Oliver Waits for Olivia

I tried to write a blog about love yesterday and the day before. It was a struggle. I was really excited for this series but since I didn’t write them all on the day I was so excited the topics have sort of lost their sparkle; and really I prefer sparkly things. So in lieu of some mediocre blog post I’m going to post one of my favorite short stories. I wrote it a couple years ago when I was in a writing group. Please don’t steal it. And now please enjoy Oliver Waits for Olivia!

He waited in the convention center for her.  He couldn’t be sure of her real name but she had told him it was Olivia.  He’d made a sign and placed it on a table facing the crowds of people that walked by.  He started waiting at eight am and had been standing in the same place for almost an hour.  His weight shifted back and forth on his feet as he scanned the groups of people on their way to meetings, work and conventions.

“She should be here any moment.” He thought to himself.  “I’m sure of it.”

He was lying to himself now.  All his life he had waited for Olivia and then she finally agreed to meet in person.  No more mysterious letters lacking a return address.  He never knew how his letters reached her.  He would write her name and ‘Mysterious Location’ on the envelope and somehow she received them and wrote back.  Now finally he would meet his sweet Olivia.

They started writing to each other in college and hadn’t stopped for nine years.  They were unofficially married without the benefit of waking up next to each other.  But he had, with Olivia, the deepest relationship he’d had in his life.  Now they were ready to start their physical relationship.  He would see her and be able to touch her; be able to hold her in his arms.  The thought was overwhelming.

He took off his coat, folded it into a ball and placed it on the table behind the sign.  Then he pulled a chair towards him and sat down.  “Soon,” he kept telling himself, “soon.”

His parents hadn’t approved of Olivia.

“Is she Catholic?” They asked.  He had to say he didn’t know.  He didn’t have the heart to tell them he wasn’t sure if he was Catholic himself.  After that their distaste and disapproval of her grew.  After years of never meeting her personally their disapproval turned to dislike.  He knew because every time he mentioned her, his parent’s eyebrows would go up and everyone present would stop talking.

He leaned forward and checked his sign, adjusted it a bit, pointing it towards the traffic coming up the stairs.  He’d been here a full hour and twenty minutes now.  He decided to call the hotel at which Olivia was staying.  He pulled out his cell phone and a scrap of paper.

‘In case of emergency only’ was written across the top in delicate handwriting; her beautiful scrawl.  He dialed the number.

“Seattle Sheraton, how may I direct your call?”  A cool voice asked.

“I’d like Olivia Regel’s room please.” He sputtered.

“One moment.” The hold music was broken by a recorded voice, offering special discounts on travel and romance packages.  Suddenly it was stopped mid-offer.

“I’m sorry sir.  She checked out about an hour and a half ago.” He felt panic start to rise.

“She was supposed to meet me here.  It’s only a ten minute walk…” His voice trailed off.

“Sir?” The voice sounded unnerved now.

“Are you sure? She’s terribly late meeting me.  I’m quite worried now.” He said.

“Sir, what’s your name?  I’ll call the police for you if you wish.” The voice was sympathetic.

“Yes, absolutely.  My name’s Oliver Regel.”  He hung up and sat again.

She’d probably stopped at a coffee house to get a quick bite and latte.  She might’ve started to read the newspaper and lost track of time.  She did that quite often.  He stood again, watching for her.

He’d only seen one picture of her; back when they’d first started corresponding.  He pulled out the photo; slightly tan skin, green eyes and brown hair cascading down her back and over her shoulders.  He smiled and put the photo back in his wallet.  He stood, then sat, and stood again.  He focused on the stairs, the bustling street outside and sat again.

He felt his phone vibrate against his thigh and jumped a little.  He answered.

“Oliver, this is Olivia.  I’m sorry darling, I got sidetracked, stopped for a quick coffee and became immersed in a newspaper.  I’ll be there soon.”  Her voice was soft and sounded warbled.

“Alright, dear.  Glad to hear it, see you soon.” He smiled snapping his phone shut.  Probably just another ten minutes now.  He stood again, happily.

Outside two police cars screamed.  They came to a halt outside the convention center.  Two police officers stayed outside, barricading the entrance and the other two came inside.  They walked calmly towards the man with the ‘Olivia’ sign as a crowd gathered outside.  The man seemed to look right through them as they walked towards him.

“Sir, is your name Oliver Regel?” The man started a bit when the officer spoke to him.

“Yes.  I’m waiting for Olivia.” He said.  The two officers exchanged looks.  “She just called me.  She should be here soon.”

“Why don’t you come with us sir?” The second officer said.

He looked past the police as the doors opened and his parents walked in.  His father in the one cheap suit he wore to work, his mother in sweat pants stained with soil.  She must have been gardening.

“What’s going on?” He asked watching his mother and father approach.

“Sir, please just come with us.” The first officer said, holding out a hand.

“No. Olivia is coming, I’ll miss her.” His mother came up the stairs.

“Oliver, there is no Olivia.  You made her up.” She said.  He was quiet, regarding her.

“No…” he started. “No, we met in college.” He said.  His mother’s eyes were teary.

“You didn’t go to college, honey.  You were too sick.” She said.

“No…I’m waiting for Olivia.” He said pathetically.

“No Oliver.” His father said.  “It was you who checked into the hotel, and you who wrote all those letters.  You’re waiting for a phantom son.”

“I’m not.” He wanted to shout, but it only came out a squeak.  Suddenly the second officer was behind him, cuffing him and pushing him along, towards the door.  His mother gathered his coat and the ‘Olivia’ sign and walked behind them.

As he was ushered out the door he caught the glimpse of his reflection, in the window.  He could have sworn he saw a dark haired woman standing next to him.  He looked behind him, but there was nothing.  Nothing at all.

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