They stood quietly looking out at the horizon. It was a comfortable silence. The wind blowing softly across the water brought a taste of salt in the air. He closes his eyes and inhales deeply, a smile playing on his lips. “I love this land.” He broke the silence at last. He looked over at her and cocks his head. She has a troubled look on her face he hadn’t noticed. “What’s wrong?”
She shrugs her slender shoulders, “It is a nice plot you have. Only its still so bare and lonely.” She looks up at him with her sad eyes, “You’re lonely, Jayden. When are you going to admit it to yourself?”
He shrugs his broad shoulders in a noncommittal fashion and turns his attention back to the sea. “What is the hurry? I’m not ‘really’ lonely. I have friends… I have women…”
She sighs and shakes her head. “Yes, you have friends and they’re all women. Soon you’ll be the joke of the town. The go to man for any woman with cold feet. Engaged to be married? Just hook up with ‘Alex’ to reconfirm your love to your special man.”
“Maybe but it happens more often than not. Why do you let this happen to you?”
“Jayden, I’m not real. You and I are perfect together because you have nothing to lose. Nothing is at stake. I can’t break your heart. I can’t be unfaithful… and there is one other thing I can’t do…”
He raises an eyebrow, his curiosity getting the better of him, he knows the answer yet the temptation to ask eats at him. He shakes his head, “No. I know. I don’t need to hear it.”
“That’s just it, Jayden. You do need to hear it. I can see in your soul. I know you’re hurting. I know… and I understand.” She leans forward, touching her forehead to his. They stand quietly in reflection. They know she’s right. He’s been fighting it for some time. “Let her go, Jayden. Just let her go.”
He wanted to lash out, he wanted to tell her she was wrong. Only she wasn’t. He is holding on to the memory, to the love he thought he had. “Okay.”
“I’ll miss you.”
“Wait.” He looks in to her eyes, her image begins to fade. “No! Too soon, I can’t do this.”
She kisses his forehead and vanishes.
Jayden took a good long hard look at his life. The first thing to go was his side job. Too many women were seeking him as their personal trainer, most with ulterior motives; a few sought him as a legitimate trainer. It became harder and harder to distinguish between the two. He was becoming someone he not only didn’t recognize, but someone he didn’t like. He decided to focus once more on his goals.
This gave him time to train, to jog, and to focus on work at the stadium ultimately it won him a spot on the AAA soccer team. He still jogged every morning. He glanced across the street spotting Judy and her girls deep in conversation. He grinned at them amazed at how the cliché held true. Time does fly and the children are growing so quickly. Judy looked up in time to see him approach. She raised her hand in greeting, waving him over.
Jayden hesitated, his pace slowed a step. He glanced at his ‘home’ and back at the girls. He was so close. Judy was a good woman, and a good friend. He picked up the pace once more and headed across the street.
Jayden flashed his grin, extending his hand cordially, “Judy! Always a pleasure to see you. What brings you to this side of town?” He grins at her daughters, he would recognize them in a crowd but he could never remember their names.
“Alex, I was hoping to run in to you. I haven’t seen you in weeks. I was starting to think the rumors were true.”
Jayden’s grin faltered, “Rumors?”
Judy laughed, “Poor choice of words? Its just an expression. How have you been? I hear you’re playing at the stadium these days. Just think I know a real athlete. Does that make me famous?”
Jayden laughed with her and waggled his eyebrows, “You would have to be caught in scandalous photographs with me in order for that to happen.”
The girls looked at their mother and then at Jayden and giggled. Judy blushed deeply and shoo’d the girls away. “Not going to happen!”
Judy smacked his arm playfully, “The things you say!”
They both laughed easily. Judy was one woman Jayden could relax around. She was very happily married and never looked at Jayden as prey.
“So what ‘are’ you doing on this side of town?”
Judy nodded towards her daughters, “Angel has a project for school. She’s required to find specimens of specific foliage. We’ve been to every park in Sunnyvale and this is our last hope. Thankfully I think she found what she’s looking for on that lot of yours. I was hoping…”
Jayden glanced over his shoulder at his ‘home’ and back at Judy. “I have something Angel needs?”
“Ew!” They both looked at Angel then at each other before breaking down laughing again.
“Let’s rephrase that shall we? If there is anything that can help Angel for her school project, she’s welcome to it.”
“Thanks, Alex.” Angel waves at him and runs across the street towards his lot followed closely by her tag-along little sister. Their voices carry across the lot to the adults, “Stop it! Just the leaf… No, not that one!”
Judy looks at Jayden, her eyes soften, “You look terrible.”
Jayden’s head shoots up, taken aback. “Terrible? Me? I’ve been working out. I must stink to the heavens. Sorry about that.”
Judy shakes her head, “No silly. It’s your eyes. Something’s wrong. Tell me?”
Jayden grins lowering his head once more, “You’ve been a good friend, Judy. I don’t think you can help me with this one.”
Judy watches him and harrumphs, “I know that look only too well. You need a woman.”
Jayden loses it in spite of himself, he throws his head back with laughter and clutches his stomach before he regains control. “That is such a ‘guy’ thing to say.”
Judy smacks his arm once more, “That isn’t what I meant… but you could probably use that to.”
Jayden shakes his head, “I appreciate your concern. You may be right… but right now, I need to get my life together. What do I have to offer a woman, but an empty… ish lot, a broken man, and a great garden with a view?”
Judy smiles sympathetically, “I know there is a woman out there that would jump at the chance of healing that broken man. Stop selling yourself short, Alex. You’ve got a lot to offer a woman. I’m going on a limb here, but I’m guessing a woman hurt you once and you’re gun shy now. Well let me just tell you, take a chance again. Not all women are heartless. Some of us are down right nice.”
Jayden smiles at Judy and contemplates what she’s said, he can’t argue her logic. Stereotyping every woman in town as a manipulative, heartless, bitch was getting him no where fast and he did want a good woman in his life. “I’ll tell you what, Judy. You find a woman as fantastic as you are. I’ll give her a chance… deal?”
“I’m being serious!”
Jayden shrugged, “Me too. I’m running late for work. You find her and let me know!” He waves over his shoulder and crosses the street towards his ‘home’.