Cold brushed over her arms causing a chill that awoke Pam from her dream. Jim had once again rolled over, cocooning himself in the blankets and exposing Pam to the slight draft from the window. She tugged gently at the comforter and he uncurled himself from it, wrapping his arms around her instead, the touch of his body warming her more than the covers did anyway.
The three-day trip with Michael, that in the end became five because of the added stop in Nashua, had drained her both physically and mentally and it felt great to be back in her own bed again, even if Jim was a blanket hog.
She had agreed to go on the trip primarily for the bonus pay. She wanted to be able to contribute a little more to her share of the mortgage although Jim insisted that share meant just that. What was his was now hers and he could cover the monthly payment without inflicting her to three days of travel with Michael and all the insanity that would surely accompany them on the journey.
But Pam had other reasons for agreeing to go, one of which was making amends with Karen. Karen, who Pam had felt she’d wronged, not so much for the way she revealed her feelings for Jim in front of her, or for the note she’d slipped to him which ultimately called Jim back to Pam, but for pretending so long that she was over him and not being more honest about things earlier. She hated thinking Karen thought ill of her and while she was nervous about facing her again, she was anxious to have a chance to talk calmly and convince Karen she never meant for her to get hurt in the process.
Turns out, Karen, just like Pam, wound up where she was meant to be, with a partner destined for her. It was apparent from the luminosity Pam saw on her face when she discussed her new husband, the same glow that emanated from the life that grew inside her, the product of that new love.
This discovery brought Pam the closure she needed and this was worth more to her than any monetary reward. But as she explained that to Michael as they left the Utica office, she could see behind his eyes the swirling explosion forming in his head. Being it was Michael she was dealing with, with his dramatic and narcissistic tendencies, it wasn't just a wheel beginning to spin. It was a metaphorical CD, burned with a compilation of every song that lyrically defined every thought he felt since Holly had left.
Pam thought she was doing the right thing in agreeing to make the added stop. Perhaps she hadn’t realized the depths of Michael’s feelings for Holly or, for that matter, those of hers for him. For Michael, the trip had a less comforting effect than what she experienced in Utica, in fact, the trip to Nashua only added to his heartache and Pam had a firsthand look into why.
Early morning light slowly crept into the room and Pam began to stir once again, awakening from dreams of an earlier time when she, like Michael was experiencing the crushing effects of lost love, the nightmare feeling as real as the man that lay beside her. She lay in silence thinking about the pain Michael was experiencing, the raw ache from knowing love and having it stripped from you.
As she gazed at her sleeping fiancé, the pathos of her dream ebbed back to a memory, but her heart still felt a small ache for her boss, the friend she had grown to care about despite his many faults.
As if he sensed her gaze upon him, her stare gently nudging him awake, Jim opened his eyes and smiled at her.
She only just realized how long and intensely she’d been gazing at him, his face being so often there in her dreams, sometimes like a memory of the past and sometimes a premonition of the future. But as she heard him call her by his pet name for her, she became aware where she was in their timeline, together, engaged and joyously happy.
“There’s the smile I love. What were you thinking about with that serious look?”
“Just how happy I am to be home.”
“Nope, that’s not your happy to be home look. I saw that look last night and that,” he waved his finger around her face, “is not it.”
Pam blushed at the memory of her homecoming. She had barely walked through the door when his lips were upon hers, his hands caressing her hair, then her body and before she knew it, they were half-naked on the shag rug enjoying their reunion.
“I wasn’t thinking about last night so much as thinking about how we got here. And how we almost didn’t. Being with Michael and reading that heartbreaking letter from Holly, I guess it got into my head. How close we came to missing out on all this.”
“Ok, first of all, we agreed there were certain names not to be spoken in this bed. And secondly, there was no way we would not have gotten here. I told you back then and I’ll tell you again I would have made my way back to you – without Josh, without Yopliat, without David Wallace.”
“I don’t know I just would have. Pam, we were meant to be.”
“That’s just it. You had to see Michael.” She stopped, half expecting Jim to raise his eyebrows at the mention of his name again. “And the letter. Jim, she is still so in love with him and he with her and yet I don’t know how they’ll come back together. Being meant to be might not be enough. It wasn’t for my parents.”
“You said it yourself, our story is not like your parent’s.”
“No, I guess not, but Michael’s is.”
“If it is, then they’ll find a way.”
“You know he sorta blames you.”
Jim edged himself up to a sitting position and braced himself to hear the irrational logic Michael had come up with that made it his fault that Holly was banished to the Nashua branch.
“Me? How does this have anything to do with me? It was David who sent her away.”
“He never came right out and said he blamed you, but he backended into it. He started rambling about how you kept him from flapping his wings and because of that David wound up finding out about them and sent her away on purpose.”
Pam was sitting up now too. She hated to tell Jim this but thought maybe Michael did have a small reason to be upset with him.
“It took me a while to figure out what he was talking about but eventually I got it. He was referring to the Butterfly Effect. You know the phenomenon that a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a typhoon halfway around the world.”
“Yeah Pam, I know about the Butterfly Effect but what does that have to do with me?”
Jim seemed to be getting a little mad. Pam knew it wasn’t at her, but still had to think about how to phrase things to keep him calm.
“Remember that time up on the roof, you know when Michael had kidnapped the pizza guy, when we talked about when we first knew we liked each other. You said you knew almost instantaneously. You said it was the moment we first met.”
“Well, it wasn’t quite the first moment I met you. Michael introduced me to you and then he got distracted by the lack of green jelly beans in the container on your desk. You said nice to meet you and I said hello. You were cute and all but I wasn’t swooning or anything just yet. It wasn’t until 8 minutes later when you…”
“When I said enjoy this moment…that’s why I don’t understand why you gave Michael such a hard time when he told you he loved Holly her first day.”
“Pam, I may have known I liked you in an instant, but I wasn’t insane enough to think it was true love minutes after our introduction and I certainly didn’t say it to you.”
“No, that took 3 years.”
“Okay, Pam, that hurt. You were engaged, remember.”
Now maybe his anger was a little bit directed at her. Pam reached out to touch him but he threw his legs over the side of the bed and walked to the dresser.
“Anyway, I may have known what I felt but I also knew enough not to tell you I loved you after knowing you for a few hours. That’s what he was planning. I didn’t tell him he couldn’t have feelings for her, only to take it slow, let things develop over time, like we did. If he had told her he loved her that day, David wouldn’t have even had to get involved, she would have left for Nashua herself.”
“You’re right Jim. I know it and I think he knows it too. But he’s been replaying all the ways he could have done things differently that would have had a different outcome. One that wouldn’t leave him so devastated and broken hearted.”
“Pam, I still don’t believe what they had, have, whatever is anything near what we have, but if it is even close, they will figure it out. And it’s not our job, despite what he may say or think, to help him navigate his love life.”
Pam knew Jim was right, but she still felt bad for what Michael was going through and couldn’t see a happy ending in store for Holly and Michael and that made her sad.
After a few minutes of silence, Jim walked back to the bed. He reached for her, taking her in his arms.
“Come here. I love that you care so much about him. I love that you want him to be as happy as we are. All I’m saying is, we had so many obstacles, so many missed opportunities and we still got here. Were we predestined; I don’t know? All I know is from the moment I met you, my life has never been the same and that’s what is most important to me. Let Michael worry about his own love life and let’s enjoy ours.”
He kissed her and slowly Pam’s worry about Michael became a memory as she got swept away in a very enjoyable present.