Crandon Park, on the north side of Key Biscayne, is one of the few places where you can experience the flora native to South Florida in close proximity to Downtown Miami. Athletic events are held there on most weekends and during the week it is frequented by Miamians that take their fitness outdoors.
It’s seven thirty on Halloween morning and Dominick and Xavier just completed a bike ride that took them over the Rickenbacker Causeway and back to the parking lot of the public park where their vehicles are parked. After throwing his bike into the trunk of his green SUV, Xavier is leaning against the side door taking a sip from his water bottle while Dominick mounts his bike onto the back of his hybrid sedan.
“So what’s it gonna take for me to get you to check out a hybrid? You’re making me look bad, man.” Xavier is on the board of Dominick’s climate change organization and is well aware of the fuel inefficiency of his vehicle, but having it paid off makes it very difficult for he and Iso to think about getting a new car and adding to their monthly budget.
“Bro, give me a few more years. This is about the only thing that doesn’t suck money out of my bank account on a monthly basis.”
“I hear ya.” Dominick secures his bike and checks his smartphone. “I’m trying to figure out what to reply to Esthie about tonight. She texted me at 2 am with Happy Halloween and asked what my plans were.”
“Was it a friendly text?”
“Pretty friendly. Emoji at the end.”
“Yea?” Xavier seems skeptical. “I don’t know, Emoji’s can be misleading. Especially coming from a girl like Esthie.” Xavier warns.
Dominick laughs. “What do you mean a girl like Esthie?”
“I’m just saying if she’s anything like her sister, she’s probably using it to lure you in so she can tell you how she really feels. In this case, I bet she’s pissed you didn’t make Halloween plans with her.”
“Man, she knows I hate Halloween. I feel like a total jackass in a costume.”
“I mean, feeling like a total jackass is a big part of being in a relationship. You can’t play it cool and keep a woman happy for too long. It’s usually either one or the other.”
“I don’t know about that,” Dominick responds. Being from the same city and having met halfway around the world made his relationship with Esthie feel like it was destined to be. They rarely fought and had an easygoing relationship until they started discussing their plans for the next five years. Dominick plans to spend all of that time dedicated to his startup, putting off starting a family for as long as possible.
Even though Esthie wouldn’t admit it, Dominick feels like she wants to have a kid much sooner than five years from now. As much as he would like to give her what she wants to solve their current problem, he isn’t ready to turn his five year plan into a lifelong pursuit. He can’t conceive of a way to make his ambitious career goals work while being present in his kids’ lives.
Xavier squeezes a stream of water into his mouth. “You are still interested in her, right?”
Dominick furrows his brow. “Of course I’m still interested.” He looks out just past the round leaves of the sea grapes that line the water’s edge toward Biscayne Bay, sparkling in the morning sun. “I’m just sick of her running away from me whenever she’s unhappy instead of just talking to me. She acts like she’s afraid of telling me things, like I’m gonna freak out on her or something. I don’t get it.”
Xavier shrugs his shoulders. “Dude, one of you has to take the hit and say you’re sorry. If not, I’m gonna be declaring Esthie as a dependent on my taxes next year.”
Dominick throws his water bottle into his car and pounds Xavier’ fist. “You’re lucky you didn’t get stuck with the cat.”
Xavier winces. “Nah man, that’s all you!” he says as he drive away.
Just before noon on the fiftieth floor of an office building in Downtown Miami that overlooks Biscayne Bay, Dominick is dressed in a gray tailored suit, staring at his smartphone as he waits for a potential donor to finish with a client. He has only a few minutes to figure out what to respond to Esthie before spending the rest of the day in meetings. He moves his thumb around in circles over the keyboard in the hopes that any given letter will help him find the right words to type. He knows Esthie only sent the Emoji as a smoke screen to conceal her true emotions, but he doesn’t know how to respond to it.
“Mr. Clarke, he’ll be with you in just another minute. Are you sure you don’t want a coffee or some tea?”
“I’m alright, thank you.” he says with a smile, then looks back down at the blinking cursor on the screen. As much as he wants to have Esthie back home, he isn’t ready to forgive her for just packing up one day and not coming back home to address their issues. He felt betrayed. Their relationship ended not with a heated argument or words that went too far, but a fundamental disagreement that led to a rupture in their relationship… one that was still gaping.
Dominick tries to think of what they would even do for Halloween on such short notice. The idea of spending most of the night in traffic surrounded by people under the influence made him decide very quickly that today is not the day he is going to give in and try to win her back.
You know me and Halloween.