1. As I sat in the back of the classroom, I felt very shy. I always sat next to Phillip Shea, a handsome but quiet and seemingly strange man who never smiled as far as I could see. He had black hair he always kept combed back along with dark eyes that were always intense. Oh he was handsome at least I thought so. Other girls thought so too, but they found him weird. One girl in particular Dixie Dallas whispered to me that he looked scary. Scary? I wasn’t sure about that.
What would make Phillip Shea scary? Was it the tattoos? At least the ones in his arms? Or was it the way he dressed? Phillip always dressed in black. He never failed to wear his black hooded sweater either even when it was freezing. No coat. Just that hooded sweater with a sweatshirt underneath. On top of that he rode a motorcycle. He also wore an earring. Yeah I guess Phillip Shea had a wild side or so was it assumed because of the way he looked and dressed.
Whatever he was didn’t matter to me at least not anymore. I had developed a small crush on him. I can’t say when it began not really. When I started taking this class which was actually a math class (a college remedial course in fact) I never gave him a second glance. However after a month of sitting next to him, where I sometimes worked with him in solving math problems, I began to think of his soft low voice as sexy. I went home seeing his dark eyes in front of me even when I went to sleep.
Of course I didn’t think much of this at the time. After all most of us admire good looks, and dark personalities don’t we? At least I believe so. Even so I expected nothing serious to come out of this crush. It was just a crush after all, And I was a married woman. Well actually I wasn’t. In a sense I was, but I wasn’t. I only lived with somebody. His name was John Schultz, and we’d been living together for seven years. John was always calling me his wife and perhaps I was in the common law sense.
But I couldn’t be in the legal sense for a very good reason. He was still legally married to someone else.
2. John and I had been much in love when we decided to live together or at least I thought I was. Looking back now I realize that a lot of our relationship was rushed and kind of swept along. We’d been together only a few months then. For years I struggled over my decision in moving in with him so quickly. But two years ago we had our first baby, so it made sense for us to stay together.
It was still all good though. I wasn’t ready to have children yet, but I accepted the pregnancy. I accepted John completely and moved in with him. He wanted to make us a family and that seemed like the right and best thing to do.
And John was a good man. I couldn’t deny that. However, our one sore spot was the fact that he was still married. We fought about this all the time. Over and over he promised to get a divorce, but year after year would come, he’d get his income tax returns, and he still wouldn’t get his divorce. There was always some excuse as to why. He would always get the divorce started. Then something would happen to either delay it or to derail it all together.
By the time I met Phil I was more than tired of this situation. I admit it hardly mattered most times for it wasn’t like I felt his wife’s presence. But she was around and that was enough for me. We had one baby girl together, and I fantasized of a wedding. Many times I fantasized a wedding while John promised and promised to make it happen, After five years it was becoming obvious that if I wanted to get married it wasn’t going to be to John Schultz. And I was hurt not to mention angry. I had wondered if he just wanted to stay married to his wife. Sometimes I accused him of that but of course he denied it. So many times I just put it out of my mind, and I go being the wife I thought I was.
John’s mother asked me about a wedding. She liked me which was even more reason you figure, John would get that divorce. I said this to his mother. “We can’t get married until your son and Sharon get their divorce,” i answered calmly though I was irritated as heck. I hated John at that moment for putting me through this when he should have resolved this problem by now, His mother promised to talk to him. She agreed with me that yes; this should have been resolved long ago.
All this was on my mind as I thought of Phillip. Phillip was heavily on my mind now so much so that I began to avoid John. He’d kiss me but that was all I was willing to do. John didn’t question this at first and I was relieved.
One afternoon I met my sister Angela for lunch. I confided my frustrations to her along with my attraction to Phillip. She listened patiently like she always did. And she again suggested for me to give John an ultimatum. “Tell him to get that divorce or you walk. Come on Colette you should have been done that.”
“I have done that many times,” I pointed out. “He promises and then doesn’t do it. I don’t know what to do anymore.” And I didn’t. Angela didn’t think my attraction to Phillip was serious. She actually laughed about it.
“Just talk to John,” she suggested again. “As cute as this guy may be it’s not like he’s asked you out or anything. Even if he did it doesn’t matter. You and John have your daughter to think about.”
