Brad had once loved Diane. She had been the ultimate catch. As the once appointed “Least Likely to Succeed,” he couldn’t believe his ears when she (the former Prom Queen) agreed to meet him for coffee in the University Center. Little did she know when she met him (with the intention of stealing homework help for Professor DeLaney’s sociology class) that she would eventually fall in love and marry the class geek. All he had lacked was the requisite tape around the rim of his black framed glasses for official geek certification.
After 17 years of marriage, Diane had stopped caring. She saw herself in a childless, loveless marriage and gave up her status as wife. Brad was lost without her.
His once full cheeks had become sallow and sunken. Two years after she left, he still had not managed to move on. His coworkers had long stopped concerning themselves with his unsafe weight loss. They no longer came by to check on him on the weekends. Even though he had been the office caretaker, always worrying about others and helping those in need, it only took them six months to almost totally forget Brad.
On a particularly monotonous day, Brad stared out of his cubicle window at the glaring sunshine that reflected off of the cars below. His thoughts still drifted to Diane on his mandatory 15 minute breaks. Only today, he didn’t just dream about her. He saw her.
His heart pounded as he recognized her petite frame and long brown hair as she danced languidly between the rows of cars below. She had lost what little bit of extra weight that always talked about losing. She looked even better than he remembered.
Brad began adjusting his tie. He checked the mirror in the bathroom before making his way down to the lobby to meet her. As he raced down the 4 flights of stairs, his mind conjured up what he would say. He couldn’t stop smiling.
He reached the lobby at the same time she did. The receptionist jumped as he burst through the door. Diane saw him immediately. Her face was solemn.
He stopped cold in his tracks. He realized that this wasn’t the reunion he had always hoped for. “Diane?”
“Hi, Brad. How have you been?” she asked quietly.
“I thought I was going to be better when I saw you coming across the lot,” he answered honestly. His heart still raced. His hands were shaking as he extended his right to shake hers.
She looked at him, confused. “What do you mean?”
“I always dreamed that you would come back to me, but as I see, that isn’t why you came today.”
“So many times I tried to come back, but I knew that you hated me for leaving you the way I did.”
“Hated you?? I still dream of you…every night, every day, every hour,” he said with a somber voice.
She wanted to smile. It made her happy to think that he might still love her. “I came back because I have something that I have to ask you.”
Brad looked puzzled and suggested they go to the cafe inside the building. The receptionist buzzed the supervisor, as he asked, to inform him of the situation.
The cafe was brightly lit and didn’t lend to the romantic setting that Brad had so often imagined, but then, this hadn’t been the reunion that he imagined, either. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“I feel really bad coming here for this,” she said.
Brad just looked at her. Thoughts crowded his mind. He didn’t know how to respond. He wanted to ask how she had been; if she had missed him; if there was something wrong. He opted for, “I love you. You can ask me for anything.”
Diane’s face turned alabaster. She couldn’t bring herself to ask him what she had come to ask. She looked down at the coffee that sat before her.
“I am sorry. That wasn’t what I should have said. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” he tried to do damage control.
“I swear I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t need to be. I want you to know how embarrassed I am to ask you for this.”
“What is it?” He asked becoming confused and frustrated.
“I need you to help me find my husband’s killer.”