“I can’t stop laughing. He asked you to put on what?” Desirae cackled.
“My damn uniform. Can you believe that creep? I hightailed my ass out of there.”
“I bet you did. He probably does it to all the flight attendants, with his freak ass.”
“He didn’t get this one. Where are you headed today, Des?”
“I’m flying to Antigua today. I have 5 days before I have to fly back to Los Angeles so Ben is going to come with. Where are you going?”
“Sounds like fun. I’m going to Toronto tonight and Chicago in the morning.”
“You should call Langston while you’re in Chicago.”
“I’m sure he’s busy performing important surgeries and running a hospital.”
“You’ll never know if you don’t ask.”
“I’m not going to bother that man.”
“He sent you roses out of the blue, I’m sure he wouldn’t think you were bothering him. Stop being stubborn and call him.”
“Fine. I’ll call him when I land in Toronto.”
“You’ll thank me for it later.”
“Whatever Des. Have fun on your trip and I will talk to you later.”
“You too. Love ya girl.”
“Love you too.”
Every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving I pick up a trip to Chicago for the Festival of Lights. This year would be no different. I checked in at the Four Seasons and made myself at home. I agreed to meet Langston at his office before heading to see the lights.
“I better not take a nap or I won’t make it out of this hotel.” I say to myself.
I get dressed and take an Uber to Langston’s office.
“I’m here to see Langston Anthony. I’m Raegan Hill.” I say to his assistant.
“He’s expecting you. I’ll let Dr. Anthony know you’re here.”
She swept her blonde hair out of her face as she adjusted her headset and dialed in to Langston’s office.
“Ms. Hill is here to see you Dr. Anthony.”
“Send her in.”
“He’s ready for you. You can go straight through those double doors to the left and his office is right down the hallway.”
I walk down the hall and pause at his door. It’s been so long since we have seen each other, I don’t know what to expect or what he expects of me. I wonder if he’s married. I should have checked before I agreed to dinner. I guess it’s too late now.
“Langston Chase Anthony, it’s been too long. Or should I say Dr. Anthony?”
“Raegan, you haven’t aged a day. It seems like all that traveling you do agrees with you.” he said drawing me into his arms.
Getting a whiff of his cologne reminded me of the last dinner we had together before I left for training. He asked me not to go. He told me we could make a life together but I couldn’t do it. The pain in his eyes was too much to bear. I would have never asked him to give up his degree to follow me around the world. I knew he loved me but I needed to follow my own path. That was the last time we saw each other.
“You smell wonderful as usual.” I said, breaking our embrace.
“You look wonderful as usual.”
“I mean it. You’re just as stunning as the last time I saw you. Of course, your hair is shorter and brown now. You look more mature but still beautiful.”
“Well, thank you Langston. You don’t look half bad yourself.”
“Did you want to grab a bite to eat before we went to see the lights?”
“I’m not hungry right now, I was thinking of maybe grabbing something afterwards.”
“Sounds like a plan. I drove today, let me grab my coat and we can head out.”
I admired Langston’s physique.
“You still work out religiously?” I said, squeezing his arm.
“Five times a week. I’ve got to take care of my body”
“That you do.” I whispered to myself.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“I said, I wish I was as disciplined as you.”
“Move to Chicago and I will help you with that.”
“You would help little ole me with my fitness routine? However could I thank you Mr. Anthony?”
“You know I didn’t mean it like that Rae.”
“I’m teasing. I would love your help, if I moved here.”
They reached the parking structure where Langston’s cream G-Wagon glistened catching the rays of the sun.
“What does PG DR LNG mean? Raegan quizzed looking at his license plate.
“Paging Dr. Lang.”
“I’ve never taken you for the vain type, go figure.”
“Still sassy and smart assy, huh?
“I’m never one to disappoint.”
They headed out towards Michigan Ave to see the city adorned in lights.
“Whats keeping you in L.A.?” Langston asked.
“Besides my job, the beautiful weather.”
“Chicago has beautiful weather.”
“When it wants to. Chicago is wishy washy when it comes to beautiful weather. Whats keeping you in Chicago?”
“Well, being Chief of Surgery certainly doesn’t hurt. I am also the head of a new department the hospital is starting. It’s more for research and experimental surgeries.”
“Impressive. I’ve never told you how proud of you I am. Langston”
“I knew you were, you didn’t have to say it.”
“No really, you deserve to hear out loud. You put in a lot of hard work and were dedicated, no matter what. That’s why you are the chief of surgery.”
Langston, do you remember that time I couldn’t afford to fly home for Christmas so you stayed in the dorm with me?
How could I forget? We ate Ramen Noodles and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.
The struggle was real. She cackled.
Under the glowing lights Langston couldn’t help but admire Raegan’s beauty. She matured but she didn’t look a day over 21. What he remembered most about that night in college almost changed the course of their lives forever.
“This is the best Christmas dinner ever. My mamas Mac and cheese have nothing on your grilled cheese.”
“Langston stop trying to make me feel better about being a poor college kid.”
“There’s a such thing as a college kid that isn’t poor? Show me one who isn’t and I’m sure there’s a trust fund near by. Don’t beat yourself up about not going home. There will be more holidays. Plus, when we graduate and I make you Mrs. Dr. Langston Anthony, you’ll cook the holiday dinners and invite our families over.”
“First, that name is pretentious. I’d prefer Mrs. Raegan Hill-Anthony. Second, we graduate in two years and then you have another 4-6 years in school. We have to focus on our careers before we just decide to settle down.”
