Maybe I could just ask for the morning off and not say why? Maybe he'd think it was for personal reasons. You know, something girly, like getting my ovaries removed or a cervix transplant. Maybe if I eluded to that, he wouldn't ask any questions. Or maybe I should wait until the next day and then call in and say I have food poisoning? No one wants you near the office when you may or may not have explosive diarrhea.
Eventually, I gave up and walked back to my desk. I couldn't face him while I asked off for another day of work. Instead I opened a new email message.
"My boyfriend has been in town for the past week and I need to take him to the airport tomorrow afternoon to go back to London. I was wondering if there was any chance I could take the morning off to spend some time with him since I've been working every day he's been here. I can work from home if need be, and I'll head straight to the office after I drop him off. Let me know when you get a chance. Thanks!"
I hit send. It sounded lame. Lamer than lame. But I didn't care. The worst he could say was "No, and you're fired."
I stared at my inbox and tapped my foot as I waited for a response. A few minutes later a new message came through.
Sure? That was it? No lecture or disapproving rant? Was this a trick? I wasn't about to ask.
At 6 p.m., I bolted out of there as fast as I could. I picked Cayden up at the Starbucks around the corner and ran into his arms as soon as I saw him. I tried not to think about how it was our last night together. My throat closed and my eyes rimmed with tears every time I thought about it.
We decided to spend our last night together alone. He wanted to buy me a teddy bear to cuddle with while he was gone, so I took him to the place every high school boy with a crush goes to woo their girl: Build A Bear.
The place was swarming with 5-year-olds. They were screaming and singing and tossing their brand-new bears up in the air.
"We're sorry it's so crazy in here!" a woman dressed in Build A Bear attire said as she approached. "It's a birthday party. Only 9 kids were supposed to show up and somehow that turned into 19."
Turns out, Build A Bear birthday parties are a great form of birth control.
We picked a soft, light brown bear skin and then headed to the stuffing station.
"You stuff it here?" Cayden asked, new to the Build A Bear concept.
"Yes, but he needs a heart first."
Cayden picked a small, red, stuffed heart out of a bag and handed it to me.
"Kiss it first," I said.
Cayden laughed at me, but held the heart to his lips and gave it a kiss. Next, we picked out a sound box so my bear could talk to me.
"Take this to the back and hold down this button to record your message," the Build A Bear employee said, handing the small speaker to Cayden.
When he walked away, she looked up at me.
"Where's he from? That accent is beautiful."
"London. And I agree with you on the accent. It still gets me."
"He lives there?"
"Yep. Long distance. It's a fuckin blast," I said, sarcastically, and then covered my mouth apologetically while I looked around for 5-year-olds.
"I'm doing that, too. My man is in Houston. That's not London, but it still sucks," she said.
Cayden came back and handed the plastic box to the employee. She pressed the button and Cayden's beautiful accent echoed out of her hand.
She smiled and tucked the sound box into the bear's hand before attaching the bear to the fluff machine. The bear skin filled with cotton, taking shape. She tucked the tiny heart into the bear's back before sewing it up.
"And now, we dress him!" I said, pulling Cayden to the wardrobe section. I wanted to find something British, but had no luck. Next, I looked for cargo pants because Cayden loved cargo pants and I wanted the bear to resemble him. No luck.
So we settled on a pair of white boxer briefs, exactly what Cayden slept in. It was perfect.
This is what I fall asleep to every night he's gone.