The thing with love is, it does not always allow you to choose the person you fall for. Most times, it just happens to you. One day you’re just living your life, and the next, you have someone to live it with you. It’s the most beautiful thing. Some people wait for years and never experience it. Others get the taste of love for a short period which ends in tears. But if you’re one of the lucky ones, you will find true and lasting love.
Ocean and Easton were the lucky ones. They had been married for forty years. On this day, their children and grandchildren had assembled for a family dinner at their house.
One of the grandchildren, five years of age, was the most jovial and confident young man. Right after the meal he asked his grandfather Easton why they always had soda with their meals.
‘Well that’s because soda is what brought me and my lovely wife here together,’ he responded.
“Yeah, tell us. How did you meet Grandma?” One of their older granddaughters asked.
Ocean smiled as Easton began to narrate the events of how they had met.
“Ocean was one of those girls who declared in good time that she didn’t believe in love, but when love found her she couldn’t run from it. She was tall and with the most divine chocolate-coloured skin. In short, she was just my type. She had been working at this particular company for years, and she loved it. Her life consisted of work, work and more work. She spared no time for herself or on extra activities. She was an embodiment of diligence and sacrifice, and she had risen to high ranks within no time. She spoke very little and rarely ever smiled at anyone. She kept to herself and only spoke when she had to.”
“That’s not true. I did speak to people, just not to you,” she said jokingly.
Everyone burst out laughing.
“Darling, will you just let me tell my story the way that I know it?” Easton asked as he smiled in her direction. He was a little embarrassed, you could tell.
“I, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. I was a lot to deal with. I was extremely extroverted and this came in the way of my work. I was always socializing and making jokes with people. But despite my tendency to do this, I was loved by everyone. It seems this hasn’t changed. Everyone loves the funny and confident ones…” Easton said cockily.
“That’s true. Easton always had a way with people. It made me sick when we started dating. I thought he was flirting with other people,” Ocean responded.
“Daddy, what’s flirting?” The young grandchild asked, and everyone started to laugh.
“No, she didn’t say flirting, she said farting,” his father responded, and they laughed out loudly again.
“May I continue?” Easton asked.
“Ocean and I worked in the same compound but we had never met. The universe is very interesting. It aligns itself sometimes in such a peculiar way. The fact that we were two staircases away from each other for two years and had not met all this time was very interesting. Ocean, being a workaholic, never saw the need to take breaks. You would be sure to find her at her office desk all the time. She worked from 6 am to 8 pm without fail. She sometimes took a short break every day between 2 pm and 2.10 pm to buy a coke to re-energize, which she had with her packed home lunch. She preferred to go for late lunch because she liked to avoid people. In short, she was a loner.”
“Really mum was like that?” their daughter Ashley responded rolling her eyes.
“On this particular day, I had been chit-chatting with my colleagues and forgotten to head out for lunch, until it hit me that it was way past lunch hours. I decided to go to the dispenser to quickly grab a soda. I walked past the corridors and went to the elevator. I watched as Ocean walked in and the elevator closed behind her.”
“I tried to summon her, but she chose to ignore me. According to her, she didn’t hear, but I know that I saw her making eye contact and then looking away. But this didn’t surprise me, she looked like she had an attitude.”
“I didn’t have an attitude. I just didn’t talk to strangers. It was the first time I saw Easton. Who knows, he could have been a thief?” she said jokingly.
“Your father and I surprisingly got to the ground floor at around the same time. I’ll be honest, I did look at him badly. I wondered why he felt the need to walk so close to me. I know he saw me from the side of his eye and it gave me some sort of pleasure.” Ocean said.
“You were actually very rude, how did we end up together again?” Easton asked humorously then he continued to speak.
“We started to walk in the same direction towards the dispenser. Apparently, we were headed to the same place. I reached a second before her and surprisingly there was only one soda left. I quickly paid for it. Ocean walked ahead and to her dismay, the soda cans were over. She asked me if that was the last soda left, and I was a little taken aback.”
“Yeah it is, but you can have the other flavours,” I responded proudly.
“Do you mind giving me that one? It’s the only soda I drink.” She asked, now with a polite tone.
“It’s the only one I drink too.” I looked at her and smiled in an evil way, then I walked away.
“I felt like I was paying back the elevator situation. Ocean walked outside the compound and found another store where they sold sodas, and luckily there was one last soda there as well. I was casually talking to one of my colleagues downstairs when I saw her walk back into the office with a Diet Coke in her hand.
