THE GIFT OF WHAT SHE ALREADY KNEW
A vignette about the tv show, Cupid
by Steve 0yervidez
It was Christmas Eve and Claire Allen sat alone at Taggerty's, chairs and seats empty all around her. Stretching behind, the large windows looking out onto the street were rimmed with colorful christmas lights. A gentle snow had just started to fall in the cool stillness outside, beckoning of distant homes for people to be getting back to. Claire looked despondently into the glass in her hand, watching the amber liquid swirl. A christmas present for one. It was Christmas eve, and Claire Allen had no where to go.
The front door to Taggerty's opened, and Jaclyn walked in, wiping a few errant snowflakes from her coat. She smiled excitedly when she saw Claire, walking quickly over to her.
"Dr. Allen! There you are. I've been looking all over for you."
Claire's mood lifted at the sight of a familiar face, hopes rising. "Jaclyn! Hi. What are you doing here. Care to spend a lonely, self-depreciating Christmas Eve with me? Please, please, please?"
"Actually...no." Jaclyn seemed embarrassed. "I already have plans. I'm sorry, Dr. Allen. But thank's for asking."
"Oh," Claire's face fell. "I see. That's... great. Good for you, Jaclyn. Have a good time." Claire smiled. "I mean it."
Jaclyn tried to cheer her up. "I needed to find you, but you left the office so quickly-"
"Yeah, yeah I did." Claire sighed. "Symptom of not having anyone to spend Christmas with. Severe case of self pity-itis. None of my family is in town. None of my other friends. So I just wanted to go home, go to sleep, and get it over with."
"Sure," Jaclyn said, trying to sound sympathetic but not really knowing how to make it better. "Don't worry, Claire. Things will turn around. I was looking for you because someone left you something at the office. I thought you might want to have it. I think it's a-" Searching, she finally found it in her purse,"-a card or something..."
Claire took the simple white envelope Jaclyn offered. "Oh. Thank you for tracking me down, Jaclyn. Who's it from?"
Jaclyn smiled. "I have no idea. Found it on my desk. Umm, I hate to rush, but I really have to go. He's waiting for me. Merry Christmas Dr. Allen."
"Yeah. Merry Christmas, Jaclyn."
Jaclyn turned and walked out through the front door, leaving Claire alone in the bar to turn the card in her hands, curious about it, but not really all that eager to open it either. She wasn't sure she was in the mood for something very Christmas-y right now. It was labelled simply with the words 'FOR CLAIRE' written on it's front but with nothing else. Claire looked up to find the bartender watching her impatiently, waiting to close up the bar.
"Right," Claire acknowledged. "I'll... get out of your way."
The door to Taggerty's clicked and locked behind her, but Claire didn't notice as she stood on the sidewalk. She looked down at the envelope in her hands as snowflakes fell softly past. It felt strange, exotic, sent from persons unknown.
Claire took a breath. "Oh, what the hell."
Claire opened the envelope to find a letter inside. Taking it out, she unfolded it in her hands. The letter only had a few lines on it, and it didn't name the sender.
Maybe it's just intuition,
something you just don't question,
Like in your eyes, I see my future in an instant,
and there it goes, I think I've found my best friend,
Meet me outside in the snow,
meet me on the bridge that you know,
meet me near the office where you go,
I'm waiting there for first light.
Claire blinked. "What a strange..." she started said to herself. She recognized the song lyrics, she had heard them on the radio. But the invitation after them was unfamiliar. Who had sent this?
Claire looked around at the empty streets. Falling snow danced in the glow of the streetlamps, descending slowly. She suddenly felt very alone as looked at the letter in her hands. Claire thought about it. One more Christmas alone. Again. Maybe a love struck secret admirer was exactly what she needed right now to bolster her ego. It's not like she had anything better to do. Besides, she always had the can of mace in her purse.
Tucking the letter into her jacket, Claire started to walk towards the bridge near her office, crossing the nearly deserted streets. Deserted because everyone else had somewhere else to go, after all. As she walked away from the colorful lights ringing Taggerty's front window, the interior within went dark.
Claire approached the bridge, but it became quickly obvious that no one was there. She looked around carefully, disappointed. She had been stood up. The letter writer had probably thought better of it and had gone home to spend some time with his friends and family instead. As she stood there alone, she couldn't say she blamed him. Claire wondered what to do.
Then she remembered something in the letter.
"Wait..." she said to herself. "He mentioned something about first light..."
She noticed that light fixtures lined the bridge railing, each with four glowing globes, shining softly as the snow fell silently past. Claire turned to the very first one. A thrill passed through her when she saw it. Nestled against it was another letter, unnoticed and left in place. Reaching slowly forward, Claire took it gently, afraid it would disappear somehow. She looked around to see who had left it, but there was no one in sight. Carefully she opened it.
