His brow lifted, allowing depth of field to shrink as if to make room for more thought behind those dark brown eyes. Like the rest of life at the time, vision was often blurred, sometimes with fatigue, others, with purpose.
The celebration began in Auckland. Y2K was underway and everyone held their breath, expecting the worst. The Colorado NOC was decorated with cheap paper party favors to usher in the new year, century, and millennium, an event for which everyone in IT was prepared. Four massive widescreen televisions lined the front wall, and everyone on night shift watched intently as fireworks popped and scattered on the screens within the sterile safety of the command center.
Everyone except for the quiet man with the kind eyes, that is.
His head was down, studying the small screen on his desk, a browser window opened to Classmates.com. The turn of the millennium, and his mind was inexplicably elsewhere. Events of this magnitude occur only once in a lifetime, but he was never the kind of man to plan ahead feeling for such occasions. Take it as it comes was his rule. Expectation kills spontaneity.
A little over seven years earlier, in the middle of the Utah desert, defining moments had unfolded; moments he hadn’t considered since then.
He never properly invited her into his thoughts, but she walked through like she belonged there having forgotten something important. Trespass without offense, not even a smile, just a trademark lift of the right brow and an unwavering stare as she departed.
What had she done with her life? His best guess was that she had moved to New York City and become someone even more tremendous than she was when he last saw her. Perhaps a doctor, or a CEO, or an inventor. All of those titles would have suited her, at least in his mind. Had she married her Ivy League sweetheart? Does she have children?
Not having amounted to much outside of four years of military service and the grit needed to forge his way through life wearing both a blue and a white collar, this stream of consciousness was more like a fairy tale, or a Twilight Zone episode he half hoped might be true. Nothing so spectacular had unfolded in his life; his day-to-day existence was a flurry of necessary activity consumed by stress from the moment he awoke. There was little time for the joy of calm, focused thought.
Not knowing her well enough to have a clue about her life, he simply filed the thought under P, for Pleasant. Someone from the past whom it was nice to think of. Again. Of all people, she was the only one who crossed his mind at significant moments in his own history, and that was fine by him. Moments like these were rare, like double rainbows, or coincidental dreams, and they left a distinct mark.
Snowy roads made for a slow drive home, but tonight he didn’t mind. Streetlights sparkled dreamily in the winter frost through fogged windows. Where he was going there was no one but himself, which is why most of his time was spent wondering what others were doing. It was a subconscious way of keeping company without the complication of a relationship. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm playing on the radio was a hollow reminder of how cold his life had become.
He wasn’t bitter, but aside from imagining histories which never happened, he was simply…alone.