He stood at the same place where he was eight years ago.
It was probably even the same month. Perhaps fate made sure it was even the same day. And as it had been back then, he wished for time to stand still so the day could not end.
As a young boy he’d been here in this garden, and had clumsily told her, “I have to go – it’s getting dark na eh.” Clumsy it turned out because what he really meant to say was, “I have to go but I don’t want to because I’m crazy in love with you.” He eventually told her what he really wanted to say, after many, many, weeks of rehearsing the scene in his head. And in time, she also fell in love with him.
And he remembers that time in his life as all-wonderful, filled with knowing looks and meaningful smiles of two young people who have fallen in love for the first time. They spent afternoons together all summer, holding hands whenever they could. They exchanged perfumed love letters, worded full of clichés their young minds could barely understand. But pure as it was, it could not last. The fun and the laughter would end a few months later, their young love a poor match to the tumultuous crazy confusion of teen years.
Tonight they talked and laughed the way old friends who have been apart too long always do. And once again they stood in this garden trying to say goodnight for the 9th time tonight. Should he tell her that all throughout those missing years he’d thought about her a lot? No that wasn’t true. All throughout those missing years he’d missed her and loved her more than ever. But he couldn’t possibly say that, could he? That would just ruin the moment. But tonight there seemed to be something more to her smile. And when she laughed it seemed that she was really glad to be with him tonight. But most of all she had that look – the look that said she loved him back better than words ever could. Or did she? Or did he just wish this so?
He had tried to get back together with her in the past, but she’d always turned him away. It had been always a cycle of sorts – they would see each other, chat, be friends again and then he’d have to spoil the friendship by asking her to fall in love again. But tonight it felt different. He couldn’t possibly spoil the moment, could he? No. Not tonight. Walk away.
“I really have to go. But this was nice. Really nice. And I’d really like to see you again.”
And she is 12 again, smiling the smile that melts all his pretense at control.
It’s an effort to turn around and walk to the gate. Was that a sigh? He turns around again and looks at her looking at him. The smile is gone, but there is something about the way she looks at him and the way everything around seems to have fallen silent.
He walks back to her until their bodies almost touch. She looks up at him, eyes twinkling, and mouths, almost whispering, “Ano?”
And they kiss. He’s tentative at first, but she puts her arms around him and kisses back. Through the silence of a kiss he tells her how much she’s loved, and she hugs him tighter, telling him just how passionately she loves him back.