You were the life of the party, constantly surrounded by giggling girls. And I was the cynical one, the one who never wanted to catch your eye. But somehow, I did, and I had only one thing to fear. What would happen if I fell in love with you?
About the Author
Stella B. James runs on coffee, chaos, and Southern sass. She has been published in Mused: the BellaOnline Literary Review Magazine.
Follow Stella on Instagram @stellabjames, where she posts her daily musings and poems.
If I Fell by Stella B. James
I will never forget the night I met you. You were sitting with some friends of mine as I made my way back from the bathroom. In this small town, I had seen you here and there. Always smiling, always surrounded by girls. You leaned back in my chair, helping yourself to a couple of my fries while my girlfriends giggled at whatever clever thing you said in that enticing accent of yours. Knowing you now, it doesn’t surprise me how comfortable you can make yourself amongst strangers.
“Thanks for keeping my seat warm,” I told you, my signature smirk in place. In midbite of said fries, you glanced up at me and chuckled. Stuffing your mouth full of fries again, you made a show of patting your thigh and wagging your eyebrows. I shook my head, and you shrugged, as if you gave it your best, before giving up the chair.
I sat, reached for a fry, and nibbled its end. You appeared beside me, in a borrowed chair from a different table. The girls started dividing up the bill, and you offered me a dollar for the fries you stole. I giggled despite myself, and I felt clumped into the starry-eyed gaggle of girls you always seemed to attract. But you looked surprised that I could produce such a sound, and before we left the restaurant, you helped me into my coat. You let the others struggle to put theirs on by themselves.
* * *
I didn’t see you again until about a week later in a local coffee shop that had the best chocolate croissant I’d ever laid my hands on. The coffee was pretty decent too. With my nose in a book, I didn’t notice you at first. How long did you sit there, watching me? Did you like what you saw even then?
I jumped a little when I finally looked up and noticed you. You chuckled and stole my book. You loved to have all the attention, didn’t you? “What’s this?” you asked, flipping through the pages.
“Here in America, we call it a book,” I said. Sarcasm had always been my strongest armor. It usually kept men at bay, but not you. Of course, not you.
“Ha ha. Which one?”
I pointed to the front of the book, where the title was prominently displayed. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
“You’d hate it.”
“I’ll take your word for it.” You reached to grab my delectable croissant and took a bite. The nerve! You must have thrived off of that nerve. You opened my book to a random page and started reading. I sighed in defeat, knowing you weren’t going away any time soon, and sipped my hot tea.
Over the rim of my mug, I took a moment to study you. I tried to understand the appeal. Your accent gave you an immediate advantage. I hadn’t pinpointed it yet. French? Russian? Somewhere in between? European to be sure. And your height. I loved a tall man, and you were well over six feet. Big puppy dog brown eyes and a roundish face. Shaggy brown hair.
“Paul McCartney,” I said in revelation. Your eyes shot up to meet mine, brows furrowed. “Has anyone ever said you look like a young Paul McCartney?”
You set the book down and smiled that smile that I was sure got you every number you ever asked for. “You like the Beatles?” you asked.
“I live for the Beatles.” I offered up my own smirk, the one that usually scared men away. “But I personally prefer John.” Oh, how your face fell at that. Did you think you might have won me over at that moment? Not then, but with your reply, you did. Yes. That was probably the moment.
“I should get the small, round glasses then?” Hook, line, and sinker, I was yours. And I laughed, a genuine laugh that not many strangers could pull from me.
You ordered yourself a cappuccino and another chocolate croissant to share. We spent hours at that small coffee shop, and I learned the gist of you. Your name was Robert, and you were from Romania. You waited tables at a fancy French restaurant and went to school for business. You liked old movies, jazz music, and red wine. As cynical as I was, at that moment, even I had to admit there was such a thing as a soul mate.
* * *
Maybe that accent of yours won me over in the end. I’d always been a sucker for a charming accent. Or perhaps it was the spontaneity of every moment with you. Our meetings were rarely planned, but that was what made them perfect. As our time together grew longer, your gaggle of girls grew smaller.
I remember the moment I fell in love with you. We crashed a wedding reception. Something I would never do in a million years, but I did it with you. You somehow convinced them I was related to the bride, or maybe the groom. It doesn’t matter which now.
We stayed and danced with those strangers, and we drank their red wine. An older gentleman with graying hair said you were a lucky man. You pulled me in close, kissed my cheek, and without missing a beat, replied, “I am, right?”
He asked me to dance, and in my absence, some women sat beside you. But as I peered over the man’s shoulder to look at you, your eyes met mine with a wink. And I melted. My heart became yours.
* * *
A year flew by, and you were still by my side. Though we never made it official, everyone knew we belonged to each other. I earned that right, to be called yours. I had to accept your free-spirited ways and the fact that you would always be friendly to other women. There were fights. Boy, were there fights! But you knew me too well.
When it really mattered, you had this uncanny way of making me feel like the only girl in the world. You would put on Beatles songs and sing out of tune to cheer me up. You’d keep my mug filled with coffee on late nights when I studied for finals. You made me feel beautiful, even on my worst days. Sure, you had your faults, but mine gave yours some healthy competition. Our failures and successes complemented each other.
Until that moment of utter heartbreak. That moment that I wasn’t sure we’d ever overcome. “I’m moving back to Europe,” you whispered to me in the silence of your car. I had known something was wrong the entire night we were out with your friends. You had ignored everyone and clung to me in an unfamiliar way. My heart dropped, and when you sang If I Fell, it completely shattered. We had less than a month together, and as a means of survival, I did the only thing I could: I broke up with you.
* * *
I’ve ignored your every call and text. But your voicemail did me in. “I love you.” We’ve never spoken those words, even though I know we’ve both felt them. So few people know how many ways one can say, “I love you” without speaking the words aloud.
You fly out today. You’re somewhere in this airport. I have a month left until school starts again, and I plan to spend all of it with you. We can still figure this out. We still have a chance, don’t we? I clutch my ticket to my heart and hope I catch you in time.
You’re sitting at the gate, far away from everyone else. You’re looking down at something, watching it with an intensity I haven’t seen before. What have I done to my light-hearted man? My phone buzzes.
A text from you. I don’t want to leave without hearing your voice. Call me. Please. I make my way towards you, barely able to contain myself. I fall to my knees before you and take your phone.
Your mouth opens in anger, and then, it’s adorable the way your eyes go wide, your mouth still open.
“Did you want to hear my voice on this,” I wiggle the phone, “or in person?” You grab me and pull me in for a long kiss.
“This will do just fine.”
About the Story
If I Fell was written by Stella B. James.
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