Mariella is a 30 year old young woman. She’s a law student at Stanford University and is making ends meet the best she can while at the same time being a mother to her 12 year old son, David. She was one of those people who fell in love with her high school sweetheart, and thought she would end up spending her “forever” with him. Unfortunately, soon after they got married and had their son, Oliver (her husband) died in a fatal car accident. And since then, she’s been feeling a lot of pressure to remarry.
Now Elliot has been an old friend of Mariella’s for a long time. Well, “friend” might be too much of a stretch. You see, he always liked her, but the feeling had never been reciprocated. So it’s not hard to imagine how very upset he was when he found out she had married Oliver, not to mention she had a child with him, But like leeches do, Elliot stuck around and waited, almost like he knew things would go wrong. Not even 5 months after losing Oliver, Elliot had crawled his way over to Mariella, asking her out on dates.
It began simple, and innocent-like. He would say, “You’ve got to get out of the house more, you know?” Or, “When was the last time you went out and saw a movie?” But then as time went on, it progressed to “Mar, Oliver would want you to be happy, to move on. He would want you to be with someone who loved you and could take care of you”. He would promise her the world. He promised to pay for the rest of her law school loans, that he would be a ‘’good man”, he would be a good father to David. These were all the things Mariella needed to hear; and she so badly wanted it to come true but she just couldn’t picture it. Not from Elliot at least.
The crazy thing was that she knew Elliot could provide for her. He was a successful engineer at a firm he would soon make partner with. The problem was, he wasn’t Oliver. Couldn’t even come close to being half the man Oliver was. Plus she knew that David didn’t like Elliot and she didn’t want to put him through anymore than he had already been through.
So one night while upstairs in her room, staring at the heap of law books in front of her, her cup of now cold coffee in her left hand, and her unpaid bills in her right, Mariella did the unthinkable. She picked up her phone and dialed 8093172289. On the other line, Elliot picked up.
“Hello?”, he said groggily.
“H-hey Elliot, you up?” She didn’t know why she got nervous all of a sudden. It was Elliot for God’s sake.
“I am now, what’s up? Are you ok?”
“Yeah, relax. I’m fine. I just wanted to talk to you about something. ”
“Yeah, sure. What is it?”, he yawned.
“I’ve been thinking a lot. About a bunch of stuff. Like… me…and you….and us.”
“Okayyy, what about us?”
“Mar, you there?”
Mariella froze. She couldn’t do it. She didn’t know what to say, she didn’t think it through. For a split second, a wave of anger crept up on her. She was mad. Not at herself, not at Elliot; she was mad at….Oliver. Why did he leave her here? To deal with all of THIS by herself? To be swamped with taking care of their son, their bills, their mortgage, school, and to do it all alone. Without her other half.
“Y-yeah, I’m here”, she swallowed. She went on. “So, I’ve been thinking-”
“-Yeah, you mentioned that”, chuckled Elliot.
“Ha-ha”. It was a dry laugh from Mariella. “Anyway, so I think I’m ready. ”
“Ready for what?”, said Elliot
“To move on. Like you’ve been saying. I think you’re right. It’s time.”
Elliot didn’t respond, but Mariella could hear him shuffling around and sitting up. It was her turn to question him now.
“Elliot”, she said. “You there?”
Y-yeah yeah, I’m here. Sorry, I’m just a little speechless right now. I guess I wasn’t expecting you to say that at two o’clock in the middle of the night.”
Me either, thought Mariella.
“So, what do you think?”, she asked.
“Oh, I think it’s fantastic! Yeah, I think it’s the best thing to do.” He could barely contain his enthusiasm, and it made Mariella want to vomit.
“My only question is, what does this have to do with me?”, Elliot asked.
Again, Mariella froze. Oh God, thought Mariella. He’s gonna make me say it. Out Loud.
“What do you mean?”, she asked, hoping, praying that he wouldn’t make her say it.
“Well, I mean you said you were thinking about us, and then you said it’s time for you to move on. And I’m pretty sure this conversation really could’ve waited until the morning, unless there was something you wanted to tell me…?”
“Oh God Elliot, yes. Put two and two together, for crying out loud! I’m saying I want to try moving on …with you.” She whispered the last part, half-hoping he wouldn’t hear it.
“Ok, I just needed to hear you say it. Thank you”, he said.
There was a long pause after that until Elliot said, “So how about I pick you up this Saturday night at 7:30?”
“Sure”, said Mariella. “Sounds nice.”
“Ok, see you then.”
When she hung up, Mariella let out a sigh she didn’t even know she was holding in. She told herself, “if he can do at least 12 things right on this date then I’ll continue to go out with him; at least that way, I know I can tolerate him. “
Unfortunately, she was wrong. Saturday came and went, and Elliot hadn’t met her expectations. “He couldn’t even do 12 things right”, she said aloud, taking off her shoes. It was as if everything he did earlier on their date upset her and reminded her that he was not, and would never be Oliver.
And so it went on. She tried this 12 things right plan of hers out with several men after Elliot, and the results were the same every time: failed attempt after failed attempt.
Eventually, Mariella stopped trying and resolved to herself that the only thing she needed in her life was herself and her son, David. In the end, “that’s all that matters anyway. ” That’s what she said in her Valedictorian speech as she graduated from law school. And she consoled herself by embracing the fact that Oliver, although no longer physically present, would always be with her, and a part of her life as well.