“I’m coming to Canada on a school trip. I’ll be staying right near you. I checked.”
“What?” she asked, a surprised look on her face that he could see via Skype all the way from Philadelphia.
“My professor is organizing a trip for next month for our geology club. He has some crazy notion that there’s a group of kimberlites that might have formed diamonds in them so he wants to abuse our club to become rich.”
She shifted in her seat and he could see she was uncomfortable. Either that or nervous, he couldn’t tell.
“Aren’t you excited? We’ve been online friends for two years now. Here’s our chance to finally meet.”
She thought back to that conversation as she sat in one of her favorite spots a month later. She’d come across the old cabin doing a nature shoot for her Digital Photography course and noticed the dilapidated hunting cabin that was falling apart from disuse. It was cold out and the recent snow made it stand out in the woods; she doubted anyone had set foot in the building in decades. From inside she could see enough of the snow through the giant cracks that had formed between the logs, and while a draft did float through the building the aged walls still kept some of the cold out.
Today was much like that first day she found the building. A fresh snow accompanied a cold day, and she was so nervous about meeting him that she didn’t even think to bring a coat. In her hands she held the best gift she’d ever received from a boy. Last Christmas he bought her the small porcelain carousel, inspired by a trip she’d taken over the previous summer photographing vintage carousels across the country. They reminded her of her father before he passed, and somehow the photographs all seemed to capture that, which she always thought helped her win the contest that helped her attain her first gallery show in the city.
She was to meet him in one hour in a café near campus, and even though they had Skyped for hours every week, he still insisted she bring the small toy so he would recognize her. She had romantic notions which were leading her to such nerves that she needed to collect herself in the cabin, the place she often found herself in moments of doubt, nervousness or deep thought. This one was all three.
She walked to the window, the most comfortable place to sit, and brushed the ledge off with her hands so she wouldn’t get her favorite flower print leggings dirty, just in case. She had no idea where their meeting, or date, was it a date? would lead. She’d fallen for him over the past two years of constant texts, calls, IMs, and Skype dates but never had the desire or nerve to tell him. Why bother? He’d never been a real person she could touch before. All the boys she shunned, all the dates she subconsciously sabotaged were because of him. She hadn’t even kissed anyone in over a year, which was right around the time she realized her feelings. Even though she knew she would never meet him.
But now he was coming.
She turned the little carousel over in her hands, listening to the subtle jingle of the parts inside that would play music if she wound it. They sounded so far away, but she knew she could just twist the knob and they would echo through the cabin at a high decibel.
She looked at her watch. Forty-five minutes until he would be sitting in her favorite coffee shop, the one she’d talked about often and even Skyped with him in so he could see it. She wanted to show him everything she loved, and there was only one place he hadn’t heard of, and this was it.
Maybe she would bring him, show him the hideaway she visited for the big decisions. But then he might notice the fresh footprints and put the clues together, somehow realizing that she loved him. He might say “Were you here today?” and she couldn’t lie to him. She would have to admit it. And he would look into her eyes and ask “What was the big decision you had to make?” and she would blush and smile and he would take her in his arms and she would feel him for the first time after years of wishing and hoping and their lips would meet for the first time in her favorite spot and she would share it with him and maybe, just maybe, he would fall in love with her in that moment.
She would bring him here. They would get tea in little to go containers, and she would show him to her favorite place and hope he noticed her footprints in the snow.