Carmen glanced down at the ticker imbedded in her wrist once more. 34 minutes left. Her eyes flicked to the calendar placed next to the clock and color coded stack of sticky notes. Today’s date-- Thursday, May fourth-- was outlined in fluorescent pink sharpie, written in the middle of the square was ‘FALL IN LOVE @ 12:37’.
Today was the day the ticker reached zero, and Carmen would meet the man she would love for the rest of her small eternity
The office chair she sat in felt like it was swallowing her alive, the anxiety was breaking her down. She had been preparing for this since she was told what it was, but no amount of preparation or planning could still her impatient fingers or the sweating clamminess of her palms.
Carmen’s usually wild black curls were pinned out of her eyes and tucked into a bun at the nape of her neck. She couldn’t bother to be messing with her hair on a day as monumental as this, but it kind of aggravated her that she could feel it back there whenever she moved her head. She had gone out to the JC Penney near her house the weekend before to pick out a dress, she found a lilac purple number with white lace details on the sleeve, elegant but playful.
At least, that’s what she wanted him to think.
It was almost time for Carmen to take her lunch break. Her nerves were manifesting themselves in hunger pangs, an acidic gnawing feeling in her gut. She needed to go. If Carmen sat here any longer she would drive herself to the brink of insanity-- and then go over the edge.
Carmen walked briskly out of her office building, the sound of her white heels clicked along with her speeding heart beat. She began to fantasize about what he would look like.
Would he be tall? What if… what if he’s ugly?
She banished that thought immediately-- how could she be that shallow? If he was meant to be the love of her life, there’s no way she would think he is anything less than gorgeous.
Would he have blue eyes? I love those movie star looking eyes. Carmen was thinking of someone along the lines of Bradley Cooper, frisky and enticingly handsome. He would be sturdy, with arms that would make a girl’s heart race and perfect for wrapping around her in times of need or comfort.
She arrived at the cafe that she ate in every day at 12:30. It was just a little local place. Carmen liked their homemade sandwiches and iced coffee-- that’s what she ordered most days, unless she was feeling adventurous. Today was not one of those days. Too much could malfunction. If she got the spaghetti salad, they might meet with a noodle hanging out of her mouth. That would be devastating.
Carmen parked herself at her corner table where she knew she would get a near full view of the sidewalk, in case that was where he was coming from.
Her sandwich was being made behind the counter. She wished that they would hurry up and finish it so she could focus on satisfying at least one of her complications. Carmen’s nerves were building again. Her knee bounced with anticipation, causing her high heel to click impatiently against the tile.
She stared down at her wrist watching the time speed past the 3 minute mark. She could almost feel the ticker moving toward zero in her bones. Carmen’s head swirled and her vision pulsated with a nervous type of nausea. She was overwhelmed with feeling. Sweat trickled down the spot in between her shoulder blades and down her back. Her body was humming with the anticipation of meeting her forever-- the love of her life. She continued to watch the clock’s numbers trickle down to the final seconds.
And then to zero.
At that moment, her head frantically spun around to the sidewalk, to see if any devilishly handsome men were peeing in at her. None. Then to the cafe, whirling around only to instantly collide with the waiter bringing her sandwich. Iced coffee flew in the air, landing in a puddle right before Carmen, with a steady stream dripping on to her brand new dress. She didn’t care, she didn’t even notice. Her eyes were flickering back and forth from his face to her wrist. The ticker clearly read 00:00:00. And she knew. It was definitely him.
“Are you…?” She began, but had no clue what she was to say.
“I’m at zero too,” He smiled, but then faltered, “OH! Oh, let me grab you some napkins! I’m so so sorry!” He stumbled over to the napkin dispenser and grabbed a handful for Carmen. He sat down across from her and mopped up the spilt coffee.
“I’m Nick. It’s nice to finally meet you,” His shy smile crept back up his lips. She thought he was brilliant. Blue eyes were not staring back at her, just gleaming dark brown ones-- the kind where Carmen couldn’t differentiate between iris and pupil. They were set over large frames with loose strands of orangey blonde hair brushing the tops of the lenses. He wasn’t ripped or shredded with muscle. In fact, Nick was most definitely average in that category. She thought he was beautiful.
Carmen had knew Nick for two minutes and 45 seconds, and she knew she would love him forever.See, the funny thing about love, is that it happens in the most unlikely and unpredictable situations, it comes when you're not expecting it and when you're not ready for it. It doesn’t matter if that person isn’t what you were dreaming of as a child, they will shatter any expectation you could possibly build. They will be exactly what you need, not what you were looking for.