“It can’t be 5 am already”, he mumbled as he reached over to silence the alarm. “Oh well, I better get up and get this day started before I change my mind and call out“.
As he made his way to the kitchen to fix his morning cup of Joe, something felt different. He had a normal routine that he followed daily, but this morning he felt as if something strange was about to happen. Not strange in a bad way, but definitely different.
As he started his car and opened the garage to head out, he had that feeling again, but so far, nothing different had happened. He turned the radio to his favorite morning talk show, put his sunglasses on, let the roof back and exited the cul-de-sac. He waived at the neighbors as he drove by. He loved where he lived, everyone was so friendly, he loved that the children played outside, something he thought was a thing of the past. Although he’d never been married or had kids of his own, whenever his nieces and nephews visited, they enjoyed being outdoors with the rest of the kids.
As he drove up the street, the feeling of something being “different” was getting more and more intense. He was almost out of the neighborhood when he noticed a house he’d never seen before. But how was that possible? He’d been living there for 8 months now and thought he’d seen every house there was. He knew at least 90% of his neighbors, and the ones he hadn’t met personally were usually the younger couples who were always busy jet-setting. But there it was… like a little cottage, hidden away among overgrown grass, shrubs, and bushes. He slowed down as he was stunned at the sight of it. As he looked closer, he noticed the door was cracked a bit, and because the sun wasn’t fully up, he could tell that a light was on in one of the bedrooms. Surely no one lives there, he thought.
He pulled slowly into the driveway, which was barely visible due to it being unkempt. He put the car in park and thought to himself what am I thinking, do I really want to go into a stranger’s home? What if someone in there is in need of help? Oh well, here goes nothing. He exited his car slowly, still unsure if he was going to go through with it. He approached the house with caution. “DAMN, I left my gun in the car”! He said aloud. “Too late now“.
He slowly pushed the door open, stepped inside, and asked: “anyone home, HELLO, is anyone here?” Nothing… He walked into the foyer, he could see the kitchen from there. There were dishes in the sink piled high, empty wine bottles and glasses were strewn about. Hmm, maybe it’s not too late to turn around after all. What if there is someone dead in here? I’m not ready for that. He continued through anyway, something wouldn’t let him leave. He walked into the living room, he could tell the person or people who lived there had really good taste. The furniture was beautiful, the decorations were impeccable, the art, oh what beautiful art donned the walls. Looked like there was definitely a woman’s flare all over this place. Although not so organized right now, he could see the beauty.
He continued on down the hallway where he came upon a closed door. He assumed it was a bedroom. He stood there for a second, and took a deep breath, as he wasn’t sure if he was ready for what could be behind it. He knocked on the door softly at first, then a little louder, calling out to see if anyone could hear him. No answer. He turned the doorknob slowly, the door creaked as he gently pushed it open.
OH, MY GOD…Is she dead?
There, lying in the bed was a woman’s lifeless body. He thought the worse and reached for his phone to call 911. But just as he’d dialed the first 2 numbers, she moved. She moaned, and she moved. Stunned, he dropped the phone. He stood there for what felt like hours just staring in amazement. She was BEAUTIFUL, although it was obvious she’d been in there for days if not weeks.
He decided to move closer. “Ma’am, are you okay?”…..Nothing….. He moved even closer, sitting on the bed next to her, he whispered “ma’am, are you okay?” When he touched her, he could feel the “broken” parts of her. As if someone had taken something so beautiful, tossed it about until it was no longer useful, and left her there to die. Although he couldn’t see any physical damage, when he touched her, he could feel the damage to her soul, her heart, her spirit. How was he able to feel something like that from someone else?
As he sat there, he scanned the room, noticing the papers strewn about, and the 2 closet doors that were open, one filled with what was obviously women’s clothing, and the other had only but a few t-shirts, a couple of empty shoe boxes (which seemed to have once housed men’s shoes), he noticed a couple of ties, and a bunch of empty hangers. “hmmmmm, wonder what happened here” although it was clear to see this woman was dying from a broken heart.
He sat for a second, thinking of what to do. He knew he couldn’t call the police for a matter like this. I mean, how would they help? He looked down at his watch and realized if he were going to make it into work at all, he would be EXTREMELY late. Retrieving his phone from the floor, he dialed his office and informed his assistant to forward any important calls to his cell phone, hold all others, and to let his boss (if he asked) know that he had an emergency to attend to. He’d been with “Franklin, Hamilton, and McGuire” for many years, and was one of the youngest, successful lawyers in the firm, the only time he’d missed was when his mother died since joining, so there should be no problem.
After he hang up the phone, he once again looked around the room in an effort to decide what to do. Wondering if this woman had any family or friends he could call. But what would they think if a strange man were to ring their phone? He decided to handle things himself.
He started in the kitchen. Washing the dishes, cleaning off the counters, getting rid of the empty wine bottles, and taking out the trash. Once done, he checked the fridge to see if there was anything he could cook for her. Nothing… He decided to make a run to the store.
