'All He Ever Wanted' by Whitney Court
Ten years had passed between the last time Jeremy talked to Nina and the very random, very terse email he’d suddenly received from her. He wished he could say he’d forgotten her or that her message had made him close his eyes and jog his memory to place her, but of course, he couldn’t. She was the cause of nearly every effect in his life. His high school sweetheart, the woman he imagined having children with, growing old with and she was ultimately the woman who broke his heart at 18. He’d never seen it coming, the sudden announcement that she was not going to college with him after all. Instead, she’d applied to a school in California, she’d been accepted, and she was leaving everything behind-the small town, the small dreams, and Jeremy himself.Shattered, Jeremy was faced with rethinking the whole life he’d had planned out. His brother, already in the army, had encouraged him to follow suit. Jeremy considered it, briefly, but finally ended up in school after all. Ten years later, he was working in the financial district in New York. He had carved out a career to be proud of. He had an apartment that would be considered luxury by New York City standards. He worked hard, but in turn wanted for nothing. Nothing material, that is. He wanted many things. All the time that had passed, and he still wanted to know why Nina had walked away. He wanted to know why he had not gone with his brother, his beloved brother. He had to stop himself from thinking further. His brother was gone, a hero and a victim. For all Jeremy had, what he didn’t have felt like so much more.
And then there was the email. “It has taken me a long time to track you down. I know I have no right to expect or even ask anything of you, but please, Jeremy, I need to see you. It is not something for an email or a phone call…”Jeremy wasn’t sure what to do with it. Ten years? But she’d intrigued him. What could she possibly have to tell him after a decade? And so he’d agreed to meet with her. She was in New York, she’d told him to name the place. And now here he stood, taking a deep breath and walking into a coffee shop that was as unlikely a spot for such a reunion as any.He saw her immediately. Time had not altered her, except maybe to make her even more striking. He tried not to be swayed as he slid in the booth across from her. “Nina.”Their eyes locked and she slid a photo across the table. He looked down at the face of a boy. It took him only a moment to realize this was not a childhood photo of him.“This is why? But we wanted children!” Jeremy was stunned.“He’s your brother’s”And now he had his answers.