Will it ever end?
I’m not usually late. One thing I always pride myself on is being on time. If other people have the courtesy to turn up on time, I should too. It’s one of those old-fashioned traits that was hammered into me when I was young.
It is the first time I have seen Marilyn for over a year, though we have exchanged a few phone calls. It was much easier to talk to her from a distance, and over something as impersonal as a telephone.
Sitting opposite her was an entirely different proposition.
Like a giddy schoolboy on a first date, I was nervous. It took me back about 40 years when I did go out with her, but it wasn’t a date. She wanted to ask me about Hal, the man she eventually married, and the man who was once my best friend.
I was nervous then, but for different reasons, and then I was disappointed. I guess I had a lot to learn then about life, and women. I’m not so sure with the passing of time I had learned much at all.
I look at her now, forty years on, and I still see the same woman in front of me that was sitting practically in the same place. It was the same café, she had selected the venue. I thought it had burned down long ago and been replaced by a residential tower.
That was next door.
There was something to be said for nostalgia. I think the furnishings and the building itself was the same as it was back then.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you, Hal and I got a divorce. It seems your initial assessment of his character all those years ago was correct.”
It had been a passing comment. He told me monogamy was for idiots, and there was a world of women out there just waiting for the right man. Him apparently. All I had said to her was that I didn’t think he was ready to settle down.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I hope it wasn’t too painful.”
I had nothing to start with so my divorce was painless. She took everything, not that it amounted to very much.
“The lawyers won, I guess they always win.”
Someone had an eloquent saying about lawyers, but I couldn’t remember who. I’d have to remember not to quote literature to Marilyn. She was not a ‘book’ person.
“How come you didn’t tell me? I’m very good at holding hands.”
She smiles, perhaps remembering the one time we went for a stroll through a park near the university, a day she had come to tell me her problems with Hal. I was a sympathetic listener, but I longed for more, for what I couldn’t have.
I could still feel the tugs at my heartstrings.
“You had your own problems to deal with. Besides, I finally had to stand up for myself, after living in the shadows for so long. You know how it is.”
Yes, I did. Sacrifice, and not necessarily by the right partner in a marriage. My ex-wife had told me enough times until I finally agreed with her.
“So now you’re free.”
“As a bird, as they say. You hungry?” she asks.
“Neither am I.”
© Charles Heath 2016-2019