A little spoonful.... A little bite. I sit alone in the crowded cafe, eating my lunch a little nervously. I am waiting for her... a friend from long ago, whom Iíve been wanting to talk to after all these years. And I have to say, itís not easy to tell my own stories, even if storytelling is what I do for a living.
Several minutes passed by..... And then she arrived. She walked through the door and smiled at me, still beautiful as ever... I nearly choked, my stomach fluttering like a butterfly. Or like a pubescent teen. Which was actually, quite close to how I felt at the time...
We talked ceaselessly for hours, oblivious to the world... We both missed each otherís company. Later, as we walked to her car, I stole a glance into her eyes, captivated once more by her every word. Itís amazing to me... I never knew I could still feel this much love... Just by being with her, talking to her, Iíve dredged up so many memories from before, both the good ones and well, those that could be better.
I wanted to hold her hand... to embrace her, and kiss her softly. We went inside her car. I reached out to her a little urgently, almost pleadingly... but then I felt her, slowly pulling away. Ever so slightly... Ever so politely. Hesitantly, I moved back. I understood. And she brought me crashing back to the reason, the REAL reason she wanted to talk.
She is going to leave her husband.... She told me that she met this guy from work a few months ago, courtesy of her boss, and she will go away with him to a foreign country. To get away from her miserable life.... And to start anew.
In three days from today.
I was stunned. My head was abuzz with all the things I wanted to say... I looked at her, and she put her finger over my lips, knowingly. She stayed closer to me for a few moments, with her eyes deep in sadness... and then to my surprise, she kissed me full on my mouth.
I savored it for a brief, glorious moment,. And then I wanted to savor it some more, right there inside her car. I began to pull her close... just like before. But then, another memory came into my head, and I just could not do it. I drew away from her with what meager strength I could muster, and bowed my head dejectedly. From the side, I could see her looking over the distance, still sad but understanding why. Why I could not go through with it...
ďHow is she?Ē she said. ďI mean, your wife...Did you guys have a baby yet?Ē she asked me gently. Maybe as her way of getting me back to reality. That it had been over for us years ago.,, That life was different now.,.. And then I remembered my own reasons for wanting to talk...
I too, had wanted to escape from my own pain. I wanted to escape the reality of my poverty, all my frustrations, my day-to-day struggles with work.....as well as the pain of having no child, despite all the prayers and efforts, and the dying flame of my affection for my wife. I had wished countless times that I could change things. That I couldíve stopped womanizing, that somehow I couldíve stopped drinking alcohol and gambling.... And that I could redo some aspects of my youth, even just some aspects of my life, to make it all better. And then I remembered her.... The one thing in my life that became right. And the one thing I had let go so thoughtlessly...
We talked for a few more minutes, and then I got out of the car. I looked as she backed out of the parking space and drove out, without a wave or a second glance. Perhaps it is better this way, I said to myself.....
And yet as I walked home, I could not help a stray tear from falling down... down from a deep, profound regret... and the stray thought that asks me... if perhaps this emptiness is the way it shall forever be.
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