*Readers (who actually read) and have good memories might remember some of these lines from an earlier piece (Calm; Stay). Much of what I knock out starts in multiple forms and I wanted to see how different I could make something that previously turned into something else.
She's mostly a silhouette as she enters the bookstore, blinding sunlight behind her. That he can barely see her, knowing she can clearly see him, makes it difficult to maintain any pretense of nonchalance. He wants to wait for her to come to him, but anxiety overcomes and he moves to meet her halfway. His steps are soft, confident, deliberate in their attempt to give nothing away.
A heartbeat tries desperately to chase the presence of a first impression long forgotten, but the embrace happens before it can remember. A dying memory brought to life by something new: touch. And the subtle scent of skin moistened from a now-welcomed humidity. There's the taste of coffee, too, but only because he's been drinking some.
The embrace breaks and there's hope that she notices only a nervous smile. He's afraid she can hear the nervous heartbeats overwhelming a mind moving too slowly to comprehend, but she says nothing as she returns the smile. Never was an instant more exhilarating.
Arms touch in the movie theater and each pretends not to notice. There will be no kiss in this facade of a reunion between long-lost friends, but she makes sure to leave enough residual lipstick on the straw of his drink she casually takes a sip from.
Alcohol overtakes conversation in a near-abandoned Cuban restaurant. He wanted her years ago and is in awe of the serendipity that has reunited them 14 years after and 2500 miles away from where they first met. Until now, the only time they've met.
It seems, though, that the reunion is to be short-lived. Life journeys, started in the same place, are traveling opposite directions and passing at a random point in time. He is leaving for another place and another life. She is leaving for another place and the life he had just left. He, unhappy where he's been, longs to return somewhere he can smile about. She, unhappy where she's been, has never found that place. Hints of sadness reveal themselves in the admission of being lost in a sense of nostalgia. Longings for paths not taken.
"And I'm the nostalgia," she says. It is a statement as perceptive as it is sad.
He doesn't believe it matters, though, for everyone carries their past wherever they may go. But he'll not see her much longer, of that he's certain. This time, the divergence of their paths is to be permanent. She's to be so much more than nostalgia.
* This is the first part of what will hopefully be a nine-part entry in the River of Mnemosyne challenge that's happening over at The ...
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