When he returned, he cut up and sauteed a few of the fresh veggies he’d brought, put a chicken breast in the oven after seasoning it, and basting it with this wonderful sauce he learned to make over the years. He tossed the asparagus into a pan, to steam, and as he made his way back into the bedroom, he was glad in that moment that his mother taught him a little about cooking. But he was also hopeful that she would eat what he’d prepared.
He returned to the bedroom to assess the damage there. Not too bad. A few more wine bottles and glasses, papers on the floor, a few items of clothing.
He 1st pulled the curtains open. It was so dark in there. He wanted to let some sun in. He started to pick up the things from the floor, glancing over at the woman he still couldn’t believe he was in a stranger’s home, but something had drawn him there. He began to wonder if she’d ever wake up. He also wondered what her name was.
Wow, I don’t even know this woman’s name, he thought to himself. I’ll call her “Sleeping Beauty”. But does that make me a prince? He had to laugh at himself. He felt he was far from that. Just as He was in deep thought, she moaned, or more what he thought was a cry, and turned over. He stood very still. If she woke up he didn’t want to startle her with his presence in her home. But she just went right back to sleep.
He continued cleaning her room. Even straightening the things on her dresser and nightstands. Once done, he returned to the kitchen to check on the meal. It was done. He went about preparing her a plate. He noticed she had a breakfast tray in one of the cabinets. He poured her a glass of tea, put it and the plate on the tray and returned to the bedroom. He stood there for a second trying to decide how he’d even go about waking her, let alone getting her to eat food prepared by a strange man in her house.
He slowly approached the bed. He sat the tray down on the nightstand. He sat on the bed next to her. Gently touching her to wake her. He felt it again. The pain, the brokenness. How does that keep happening? He thought to himself. She turned towards him, eyes still closed. He picked up a fork full of veggies, not sure if she’d eat, he sat her up a little and began to feed her. To his surprise, she ate a little, not enough for his satisfaction. But at least she had something on her stomach. But after she’d eaten, she lay right back down and as if she’d never awaken, she went right back to her slumber.
He took the tray back to the kitchen, cleaned the dishes, and decided since he’d already dove into this thing head first, he may as well finish.
Once he was done in the kitchen, he headed back to the bedroom, he went into the bathroom to retrieve a washcloth. It too was a bit untidy, but she obviously loved perfume, there was bottle after bottle of expensive fragrances, all neatly placed upon the double vanity top. He picked up one to smell, closing his eyes, he took in the fragrance. He could imagine some beautiful woman wearing it. He had to snap out of the daydream he was in. He found the linen closet, retrieved a towel, wet it with warm water. Returning to the bedroom, he gently rolled the woman over and began to wash her face. GOD this woman is amazingly beautiful he thought as he wiped her face like a delicate flower (which in his mind he’d decided she was at that moment). He was tempted to kiss her but knew he was obviously out of his mind to even consider doing such.
He pulled the curtains back closed, put the cloth back in the bathroom and pulled the bedroom door up behind him quietly as he exited the room.
He decided to go to the shed in the backyard that he’d noticed when he opened the curtains. And just as he hoped there were a lawn mower and some other tools. He cut her grass, trimmed the hedges and brought her yard back to life. He was actually surprised to see how beautiful the house was once the dead stuff was cleared.
After that was all done, he returned to his own home to shower. He would come back later to check on “Sleeping Beauty”.
When he returned to her home, it was dark out, so as not to wake her by turning the bedroom light on when he entered, he had remembered seeing candles in her bathroom on the sink, so he decided to use a couple of those for lighting. He’d found a lighter in a drawer in the kitchen.
He took the candles and placed one on either side of the bed on the nightstands. WOW, she is even more beautiful by candlelight. He stood there, once again, staring at her. He had started to feel like a stalker and wondered if he should go ahead and make a call to someone to come and check on her. Maybe that’s what I should do.
He started to search around for a cell phone, hoping to maybe find the number of a family member: a mom, or dad, sister… Just as he was on his hands and knees, and retrieving a phone from underneath the bed, she once again moaned and rolled over. He decided he’d take the phone into the living room to search numbers. He stood up, and as he went to exit the bedroom, he heard what HAD to be the voice of an angel “please, don’t leave me. Stay right here”, she whispered. He turned around to make sure he was hearing what he thought he was. She was laying on her side, facing him, but he couldn’t tell if her eyes were open or not. So he continued toward the door, and once again, the angelic voice implored him to please stay with her.
What should I do? Does she think I’m someone else? Maybe she’s dreaming. Yeah, that’s it, maybe she’s talking in her sleep. He stood totally still for a second, and just as her voice called out again, he started toward her, unsure of what he’d do when he got to her. Though her bed was only feet away from where he initially stood, it seemed to take him 10 minutes to reach it.
He walked over and sat down on the side opposite to where she lay. She reached out her hand, he took it, and instantly he felt a pull in his soul. Something electric he’d never experienced before. He felt his entire life was literally in the hands of this woman, whose name he didn’t know. Whose house he was actually intruding in. Whom he felt he had known forever, yet knew nothing about her. Except that he was supposed to be right there with her…in that moment… in that space… at that time… taking care of her.
He lay down and watched as she went right into the slumber in which he’d found her. He himself drifted into the most peaceful sleep he’d ever experienced.
