Ambrose closed his eyes and returned her hug. “It was never meant to be. And honestly? It doesn’t matter. Just like with Elsie, it doesn’t matter anymore. I have you in my arms, Barbara Smith, and you love me. Despite all of the bad things that I am, you still love me. You don’t know how much that means to me.”
Barbara kissed the crook of his neck. “You’re wrong about that. I know.” She kissed him again. “I do know.”
His shoulders slumped as his day exhaustion finally kicked in.
Barbara raised her head. “What’s wrong?”
He sighed heavily. “Dawn.”
“Oh.” She guided him down to his pillow and laid next to him. “Go to sleep, Ambrose. I’m here and I won’t leave you.”
His body relaxed as he fell asleep.
Dawn’s early light crept in through Hildreth’s parted curtains. It found him sprawled out all over his bed, uncovered and still dressed in yesterday’s clothes. His mouth was slightly open. His chest rose and fell with easy regularity. His right leg hung off the edge of the bed.
Maybe he was having a good dream.
Maybe he was stuck in a nightmare he couldn’t escape.
His expression was calm, either way.
With the exception of his breathing, the room was silent.
The air was still.
His cell phone lay on the pillow next to him.
The phone was on, but the screen was dark.
Everything was so quiet.
“Dreams last for so long…” Jewel sang as his phone’s alarm went off.
“ehhhh….” Hildreth grabbed his phone and stuffed it under the pillow.
Jewel kept on singing about how some guy was meant for her even though they were no longer together.
She was rudely interrupted by the Dixie Chicks singing ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ — Master Shinowa’s ringtone.
Hildreth pulled the phone out of hiding and answered the call. “If you aren’t bringing me a box of pizza with garlic and steak stuffed breadsticks, I’m ending this call.”
He reluctantly sat up. “Master Shinowa.”
“It is morning earlyness.”
“It sure is. Can I go back to sleep now?”
“You are knowing what day this morning is?”
Hildreth put his hand to his forehead. “Master, in all honesty, that sentence was too tangled for me to untangle at this time of the…Where was I going with this thought?”
“Have you forget what today is?”
“Ehhh…I dunno. Sunday? Sunday…Wait. Oh!” He lowered his hand. “Wait. Is today THAT Sunday? Like, I’m getting married today Sunday?”
Hildreth half-flung himself out of bed. “Shoot. Shoot. Shoot! I’ll talk to you later. I gotta get myself all prettied up.” He threw the phone at the bed and rushed to his closet.
Elsie watched the dawn color the ceiling in her room.
I’m getting married today and it will not be to Ambrose Smith.
Elsie Mayhew. From this day forward, I will be Elsie Mayhew.
She grinned. “Mrs. Elsie Mayhew.”
Carol Burnett interrupted with her trademarked Tarzan yell.
Elsie sat up and answered her phone. “Hi, Mom! Yes, I’m awake. I don’t know if I slept at all last night. What? Mooom! No! I just couldn’t sleep. That’s all and no. Not for that reason.”
She got out of bed and headed to the bathroom. “I’m going to take a shower and then I’ll head on over to your place to get ready. Love you too. I’ll be there shortly.”