First Night

They met on first night. Well no, it wasn’t really the first night, it was actually the first Friday in October. She remembered because her new town did things on the first Friday of every month.

She sat down at the small bistro table across from him and said, “I’m not usually late.” He smiled and they both nodded knowingly, thinking something non-descript like “traffic.”

The evening was pleasant. They talked about their lives, their interests and a sprinkle of their pasts.

They saw each other like this, appearing in different places, meeting almost by chance, but not quite. There was always the thin wisp of a plan. The evenings were exquisite, just the two of them, just talking and sometimes just a bit more over time, but nothing tawdry.

Sometimes they went to a club and listened to music. Other nights it would be an art opening where they stood hand-in-hand and she knew people thought they were a couple. He once even referred to them as, “an elegant couple.” It was all becoming simply too delicious.

They went on like this for months. Nothing outlandish. They didn’t need to spend lots of money. They had each other and were traveling in a unique non-region, somewhere just beyond the place where the dailiness of life could yank them back.

Time flew. It was New Year’s Eve, First Night in his small town. They walked up and down festive Main Street with its twinkling lights, where dancers performed and players strummed their guitars. Graceful stilt walkers roved the street, like tall birds in their feathered costumes. Delicious aromas from foods of every description were being prepared for the midnight feast. They kissed in the new year and her heart sang with delight.

Work and daily routines were still in the distant future when he said, “Let’s take a trip to nowhere before we have to go back.” This man had somehow looked into her soul and saw the very thing that would set her alight!

She stepped out of the taxi with anxious exhilaration, wondering if he would be there. Pulling open the shiny, glass, double doors of the station, she saw him happily waving the train tickets in the air to attract her attention.

The train was delayed for several hours, but it didn’t matter. They were together on an adventure that was about to begin.

They heard the mournful whistle and knew the train was approaching. On the platform, pulling her small carry-on behind her she couldn’t contain herself and let out a squeal of delight.

“It’s really happening!”

He smiled and squeezed her hand. They boarded the big silver beast and after one last, “All aboard,” they were off.

She had been concerned. It was a long train trip for a short time spent at their destination and then it would be an equally long train ride back. It was all about the train on this adventure. What would they do with themselves during those long hours?

But it wasn’t that way at all. They laughed and talked and took short naps and ate and talked some more – and it all flowed as though they had been friends forever.

He pretended they were a couple.

She felt like they were a couple – in that moment.

She thought she’d gotten into his mind and heart and was ready to let him into hers if he so desired. They played the game of pretense with other travelers they met. She heard him say to their dinner companions that evening, “No, we didn’t have children.” Later that night she reminded him that although accurate, his statement was misleading. How would the people they had just eaten dinner with reconcile the different towns she had spoken of when initially asked where they were from?

The game continued. After the pretty, young porter asked them to keep their voices down, as they were the only ones still awake and talking throughout the long first night of the journey, he said, “I think I’ll tell her when we leave that this is our honeymoon.”

That took her by surprise, but she simply laughed to keep the game going. She knew this meant nothing. Somehow even then, even though she wanted to believe, she knew this was all nothing more than candy floss and would soon come to an end.

The final hours on the train in some ways seemed to be the most beautiful of all. They passed vistas in her own town that she had no idea even existed. They agreed to visit them in the coming weeks, but a part of her knew this would never happen.

The silver doors opened, they kissed goodbye and went in their separate directions to their own little towns. She felt the gray smoke rush in that signaled a great sadness coming. She was no stranger to melancholy.

As she trudged off in search of a taxi, he surprised her.

“Let’s just have one last afternoon together, before it all begins again,” he said.

They spent the afternoon in their favorite spot over looking a garden. Entwined like vines who would never part, they fell into a gentle sleep – until they heard the crash of rushing feet.

“Stay quiet and maybe they won’t see us,” he whispered in alarm.

“Eduardito! Look at this mess! You’ve left your toys all over the floor,” his mother said. “You were told to clean your room before we left.”

“But I did, mama! I put everything in the toy box,” the little boy said, fearing some privilege might be revoked as he quickly began to put the toys back in their proper places.

Off in a shadowy corner lay two dolls in an embrace. This horrified the little boy – he would NEVER have left them this way! As he put them both back into their separate boxes, he was sure he could see the smiles fade on their painted faces.

Back in her box, alone, she felt the sadness overtaking her like a fine gray mist. She’d known this sadness before and dreaded its arrival. Days passed and she still didn’t feel like moving.

A thin envelope slipped into her box one afternoon. She dragged herself up and slowly opened the sealed paper.

Dear One,

We are back to our daily routines. Strange that for some, a holiday brings the blues. For others, it is the return that does it as it is quite anti-climactic. Some of us hide this well. Although I may not show it, I am feeling it too.

We no longer have the relaxing luxury of endless time, but this does not negate how we enjoyed the holiday season that just passed. So, remember your take on perception? Maybe we can use perception to our advantage and not against us. Similar to what I imagine you are feeling, I felt a sort of let-down following the intense connections we just had.

Just remember, little Eduardito and his mama will have to leave again sometime and what joy we will share then!

J Grace Written by:

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