Part 1 – The Encounter
Susan Lewis was driving through the streets of Boston when she noticed some smoke coming out of the engine. She decided to stop to check it out only when she arrived at the hotel. The day haven’t started well :her plane from Phoenix to Boston had gotten a delay, the flight was a little bumpy, which was a dreadful experience, since she was still afraid of flying.And now the car she had just rented was having problems. Not to mention she was totally alone in that town for the first time and not for a vacation, but for a medicine conference that would take almost a week. She was representing her hospital, Phoenix General, since she was the chief of the emergency services there. Meeting up with doctors all over the country and beeing locked up in a room for hours, for days in a row was not at all her idea of fun. But she knew there was no way to bail on that. It was her job, and the people at the hospital expected that from her.
She opened the window to feel the breeze of the morning. It was a hot day, but nothing that she wasn’t used to. Phoenix was a hot city as well. When she first moved there, the heat was the hardest thing to get used to. She had always loved the cold climate of Chicago and having to deal with such a change was something that bothered her inicially.
Now,almost two years after her departure from Chicago, her life was settled on Phoenix. She had a great job with a great salary and very nice friends. Just now she felt like she was finally adjusting herself there. For a long time she still refered to Chicago as "home" or County General Hospital as "work". Remembering the past was an old habit,and she was trying hard to let go of everything she had left behind, everything that was part of her life since she graduated in med school that made her mind drift back to County, the place she had worked for over six years.
Those thoughts slipped away when she stopped to look over the map she had placed on her lap. Yes, that was the place, the hotel she had made reservations for. She drove to the parking lot, but suddenly heard a loud noisy and the car started to get slower. With a groan she got out of the car to confirm what she had already suspected: it was a flat tire. She sighed heavily, as she looked around the area. There was nobody to help her. Somewhat reluctant, she got the things she needed to solve the problem and started to change the tire. She didn’t know where to start, she had never changed a tire before and had no clue of how to do it. She hated to be such a girl, but she was hoping that someone would show up. But what she didn’t know was that the person that was bound to show up was much more than just a common guy. It was someone that had changed her life in so many ways, that she couldn’t even tell.
Mark Greene locked the door of his car, grabbed his luggage and started walking towards the main door of the hotel. While passing through the parking lot, he noticed someone having a problem with a tire. He thought of offering himself to help, but he was extremely tired of the trip. He stopped to look closely to that woman. She seemed incredibly familiar to him, even though he couldn’t see her face. Something about her made him remember.... "No" he said to himself, trying not to get into a subject he had been avoiding for the past two years. "It can’t be".
He watched that person for a little while. She kept trying to change the tired, but everytime she did that, she ended up hurting her hands. "Damn it" she mumbled loud enough for him to be sure that that woman was her, Susan, the reason he had cried himself to sleep for quite some time, the reason he hadn’t envolved himself with any other woman in a serious way,and mostly, the reason that made him connect love to pain, suffering and regret. For a long time, she was his reason to live, the motive he loved going to work every single day. She was his best friend, his confidant, his support. They used to share a special relationship, a platonic and true friendship and an amazing professional connection. She used to be the person he would turn to whenever he needed advices, support or just some friendly word to bring him up.
But all changed when she decided to move to another city. She broke his heart in pieces when she boarded on that train after he had exposed his deepest feelings to her, after he had told her he loved her and needed her. She left either way, but confessed her feelings too when the train was already pulling away of the station.
Mark was left all alone, desperated, broken-hearted, depressed. He took too long to recover from that sad episode of his life, considering she was the woman that he loved the most in his existence. She still had a place in his heart, this was undeniable and despite of all that had happened, he had no hard feelings towards her.
At that moment, breathing heavily, he tried to figure what to do, what to say.
_Who would ever say that I would witness Susan Lewis changing a flat tire?! God, what a small world....
