Writing about writing a book – Day 7 continues

Will it ever end?

I’m late.

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.

I apologize.

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  I thought it had burned down long ago and been replaced by a residential tower.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.

“Not really.”

“Neither am I.”

 

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

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