I know it might sound more
than a little crazy, but I believe,
I knew I loved you before I met you,
I think I dreamed you into life,
You help people overcome their fears,
surrounded by coffee instead of beers,
I'm waiting there, not here.
So please take the first step...
Claire nodded with a smile, enjoying what she read. Whoever wrote this wasn't being very subtle. They were definitely being upfront about their feelings, opening themselves to her. A misguided crush? Perhaps. But today she didn't mind, thinking it was sort of sweet. She hoped this secret admirer didn't have her running all around Chicago for nothing. She tucked the second letter next to the first. Claire looked up at the gray sky, snowflakes falling onto her face as her mood brightened. Maybe she wouldn't be alone for Christmas after all. Taking a breath she decided to keep going. Steps lighter on the sidewalk, she walked away from the bridge.
Claire looked up at the front of the building where her singles group met, but of course it was locked and dark. No one was around. Christmas lights arched brightly over the door.
Claire smiled, realizing she hadn't really expected anyone to be here either. And in a way she didn't mind. She was enjoying this little game. She knew there must be another clue, so she read the second letter again more carefully.
"First step..." Claire said to herself, noting the phrase.
Claire turned around. Sure enough, wedged near the door on the first step into the building was another letter. Claire laughed and picked it up, opening it quickly, wondering what all this meant.
There's just no rhyme or reason,
only a sense of completion,
And in your eyes I see
the missing pieces I'm searching for.
I think I've found my way home...
So it ends where it starts, encompassed in our hearts,
Look up before you depart,
from where two familiar glasses wait.
Claire smiled, unexpectedly warm and elated despite the cold. She didn't know who had sent the letters, but she had a good idea. Someone who was always there to lift her when she was down. And who never let her feel lonely for too long. Someone she never would have dreamed would ever admit how he felt about her. She smiled, realizing how much that someone meant to her. Why hadn't she thought about him before? He'd be alone too, tonight. Claire held her arms out and turned slowly under the christmas lights. Her hands danced delicately through the air, passing through the softly falling snow as if bathed in a coronation of flowers.
Walking towards Taggerty's, Claire moved through the snow still falling all around. Unlike when she had left, the windows glowed again with light from the inside. As she stepped up to them, standing by the Christmas lights, she looked in. A man waited at the bar, melting snowflakes on the shoulders of his coat, seated with his back to her beside two glasses filled with a red wine. Claire stepped back and took a breath, making sure she wanted to do this, wanted to cross this line. So many times she had forced herself not to. Now her hand paused on the doorknob. But maybe it was time. For the both of them. Resolved, she pushed open the front door and walked in.
The rest of the bar was empty. Inside a song was playing. As she heard it, Claire smiled. Over the course of the night, she had become quite familiar with the lyrics.
I knew I loved you before I met you,
I have been waiting all my life...
Claire walked to the bar, smiling when she saw the man turn to face her. She had known it would be him. Who else could it have been?
"Trevor..." she said happily.
Trevor smiled brightly when he saw her standing there behind him. But he also seemed surprised somehow. "Claire! It's you! What are you doing here?"
Claire blinked. "What do you mean what am-" After a moment she laughed it off, gazing warmly at him. "It doesn't matter. You know why I'm here Trevor."
"Yeah. But I didn't expect-" For once Trevor seemed so flustered and ecstatic that he could hardly speak. "I mean, I didn't expect... expect it to... to be you. I... I hoped, but..."
"I had hoped it was you too, Trevor. And I'm just glad I was right." Claire paused, thinking about what he had just said. "Wait. What do you mean you didn't expect?"
"That you would actually walk through that door. I'm so glad you're here Claire. I couldn't stop thinking about you today. About us. I always seem to spend Christmas alone, since.... Well, since my family's very much out of town. And I always hate that I don't spend it with you."
"Trevor, how did you come here?"
"Well,let me see. I pissed off the gods, became mortal, day, night, day, night, etc... woke up this morning, brushed my teeth-"
"No, I mean here at Taggerty's tonight?"
Trevor smiled, reaching over to grasp her hands and lead her over to the bar. As they sat down, Claire decided she liked it as he held his hand on hers, wondering why she had never considered that she might. "I found the letters you left for me. You sent me on a wild goose chase all around Chicago, but ending up here with you was worth it. I liked the poem you were quoting, Claire. You do put the PRO in apropos."
Claire smiled to herself. "Your letters had a poem?"
"Yeah, a song lyric or something. Why am I telling you this, after all you're the one who sent it right? Something about 'I knew I loved you before'-"
"'Before I met you'", Claire finished for him.
