He had seen her eyes in his dreams and in all his prior lifetimes.
“Hi!” she said again, trying to get his attention. She was smiling, she wanted something from him. He would give his life for her. He said “Kate!” She looked puzzled “Have we met? I am so sorry, I am trying to be better at remembering all my patients. But the E.R is just so busy all the time.” The man behind her cleared his throat, she was holding up everyone behind her. He was holding up everyone waiting to get to their seats. She smiled again “My seat. Please!” Tony jumped up and his book fell from his lap. He picked it up and walked to the aisle as she took the seat he was sitting in. He looked at his seat number. Thankfully it was the middle seat, he would be next to her.
As she sat down, he noticed her name on her boarding pass. K. Sanchez. Kate Sanchez. Kate, Kate, Kate.. She worked in the E.R. He had to know more about her. She had a small backpack, which she pushed under the seat in front of her and started looking at her phone. Tony felt like he was stalking, But was it really stalking when she had been his wife across a thousand lifetimes.
She saw him looking at her and put her phone down. Tony quickly looked away. He opened his book and his notepad and started taking notes. “Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!” he cursed himself silently. What was wrong with him? He picked up that book just a few hours ago, now he was stalking a stranger on an airplane. Fastest way to get thrown off the plane, possibly get arrested and canceled on the internet. He looked down at his notes - her eyes. Why was he so stuck on eyes?
“That looks like a really old book” She was talking to him. Tony turned to her and nodded “Yes it is, the diary of a British nobleman in the 1800s.” She was intrigued, her eyes had a spark. "Huh, his diary was published as book, he must have had an interesting life.”
Tony wondered if she felt a connection, if she had any memories. Then his brain scolded him again - it was just a book!! You are Tony Bridger, born and brought up in LA, not a hunter gatherer still searching for his wife. This was absurd. The flight crew made their takeoff announcements and he tried to focus on the safety drill just to get rid of the crazy idea gripping in mind. This was madness! he just needed to get laid. It had been too long since his affair with Sienna imploded. He tried to focus on work instead of women and now he was seeing his wife in a stranger on an airplane.
He glanced over and saw that she was staring at him directly. Was he that obvious? He looked at her and smiled awkwardly. Now she was embarrassed. She said “ I am sorry, I was just trying to remember when we met. You do look familiar. What was your emergency?” Tony was relieved, she didn't catch him stalking her. He smiled. “I wish I had one, but none yet.” And he extended his hand out smiling “I am Tony Bridger.” She grasped his hand, shaking it. He felt sparks. Did she feel it or was he the only one that was crazy. “Tony Bridger...Tony Bridger.. No cant say I remember that from outside work. How did you know me then?”
What could he say? Could he say the truth? What was the truth? He stuttered “Uhh.. I thought you were someone I know, her name is also Kate. Sorry.” Kate seemed satisfied. “Oh Ok.” Yep it’s a very common name, like Mike or Tony ..” and laughed. I’m Kate Sanchez, but you know that already.
She went back to her phone. And Tony heaved a sigh of relief. He opened his notebook and closed it shut it immediately. It would be impossible to do this here, next to her. He was going crazy. He closed his notebook, closed the old book and stared at his phone. As soon as the plane reached 10,000 Ft he would have wifi. He would do some work then. For now just play some games on his phone Word Puzzle, 1st clue K.A.T.E.S. Dammit! Even his phone was conspiring against him.
She was talking to him again “SKATE... TEA, ATE, EAT, TASK.. Sorry! I didn't mean to start solving your puzzle, I love this game too.” And showed her screen, she was playing the same game. Tony smiled, it was impossible to ignore or avoid her. He had six hours to know more about her before the flight landed in LA. He had to make the best use of this time. Time to bring on the charm.
He smiled and purred “So Kate! What do you like to do besides word games and saving lives?” Kate stopped smiling and looked at him seriously “I dont.”
Tony kicked himself. Dammit.. That was his line??? He deserved to be kicked. He looked away and started focusing on his stupid word game - the letters still teased him K.A.T.E.S. He swiped it and looked for wifi signal. Not yet, maybe soon.
Kate apologized “I’m sorry. That was rude. What I meant to say was that I don't want to talk about my work” and made air quotes “saving lives”. She continued shrugging “and I honestly don't have much of a life outside of work, so yeah, I play word games when I have a little bit of time, just to get my mind off things.” Tony nodded “I understand. You didn't have to explain yourself, but I appreciate it.”
