I knew, all I would have to do, was take a step toward him, allow my eyes to meet his, and we would have kissed...it was as if time had reversed...
* * * * * * *
I turned onto the street, in front of my office, as I watched the road ahead, I thought I saw his truck in front of me. It was him. It was his truck. Why was he driving down this street? It is not the way he drives home.
As I followed behind. I watched as he turned onto the street that is parallel to the parking lot by the agency I work at. I watched, I waited. Would he? He did. He turned left, and drove through the parking area. I saw his head turning left and right, looking for my Jeep. But it wasn't there, I was behind him. He did not see me.
I pulled into my usual parking spot, and watched his truck disappear around the corner.
My mind racing. Is this a habit? Does he drive by daily? To see if I am at work? Could that be it?
In an instant I was filled with trepidation. Would he really go to such lengths? No, he couldn't, he wouldn't. But why? Why?
I grabbed my cell phone, and called him. When he answered, I asked, "Did you want something?"
"Where are you?"
"In the parking lot, I was right behind you. I had a training out of town, I just arrived back in town. Did you want something?"
"I have your birthday card. I was going to stick it on the windshield of the Jeep. Wait there, I'll drive back around."
I waited. Wondering. Why? Is there a meaning behind this? I left three months ago, why is he giving me a card?
He pulled up behind my Jeep. I walked over to his truck as he was climbing down.
I could not meet his eyes, I had the hardest time looking at him at all.
I noticed the darkened skin on his arms.
"Did you enjoy your vacation?", I asked.
"Yes. Here's your card. Happy Birthday."
"I heard you had some problems along the way. On your vacation."
"Yes, I have a lot of repairs to make, before I store the RV away again.'
"It sounded like it."
Silence. I was unable to meet his eyes. I do not know where he was looking.
"Well...I have an air conditioner to repair."
He mentioned the renter's name to me. I nodded.
I had not held out my hand yet, to take the card from him. I had not yet...met his eyes. I had looked everywhere but directly at him. I disliked myself for that.
I watched as his hand reached toward mine. Time slowed...I read my name written, in his so very familiar handwriting, across the front of the envelope. As my fingers closed around the envelope, I glanced up, and met his eyes. I observed how handsome he looked with his summer tan. I noticed how blue his eyes looked. But that is all I saw. I saw no emotion. The only emotion I felt was unease. And, a questioning. What is his intention? Why is he really here?
But then, as I our eyes locked, for just an instant. I knew. I knew all I would have to do...was take one step forward...lift my face up...his would bend to mine...our lips would have met...in a habit of old.
Instead, I quickly glanced away, and wished him luck on his repairs.
He climbed back into his truck, and drove away.
I have no idea if he watched me through his rear view mirror. I have no idea what thoughts were flowing through his mind.
It was then, I realized I was shaking.
Four of my coworkers were standing on the back dock. Two women, two men.
One of the men, had jumped down off the dock, as we were talking. As if to be ready.
The two women, watched me walk toward them. D said to me, "Are you OK?"
"Was that him? Your husband?"
"What did he want?"
"He...he, gave me a birthday card."
"Don't, don't back down. You have been through so much. Remember that."
I wondered. Did the confusion I felt show on my face? The fear? The not understanding?
I replied, "No, that won't happen. This is for the best."
I entered the building. I held the card gingerly in my hand. I could feel something hard within.
After I entered the sanctuary of my office, I opened it.
The card held a friendly, generic birthday wish. But, the envelope also contained a gift card to the local theater, and two tickets for the concession stand. I double checked them. Should there not be three? There should be three tickets. After all, we have two children. Was I supposed to invite him to attend a film with me? Why? I asked myself why. What was the meaning behind this gesture? Was there one?
I still wonder. Everything he has done over the past few years, has had a meaning, an intention, an expectation of my reaction. What did he expect this time?
I still do not know.
But, I cannot forget that moment. That moment, when habit could have taken over. That moment when all it would have taken, was one step. One more glance. And, we would have moved naturally, gracefully into a dance of old.
We would have kissed. A kiss of thank you. A kiss of goodbye.
It would have meant more then, than it had for years. There have been years of such things.
Those long time habits established due to long years of marriage.
I was more shaken by that instinctual, almost kiss, than I was by the gift.
It would be so easy, so very easy to go back. The worries would disappear.
But something much worse would appear.
Melancholy, depression, self-loathing, mistrust, control would once again rule my life.
A habit, a habit formed over more than half a life time...has been broken.
But, one step, one small step, would have negated all of that.