“Micky?” Susan moved closer to the man who looked vaguely familiar to her. As she reached him, she was able to read the name scrawled across the sticker he wore above his heart. Breaking into a shy smile, she said “it is you. It’s me, Susan Walls.”
Peering over the top of his wire-rimmed glasses, the tall gentleman intently looked into Susan’s face, searching for familiarity. After all, it had been fifty years since he’d seen most of the people here this evening, and most of them he didn’t recognize without some sort of prompting. But while the woman standing in front of him now had gray hair and wrinkles, she still had the unusual sea-green eyes, which were sparkling now just as much as they had back in their day. He would have known her without any help. Reaching out his hands, he took hers in greeting. “It’s ‘Mick’ now,” he responded warmly.
“You’ll always be ‘Micky’ to me,” she replied softly.
Suddenly feeling like a schoolboy again, Mick attempted to turn the attention away from himself. Teasingly, he asked Susan “where’s your name badge?”
She shrugged. “Oh, I didn’t want to wear that silly thing. I know who I am.”
Chuckling, he replied “you always were the rebel. I’m thinking that hasn’t changed much over the years.”
“Yeah, not so much,” Susan replied, laughing with Mick. Still holding his hands, she looked up at him and asked, “so, how have you been?”
And with that simple question, the floodgates of life opened up. There was talk of work, and war, and another war and marriages and kids and grandkids and deaths of friends. There were laughter and tears. Memories both good and wistful washed over them as each remembered, and shared with the other. It was as if time had never separated them. Yet, it had; and that realization slowly dawned on them each at the same time.
Suddenly at a loss for words, they stood looking shyly at one another, each afraid to voice what they knew the other was thinking. Finally swallowing the lump in her throat, Susan said it first.
“I wonder what would have happened if…..if I hadn’t gone with Janice and Michelle…..”.
Mick was silent a moment as he watched Susan fidgeting nervously with her handbag. He remembered that night as if it were yesterday. He closed his eyes and again watched her get into Janice’s car, they were all so excited about moving to a different state. He was supposed to follow a few months later. Things got bad at the store; he couldn’t leave. Their letters began slowing down….eventually they lost contact. Susan brought him out of his reverie.
“But you have a beautiful wife now…still after all these years,” she said, perhaps a little too happily.
Mick tried to read her. “Yes, I am blessed that she has put up with my orneriness for so many years,” he replied, before adding softly “I’m sorry about Mark.”
“Don’t be,” she replied. “He’s in a better place. I hated to see him suffer like that.”
Again, she was fidgeting with her bag. The evening was growing late and it was time to go. They both knew it, but neither wanted to say good bye.
“Well, I – ”
“It’s getting to be…”
They both laughed as they had begun talking at the same time. Trying to keep it light, Susan turned to go. She was going to say something witty over her shoulder, but was stopped short when she heard him call her by her pet name – the name he only ever used for her.
“Kitten?” he asked softly.
Mustering her composure, Susan slowly turned around to face Mick. She could only look up expectantly into his face. She didn’t trust her voice anymore.
It seemed an eternity before he could get it out. With a sigh, Mick told her “you’ll always be the one who got away.”
Not caring about the tears she could no longer hide, Susan silently walked the few steps to Mick. She placed a frail hand on his shoulder and leaned into him.
“I never stopped loving you, Micky.” Kissing him softly goodbye on the cheek, she whispered into his ear “and I never will.”
© Dahlia Ramone: July 20, 2019
This was written as a writing prompt for Cursive Verses. The prompt was to write about two old flames connecting for the first time in years. To read other writers in this group, or to write off a prompt yourself, just stop by CursiveVerses to check them out 🙂