She is a sight that I’ll never forget, even if I tried.
Despite the long years that had passed, she still wore that same blue scarf, those fiery auburn curls, that breathtaking cheeky smile. A familiar warm shiver danced down my spine. As she drummed her fingernails and patiently awaited her bill, all those precious memories of our too-short time together came flooding back.
Late night strolls across campus, arm-in-arm and heads bent together, giggling at corny jokes. Heartfelt conversations in the nearby forest, smoothing back an errant curl as she smiled down on me. Private study sessions, fingertips barely brushing as we each scribbled away. Fond side-glances when we each thought the other wasn’t looking …
This woman wasn’t the girl I loved at 19. She stood taller and relaxed, more sure of herself. Her tanned skin glowed – back from a sunny holiday, no doubt.
And a silver ring glinted on her left hand.
A pang of regret squeezed my heart. That time was over. We were young and foolish then. She really was a different person now. But this beautiful woman reflected the person I once was … someone who didn’t take a chance.
As she stood up and strolled past my table, like ships passing in the night, my mind screamed at me to get up, say something, anything. My last second chance. But my body locked into place. My throat tightened, and my tongue glued to the roof of my mouth.
What good would it do, after seven long years apart?
She disappeared for the second time in my life, leaving me with a cold slice of cake and the fantasy of what could have been. I raised my mug and toasted the cherished times we once shared. They were distant memories now. Long gone.
But they were still ours.
© 2021 | Tom Burton