Henry Watson sat across from us in the subway, as both Sandy and I head for Sunday services in Manhattan. Growing up in Ann Arbor, I attended church every week with Mom and Dad. Then, later, Leo and I went together.
I could not understand why all of a sudden I am running into Henry all the time. First at the student center, then at the meet and greet, and now on the subway? I hope things won’t get weird between us. Well, at least for the time being there are plenty of people between us. I plan on getting out as soon as the subway stops at the next exit.
“So, Mia, where do you want to go after church?” asked Sandy.
“You mean for like a brunch, right?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
“Well, why don’t you pick a place?”
“I know a really good one. You will love it.”
I smiled. “I’m sure I will.”
The more I engaged in conversation with Sandy, the more Henry appeared to be looking at me. I tried to play coy and act like I don’t notice him. Meanwhile, Sandy is talking to me about when she attended church back in NC. I think it’s cool that she enjoys attending Mass on Sundays. Sandy and I have so much in common, and I appreciate how we are both grounded in our faith.
“I have been going to church at St. Joseph for awhile now, and it is nice to have you come with me, Mia.”
“I’m glad too, Sandy.”
Suddenly, the subway stopped.
She stood up. “Okay, Mia. Time to go.”
I quickly grabbed my purse and headed off the train, right after Sandy. I don’t know if Henry got off the train with us, and I feel immediately guilty for not having spoken to him on the subway. Well, no time for that now.
“We need to cross over here,” Sandy hollered among the traffic.
“Okay, I am right in back of you.”
Manhattan street was jammed with traffic. It looked crazy. I could not help but notice the overflow of cars. Part of me was petrified. I had seen lots of traffic before, but this seemed a little over the top.
“Okay, Mia. Let’s go.”
I stared at her and hesitate. “O-kay.”
“It’s okay. Come on.” She grabbed me by the hand, and then we crossed to the other side of the street. When we’re safely on the sidewalk, she turned to me. “Wow, that was fun,” she joked.
I laughed. “Yes, sure it was.”
“Let’s get inside and find a seat.”
I gazed up at the church—more like a cathedral—before we walk inside. It’s the most beautiful building I had ever seen. “I can’t wait to tell Mom and Dad about this.”
“Oh, I am sure whenever they visit they will love it.” Sandy smiles.
“Oh, I know they will.”
She tugged my sleeve. “Come on.”
As we walked into the church, I see him, and I couldn’t believe it.
Henry Watson. Man I’m beginning to think I’m being stalked, but I guess I should take comfort in knowing he, at least, is in a church. I need to let Sandy know.
“Come with me, Mia. I found the perfect place to sit.”
All of a sudden, I heard him say, “Sandy, hey. Please sit here.”
Wait. What is happening? Sandy knows him too?
“Mia, come. I see someone I know.”
I’m speechless. I don’t have a clue what to say. I try to keep cool. I walked over slowly to him and looked down.
“Henry Watson, this is my friend and roommate, Mia Gerard.”
He smiled. “Yes, we have met.”
Sandy blinked. “You have?”
“Well, briefly. I meant, I saw her once at the student center, and then I spoke with her at the meet and greet.”
“Oh, well Mia didn’t mention it.” Sandy looked at me, her confusion written all over her face.
I shrugged. “I’m sorry I was so busy this week, and we didn’t talk long.”
“Well, I am glad you both know each other. Henry has been doing our murals at school, and he has sold some paintings to our dean.”
I let out a grin.
“Well, it is nice to see you again, Mia.”
” Same here Henry.”
I could not believe Sandy never saw him on the subway, and I don’t know why he didn’t call to her then if he knew her. All of a sudden, the bells chimed and we knew it is time for the Mass to start. I try to concentrate on the priest’s sermon, but it is useless. I feel awful about not telling Sandy about Henry at the meet and greet. I was just hoping it would all blow over. I’m also feeling guilty about the way I’ve treated him. I guess I’m just not ready to be friendly with a boy, not after what happened with Leo. I mean, yes Matt is a friend, but he was Leo’s friend and one of my best friends’ boyfriend, so that made it easier. This is different.
Okay, I needed to focus. Sandy was staring at me right now. She must be thinking I am not such a great roommate or friend.
The Mass concluded after a little more than an hour. I noticed Henry stepping out in front of us.
“Mia, it was nice seeing you again,” he added, “Good to have run into you. Sandy.”
“You too, Henry,” I said.
I nodded. “Wait, Henry, we are both headed to brunch now. Would you care to join us?” I can’t believe I just said that.
“I would love to, if you both don’t mind?” he asked.
“Oh, we don’t,” Sandy said and walked us over to one of her favorite local diners. “You’ll love Papa Joe’s.”
Henry grabbed his hair. “I’ve heard it’s good.”
“Trust me, guys, you will love this place.”
It is about a 10-minute walk from the church, and I’m relieved all we had to do to get there was walk. I’ve been spending more money than usual, and I know I have to tighten up a bit. After all, this is New York. Everything from bottled water to simple groceries seems to cost so much.
Once we get to the diner, Henry hung outside for a minute to make a call to his agent. Sandy and I went to get a table. The hostess who greeted us at the front of the diner tells us it’s going to be about a 15-minute wait, so Sandy and I decided to sit on the benches outside.
She turned to me. “So, Mia, why the secrecy with Henry?”
My palms got sweaty, and I again bit on my bottom lip. “Well, honestly he made me nervous.”
“Well, he seemed rather flirty at the meet and greet.”
“Okay. What’s the matter? Don’t you find him attractive?”
Wow, too many questions. “It’s not that.” I started to tear up.
Sandy frowned. “Mia, are you okay?”
Tears started to pour down my face. “I’m fine. It’s just the reason I didn’t tell you about Henry, it’s because of Leo.” There, I said his name.
“Leo. Is that your boyfriend?”
“He was my boyfriend.”
“Oh, Mia, I am sorry. I guess you two are no longer together?”
“No, we’re not.” Suddenly, a cold gust of air rushed toward us. It almost looked like it might rain.
“Oh, I am sorry, Mia.”
I swallowed hard. “Actually, we would still be together if he hadn’t died.”
Sandy’s face turned pale. “Oh no. I’m so sorry!”
“That was the reason I didn’t come to school until now.”
“Oh, Mia!” Sandy cried.
I held up a hand. “I’m okay, Sandy, and I am sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
“No, I understand now.”
“I know it’s not fair to Henry. He hasn’t done anything wrong.”
She shook her head. “No, I see what’s going on now.”
It feels good to be able to share that with Sandy. I appreciated her empathy, and I’m glad I’ve been able to finally open up that part of my life to her.
“Mia, I am sure Henry will be happy to be your friend.”
I smiled. “I hope so.”
She nodded. “I am sure he will be okay with that.”
“Be okay with what?” said Henry.
I jumped and turned away from him as much as possible.
Sandy waved a hand in the air. “Oh, nothing. We were just chitchatting.”
“Oh, okay. I’m beginning to learn that you American women are always so chatty.”
Sandy laughed. “Yes, we can be.”
“Table for three under Sandy,” called the waitress.
“Looks like our table is ready, guys,” Henry said.
Sandy nodded. “Let’s go, Mia.”
We all sat down and enjoyed a fabulous Sunday brunch with pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast, hash browns, steak, and eggs—the works. Everything was so delicious. It reminded me of my mom and dad’s home cooking. For now it was nice to just sit here and eat and learn more about Henry Watson. For now, he seemed to be a great new friend, and I hope he will be okay with that.
I am going to enjoy this day.