“Yes I know,” I agreed. “But John has had enough time to get that divorce. Shouldn’t he have thought about our daughter by now himself? He’s not thinking about her by dragging his feet.”
And he was dragging his feet. It was so damn frustrating and no one seemed to understand.
“Need help again?” Phillip asked me as I struggled with polynomials. I had an idea on how to do them, but I didn’t mind getting more help especially from him. Oh no.
I accepted his help so once again we had an excuse to communicate with each other. I paid attention, but this time he surprised me by making small talk with me. He’d never really did that with anyone in the class at least not that I ever saw. He then shocked me completely when he suddenly smiled at me. A smile! I couldn’t believe it. Phillip Shea the quiet guy everyone thought was a weirdo had actually smiled at me. Maybe it was silly to get excited over that,but he didn’t smile often so I knew how special that was.
3. I tried talking to John again. But it was different now. It felt different now even with our daughter. “John we’ve been together for seven years, and I’m tired of waiting for your divorce. You know the divorce that’s just not coming. I can’t wait anymore. Your mother as well as my mother keep asking about our wedding and when it’ll take place. It’s embarrassing and I won’t go through with it anymore.”
John tried to sweet talk his way out of it like he’d done before, but I wouldn’t let him this time. “No John,” I snapped. “Enough is enough. You have to make a decision. I’ve waited long enough, too long in fact. If you want to be with your wife then you should say so! I won’t stand in your way anymore.”
John smiled at me. Slowly, he finally explained that a divorce is not cheap, and that obtaining Sharon’s signature is one of the things he was trying to do to make the divorce cheaper.
“Colette you know I love you. And believe me nothing would make me happier than making you my wife at long last. But please be patient. A quick divorce though I may prefer it, will cost me a lot of money especially without Sharon’s signature.” He came to take my hands in his. “I know how frustrating this has been Colette and I am sorry for hurting you if I have. Just give me a little more time. That’s all I ask for.” He looked sincere and I felt that I could finally believe him.
However, now I wasn’t sure it mattered anymore. Worse than that I wasn’t sure I loved him anymore either. How could I marry him if I didn’t love him? Then again it was that attraction to the brooding man who sat next to me in math class. I couldn’t get him out of my head now. Did that mean anything? Or would that change once the semester ended? Oh if only I knew. If only I could read the future.
But i couldn’t read the future so I could only wait and bide my time. Another evening of class and this time Phillip talked easily to me. He had his dark hair more loose around him and not pushed back like it usually was. It made him look more handsome. I felt shy but I managed to talk and not feel silly.
“You know Colette some people here think you’re my girl just because you sit next to me all the time,” Phillip said half smiling. I didn’t know what to make of that.
“What did you tell them?” I asked wondering why I even asked that. He smiled again.
“I didn’t tell them anything. Let them believe what they want.” He shrugged. “I can think of worse things people can say than me having a beautiful girlfriend.”
What? I could only stare at him in awe and some shock. Phillip just smiled.
“You are beautiful you know. Feel free to say yes if anyone asks you about me,” he said and winked. I couldn’t believe it. Did he like me? He seemed to hint that he did, and yet maybe not. He dressed and looked like a rebel. He didn’t want anyone in his business and this seemed to indicate that and only that as well. I didn’t know what to think.
We worked together again, and he knew his math. He helped me understand the lessons more. Now the other students stared at us a lot as if unable to believe that Phillip Shea could talk to anybody. That left me feeling more than flattered. It also left me feeling more sure of not only my attraction, but of a full blown crush now. Still a crush was not love. I lived with John and he kept claiming to love me even if I wasn’t sure I loved him anymore if I ever did. Oh I guess I did. I was sure I did.
Now I wasn’t sure anymore. His potential divorce mattered less and less to me.
4. Valentine day was a week and a half away. With Phillip’s help I actually passed all my exams something I still can’t believe. This had been my third time taking this class and I always struggled with it. I did horrible on the tests and John never was any help. Now I was passing and suddenly things never felt better. This class had been a drag and weighed on me a whole lot. I needed to pass this if I was to proceed to finish up my two or three classes left. I was so close and I had Phillip to thank for it.