The next morning, he awoke and decided he better go ahead and call one of her family members. As he exited the bedroom, he took one last look at this “Sleeping Beauty”. Drinking in every part of her intoxicating aura. He found a number that said “mom”, called it, and said he’d found the cell phone, and wanted to return it to the owner, but didn’t know who it belonged to. Her mother said she was in another state and had been trying to reach her daughter. Thanked him for calling, said she was on her way into town to check on her daughter, she’d call the phone upon arrival for him to return it to her.
That night, he barely slept a wink. He couldn’t get this woman off of his mind. He wanted so badly to return to her place, lay beside her, and once again, drink in the essence of her, and find the sweet slumber, he’d experienced the night before.
He finally dozed off for 2 hours, jumped up the next morning. Groggy, confused, wondering if the last few days had been a dream. But when he walked into his bathroom, there on the sink where he’d left it the night before, was her phone. He checked to see if there were any missed calls. But nothing.
Driving out of the subdivision the next morning, He slowed down as he passed her house. He noticed a car in the driveway with out of state tags. He wondered if that were her mom, but wasn’t sure, since there were no missed calls on her phone.
He could barely focus at work the next day. He checked her phone, what felt like every 5 minutes. He told himself that he wanted to be sure he didn’t miss the call from her mom, but deep down, he knew he was hoping for any chance to get one more look at “HER”. It’ didn’t ring once!!
7:30, he left the office, decided to stop at the hotel across the street, and catch the game with some of the other partners in the bar located in the lobby. He had the phone in his jacket pocket, just in case the mother called.Sitting down at the bar, before he could place his order, he bartender said “one whiskey sour coming right up”. That was his regular drink. His life really was pretty routine. He tried his best to focus on the game, as he ordered another drink…but all he could think about was the woman in the house he never knew existed.
He was pulling the phone out of his pocket for the 10th time, when he heard “dude, you okay? You haven’t been here with us all night. There’s obviously something on your mind. And that’s your 5th drink. I hope you’re not worried about the Dovousky case. We got that in the bag. We didn’t become number 3 law firm in the country for no reason. Relax bro”.
He faked a smile, and decided his colleague was right. Just then the entire bar erupted in cheers and claps, their team had scored and he joined in the excitement. It was at that moment he felt a vibration in his jacket pocket. Wait.. could this really be? He looked down, and sure enough, he saw the light through the pocked. Oh My GOD, what if it’s HER, what am I going to say? How will I explain how I ended up with her phone. I told her mom I’d found it, but I never said where. What if she remembers I was in her house and calls the police? He was busy with the “what ifs” in his head that the phone stopped ringing. He felt both relieved and sad, But it rang again, and this time he picked it up. Maybe it’s her mother calling.
Hello…. “hi, I understand you’ve found my phone” the angelic voice said. It was her, she was up and awake, and what a beautiful sound her voice was to his ears. He flashed back to the last 2 days he’d spent taking care of this stranger. Cooking, cleaning, feeding her. He remembered how soft her skin was as he washed her face….
“hello?” the voice said again. Oh yes, I um, I….I,,,I…I I um, yes, I have, I mean, I found a phone. He could barely form any words. “Okay, that is such a relief, although I’m still not sure where I could’ve lost it, I don’t remember leaving the house for the last few days. But the last few days, actually the last few weeks are all a blur”, He could hear the tremble in her voice… So I’ll gladly return it, just let me know how you’d like to retrieve it, He interjected to save her from thinking to hard about the last few days/weeks. “Okay, do you know the little cafe located the corner of 8th and broad street?” He was very familiar with it, that was one of his favorite places to go whenever he wanted to go over case files. The coffee was amazing as were the sandwiches. Yes, I’m familiar with it. “Okay, can you meet me there tomorrow afternoon around 2:30?”
I um, um, um…sure. How will I know who you are? He asked, if he didn’t remember every detail of her face. “My name is Noel, and I’ll be sitting at the 3rd table to the right”.
She hang up the phone before he could say anything else. His heart was pounding so hard, he thought he was going to pass out. He paid his tab and left the bar without even saying goodbye to the others, He drove home in silence, as he approached the subdivision, he glanced over at the little house, and it was fully lit. He wanted to knock on the door and hand Noel her phone and tell her everything about how he’d been in her house and how he’d fallen in love with her while she slept. But he knew he’d either end up in jail or an insane asylum as it sounded. crazy and creepy to even him. He kept going, went home and tried his best to sleep through the anxiousness that night.
1:45 couldn’t come fast enough the next day. Although the cafe was only about 15 minutes away from his office, he didn’t want to chance getting there late, and he also needed extra time to get his nerves together just in case she wanted to know where he found her phone.
He sat outside the cafe, and watched her walk in. She even moved like an angel. As if she was floating. And she was absolutely the most beautiful thing he could recall laying his eyes in his life.
He watched her walk in and sit exactly where she said she would. He sat in his car for another few minutes until he was finally able to get his legs to move
He walked into the cafe, and as their eyes met, he could see hers light up as if she’d seen her own angel…
TO BE CONTINUED FROM NOEL’S SIDE!!