"Yeah. I never knew that you felt..." Trevor looked at her, hearing words he had always dreamed of hearing from her, feeling the warmth they brought into his all too human heart. He became lost in the soft brown of her eyes as Claire gazed at him lovingly. He finally remembered to speak. "Then they led me here. So I... waited by the two glasses on the bar like you said..." He noticed her expression. "Wait. You did send me the letters, right?"
Claire pulled one of her letters from her purse, smiling enigmatically as she waved it between them for Trevor to see. "I got the same series of letters..."
Trevor was confused. "But who sent...?"
"I don't know, Trevor." Claire laughed. "But someone did."
Neither understood what had happened. Both of them paused, thinking about who had sent the letters until they came to the same conclusion.
"Jaclyn," they said together.
Claire looked at him. "She gave me my first letter here at Taggerty's."
"She came to my apartment," Trevor responded.
"Different locations, in the end guiding us here." Trevor shook his head in amusement. "Guess the Cupid stuff rubbed off."
Claire carefully took Trevor's hand into hers again, leaning closer as they sat before the wine glasses. She held his hand, and it felt perfectly natural there. Why had she always run from this? Because of her job? When had that become more important than love? Some relationship expert she was. Claire looked into Trevor's eyes.
"How did she know, Trevor?"
"Because we knew," he answered softly.
Trevor relished the sensation of her close, holding his hand. He felt her touch swim through him like sunlight through a warm lake that held him aloft, floating through shimmering light. He realized they had both felt this way for longer than they had been willing to admit.
Claire looked at him. "So what now, Trevor?"
Trevor couldn't take his eyes off her. "I don't know. But didn't that last letter say something about..."
Claire remembered. "Looking up before you depart."
Still holding hands, they both tilted their heads back to look above them.
Trevor laughed when he saw what was hanging there. "Mistletoe..."
Claire looked back down at Trevor. His eyes were bright as he continued to look up at the mistletoe.
"Guess I taught her well," Trevor said. "She thought of everything."
Before Trevor could look down Claire leaned over and her lips found his, catching him by surprise. Trevor's world seemed to blossom whole into that moment, like a warming sunrise. He closed his eyes and kissed her deeply, both of them moving into each other's arms.
All around them the lights in the bar began to dim, revealing strands of white lights hanging across the ceiling as they came on, glowing above like a field of watching stars, blinking softly in approval. The song played on as Trevor and Claire continued to kiss, not ever wanting to stop. The room seemed to spin slowly around them.
A thousand angels dance above you.
I am complete now that I've found you...
I knew I loved you before I met you...
Two happy faces watched them through the small window in the back room door. Jaclyn grinned as she watched Trevor and Claire kissing. She clapped her hand softly in enthusiasm. Her 'present' had worked perfectly. She looked over to the face next to hers.
"Thanks for helping me with this, Champ."
He smiled, enjoying the sight of Trevor and Claire finally together as much as she did. "Not a problem..."
"I really wish I could thank you for all you've done."
"Jaclyn, really. There's no need to-"
Without warning Jaclyn kissed him quickly on the cheek before turning away. She smiled coyly to herself.
Champ turned his head and looked at her in surprise, smiling as well as he still felt the kiss on his cheek. He looked back through the window. "You're welcome, Jaclyn."
Trevor and Claire didn't notice anything but each other. They finally broke the kiss, each gently holding the other's face as they looked deeply into each other's eyes, seeing how much they loved each other. How much they had loved each other all along. Trevor laughed.
"Jaclyn does give one hell of a Christmas gift, doesn't she?"
Claire agreed. "Yes she does."
"To think all I did was stuff your apartment floor to the ceiling with flowers for when you went home."
"I think you've been upstaged, Eros." Claire smiled. "Merry Christmas, Trevor."
Trevor gazed at her warmly, touching her cheek. "Merry Christmas, Sparky."
"I'm sorry I didn't get you anything," she said.
"You did, Claire. You got me everything I need."
Claire touched his lips with her fingers softly, as if noticing them for the first time. "Well. Here I am. In a bar on Christmas eve, kissing the god of love. Doesn't this break some rules of the gods?"
"I think they'd just say 'well done', you have super fantastic good taste. And 'what took so long'. Doesn't this break some professional ethics among your peers, Claire?"
"I'd like to think they'd say 'well done and what took you so long' too, Trevor." She smiled at him, knowing that was the only answer she needed.
Softly, slowly, they began to kiss again, happier in that moment than either of them could have imagined. As she kissed Trevor, something suddenly occurred to Claire. Something she had already known. She had been wrong before. Regardless of how she had felt earlier, she realized now that she had never really been alone.
Snowflakes danced outside, as two people kissed in the window. Christmas lights glowed all around. The city of Chicago stretched vast under a gray winter sky, but it no longer seemed so cold.