She said she had to go, 45 minutes after she said hello. He was a little disturbed by that; he set aside a few hours for this meeting, for a chance to seek forgiveness and maybe even a little more.
“Okay.” He said, not okay.
He gathered his things, and walked out the door with her. She moved quickly, hurrying to her car. He moved slow, taking his time, trying to make more where there wouldn’t be, and probably shouldn’t be. After a few seconds, she was too far gone for him to do anything except exclaim a quick, “I’ll be seeing ya.” The situation transformed quickly; within a matter of moments two people talking across a long coffee table turned into a boy sitting in his car with his head down and eyes shut, and a woman driving away with her head up and chin fixed in front of her. She would not look back this time, she would drive away only to think about what she had next on her agenda. The boy she just left could sit in that parking lot for the rest of the day, but she would not dare think about him, not again.
He saw her escape, and with his excess time he chose to stay there, and sit. He sat only to ponder the fuck ups that lead him to this place, alone in a parking lot while thirsty construction workers watched tears fall off his nose like a suicide-prevention group driving across the Golden Gate Bridge on a Wednesday afternoon watching a man bungie jump.
It was broad daylight, and too warm for pants, but he wore the pair that she liked anyway. For what would turn out to be the longer part of a half-hour, he sat motionless while sad music tapped on the windows. It was a calm sadness, one that overwhelmed him to the point of temporary self-induced paralysis. It was his way of trying to regain control of himself, starting with his physical activity and working his way down to the core of his emotional health. He hadn’t been shaken like this in a long time; in fact, he knew exactly when he lost control for the last time.
It was Thanksgiving Day; after all the meat and sugar had been put away, his phone had a message he waited a long time to receive. It was her, that painfully sweet girl who now lived in his memory, begging to see him. After he was convinced that she had grown indifferent and tired of him, he warmly accepted an invitation for his confusion and heartache to spark again.
He didn’t know why she wanted to meet, or for how long or what he would say, but he knew that she was going to be there, and that she was going to need him. It turned into Thanksgiving Night, and he sat in his car, motionless while soft music tapped on his window. It was crisp out, exactly right to wear a sweatshirt. She pulled in, two spots away to his right. He opened the door of his car, and walked around the back. Immediately, he judged her. Her look, her new look with sad eyes and a sorority crewneck. She was holding back, but as they approached each other, she let go. She sobbed, hard. Not knowing what to do or what she was feeling, she cried harder and harder until she ran into him. Without asking, without knowing, he saw her tears, and wrapped his arms around her, no words, no eye contact, or any action other than offering his body and warmth as solace to her distress. He held her exactly as he wanted to for so long, and she let him; she was held the way she wanted to be ever since she left The Bench. Minutes passed; the tears stopped, and the breath slowed. When things seemed calm, he offered, “Let’s…umm…let’s hop inside my car, and talk.” She nodded.
They talked a lot. She began by asking if he hated her, of course not. She apologized profusely, for things she both did, and didn’t, need to apologize for. He cared about the apologies for a few minutes; however, a certain eureka moment found its way amidst the ebb and flow of their romantic reconciliation. He did not care about the apologies. He did not want them. Having her, there, in that car with him, was all he wanted. He was sick of the past formatting its way into ruining the one night they had together. The apologies were sincere, and at first, they meant something, but they would turn worthless because after it was all said and done, they still would not be together. He continued to listen, and continued to respond when she wanted him to, until finally, she said to him,
“If there’s anything you want to say, or have been wanting to, please, I don’t care, I want you to say them to me.”
He paused, unsure about what to do. There was so much he wanted to say. There was so much anger to him because she had been cold to him at times; she had abandoned him and ruined him. For months, he built it up in his head what he would say to her. His script was ready, the words were there, but after all he had heard, and all he had seen, he became unsure. He didn’t want to say those things anymore, he wanted to make out with her, wrap his arms around her and fall asleep and be there to make sure she never cries like that ever again. Nevertheless, he had an opportunity, one he waited a long time for. Think it would help with closure and letting go, he let the words go. Words came, he talked, he yelled, she turned, she cried, and by the end of it, he was silent, slightly steaming. She was quiet, with her eyes closed and head looking towards the glass, holding her tears back like windows to the rain. He felt his petrified anger become extinguished as the car filled with silence except for the soft cries coming from his right. He looked at her, ashamed of what he said, and regretful of his actions. “I’m sorry. Those were old feelings. You have to understand I’m not angry like that anymore. Things have changed, from tonight and everything we said…please it’s all okay.”
