Casey drove us down a dusty dirt road one night. We had been together for two years, dating on and off, and I really cared, really cherished that lovable brickbrain. Whatever I wanted, whatever I needed: I always got it. I was never sad, always happy, and he completed me. He was the best guy to me, but I couldn't shake a stronger feeling inside me.
He parked his 86 Dodge. "I wanna ask you something, April."
"I need to tell you something too, Casey."
He was fidgeting and shuffling in the driver's seat, so noticeably nervous. "Well, you go first."
"No, you go. I want to hear yours first."
In hindsight, I should have gone first. Casey pulled out a ring, declaring his love for me and it illuminated in the darkness. I couldn't breathe for a few minutes, and he quickly turned on the cab light because he thought I passed out on him.
"April! I'm sorry! I don't want to give you brain damage!"
I finally let out a chuckle and kept staring at it. The ring was so beautiful; he must have been saving up for quite some time. My chest tightened and the tears were swelling in my eyes. His expression will always haunt my dreams.
He was ready to burst in his seat. He just knew I would say yes.
"Casey, I have this dream. I have a dream that I want to chase."
The ring was lowered as his arms fell.
"I want to work hard and become successful. It's important to me. So.. important."
I don't think he heard my entire sentence. Casey Jones was breaking inside his body. The man asked me Forever, and I just told him to wait. His heart wasn't the only one crushing that night.
"So... no?" Casey, very child like. Very innocent.
"No," I whispered, "Not now."
He was as patient as he could be after that night. He never jutted the ring in my face or said anything out of the ordinary. Casey had a heart full of love, as sappy as it sounds, and I enjoyed being with him. The years we spent together matured both of us, and while I hammered away at my intense education, he waited. And waited. And waited.
I knew he loved me, but I wasn't ready. I wouldn't take that step into the next phase of our lives.
My education, and eventual job, took me to places I had never dreamed. I was successful; I was who I wanted to be and where I needed to be. I had a smile on my face every night when I went to sleep. It has always been important to me that I remain happy in a job. If I was content there, the rest would soon follow.
Just a few days ago, I came back to New York City and spent time with friends and family. On the plane to New York, I knew I would probably see him again, but it was going to be okay. I knew in my heart that if I was happy, so was he.
It was at the local mart that I saw his friendly, loving face, after so many separated years. It was the store that we always hung out at and grabbed snacks. He wasn't alone, however. He had his wife and children with him.
When his family darted off to another aisle, we were cordial to one another.
"You look great," he complimented and was beaming ear to ear. I had never seen Casey so well-groomed and neat in my entire life. His wife was doing a terrific job with him – something I could never do.
I smiled, "You are absolutely stunning. Your whole family is beautiful, Case."
"I'm proud of your success, April." He was still as nervous as ever around me. "I guess the both of us found our happiness, huh?"
I nodded and saw that his family was returning back to us. His wife was a redhead, too and was as pleasant as the morning sun. When he looked at her, it was the same look he used to give me. The look that I no longer received from him.
It made me a little sad that I missed out on him, but this was for the best. It really was for the best. And I could go back on my plane to my home and still sleep at night knowing that he was truly happy.
Inspired by Reba McEntire's song "I Wouldn't Go That Far". Great song, great message.