by Serena Blade
founded love, lost and then reconciled after years apart.
| I took a look at myself in the mirror and made a face. I was not happy. I had a lunch date with Richard and I felt out of place. It had been ten years since I last saw him. I looked different. Age sure took a toll on me. I was not the same innocent teenage girl Richard had met. Not even with foundation, could I cover the circles under my eyes. Bearing two kids didn’t help either. Why was I being so harsh on myself? I was only meeting up with an old fling.
Old fling? Ha! More like an old boyfriend.
I sighed with nervousness as I took one more look in the mirror before deciding there was nothing more I could do to improve myself. I wore a Tiffany blue summer dress with yellow rose imprints. I placed another coat of lip gloss as I attempted to distract myself from falling into a ball of nerves.
On my way towards the café, I remembered how I first met Richard. We were both seniors in high school. He was in the library on a Friday afternoon, trying to find a book for his history project while I was there working. I was so shy and nervous around him. However, it was his eyes that had caught my attention. They were dark brown and devious. The moment I stared into them I was hypnotized.
“Hi, can you help me?”
“Hi!” I said breathlessly. My heart was racing. I knew I had a crush on him. I’d like to think he felt the same.
By the time the library closed, Richard had asked me out to dinner.
We had met up that night at a local diner and by the end of the night I had realized that the best things in life were for free. I was bitten by the love bug. We shared a simple kiss soon after. We were inseparable after that. Everything was perfect. Unfortunately life had other plans for us.
I arrived at the café early. I did not get out of my car quickly as my nerves had me immobilized. I didn’t know if I could go through with it.
But I am here. Don’t mess it up again! You’ve already done that too many times! I rolled my eyes with annoyance. "What am I supposed to say? Hey! I’m sorry I pushed you away! But how’s life?” I said out loud.
I had lost myself. For that reason our relationship was destroyed.
“What the hell am I doing here?” I said.
“Oh, come on Clara. It’s just lunch! It’s not like I am asking you to marry me!”
Richard had messaged me. It was this that convinced me to meet him. He seemed genuinely happy to contact me.
Maybe it's gonna be alright. I told myself as I slipped out of the car.
The truth is that I was engaged to Richard at one point. But that day never came. My mother had gotten sick. Cancer. This brought a toll into our relationship. And even though Richard was a great support, I had pushed him away. So much anger and later guilt.
I walked into the café. I searched the small room and noticed that Richard had already arrived and sat at the corner. He noticed me, smiled and waved at me. I could feel my heart stop for a moment. He had not changed much. Aging looked good on him. The waitress walked me towards the table and as I neared, he stood and pulled the chair out for me. I sat and we ordered coffee.
“How are you, Clara?”
I swallowed before I answered.
“I am okay, I guess. Just trying to get myself and my girls situated.”
“That is right, I did see that on your profile. Recently divorced, as well.”
“Yes, we have that in common.” I said.
“How long were you married?”
“A little over eight years, I believe.”
“Oh, okay. Sounds like my situation.” Richard said.
“Oh? What do you mean? Did you not think you and your wife were going to make it?” I asked.
Richard seemed thoughtful for a moment.
“I think I married because I was trying to forget certain things in my life.”
I stared at him. His last statement was like a hidden message to me. It was strange because I had done the same. I had married because of my loneliness and sadness of losing him. The guilt never allowed me to truly let Richard go.
“I’ll be honest, I never thought I was ever going to see you again,” I said.
Richard only half smiled.
“Don’t you just love social media.” He said.
My oldest daughter had opened up a Facebook page for me and that is how Richard had found me. At first, I hesitated. I stared at his profile for a long time. Why would he want to contact me? I had hurt him. I did not deserve anything from this man. And yet, here he was, requesting to be my friend. After a few days of contemplating I accepted his friend request.
“What made you come back to town?” He asked.
Why did I come back? After my mother’s death I left town to start over. After the divorce I moved back to my hometown.
“I guess, after the divorce, I wanted to start over. Come back home.”
“Sounds like you like to move around a lot whenever certain unpleasant events take place.”
I could tell he immediately regretted what he said.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean -”
“That’s alright. I deserved it” I said. I was angry. Mainly at myself. What he said was right. I just did not realize it until he had said it out loud.
“I guess that is all I am good at, starting over.”
“I did not say that.” Richard said.
