Almost 20 years had passed since she had last seen him; both had weathered the time with at least some grace. Perhaps they told themselves this, awkwardly embracing, pushing aside the thoughts of the kinds of things they used to do together. Cordiality ruled the day now, over 40 and discussing blood pressure medications and carefully controlled diets. They were polite, discussing many things, but at the same time, not very much. Controlled, too, in how they spoke, the words they chose, the topics they discussed – directly and indirectly – never wanting to cross a line or appear indiscreet, despite their history of nothing but indiscretion. They had work in common, this business-like demeanor, that is, their shared workaholism, which seemed to substitute for the children that neither of them ever had, for the partners each of them seemed to have for lengthy intervals during their otherwise lone(ly) adult lives but who always disappeared eventually.
After a confidence-bolstering few glasses of wine, and many hours of conversation, which had lifted slightly in tone as the hours flew and the hour grew later, he leaned in toward her, very close, and she saw the old glint in his eye, the disarming smile that had so weakened her resolve two decades ago, and she saw past all the little things the 20 years had done to him – and to her. It was as though no time at all had passed.
He gripped her forearm tightly and looked into her eyes before lowering his gaze, as he had done many times before in brief fits of shyness that belied the exterior performance, “I loved you then, but I thought something was missing. But I see now – it was there…
…I just didn’t know what was important.”
Photo (c) the late and lovely Paul Costanich