He had written the song about her when she was nineteen and they were away at college. She had felt so alive in those years, everything simultaneously intense and inconsequential, and their hearts had touched, just barely. Just enough to sway her to him and him to her in a serious way—more serious than either of them was ready for, so fresh from childhood and new to freedom. And because of their youth and goodwill toward one another, that was okay, and they never were together then, not really. If you had asked her, though, who she thought she might marry one day, and she had been feeling honest, she would’ve spoken his name.
It was in a period of touching—so close she thought it might be time to give in, regardless of all the oats yet to be sewn—that he first played the song for her. “Someday, Maybe,” he called it, and as he strummed his guitar and sang the words he’d strung together just for her, she had surrendered to it, her whole body in tune with his song. When the last “someday, maybe” spilled from his lips and he laid his guitar aside, she crawled into his lap and took his face in hers. “Maybe it’s time.” They had kissed then and more, and she had felt a sweet hum of electricity passing through them unlike anything before in her life.
They had fallen asleep that night watching The Princess Bride, and when she had finally made it home to her own apartment the next morning, she found a note he had scrawled on a slip of paper he must’ve slipped into her things while she slept.
As you wish, it had said.
Her body glowed with the warmth of it: the promise, long-teased, being fulfilled at last, and as she went about her day, she had the hopeful suspicion that the beginning of her life’s happiness had arrived.
But then a call from home pulled him away; he returned to their hometown where his brother had fallen ill with no one to look after him, and communication between the two had slowed to a halt. It had stung, but they had come close before and then parted ways. And she knew they had time. Someday, surely, they would both be ready.
She continued with her degree, and he became a full-time caregiver for his brother, who he would nurse until his death in the depths of winter. She’d wanted to come home for the funeral, but a snowstorm kept her away, and regret and a loss for the right words kept her from reaching out afterward.
Then one day the next year, she found herself in the clinical embrace of a doctor’s office being told she was unexpectedly pregnant, the baby the production of a relationship she had been indulging that had been easy, sweet, and decidedly impermanent. And yet something of the most permanent nature had come from it.
And so subtle was the shift, so overwhelming was this new, all-consuming love and responsibility, that it wasn’t until much later that she would realize that the future she had once seen clearly was no longer visible.
But the song he had sung to her which cracked open her heart, the song that had been meant for her alone would go on to be for millions and millions of ears; it would, in fact, be the vehicle which carried him and his band to the heights of the fame they would enjoy. They would produce no greater hit. The nervous boy with a voice that shook when he looked at her would become an illusion she could recall only within herself, replaced for all the outside world to see by a man confident, swaggering, dripping with talent and charm—a natural star. The tender words meant to bring her closer to him had instead taken him further from her than ever before.
Until one morning, when more years had passed, she got into her SUV and the radio came on. “Someday, Maybe” swam from the speakers. She left it on—she almost always did—and savored it for the thousandth time, that remembered feeling of hope for the future, and a small part of her, so fragile and tiny she was not wholly aware of it herself, held onto that hope and wondered if he might not yet come back one day to give her his all and receive her own.
*I was gonna take you home, you know,
I was gonna make you mine,
I was gonna hold you real, real close,
Was just holding out for the right night.
Someday, maybe you’ll look at me and know
I’ve been waiting all this time.
Don’t worry about it, babe, it’s been sweet going slow,
I’m gonna love you all my life,
The song finished up, and she began to shift into reverse as the announcer came on.
“…and that was, of course, Gentleman Rhett and the O’Haras, with their biggest hit on this sad Tuesday morning while we all mourn the loss of Rhett Harper, who was found dead in his hotel room in Las Vegas earlier today, tragically lost in an apparent accidental overdose.”
The announcer continued, but she could hear nothing over the strange sounds of her very being collapsing. Her heart pounded and her breathing dissolved into gasps as rivers of future possibilities were irreversibly cut off, leaving her with one hollow resounding thought which she realized now had been latent, waiting within, for the right time to reveal itself: there was no maybe to her loving of him. The future was certain. She would love him all her life.