“No, but you implied it.”
“Look, I -”
He stopped as the waitress came with our coffees.
I took a sip.
“For what it’s worth, I am happy you are back.”
I didn’t know if I believed him.
“What are their names, your girls?” Richard asked, changing the subject.
“My oldest is Coreen. She is eight. The youngest is Bonnie. She is five” I responded.
“My boy is five as well. His name is Hunter.”
I half smiled. That was the name we would have named our son. I looked down.
“I’m sorry,” Richard began.
“No, don’t. We had many plans but I ruined them.”
“That is not true. You lost your mother.”
“But I pushed you away.”
He stared at me for a moment. I knew he agreed with me. I thought of my mother then. I don’t remember much about that day, only that she died in her sleep. I had walked into her room one morning and tried to awaken her. But she never did. My life, after that, was dark. No matter how hard Richard tried I found ways of pushing him away.
“I understand that your mother was all that you had at the time.” Richard said, interrupting my thoughts.
“I also had you but did not appreciate you. All I did was take my anger out on you. That was unfair.”
Richard reached for my hand. It felt warm and welcoming. But all I could think about was how I shouted at him to “Just go away! Leave me alone!”
“For how long, Clara? Let me help you!”
“There is nothing you can do! I am no good to you, Richard! I don’t know if I’ll ever be! I died the day my mother died! It’s over!”
I was lost and there was nothing he could do. I did not know how to let him in.
“You know, I did not bring you here so that we can bring up old wounds.”
“Then why did you?” I said, “I treated you so poorly. I don’t deserve your -”
“Clara, just stop, please.” Richard interjected.
He stared at me.
“I’ve missed you. Even though time has passed. I have not stopped thinking of you.”
This surprised me. Even when I was married, I still thought about him late at night. Almost as if reading my thoughts, Richard said, “I would look up at the sky, late at night, and wonder about you. If you were safe, happy, sad? I still wanted to be there for you. Even when I did not know where you were.”
I gasped. I felt tears threatening to fall.
“I know we both have lived our separate lives. But I believe in serendipity.”
This made me chuckle. I felt something warm in my heart. What was he saying?
“I never gave up the thought of us one day meeting. And now that we are here, I am not planning on walking away that easily.”
I covered my face with my hands as the tears began to fall. All the guilt, after all those years, was being washed out. Richard still wanted to be with me!
“I’m sorry, Richard! For everything. I don’t deserve this but, how I want this to work,” I said.
With both hands, he brushed my tears away. I stared at him as I noticed he had a glow in his eyes. It was hope, the same hope I felt blossoming inside me.
“I lied, though.”
I looked at him confused for a moment before he continued.
“I did bring you here so that I could marry you one day.”
My mouth dropped.
“Whoa. Calm down.” I said with a smile.
“I think we’ve had a long engagement. It’s time to take the next step.”
I laughed. I was happy. I began to realize why I had returned. Deep down I was still hoping.
“But how can you still want me?” I asked. “We have lost so much time.”
“Time waits for no one. This is true. But that doesn’t mean anything, Clara. Even though I had moved forward I never really lived. The day you left me, was the day I learned to partially live, only half love. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son. But I could never find anyone to really fulfill what I had, when I was with you. You, Clara, have always had my other half. I still love you. I never stopped loving you.”
His words were like a flashlight that lit the path that I had strayed from.
“I am so sorry, Richard! I never meant to hurt you!”
“I know I should have let you in, but I was lost.”
“Shh. Let go of this guilt. I did not come to open wounds. I came here to squash them so that we can start over. The time is right. All you have to do now is allow it.”
He pulled me into him. I took a deep breath and let him in.
“I love you too!” I finally said into his ear.
He held me tighter. I don’t know how long we held onto each other. I could have stayed in his arms forever. When we finally released each other Richard smiled and stared at my lips. I knew what he wanted. The same thing I did. He leaned forward and lightly kissed me. Warm and sweet. I was falling and I did not want to stop it.
Richard walked me to my car. He held me again.
“I really am happy you are back.”
“So am I. Thank you.”
“For never giving up on me, on us.”
Richard kissed me. This time longer, deeper and with a passion that was long overdue. As we departed, he kissed my hand.
“Until we meet again.”
“Sooner, better than later,” I said.
I felt warm, safe. I sensed a new beginning. And I liked it. Richard and I found each other once again.