Saturday, December 31, 2005

" LAUREN " Part 1

Finally free! Well, at least for two hours. Her eldest of two children was at basketball practice and his best friend`s mother would drive him home afterwards. Lauren was pulling out of the parking lot of the ballet academy where she had just deposited her eight year old daughter Courtney.

She had not decided to meet Brent until she found herself turning left at the light, heading towards the city. Lauren had been married for ten years, had a happy life; her husband and two children, a beautiful home in a fashionable community, her passion for writing. And yet here she was driving to meet Brent; just a drink, nothing more.

Lauren had met Brent at the annual Philadelphia Writer`s Guild conference. He was one of five invited guests, published writers all, with their own devoted followings. Brent O`Mara was the poet invitee and Lauren had had the pleasure of introducing him at one of the workshops.

After his reading and the last of his admirers had left for the cash bar, he came over to her as she was gathering the extra literature from the head table. Brent lightly brushed her shoulder with one finger, "Lauren, I really must thank you for your help with my workshop. Could I repay you in some small way for the pleasure of meeting you? At least a drink."

As soon as Brent and Lauren entered the main ballroom, it was clear that any chance of their sharing a few moments together was futile.

Lauren looked on wistfully as Brent was surrounded by women of all ages; touching him, trying to get his attention. Brent shrugged his shoulders and winked at her, mouthing the words "Don`t go!" as programs and pens enveloped him.

Lauren smiled, walked to the bar and ordered a glass of chardonnay. She sat at a table and gazed at the crowd around Brent. Had these women read his poetry or were they just drawn by his celebrity?

She found herself feeling warm, somewhat flustered. To be honest with herself, it felt like jealousy. She smiled at herself, sipped at her wine and went to the coatroom to retrieve her coat. As she left the room for her car, the last glimpse she saw of Brent was of his eyes, staring at her.

Lauren waited four days, checking her EMail. There was nothing from Brent. She felt a little foolish, like a schoolgirl. I met this man, he touched my shoulder and lightly flirted with me; and here I am looking for EMails from a stranger? She smiled at her folly but couldn`t resist going to Brent`s website. It was there that she saw the poem.

To L
Oh, if I be that goblet
brought to your lips,
releasing my fluid
into you.

Lauren was moved by the poem yet was unsure if it was written for her. After all, she had just spoken a few words with Brent. She shuddered as she remembered the feeling of his finger lightly caressing her shoulder.

And what if it was for her? She was a married woman with two children and a wonderful husband. The last thing she needed was a romantic complication in her life!

And yet, how beautiful the poem, how sensuous! Lauren imagined leaving a comment at Brent`s website, and how foolish she would feel if the poem was not written for her. She was just about to exit the website when she noticed Brent`s EMail address.

She thought, "What harm could it do to send him an EMail complimenting his poetry. Maybe just leave my cell phone number!" She felt a warmth in her body, an excitement that she had long since forgotten! Before her better sense could argue with her, Lauren typed the EMail and hit send.

The next morning, while loading the dishwasher, Lauren heard the Coldplay song announcing someone was calling on her cellphone. She rushed to the phone, then waited 10 seconds before clicking it on.

"Hello"; a 10 second pause; then "Good morning, Lauren. Thank you for visiting my web site. Did you see your poem?"

"The poem was beautiful, Brent, but I wasn`t sure it was for me!"

"Lauren, I was so sorry to see you leave the meeting, I went to your table and tasted from your wine glass. The poem just erupted as I tasted the chardonnay through your lipstick on the rim."

Lauren felt that warmth again; 'How can that happen over the phone?' She didn`t know what to say, how to respond.

Brent saved her by speaking, "Can you find some time tonight to meet me? I still owe you that drink."

Lauren thought about the kid`s schedules, then replied, "If you really want to, I have some time between 7.00 and 8.30 tonight."

"Do you know the Mill Race? On the way to the city?"
"Yes, Brent, though I`ve never been there."

"I`ll see you there at 7.30 then?"

"Yes, Brent, I`ll be there. Bye." Lauren turned off the phone and wondered if she was doing the right thing.

Lauren arrived at the Mill race at 7.15, about fifteen minutes early. She continued driving past the tavern for about ten minutes, then turned her SUV around and started back. She remembered that Brent had said 7.30 and she didn`t want to sit in a bar alone.

When she arrived at the tavern she found a parking space close to the entrance and, after checking her makeup, she entered the front door.

The tavern was dimly lit, but she could see the bar area was to her right. Lauren walked to the bar entrance, then hesitated. There were only five customers there, two couples and an older man. Lauren, crestfallen, checked her watch; 7.45! Feeling a bit foolish, she turned and started walking back to the front entrance.

As she approached the door, she felt a light touch on her shoulder. "Lauren, Hi. I`m so sorry. I`ve been sitting at a table in the dining room and I must have missed you. Come, it`s much more private there at this hour."

Brent took her elbow and led her to a nook near the back of the dining room, where they sat. "I`m so happy you`ve come. I was worried I`d been stood up!"

Lauren smiled nervously as Brent poured her a glass of white wine from a decanter on the table. "Chardonnay, wasn`t it?" Lauren nodded and Brent raised his glass to hers, speaking, "Here`s to our adventure."