Phillip said I was beautiful and that had me soaring high. John said sweet things to me as well, but it was Phillip I couldn’t stop thinking about. I was even dreaming of him now. Actually I was dreaming of him already. One evening after class he surprised me again. “How about a drink?” he asked sounding somewhat shy himself. I was due at home, but I accepted. I couldn’t refuse him now. Oh lord. I couldn’t believe it as it was.
For the next two hours Phillip and I drank and had a bite to eat. I told him about my situation then including the fact that I had a daughter. He raised his eyebrows at that and for a moment I was sure that meant he’d lose any interest he may have had in me.
“Do you like children Philip?” I asked seriously. He looked so serious himself. Then again how did I know he wasn’t married himself? Maybe he even had children. I didn’t know.
He nodded. “Of course I like children,” he answered. “I also like you.”
For a moment I could only stare at him. Suddenly, he got up and walked out leaving me awed, and baffled at the same time. I sat back figuring he’d come back at some point. Imagine my shock and dismay when he didn’t.
I went to pay the check, but I was told it’d been paid for tips and all. I went home to find a very angry common law husband. John demanded to know where I was. I was on the verge of telling him, but i couldn’t say anything. I tried to make up some kind of story,but all I could think of was Phillip and what he admitted, not that it made me that happy. I was just as upset at the way he ditched me in that restaurant. He sits in the classroom and broods, but somehow admits to liking me. Now he runs away for admitting it. How odd. But I was in a committed relationship already. Why was I even courting these thoughts no matter my feelings?
Phillip skipped the entire week of class. Well the two days anyway since our math class met on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He skipped both of those days. The class hardly noticed. But I sure noticed. I held on to my head as we prepared for more exams these more important. I needed to focus on the reviews we were having that day,but I couldn’t stop thinking of Phillip. Why was I wasting my time on him? I had a committed relationship anyway even if John was still legally married to another woman. He was working on a divorce now at least so he claimed.
But it didn’t matter now. I knew that. Rightly or wrongly I just didn’t love him anymore. I was ready for something new. I wasn’t sure I could commit to anyone else even Phillip. But I sure wanted to at least talk to him, and find out more where he stood.
But how could I do that when he missed an entire week of classes? And how did I tell John how I even felt? It got more and more complicated by the day.
So in the days before Valentine’s day I walked around somewhat confused. I say somewhat because I was sure I was falling for Phillip Shea. But I kept it to myself especially when John was around. He talked again of how he was working on obtaining that long overdue divorce while I could only think of my fellow classmate who admitted to liking me.
So Valentine day’s finally came. I took my exams, but Phillip sat farther away from me, and refused to even look at me. That hurt and I guessed he was embarrassed by what he admitted. I couldn’t understand it and yet maybe I could in a way. Why was it so hard for us to admit our feelings to each other? Why was that so hard to do? And why was it embarrassing when we finally did? I suppose circumstances has a lot to do with it since it so often complicated things. I was practically married, so for Phillip that complicated things. It complicated things for me too. But I knew it was also time for me to be honest with myself even though I had a baby to think about.
John didn’t fail to send me my yearly flowers and chocolate hearts. This was always nice, but they did nothing for me that day. I just stared at them for the longest time. I tried to think back to the time we first met to see if that would spark my old feelings. The memory made me smile but that was it. It wasn’t that i I didn’t care for John for I still did. But I wasn’t in love now and who knows maybe I never was. Perhaps his years of not obtaining that divorce soured my feelings; I don’t know.
Whatever it was didn’t matter anymore. i still went home to prepare a special valentine dinner, but then the roses arrived. Three roses arrived before John even got home from work. I wondered why there were three until I saw the card. a lovely valentine day card that was attached to it.
“I can’t make sense of this at all. i only know that I can’t stop thinking about you. You’re so pretty and nice. I wasn’t sure about your baby, but it’s okay. I can tell you’re a great mom. I sent three roses for each of us, to show you that I can love her as well. Colette, I know I’m wrong to send you this today of all days. But I like you and I had to tell you. I’ll be waiting for you tonight so we can talk about it. If you don’t show up, I’ll take that as your answer to stay where you are. And believe me there’ll be no hard feelings. I hope to see you pretty lady, but remember it’s all up to you.”