“Whoa, what do you mean before we decide to settle down? This is settled down. That’s here now. Are you trying to see other people?”
“Langston, no. It’s just, I’m 21. I want to see the world. I want to see where my career takes me. I don’t want to have to make choices for my career based on my relationship. I wouldn’t ask you to give up your dream of wanting to be a dr.”
“That dream means nothing if you’re not beside me.”
“See, that’s the point. What if something happens to me? Do you give up? What if we decide we aren’t compatible? Do you stop practicing medicine? That’s unrealistic. You are passionate about saving lives. I am passionate marketing. This degree means a lot to me. I’m going to use it to see every part of the world.”
“So you’re giving up on us?”
“No. I’m saying let’s not rush into marriage. Let’s make sure that’s what we really want.”
“Ok. I won’t press the issue. I have to run to my dorm room. I’ll be back in 15. Get the movie started.”
“Ok Babe. Hurry back and thank you for understanding.”
Langston grabbed a velvet box from his overnight bag and slipped into his pocket.
“No problem.” He said as closed the door behind him.
He fidgeted with the box the entire walk there.
“Now is just not the right time, I guess. God, I thought she was the one. What am I doing?”
“Langston, did you hear me?”
“Oh I’m sorry Rae, I got distracted by the lights. What did you say?”
“I was just telling you how I proud I was of you for promotion to Chief of Surgery. I know you worked hard for it.”
“Oh yeah, yeah. I did. Thank you. Let’s go for a walk.”
“A walk? Langston are you ok? You’ve seemed kind of distant tonight.”
“I’m fine. I just think the lights should be enjoyed from outside the car. Plus, some fresh air will do us good.
Raegan stared at him suspiciously.
They parked a few blocks away and found their way back to Michigan Ave.
“Raegan, I loved you.”
“Please just let me get this out.”
“I loved you like no other. I believe we get one soulmate and you’re mine. I know that you are pro career and furthering yourself but that has to get lonely at some point. That Christmas I stayed with you I was going to propose. I brought the ring with me and everything and you told me you didn’t want to get married. You wanted to focus on your career and then you left a week and a half later. You walked out of my life as if I meant nothing to you. As if the two years we spent together meant nothing. How could you do that?”
“I’m sorry.” She whispered.
“I found the ring receipt in a pair of pants you left in my room. I was going to wash them so I emptied your pockets and when I saw the receipt I knew what it was. I didn’t think I was ready to be a drs wife. That takes serious commitment and I didn’t want to distract you from making your dreams come true. I was going to want to go on dates and have your time and attention. I didn’t want things to go bad because of that.”
“You didn’t give us a chance.”
“I made the decision for us. I never stopped loving you either but I knew what I had to do.”
“You should’ve stayed we could’ve made it work.”
“I’m sorry Langston. I can’t take it back. I wasn’t ready for that commitment and I should’ve been honest.”
“Raegan you hurt me so bad I didn’t date for 5 years after you left.”
“I knew visiting wasn’t a good idea. We should have let the past be the past. I apologize for hurting you and being selfish.”
“I deserved closure, hell we both did. Can you honestly say you never regretted that decision?”
“Regret is a strong word. I would have like to have seen what life would’ve been like had I of stayed. Where would we be?”
“I imagine, we’d be in Florida with our four children, Lj, Bianca, Raeven, and Ben.” Langston said as he linked arms with Raegan pulling her closer.
“Yes. Four. The twins picked Florida this time for Walt Disney World.”
“Our twin girls Bianca & Raeven. I imagine a hectic life, but a life where at the end of each night and beginning of each day I’m with you. We take family trips every quarter just to unwind. We keep the romance going in the midst of busy schedules.”
“Sounds like you had our future planned out.”
“You never thought about our future?”
“Of course I did. Especially when we had that scare. I wondered would you have time to help me raise a child while you studied for school. Could you handle a fussing child every two hours when you’ve been up all night in surgery? Would I feel like a single mom in a relationship? How would our child be affected?
“You’re so cynical.”
“I’m realistic. I wanted nothing to stand in your way or mine for that matter. Now look at us. It just wasn’t the right time then.”
Bzzz. Bzzzz. Bzzzz.
“Hello. Hey Honey, yes I’m out with Raegan. No, I’ll probably grab something while I’m out. Ok, see you when I get home. Love you too. Bye.
Sorry about that. That was my girlfriend Mia.”
“No need to apologize. It’s not like we were professing our love of anything before that call.”
“I should have told you about Mia before you came.”
“Langston, you don’t have to explain. We haven’t dated in years. It’s natural that we’ve moved on. In love or not. I came to catch up so let’s catch up.”
“Reagan listen I’m still in love with you. Mia is a great woman but I don’t feel for her what I feel for you.”
“Please spare me the I love her but I love you too bullshit. I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime. Go home to Mia. You love her, and that’s ok. I don’t want you to leave her. I just got out of a relationship and I don’t want to be complicit in ending yours. I’m gonna take an Uber back to the hotel and I’ll catch up with you the next time I’m in Chicago.”
“Rae Bae, don’t be like that. Let me make sure you get to the hotel safely. I’ll drop you off.”
“I got it, really. You can wait with me until the Uber comes if you want.”
His somberness hung in the air like a thick fog on a crisp night. Ten minutes of silence felt like an eternity.
“Thanks for everything Langston. I’ll let you know when I make it.”
“Take care of yourself, Rae.”
“I always do.”
Reagan sulks into the Uber and texts Desirae: “Another one bites the dust.”