Kate started “So Tony, what do you like to do besides word games and… “
Tony smiled “I am a writer, I am currently working on the script for a period drama. That's why I have this book for research.” Kate nodded “Script writer in Hollywood. What have you worked on? Anything I would know? You know, forget I asked. I haven't had any time to watch TV or movies since med school, and residency is doing a bigger number on me”
Tony responded “If you have any free time in LA, I would love to take you to a movie.” and immediately kicked himself. What the hell was that? That is his line? Kate snorted “That's funny!” Tony smiled “I deserve it.” Kate was giggling “all the ladies in LA must be swooning over that line” and in an exaggerated valley girl accent “Ohh Mai.. Gaawwd.. Cuuute”. Tony started laughing “Bring it on, I deserve it. And I am a writer for god’s sake” Kate continued giggling..
Both Tony and Kate were giggling so hard the passenger in the next seat looked at them strangely. That made them start laughing out loud. When they were able to stop, Kate said “Ok. we need to change the topic. Tell me about the book - the noble lord story stuff. Did he do anything interesting?”
Tony took a deep breath, could he talk about the book without making it weird? Scratch that.. Without making it any more weird than he had already. On the flipside, they were in a pressurized metal tube thousands of feet high in the air, what's the worst that could happen? She couldn't run away, that was her seat.
Kate looked at him pondering deeply and said “That bad huh.” Tony replied ”No. Not bad at all. I was just wondering how to best describe what I read, without being weird.” Ok that was not too bad. He could have a non-asinine conversation with her. Tony patted himself.
Kate started “Oh now, you have to tell me.. What was it? Did he murder anyone, or was there a steamy affair.” Tony smiled “Nothing of that sort, it is his story about his thousand lifetimes with his wife. This nobleman believed his and his wife’s souls were entwined. He had an accident, that's when his subconscious remembered all his earlier lifetimes with her and then he was determined to write it down so that he would find her again in his next life.”
Kate had tears in her eyes...she bit her lip and quivered. Tony looked at her “Kate, are you alright?” Kate wiped her tears “That is beautiful.” and started sobbing and said “I am sorry.” Tony realized she had been holding in a lot of pain all this time. He wanted to comfort her and take her pain away. He didn't think of anything else, he put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her in. He was ready for her to push him away, but she didn't. She put her head on his shoulder and continued sobbing. He could feel her heart beating next to his and he felt them beat as one. This was his Kate. She was his wife. He might be crazy, but he could not let her go.
Kate had calmed down, she pulled herself together and sat up straight. “I am sorry, I am a mess.” Tony said “Its all right, its all right.” Kate said “You said I save lives, I dont. Most of the time, I am dealing with death, especially since the pandemic. I have lost more patients than I have been able to save.” Tony held her hand, she let him. “Kate, I am not a doctor, but I know that the Emergency Room is possibly the hardest place for any doctor. Most of the time, people are already in an emergency and at the verge of dying, so any life you save is a miracle. You cannot punish yourself like this”
Kate smiled “Yep, everyone says that. But saying it and living it is completely different” and then she took a deep breath. “Today I got a newlywed couple. Multiple lacerations, fractures, a bad car wreck, they were visiting New York for their honeymoon. The wife died before we could stabilize her, she was brain dead even before she made it to the hospital. I was able to stabilize the husband, but he went into cardiac arrest when he heard that his wife didn't make it. I couldn't save either of them. So it was beautiful, what you said. I hope they find each other in a different life. I couldn't save them in this one” Tony hugged her again and she let him. They stayed like that for a long time, she was in his arms, their hearts beating together.
Then the flight attendant arrived with drinks and peanuts and Kate pulled back. Tony tried his charm again “drinks and peanuts, my lady” Kate laughed “That was good, you are getting better with practice.” Tony looked at the food selections to see if there was anything good and asked Kate, “Can I interest you in some airline food?” Kate laughed “umm something more exciting than stale peanuts, an overpriced stale chicken sandwich?’
Tony bantered “or perhaps some wine and cheese”. Kate looked at him for a second and then said “Sure, I am not on call, I can't remember the last time I went to a bar. Oh my life sucks” Tony asked the flight attendant for the wine and cheese/fruit tray. Kate raised her glass, “what are we drinking to?” Tony replied “To you”