“Who is that girl? She’s kinda pretty!” I asked him.
“I don’t know, but I hear she’s very unfriendly…”
“I woke up in a sour mood the next morning,” Ocean said, “the day started off badly when I knocked my small toe against the side of my bed. I then spilt coffee on my white blouse and ended up being 30 minutes late to work. This completely disoriented me. At lunchtime, I was still feeling moody. I forgot about my encounter with Easton the previous day. I walked to the elevator and found him there.”
“I asked her how she was doing and she responded as though she was being forced to. Some part of me really wanted to find out who she really was, but she was clearly against it, and I felt a little sad.”
“We were headed in the same direction again. This time Ocean walked as fast as she could. It was a subtle race for the soda. We both subconsciously thought that the same thing that happened the previous day would reoccur. Ocean and I arrived at the dispenser only to find that all sodas were finished on this day. She smiled wickedly and walked towards the gate…”
“He asked me where I had gotten my soda. I told him to go outside and he would see the shop right there,” Ocean interrupted.
“But mum, how would he know which shop exactly?” One of the daughters asked.
“How was that my problem?” She responded with a smile.
“That’s actually not what happened. Ocean turned back, took a good look at me and then walked away silently. This was when I confirmed that she actually had an attitude, but something kept me longing for more.”
I didn’t see Ocean for the rest of that week, and I sort of missed her. I found it interesting that she didn’t like me. It was surprising to me because I was used to being loved by everyone and the fact that Ocean didn’t even look at me twice was shocking. For three consecutive days, I peacefully enjoyed the soda by myself. When Monday came, however, Ocean was back in the office. At lunchtime, we met in the elevator once again.”
“Where have you been? I’ve missed you,” It may have sounded like I was mocking her but I really did mean it.
“Why?” Ocean asked.
“Damn, I’m sorry I asked,” I responded. I regretted speaking to her. I vowed not to try anymore. When we got to the dispenser there was one diet soda left again, and I managed to get it before she did.
“What kind of coincidence is it? Why is it that every day there’s only one bottle left?’ She said loudly. She apparently wasn’t addressing me. She was merely just speaking her mind out loud.
“The same kind of coincidence that brings me and you together every day,” I said.
“Ocean rolled her eyes as though to disqualify what I had just said. She walked away from me in disbelief that I was actually trying to flirt with her. For the first time, I actually looked at Ocean in the eyes. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. Here I was trying to make a joke and make her talk to me!”
“Awww dad, that’s so sweet. You really gave him a hard time mum,” their daughter said.
“Well, he got the prize in the end. It’s me, I’m the prize,” Ocean responded bossily.
“We would occasionally meet at the vending machine. This went on and on until Valentine’s Day. I had now accepted that I was attracted to her. Although I couldn’t explain it, something about her attitude was attractive,” Easton said.
“It was the 14th of February, the symbolic day of love. Ocean did not recognize all the hype around this day. She thought it was all a capitalist way of making money on this one day. She was least bothered. On the other hand, I was a hopeless romantic. Although I didn’t show it outwardly, some part of me craved to one day experience love. Things had not worked out for me and were it anyone else, they would have long given up on love. I had been cheated on thrice. Hurt three times, and yet I still believed,” Easton confessed.
“At lunchtime, I walked to the dispenser a few minutes earlier than Ocean. I put a bouquet of flowers next to the dispenser and waited patiently for her. As soon as I saw her walking my heart started pounding. I was extremely anxious and wondered if she would be rude about it all. Maybe I should have postponed all this and gotten to know her a little bit more. For the first time in a while, there were two soda cans left in the dispenser. I bought both of them and hid one behind a nearby counter. When Ocean got to the dispenser and saw me, she rolled her eyes once again. God knows how much I wanted to abort the entire mission. My mind was telling me to stop, but something made me go on. I got on my knees with the bottle of soda.”
‘Will you share my soda with me?’ I asked.
“Ocean blushed and stood there for a while. She looked around wondering if we were attracting attention and when she saw no one she nodded her head shyly.”
“He told me Happy Valentine’s Day as he handed the flowers to me. I must admit, I did feel butterflies in my stomach,” Ocean said.
“You say that now, but you didn’t allow me to take you on any dates for the next three months. We met at that dispenser and shared diet soda every day. I almost gave up, but there’s something about your mother that made me want to get to know her better. She was full of layers, almost like an onion. Even when we went on our first ‘date’ she just ordered a soda.”
“Well, that’s the story of how I met your mother. We will forever be grateful for that soda. It brought us together.”
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