“Hello, Meredith, how…how are you?”
“Hey,” Meredith replied happily, “I’m doing good!”
“I bet you are. I got your message about the job; so, ah, tell me more about it.” Bernard listened to Meredith as he has a million times before loving the tones of the ebb and flow in her voice. He nodded as if she could see him, but didn’t say much else other than the occasional “huh,” and “oh.” Although his voice didn’t sound like it, he was really happy for Meredith. Dr. Meredith Anderson, the new Chair of the Journalism and Mass Communications Department at Savannah State University. “This is so exciting, I’m very happy for you!” Bernard retorted once he found his voice again.
“Hey, thanks so much. I have to do so much and so little time.”
“How can I help?”
“Umm…”Meredith said not knowing how to really tell Bernard how she needed his help. “Well, I’ll be going to Savannah next week to sign contracts and all that – I know this, ah, may be odd, but could you go with me? I don’t know anyone in Atlanta and I, ah,” Meredith stopped talking because she felt like she’d start begging him at any moment.
“I’d be honored, when will you be coming in so I get my schedule arranged?”
“Wednesday afternoon, and I’m not leaving until Monday morning.”
“Ok, good, I’d love to be your Hoke Colburn,” Bernard said and they both laughed. He hadn’t driven anyone anywhere in a while, but he didn’t mind being Meredith’s chauffeur. “Ok, send me your flight detail and I’ll take care of the rest. Do you have your hotel and all that done?”
“Not yet…I was doing that now.”
“I see, and your budget is?”
“I just need a night somewhere because I’ll be staying in Savannah, so I guess I’ll only need your “Driving Miss Daisy” services from the airport and then to Savannah.” Bernard couldn’t believe his ears; there’s no way he was going to be this close to Meredith and not do his best to spend time with her.
“Meredith, remember a few months ago we were planning a little trip to Savannah?”
“Yes,” she replied softly.
“Let me take care of Savannah, but The Ellis here in downtown ATL is really nice.”
“Is that, ah, where you are, ah, staying,” Meredith asked suddenly becoming nervous.
“No, no, the company got me at the Ritz,” Bernard said feeling a bit odd since he’s not glitz and glamour type guy. “But it’s short term, I’ve found a condo, I think.”
“Oh, ok, well that’s good and I know staying there isn’t really your thing,” Meredith said and Bernard smile thinking how well Meredith knows him. “So, you said you wanted to talk?”
Damn it, Bernard thought he was hoping to not have to go there until he actually met Meredith, he wanted to have this conversation face to face. But he knew better; her need for him to be her driver is just because she didn’t know anyone else to help her.
“I needed to apologize for what happened when you were giving me advice on how to deal with my son; you’re correct in saying that I’d have to love him from afar, but I didn’t appreciate the fact that you knew more about how I should handle my emotions about my son better than I did. It rattled me; it made me feel like I had lost my son all over again, and to someone that doesn’t even know him.” Meredith listened intently to Bernard understanding everything he was saying. She dealt with many divorced parents who had the same problem with trying to be there for their children when they are no longer there physically. “So for me, and I say this because I find myself caring about your opinion more each day and these past few months away from you really gave me heartache, but thank you for getting me. Thank you for being what I needed when I was too stupid to know it and thank you for wanting the best for my son; it takes a hell of a woman to love a part of someone they know nothing about.” Meredith, never being one to be at a loss of words suddenly found herself there; for all the time she’s known Bernard, this is the most passionate she’s ever heard him speak about anything. She knew he loved his son, and she even knew that he cared for her, but never did she think he was in love with her. “Are you still there,” Bernard asked not knowing if he scared Meredith to death or not. Without saying the words, Bernard knew he just admitted to Meredith that he was in love with her.
“Yes, yes, I’m here,” Meredith said and cleared her throat. “So when did you realize that my words are and have been because I care for you?”
“The next morning when I woke up and didn’t have any messages from you. It dawned on me how much I took those little things for granted. Then I was embarrassed about my behavior, and I didn’t know what to do or if you’d even take my calls.”
“Oh,” Meredith said completely understanding. “So in the future, you can’t shut down on me, you have to let me know what you’re thinking, feeling,” what was she saying in the future? Just because he said all that he did really didn’t mean that there was any kind of future with Bernard. “I mean you can shy away for a minute, but I really don’t think if the situation were turned that you’d appreciate me doing that to you.” Meredith suddenly found her voice and anything she was feeling about the way Bernard made her feel was about to be poured out of her. “Bernard, you really hurt me with that, I didn’t understand what I did, or what the hell I said for you to make me feel like I did something wrong to you. It isn’t that I’m insensitive or unaware of what you were feeling, but for you to dismiss my thoughts and concern as if I were the Evil Queen wasn’t cool.”
“You’re right, I was wrong and I apologize.” With that flat out apologize, Meredith had no come back, she had nothing to add or take away. “So we either live in the past or try to have some kind of future, but I will try my best to be what you need as I know you’ll do your best to be what I need. I, ah, haven’t had anyone like you – ever – and admittedly I’m scared to get hurt, but I never meant to hurt you in the process.” They both took a deep breath and Bernard said after clearing his throat and saying a silent prayer, “Hello, my name is Bernard, it’s a pleasure to meeting you.”
Meredith giggled and said, “I’m Meredith, the pleasure is mine.”
…to be continued
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