“It’s not okay.” She cried harder, turning her head to him with tears streaming across her face and mascara running wild. “I’m a terrible person. I’m so sorry.” He grabbed her cheeks, wiping the tears and blackness away.
“No no no. It’s okay. I promise you it’s all okay.” He brought her head over his shoulder, hugging her as tight as he could in a compact car. He could feel her tears running down the back of his neck. He began to sob too. Hearing the sound of her quivers, his breath quickened. He brushed his cheek along her face, keeping his head down and eyes closed. His instincts began to take over, and his lips moved rushing to find hers. He pressed his lips to hers, which were slightly wet from the tears that wouldn’t stop falling. Her lips welcomed him, and she felt his hands reach behind her head and pull her that much closer. They moved without control, letting their hearts guide them with ceaseless affection. She grabbed the breast of his shirt, pulling it closer to her. It was two hearts reigniting a flame that refused to parish with time and space; they had sought recovery and distraction in the lust and time of others, but nothing could ever make them forget this, the feeling of passion flowing freely between them from the depths of their hearts through the nerve endings in their lips. It was a relief from desperation and constant apathy. In the months between their last kiss, no thrill, high, or person could surmount the gap that formed when they were away from each other, but this kiss, this kiss was slowly fixing all the months of silence.
“What are we doing?” She whispered between breaths.
“I don’t know. I don’t care.” He stopped for a moment, to breathe her in, to remember everything around him. Her tears had dried, her mascara stopped running, and she was his hot mess, a beautiful disaster. She pressed her forehead to his. “What if,” he kissed the bridge of her nose, “what if, just for tonight, you and I disappeared for a little while. Just you and me on our own for the night. We turn off our phones and put music on, and forget about everything. Do you want to do that?” She nodded.
They drove away; he drove with her head on his shoulder, and his hand in between hers. He played their song, the one about the lime tree. He drove until he found a spot that no one would find them, in an empty parking lot, with one street light that glowed orange in the few spots it stood by, like it had been waiting to shine its light to anybody who might need it.
“Here. How’s here?”
“With you, anywhere is perfect.”
He jumped into the back of that little car, and welcomed her into this tiny little universe the two of them were about to create. Without hesitation, he picked off right where they left off. He consumed her, and she consumed him. This, this was the moment he lost his control. He gave it up, freely, to this woman he loved and cherished so deeply. What would happen, he didn’t know, but for years, the two of them had withheld their desires for each other as an attempt to control their relationships. Their “Type A” love, their unconditional affection for each other had turned into a chaotic steam room where each kiss made up for a day of separation. He threw her on his lap, where she unfolded and blossomed like a Stiff rose in uncharted hills. As the chaotic love continued to possess the two of them, he managed to kiss her shoulders with tenderness and serenity. Each kiss was a reassurance that their feelings had not been lost; each kiss was a way of saying, “I will always come back to you.” He let the night take control of him, guiding his hands and lips to places of love and passion. Nothing existed aside from the woman before him, and to her, nothing in the world mattered other than the man she needed, in every way.
He looked into the back seat, letting the memory of that night plague his heavy heart like a salted wound. He turned to his songs, and played that one about the lime tree. He pictured himself on the other side of the speaker; broadcasting his words to millions of people, and twice as many ears. He could have billions of fans, but would always have an audience of one. He put his car in drive, and drove back to the aching reality before him, where his mind would continue to dream of her and that night, in that car, that black, high miles-per-gallon car.
In the months to follow, he would find a new normal. A normal with peace and acceptance that with patience and good intentions the things he wanted may come. It may be painful, it would hurt like hell, he was sure of that. But with suffering and an unconditional love he was content, as all men should be, in knowing exactly what he wanted. He was obsessed, resolutely, in rekindling the fire that sparked so deeply in the memories of his heart, where the embers of a single night glowed like a lantern at the end of a stretched arm reaching mercilessly toward a treasure buried in the past. So, he marched on, struggling to exist in a place where his hopes and dreams were not seen through the golden eyes of a woman who only lived in the letters, words, and ideas on the paper in front of him. He was drowning, looking for a life raft as he swam in the waters of solitude; he looked to hold onto a saving grace, a gift from God, to be able to hold the heart of a woman in mind once more.