Barely able to breathe I gathered my suitcase and walked out of the airport and into the cold, artificially lit parking garage. Blindly I found my car, got in and, as one on auto-pilot, began the long trek home. The previous twenty-four hours replayed in my head over and over again. The gin-induced hangover, the horseback tour of the grounds, the first glimpse of Ian, the electricity when his hand touched mine, the invitation to ride back to town with him, canceling the taxi, being so close to him in that tiny rental car, the tour guide assuming I was his wife, our laughter, the amazing dinner, asking him to stay the night with me, the first kiss, the words spoken, our coupling, the last kiss goodbye…
Had I imagined it all? Had none of those feelings been real? Surely they had… But then why give me the wrong email address? Why leave me with no way of contacting him? The questions rapid-fired through my brain.
I turned into the driveway of my empty, dark cottage, cut the engine, rested my head on the steering wheel and inhaled. Ignoring the sharp pain in my chest, I focused on his scent that still coated my body. It was as if Ian’s ghost was in the car with me. If only the ether of his being could hold me now, when I needed it so.
The trill of my phone’s ring brought me back to reality. I answered without looking at the screen, assuming the caller was my mother, checking to see if I had made it home in one piece. She had no idea how far I was from being in one piece, that my heart had been scattered like ashes across the states as I flew away from Ian.
“Hullo,” I said, willing myself to steel away the turmoil and be calm.
“Marian!” the Australian accented voice exclaimed, “You didn’t email me! If you hadn’t given me your business card, I wouldn’t have been able to reach you! Are you okay? I was worried sick!”
“Yes! Why didn’t you email?”
“I did! It bounced back. The email was wrong. I’ve been dying here, thinking you didn’t really mean to keep in touch.”
“You thought that? How could you think that? After yesterday… you know you have my heart. For always.”
“I love you Ian. I was breaking,” I said through my tears, “I didn’t know what to think. Hearing your voice, it’s like a dream. A wonderful dream.”
Two little transposed numbers were all it took to send me into a complete tailspin. I hadn’t slowed down to think things through logically, to consider that possibility. Unlike any other relationship I had entered, I was running on pure emotion. In the same way undiluted cocaine yields the highest, most dangerous highs followed by the darkest and most perilous lows, I had begun to discover that the tidal wave of raw emotion takes the same path. But I was already in. There was no way to jump ship now.