Charlotte – part 5

It was 2:15. Where was Charlotte? She should have been home by now. Ryan looked nervously at the clock. He called her again. She wasn’t answering her phone, either. What could be going on? He called her desk phone.

“Hey, Char, babe. It’s me. Uh, again. Is everything okay? I thought you were coming to get me. Maybe you’re just driving. I can’t wait to see you before I go.”  His messages were getting more desperate sounding.

He dialed Melanie. She didn’t answer her phone either. “Hey, Mel, it’s Ryan. I can’t get a hold of Charlotte. She was supposed to drive me to the airport. I just wanted to see if you knew anything or if you’d heard from her. I’m getting worried but I can’t do anything about it. I’m already about to miss my flight. I have to call a cab. Can you check to make sure everything is okay? Uh, anyway, I have to go. Thanks, Mel.”

Ryan wanted so badly to drive to her office and make sure she was okay, but he needed to get to the airport. He was running out of time and if he didn’t get there soon, he would miss his flight. He conceded to calling a cab. He hoped he would get to the airport in time. He hoped everything was alright with Charlotte. She was flighty but she rarely forgot her obligations.

Ryan grabbed his bag and his laptop case and hurried down to the street. He waited impatiently for the cab to show up. He kept wondering why Charlotte wouldn’t answer her phone. Did her presentation run long? Were they taking her out to celebrate a great job? Did she have a follow-up project? Finally the cab arrived and he hastily climbed in.

“The airport, please. Delta gate.”

“You got it, man. Where ya headed?” The cabbie peered at Ryan through the rearview mirror.

“New Orleans. Big presentation at our company’s annual meeting.” Ryan absently responded.

“Oh yeah? Sounds pretty big time. What’s the presentation about?” Ryan glanced at the cabbie, at first irritated, but he seemed genuinely interested. It occurred to Ryan that the life of a cabbie must be boring and hearing about other people’s lives must be what keeps him going. Ryan pitied him.

They chatted all the way to the airport. Ryan sort of get a test run of his presentation while talking to the cabbie and it felt good. He was able to answer all of the cabbie’s questions and it seemed like he even understood what Ryan was talking about. It was nice to get his mind back into the game. Just three days and then he would be back with Charlotte and then he would ask her to marry him. But for now, he had to think business. He thanked the cabbie for the ride and even pitched him an extra few dollars so he wouldn’t have to mess with change.

As he rolled into the airport, he reached into his pocket to feel the velvety ring box. He’d left the outer box back in his desk drawer. When Charlotte didn’t come, he knew he wanted to take the ring to keep him focused on his task and on her. He dreaded spending the next three days with Randi, but was sure that everything would be fine. She found Ryan boring anyway.

He checked in and got to his gate minutes before boarding, which he used to try to call Charlotte one last time before leaving. At least Randi had flown in two days ago so he wouldn’t have to fly with her, too. As he settled into his seat, he pulled out his phone and tried calling Charlotte one more time. Still no answer.

Determined to not be distracted, he found his spiral-bound presentation and began reviewing the information. He felt good after sounding it off the cabbie, but he wasn’t presenting to a room of cabbies. He was presenting to fellow co-workers who weren’t sure about the effectiveness of the social enhancement policies. He was going to convince them that not only were they good, but they could do even more without much more cost. It was good for business, good for employees, and good for those these policies helped in their community.

***

 

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