His eyes did funny things when they were pointed in my direction. They squinted, then widened, his almost indiscernible irises flashing. I had never before, or have been since, looked at in such a way.
It made me nervous and I stuffed my hands in my coat pockets, fidgeting out of sight.
And then he smiled, and everything I had ever been afraid of just fell away.
He wrapped his arms around me, and the women laughed in the background. “Now, there’s a greeting!” one said, an older lady in an Ohio State sweatshirt.
We went to the bookstore, and enjoyed coffee while he mocked me. “The end of the world could be happening, and you’d be right there, writing in your journal,” he said. “It is the end of the world and I’m here, drinking coffee with you,” I countered. My hands were back to shaking, and I spilled a bit of the coffee. Without my notice, I had been clenching the cup just a bit too tightly.
We weren’t who we were. His name wasn’t Jack; mine wasn’t Gypsy. But we were here, nonetheless, drinking coffee.
He took my hand and we walked through the graveyard. He showed me who he was: a teacher, fascinated with history and heroes. I showed him who I was: a student, enraptured by his stories. My fingers were longer than his. A strange thing to remember, especially since they fit together so perfectly anyway. We walked and talked around the graveyard, looking at the religious symbols and dates on the headstones.
I think it was somewhere around this time that I actually began speaking.
I drove us back to the coffee shop. I hadn’t done this before, but even I knew better than to be at the mercy of a strange man’s driving. He had to go outside to make a phone call, and I felt guilty. He came back in, accusing me of leaving him. I then purposely walked away and accused him of leaving me.
“I could leave you, lass, but I’d always come back. I could never forget you.”
I wasn’t sure what to think of that then, when he said that, taking my face in his hands and kissing me, in the middle of the store. He justified it by saying it was the only way he could make me shut up. I was too distracted by his lips and tongue and fingers on my skin and a massive effort on my part to keep my legs from giving way to think about it much, right then.
I wasn’t sure what to think of it later when he did leave, silently, disappearing for months.
I was the sentimental one; I try to remember birthdays. I always remember first dates, first kisses, and first naked times.
Today he remembered. “Two years ago,” he said. I had forgotten. “Two years ago, I told you about Andrew Jackson and true love.” Moved on, caught up, and stressed out, I had forgotten.
He won’t, and can’t, ever come back, but it is good to be remembered.