Invisible Romance

Nestor Whitten bussed tables and washed dishes at the Greenville Denny's by the interstate rotary. The beautiful Arieh Addison was a waitress on most of his shifts. Arieh was also in his class at Greenville High but he wasn't the kind of guy she talked to, even at Denny's if she could help it. Arieh lived on the prominent Green Hill with her upper class professional parents. Nestor lived with his divorced mom in a rundown apartment house on the poorer outskirts of town.

Nestor worked at Denny's because he needed the money – Arieh waitressed because her parents wanted her to learn work ethic, responsibility and independence even though they paid for the car she drove and gave her an unlimited credit card. She was a snob while Nestor was painfully shy and even though Nestor thought Arieh was the prettiest girl at Greenville High he had nothing to say to her mostly because he knew she wasn't about to listen any way. Arieh was popular, well liked, and pampered. Nestor was invisible, introverted and hopelessly insecure, the kind of guy who jumped at his own shadow. Arieh dated the football quarterback. Nestor didn't know how to talk to girls.

On this particular night, Nestor and Arieh worked the same shift at Denny's and they were dismissed at the same time. It was raining and Nestor tugged his collar up around his neck as he trudged to the bus stop down the road to wait for his bus ride home. Arieh saw him walking in the rain as she climbed into her two year old sports car and she actually felt sorry for the guy as she warmed her car up, watching the windshield wipers clear the rain away as Nestor waggled down the wet sidewalk. She saw him around school, one of those nondescript kids who blended in and didn't stand out. He was a good worker at Denny's, she noticed, always Johnny-on-the-spot clearing tables, polite and respectful to co-workers and customers alike. There was something sad about him and Arieh felt pity but that didn't mean she was going to give him a ride. What if somebody saw her with him!?

The road was empty this late at night and as Arieh pulled out of the Denny's parking lot she saw the miserable Nestor standing at the bus stop looking even more pathetic than ever. She figured nobody would see so she pulled the car to the curb in front of the bus stop and powered down the passenger side window.

"Why don't I give you a ride?" She said, giving Nestor a fake friendly smile.

Nestor could tell she was being insincere but he was already soaked to the skin and who knows how long it would be before the bus arrived. Although he felt awkward and stupid, he gladly opened the door and climbed into the car.

Arieh made a face when she realized he was dripping all over the seat and the car's interior.

"Sorry," Nestor mumbled but Arieh didn't say anything as she drove the car from the curb.

"Where do you live?" She asked, realizing she had no idea where she was going.

"River Road," Nestor said with embarrassment. "By the junk yard."

"That's kind of out of my way," she frowned.

"Sorry," he mumbled again.

That was about the extent of their conversation. Nestor peered out the passenger window at the rain and Arieh drove in silence although there was some sort of music on the satellite radio – Nestor wasn't sure who the singer was. He was afraid to look at the beautiful driver but he had memorized Arieh's beauty long ago – her long brown hair, her high cheekbones, her dancing blue eyes, that killer smile of hers (not that she ever smiled at him).

"I can cut through Willow Road, right?" Arieh eventually asked.

"Yeah, but it's kind of dark," he answered.

She didn't seem to care as she steered the car onto the side road and picked up speed. Willow Road was mostly woods dotted with a few businesses – a tractor place, a radiator repair shop, and a construction equipment lot but the road was deserted at this time of night. The rain began to come down harder and Nestor wondered if perhaps Arieh was going too fast for road conditions but he wasn't about to say anything. He was grateful for the ride.

Lights appeared ahead. At first, Nestor thought they were from a huge truck rig though it made no sense that a truck of that size would be on this road this late at night.

"What the…..?" Arieh said, slowing the car down. "What in the hell is that?"

"I don't know…." Nestor started to say but the light became so bright, warm and complete that he had to shield his eyes with his arm and that's the last thing he remembered.