John had timed it all perfectly. Renee was at the front reception desk talking with Brian when the flowers were delivered. He watched through the large windows that showcased the lobby as the vase with a dozen long-stemmed red roses (a classic) were placed on her desk. He couldn’t tell what they were saying, but he could guess.
“If you could just sign here, Ms. Stewart.”
“Sure.” She was grinning, convinced that they were from Brian. She didn’t even bother to look back up at him to see the bewildered look on his face.
“Here you go.” She handed the pad and pen back to the delivery guy.
“Thanks. Have a nice day.” He had a good job for the most part, always making people happy.
“Thank you, Bri…” She’d started to stand to give him a kiss and then stopped when she saw his expression. “What’s the matter?”
“Who are the flowers from?” He was only mildly irritated and a bit suspicious, hoping they were from her Mom or Aunt and terrified they were from a man.
“But I thought…”
“Open the card.”
She sat down. The envelope just said “Renee.” She recognized the handwriting.
“Aren’t you going to open the card?”
“No. They’re from an old boyfriend. We called it quits a long time ago but he won’t give up.”
John had started walking toward the main doors of the lobby right after the delivery truck pulled out of the parking lot. “That’s not true, Renee.” John was momentarily silhouetted as he stood in the doorway. Then he stepped inside and up to the counter. “You must be Brian. Hi. I’m John Bridges. You’ve probably never heard of me.”
Brian stood to his full six-foot two-inch height. “Are you the old boyfriend who’s been stalking Renee?”
Renee stood up like a shot and got in between the two men. “It’s not that way, Brian.” Then she spun around and hissed at John, “What are you doing here? Are you crazy?”
“Wait. Who are you again?”
“I told you, Brian. I’m John Bridges. I’m the guy Renee sees late at night when she’s too tired or too busy to be with you.”
“Is this true, Renee?” John knew he’d hate this part the most. That twisted look of anger and pain on his face as the realization of her betrayal rose like an angry dawn.
Renee was spinning around like a revolving door undecided between the two of them, which seemed to be her pattern. She finally settled on Brian. “I was going to break it off with him. I mean…”
“You mean since I asked you to marry me two weeks ago, you decided you shouldn’t cheat on me anymore?”
No one was paying attention to John at the moment so he decided to change that. “Don’t worry, Brian. She was going to marry you all along. You’re really the one she loves. I’m just a playful distraction. If you are her Sun, then I’m her Moon. The Sun’s always brighter.”
Brian looked at John and then back at Renee. He was trembling, clenching and unclenching his fists, arms held down stiffly at his sides. John could see him start to tear up. He couldn’t see Renee’s face but he imagined she was about in the same shape.
“We’ll talk about this later. Enjoy the flowers.” Brian’s voice was tense and his words fast. Then he turned, pushed open the double doors and almost ran down the inner hallway.
Renee whirled around toward John, her face a portrait of rage. “You asshole!” She hit him in the center of his chest with both fists. She was pretty strong, so he staggered backward a step or two. “Why the fuck did you do that? You’ve fucked up everything. I told you we could never be serious!”
She kept hitting his chest until she dissolved into her own tears. “Why?” She was sobbing too hard to say anything more.
“I had to, Renee. He deserves better and frankly, so do I. He needed to know the truth before it was too late.”
“But…but…” She took a deep breath and wiped her face with her palms. “We could have been happy together. You said you didn’t want anything from me. Just the nights when I called.”
“I lied. I suggest you start looking for a new job. It will be hell working for Brian now that he knows about your affair with me.”
“Asshole!” She slapped him with all the pain and violence bursting in her heart. In a few minutes, a bruise would begin to appear on his left cheek.
“Good-bye, Renee. Try to have a better life than the one you’ve got right now.” He turned around and walked out into the morning sunlight, hearing her crying until the doors shut behind him.
John parked his car a few blocks away. It was a nice morning for a walk. He looked up. He could see both the Sun and the Moon in the sky. Now Renee would have neither. She would hate him for a very long time, but at least she’d be alive to feel hate or anything else.
If John had let events run their original course and she’d married Brian, in ten months they would both be killed when the small plane he was piloting on their trip to Vegas went down in a thunderstorm. If she had met John a year from now in the primary alternate timeline, they would get married in two years and then she would be shot to death by the man she was cheating on him with who just happened to be his business partner.
Now those two timelines would never exist. In the new primary timeline, she would have a string of cheap affairs with even cheaper men and then figure out it wasn’t worth it. Renee would decide she needed a fresh start and move to Phoenix. She’d have time enough to grow up before getting married to…what was his name again? Oh yeah. Brent Wallace. Nice guy. One of the Operations supervisors at a convention center. He’ll eventually become their CIO. They’ll have four kids together and she’ll end up getting her degree in Library Sciences and creating a revolutionary reading program for children.
John got into his rented car. He’d been living in 2007 for the past five months. He’d already cancelled the lease on his apartment, put in a stop notice on his utilities, mail, everything. Once he returned the car, it was a day’s hike into the desert where he’d hidden the timespace capsule. His real name was Alexander Jacy. Once he got back to 2018, he’d love to drop in on Renee and Brent just to say “hi,” but she would recognize him as John and wouldn’t have one nice thing to say. He still loved her, but he couldn’t save her without giving her up. She’ll be better off in the long run.
Now Alex had to decide what he wanted to do for his own future.
I wrote this for the Music Challenge #22: “I’ll be The Moon” by Dirks Bentley Ft. Maren Morris #amwriting #musicchallenge #MLMM hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Mandibelle16 based the challenge on country singer Dierks Bentley’s song “I’ll Be The Moon,” sung from the perspective of the “backdoor lover” of a woman who is already in a relationship (Moon to Sun).
I thought and thought of Moon related stories and couldn’t come up with anything until I read the actual lyrics (posted at the above link). Then I thought about how you can see Sun and the Moon in the sky at the same time, usually around 10 a.m. (hence the title), so I plotted a tale about a face-to-face meeting between this woman’s two men. Then I had to think of a good reason for this to happen besides spite, so naturally I defaulted to time travel.
The reasoning is a little thin since you’d think if he were in love with her, he could figure out a way to save her life that wouldn’t involve never marrying her. On the other hand, she really needed some time to get her life together and mature enough to finally marry someone without feeling like she was missing something.
Oh, on this website, I discovered the last name Jacy means “moon” according to Native American tradition, so Alex really is the Moon.