at the time, and it didn’t seem corny in the dream either, but anywhere else in the world, at any other time, it would have been the most cheesy line she’d ever heard. It never would be coming from him though. He was always sincere. She thought he always would be.
She woke up a moment later and left her eyes closed a minute. She didn’t want to open them and see the empty half of the bed next to her. Her eyes, now moist with fresh tears, flickered open. She cleared her throat.
Her gaze fell onto the mobile phone she plugged in by the lamp.
“I miss you, Oliver...”