Oh god! How simple he made it sound. Sure it was easy for him to simply wait for me to make some decision. But Valentine’s day? He was giving me only tonight to make that decision? It was crazy, but then like him maybe? Spontaneous? Maybe. Oh what did I do?
If that wasn’t confusing enough it became even more so when John’s divorce papers came in the mail. I tore the envelope open wrong as that was. However this paper was still not the final decree. It was only more legal forms asking for signatures or whatever. I guess it did indicate that John was finally working on the divorce.
“Are you finally satisfied?” John’s voice came from behind completely startling me. He caught me holding the papers and I felt somewhat dumb about that. Yet, it wasn’t like I didn’t know.
“What do you mean am I satisfied?” I asked now confused. “What would I be satisfied about?”
“Well you know the divorce. You’ve been bothering me for years about getting it. So there it is. It hasn’t been finalized yet but it will be soon enough.”
He looked happy. I wasn’t though. I didn’t like his choice of words. Satisfied? That was all he could say to me about getting his divorce in order to be free to marry me? I didn’t like that at all.
“John what do you mean you hope I’m satisfied? Don’t you want this divorce? I mean don’t do me any favors here. If you don’t want it then by all means don’t get it!”
“Oh come on Colette. Don’t be silly. Of course I want it. You know I didn’t mean anything by that. On top of that I want to finally marry you. Take a look at this.”
He opened the small black velvet box to show me the ring he brought. I looked at it but didn’t bother taking it out even as he stood smiling. I don’t know if his last words finally did it, but I knew what I had to do now. I placed the ring on the table. After that I hurried to the room to pack a small bag for my baby and myself. By the time I came out John was staring at me with wide eyes, and his mouth agape.
“Colette…what are you doing? What’s going on? Where are you taking my daughter?”
I paused by the door. “Our daughter John. And don’t worry you’ll get to see her. We’ll work everything out there. Right now I have to get out of here. I’ll be back for the rest of my things.” I wanted to thank him for everything but that sounded somewhat formal so I didn’t mention it. It wasn’t like I worked for him or something.
“What are you saying? What do you mean you’re leaving?” He raised his hands completely flabbergasted. I opened the door and headed out.
“John I’ll call a cab from outside,” I said quickly. “We’ll talk tomorrow, but I have to go at least for now.” I left then even as he kept calling me.
“Wait a minute Colette. You’re leaving me on Valentine’s day? I had dinner planned for us and everything. Come on you can’t leave me now.”
He had dinner planned and everything. He didn’t say he loved me. And I knew why. There was no love between us anymore. Maybe he didn’t see it like I did. Or maybe I just didn’t want to stay.
“Goodbye John,” I said somewhat sadly. I was walking out on seven years of a union that had its good points and good memories. It wasn’t easy. But I was thinking of Phillip and I had to at least see him that night. For Valentine’s day I had to see him.
5. Phillip met me in Central Park. He was dressed sort of normal with a gray shirt and black pants. However this time he wore his black hooded sweater despite the cold. In his hands he carried more red roses. His black hair was combed loosely around him again and he never looked more handsome.
“Is this your baby?” he asked walking towards us. I nodded completely breathless. He smiled in a sweet way sweeter than I ever seen him do.
“She’s cute beautiful in fact,” he said tenderly. He looked just as tenderly at me. “Just like her mother.”
I smiled shyly again. “Phillip, why do you like me?” I asked trying not to blush though I already was.
He softly placed his hand on my face making me close my eyes. But I opened them quick again not wanting to miss anything. His manly cologne had already swooned me.
“I don’t know Colette. I just do. I just do.”
That was no reason but then again I felt the same way about him. I was really fond of him now.
“Happy Valentine’s day Colette. I’m so glad you came. You gave me the best present for just coming.”
“Happy Valentine’s day Phillip.” He handed me the rest of the red roses.
He stroked my baby’s hair as he leaned towards me.
We shared a kiss and it was better than anything I ever expected.