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It was a nice day outside, the perfect mid-autumn day. The leaves had just begun to change and the weather was beginning to cool. Outside he saw the hustle and bustle of people preparing for the warm Thanksgiving feast they were having with their families later that evening. While he sat in his small gray cubicle and worked on a column of no importance to him, none of these things were relevant as he began to reminisce of the day she came into his life. It’s a funny story but it fits them quite well as a couple.
The day they met both him and her were in the hospital with family members who had burned themselves trying to deep-fry their turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Although both of them had heard warnings on the Today Show earlier about how many injuries are sustained on Thanksgiving Day from people who try to deep fry their turkeys they thought nothing of it and allowed the genius men of the family to try it out. Thank goodness for Katie Couric though, her segment on “Safely Cooking Your Turkey” was the start of their conversation as they both waited anxiously in the ER waiting room. Remy was a 30-year-old journalist for The Birmingham News who was nowhere near fulfilled with his life as the obituaries editor. He had soft, chocolate brown hair just long enough that he had to jerk his head to the side in order to get it out of his face. Being the goofy member of the family, he wore a t-shirt that had a map of Eurasia with a picture of a turkey in place of the country itself. “Very mature,” Maggie said softly to herself when she spotted him and couldn’t help but giggle. How cute, she thought, a grown man in a turkey shirt. He was not at all her type, or what she thought it was.
Maggie was “old money.” Her grand-daddy was big into cotton; needless to say she never went without anything. But when it came to men she was put under some restraints. Maggie needed to be married and making her own family before she reached thirty because of pressure placed on her by her family and Southern society. Her thirtieth birthday was a deadline that was quickly approaching, and she needed to marry a man that had a name as recognizable in the Deep South as her own. Remy was not that man. But as she sat in the waiting room that smelled like hand sanitizer and caught a glimpse of the goofy man in the turkey shirt, she thought to herself if she could move past the Yates family name, and everything that went with it, and make a name for herself how amazing that would feel.
Remy could feel a slight tension and decided to take the plunge to initiate conversation. Using his mild sarcasm to try and lighten the mood, he sat down in the chair next to her and quietly whispered in her ear, “What’re you in for?” Just then the corner or her mouth formed a slight smile and she combed her strawberry blond hair from her fair A feeling of relief rushed through Remy, the worst part was done. She then answered in her slow southern drawl, “Have you ever tried to deep-fry a turkey? It’s just an accident waitin’ to happen.” Remy let out a laugh that was entirely too loud and a little bit embarrassing. But it made her feel like less of an idiot for spending her Thanksgiving holiday in the emergency room. He then shared that he was in for the same thing. His kid-brother was trying to show off for his new love interest, who was obviously not interested when he splashed hot oil on himself. Maggie took a deep breath, “oh goodness,” then she shared that her cousin was just experimenting and ruined their nineteen pound turkey. It was a good thing they had already cooked one, just in case something like this happened. Remy laughed and thought that sounded like something his family would do. It seemed that they were hitting it off and they had plenty of time to talk about the average ice breaker topics; the weather, the new mayor, the weather again, pets, and then they began to swap family stories. As an hour or two passed Remy began to hope that they could stay in this waiting room forever. But at that moment his brother emerged from the hospital doors. “Well sh**,” he thought, contemplating how to get her number. As his brother walked up Remy introduced him to Maggie and tried his best to shoo him away. Remy then looked at Maggie and said just loud enough for her to hear, “I would love to see you again, and I don’t think you’re one of those people that I’ll forget about if we never see each other again.” He was usually fairly confident around women but she had a humbling affect on him. As she looked up into his dark green eyes she said, “I would love to see you again, but only on one condition, we can’t meet in a hospital again” He laughed a sigh of relief and they exchanged phone numbers.
As he slouched in his computer chair a little bit he caught himself day dreaming and remembered that his boss was not in the best of moods today so he knew he better get this done a few minutes before his deadline, just to be a little bit of a kiss-a**. He was hoping maybe she would even let him off early so he could get ready for his surprise for Maggie tonight. It was going to be an amazing night and he couldn’t wait for how excited she would be. He wanted to have the house clean so she would be stress-free when she got home. So he walked down the all too narrow hallway between cubicles and tapped lightly on his editor’s door, and she grumbled, “Come in,” that wasn’t too reassuring. Maybe today wasn’t a good day to ask, but tonight was important so he decided he would. “Martha, do you think I could slip out a little early today?”, she looked up from her desk in disgust because she hated that he had a sappy romance and she was Martha, the obit lady who went home alone every night only to come home to her cat. She agreed but only if Remy would stay late tomorrow. That would work.
So Remy hurried carefully down the hallway again and snatched his keys and wallet from his desk. Tonight was their two year anniversary and he couldn’t wait to see Maggie’s face when she saw the night he had planned for them. As he pulled his truck into their small narrow driveway he saw that her car was already parked there. “Maybe she’s planning a surprise too,” he thought. He turned down the radio and pressed two on his speed dial, his voicemail was number one. The phone went straight to voicemail with only a few taps before. Why would her phone be off? As he gathered up his briefcase and locked his doors a chill ran down his body and gave him goose bumps. He wasn’t sure what to think. He walked up to the car port and saw that the light was on in their small bedroom. If only she knew that he had saved enough money to get her the big house she dreamed of just up the road. When he walked in he listened for her and when he heard scrambling in the bedroom, he tip-toed back to find her. As Remy walked into the room the off-white walls seemed to be harsher on his eyes than usual, but not as harsh as what he saw Maggie doing.
The room was a mess and her clothes were strewn all over the bed. He looked in the closet, empty. When she finally looked at him, he saw everything on her face. He saw that her eyes were empty and her mascara smeared. She had thought long and hard about what she was about to say. He didn’t need her to say a word and she knew it. As if to add insult to injury she said, “he’s back” and then Remy knew he had lost her. When Maggie was in college she met the perfect man, the one she could take home to her parents, but she wasn’t as ready as he was to start a family. It seemed that it was a sign when he was sent to Iraq to serve for two years that Remy was a good man for her and he would do for the time being. Remy had known that they were close, but Maggie assured him that she had no interest in him. Oh the lies. And as if he wasn’t hurt enough at that moment, Maggie repeated herself just to make sure it was clear that she was leaving.
Remy let it all soak in and he asked himself a few simple questions that he hoped she would somehow pick up on and answer for him. Such as, “Why would she make me fall in love with her if she knew all along she’d leave when he came home? What was I then, just a stand in?” He had given her his whole heart and she had shattered it with those two words.
It seemed there was nothing else to say as Remy stood in the doorway with his hands clenched around the wooden door frame. Maggie had never seen him angry before so she didn’t know if she should be scared or not. He was always gentle with her and she loved that about him; but now as she asked him to help her load up her belongings he slowly loosened his grip and a tear drop ran down his cheek. She walked up to him slowly and left a soft kiss on his cheek. This would be the one he would never forget, the scent of her light perfume seemed to linger in that spot for months after she had gone. It almost made it hard for him to walk through that spot, but at the same time he was scared that if he didn’t walk by it the smell would fade and she would be gone forever.
And as she walked out of their home Remy knew that she was leaving to live the lifestyle that her family had always told her she would have and she would be happy with him. But Remy lives in the big empty house that he bought for her with overgrown grass and he still works for Martha, who now uses sexual innuendos to make him uncomfortable. She is too afraid to tell him that she is actually falling head over heels for him.
It seems odd and some may find it awkward but on Thanksgiving Day of every year since then, Remy waits by his phone for a call from Maggie. It’s become a tradition of their very own; just to catch up.