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Last Minute

He’s been waiting for this day to come for a very long time. Half his life. He’s spent countless hours over the years tracking her down.  She’s married to a wealthy man and lives on the coastline of Massachusetts. She’s a professor of Spanish at a small college.  Ironically, when they were together she spoke no English. But things change. Life changes things. And today the old man will change.  He’s going to see her today for the first time in a half-life. He doesn’t know if he can actually look right at her. But he’ll be in her presence. He’s going to stop loving her today.

The old man sits on a bench on her college campus, hiding behind a newspaper. He’s wearing old-man clothes and a tattered old-man hat. He only has one shot at this and he’s planned it meticulously. That’s her navy-blue BMW in the faculty parking lot. She will exit the nearest building and walk right by his bench. 

It’s a crisp autumn day. A perfect day. He is deep in thought, thinking about her for the last time. It will take her about one minute to walk from the building to her car. A soft breeze rustles the leaves beneath his bench. Over the sound of the leaves he hears the first tap tap.

It’s her. He remembers her gait after all these years. The tap tap of her pumps on the sidewalk just the way they sounded when the two of them walked hand in hand on the streets of Cartagena, Aspen and Barcelona. In his mind she’s wearing blue suede pumps, a blue skirt and white blouse. Just like the time they first met. He imagines her eyes sparkling like blue diamonds. 

Perhaps she’ll notice an old man sitting on the bench, but she’ll have no idea it’s her former lover. He keeps the newspaper in front of his face, not wanting her to see him like this. Flattering himself one last time by thinking she might recognize him. He wants her to remember him the way he was, and to remember them the way they were. When they were young together. Dancing, dining, laughing, living the high life. Or was it a dream?

By the second tap tap the sensations are overwhelming. Weeks and months are compressed into seconds and he re-experiences them vividly. He smells her perfume. He feels her lips on his. He knows her tenderness. The tap tap grows louder. He feels her getting closer.  He basks in the glow of her presence and feels her allure for the first time in so many years.

Tap tap, the old man peers over the top of the newspaper. The scene is spinning and not quite in focus, but he can see that the years have been kind to her. She’s changed her hair color. She’s still beautiful. She’s happy. 

Tap tap tap tap, only a few feet away as she passes by. The closest they’ve been since she flew away so many years ago. All this time wondering if he would ever see her again. Soon his minute will be over. His vision is growing blurry and darker. His breathing is shallow now. The tap tap is becoming fainter. 

The last tap tap is almost drowned out by the rustling leaves. He sighs as deeply as he can with contentment. His last minute is winding down. His last breath. He will stop loving her now. 

Alas, the old man hears something he had not dared wish for. He hears her voice. Her young voice.

“Vas a la luz, mi amor”.

Go to the light, my love.

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