Susan, who was totally unaware of his presence until she heard his voice, stopped when she heard him, that voice, that unforgettable voice. She turned around to find his eyes gazing her. She stood up to face him. She pulled up her sunglasses to the top of her head and bit her lower lip nervously. He looked great, nothing like the last time she had seen him. He was smiling, looking happy to see her. She wondered why, since she had hurted him bad. He took a few steps closer to her, never breaking his gaze.
She looked stunning. She was a little tanned, her dark blonde hair hanging over her shoulders and that smile that could light up the whole world. Long separated friends bound to be reunited, would that be fate or just a coincidence?!
_Mark.... _ she said still in shock _ Hey!
She walked in his direction, he did the same .
_Hey! _ he said moving foward to hug her.
She hugged him too. For a moment, while their bodies were close, all they had gone through came back to their minds. They had almost forgotten of how good it felt to be in each other’s presence. As much as they didn’t want to remember their last moment together, nothing could take those memories away.
"I love you and I’m a stupid for not saying it before"
"No, it’s ok, I knew, in a way I knew"
"Stay, we belong together. Tell me you don’t fell the same"
Pulling back, they tried to make the awkwardness of the moment less obvious.
_Oh, it’s so great to see you again. God...it’s been so long. _ she said.
_Yeah, too long. .....So, what brings you to Boston?
_Uh, I’m here for the Nacional Medical Conference. What about you?
_I’m here for the conference too. Kerry couldn’t make it, so they send me in stead of her. Yeah, I always get the fun part of the job.. _ he said sarcastically.
_Kerry? Is that woman still alive? _ she joked.
_Wo-ho, you won’t imagine how... _ he laughed.
Susan smiled at him. For a long moment they stood in silence, searching for the words to say.
_So, I see you’re having some trouble with the car. _ he said looking around.
_Oh, yeah, this. It was hard enough to be driving with the engine almost on fire and now, to make the situation even worse, I’ve got a flat tire. _ she said.
_Want me to help you? – he asked grinning.
_Am I that obvious?
Mark nodded and gave her an "Ooh, yeah" kinda look
Susan let a big breath out.
_Yeah, I really do need your help. I thought I could handle this on my own, but....
_Don’t worry, I’ll help you.
_Thanks Mark. I apprediate it, a lot!
Mark bent down to check the tire. In a few minutes he was changing it easily. Susan stood behind him, just watching and trying to make sense of that unexpected encounter. She was still incredulous, meeting up with him was the last thing she could expect, specially in Boston. She had always assumed she would only see him again if ..... Well, there was no "if". She didn’t plan to go back to Chicago, not even for a visit. Of course she missed there, she missed her friends like crazy, her old job, Mark, but that would be quite of a challenge coming back. She would have to deal with her actions, actions that put a dart in her propable romantic relationship with Mark and in their treasured friendship. She loved him, she had always loved him. She cared about him like a brother, but some months before she left this love had grown into something bigger. And that scared her to death ‘cause she had too much on the steak. What if he didn’t feel the same? What if she said something and changed their relationship? Not to mention the denying fact. She spent months trying to tell herself that it was not true, that she was just confused about her feelings. She repressed her feelings for so long, however, getting to Phoenix it became clear that her love was real and strong. She started to miss him desperately, to wake up every single night and wonder. She thought of going back and risk everything for his love, but in her mind he wouldn’t accept her anymore.
"Mark, you are my best friend and I don’t know how I’m gonna make it without you..."
"I have to. I don’t belong here anymore, I have a new life and it’s going in a different direction"
"Susan, I don’t wanna lose you"
She closed her eyes for a minute, allowing herself a moment of regret. How much she wanted to have stayed, how much she wanted to just have fallen into his arms and confessed her true feelings. Maybe they would still be together. Maybe they would be happy, happily ever after like in the fairy tales.
Mark got up and turned to her.
_There! As good as new! _ he said as he noticed she was lost in thoughts. _ Susan?
_Oh, thank you, so much. Thanks.
They smiled at each other.
_So,let’s go in... _ she said.
Susan took her luggage in the car and walked with Mark till the reception area of the hotel. They both stood in silence, still stunned by that situation. Getting the keys of their rooms they noticed they were on the same floor. They laughed at the coincidence.
_Look at that. We’re neighbors.... _ she said with a nervous grin.
_Do you mind if I borrow some suggar? _ he joked.
Susan laughed. He felt pleased to hear that laugh again, to see that incredible and infectious smile. They headed for the elevator. Once in there, they exchanged shy looks. Suddenly the light faded away and the engine stopped. They were trapped, and not for the first time.
_Oh, my God. What was that? _ she asked quickly.
_I don’t know. Maybe the power is off.
It was dark in there, but they could still looked at each other. Mark gave a quick quiet laugh.. Susan got curious.
_What? _ she asked.
_No, what? Why are you laughing?
Mark paused for a second. He didn’t know if it was a good idea to tell her the reason he was laughing.
_Uh...I’m just remembering the last time this exact same thing happened to us.
Susan let her mind drift back a little before answering.
_You were so scared _ he giggled.
_No, I wasn’t. _ she replied reflexively.
_Oh, yeah, you were. _ he teased.
_No, I wasn’t. You were the one who was scared, remember? You didn’t want to go upstairs alone because you were afraid of the ghost on the 5 floor, so you dragged me to go with you.
_That was not why I asked you to go with me. _ he said without thinking.
The lights came back and the elevator started to move again. Susan preferred not to ask the real reason, since she had a pretty good idea of what it might be. Mark was quiet after that. He didn’t mean to get into the past, but he couldn’t help it. He didn’t want to insinuate anything, but that line popped out of his mouth naturally. The door opened when they got to their floor. They walked through the hall, looking for their rooms.
_It’s here _ she said pointing to a door.
_And mine is here. Right in front of yours.
They looked at each other quickly, not knowing what to say next. Should they say "I’ll see you at the conference tomorrow"or "don’t you want to come inside?" Mark broke the silence between them.
_So, I guess you need to get some sleep. It must have been a long train ride...
_I didn’t travel by train.
Mark looked at her in curiosity.
_I flew! _ she said sounding proud of herself.
_Yeah _ she smiled _ I’m not totally over my fear yet, but now I can control it.
_That’s nice to know.
_Well, and most of it I owe to you. You helped me to overcome it in that chopper ride...
_I was glad to help. Really...
They smiled at each other. The were finally back on track, finally feeling good and natural talking to each other.
_Ok, so, I’ll see you later... _ he said turning to open the door.
She nodded and turned to open the door of her room, but turned around to call him.
He faced her.
_Don’t you want to grab a bite to eat later?
_Sure. We could also take a ride outside to see Boston _ he suggested.
_Great.What about 1:00?
Mark entered his room and Susan did the same. She closed the door behind her and leaned against the door, smiling. She didn’t believe what she had just done."I asked him out". She didn’t know why, but in that moment, she felt like she couldn’t let that opportunity pass. There they were, caught up in a destiny’s trap, nearly two years without seeing each other, without even talking to each other, and all these feelings coming back to haunt them both. Feelings that a lifetime could never take away, feelings capable to transcend time, place and even death. Love, passion, attraction? Was that it?Two best friends with an especial connection, an eternal bondage, separated by a mistake, and now reunited, finding themselves in the end of the road. Would that be the end? Would that be the way things were supposed to happen? Two long years apart, with pain, suffering and sorrow in between, just to experience such a powerful reencounter?
Susan threw herself at the bed heavily. She didn’t know what she would do, what she would say. Was valid to bring up their last moment together? Was it fair to remember their love vows? What about their kiss? Their one and only kiss? Or should she just concentrate on getting his friendship back, his trust? She still didn’t know how hurt he was, how was he dealing with the impact of seeing her again. All she knew, was that her attempts to put the past behind, to get over Mark and everything they had shared together one day had failed. She didn’t care about anything else, they were there, that was all that mattered. And she would try to make that the best week of her life.
TO BE CONTINUED......