And now, 12 years later, he stood right before her. He stood in the same space as her, he was finally here. The cool breeze that was, suddenly turned into hot air. The birds that chirped, the leaves that rustled and the life that was around them, stalled, time stood still. Her heart flung open at once, her body oozed with confusion. She did not know whether to laugh or cry, to compose or let herself fly in elation. It felt so good to see him and yet overwhelming, nothing she had dealt with over the years had prepared her for this moment. She couldn’t shake off the butterflies in her stomach and the quick shivers down her spine.
She stood there staring at him, unable to move or speak. He took on to hug her and release her from her frozenness, just as he had done the night of their first kiss. It all came back. All the effort she had put in to erase his memory became vain in that hot minute. And once again, their worlds collided; their hearts beat in a sweet symphony that had once been.
They recalled the days they had been so deeply in love and had believed that theirs was the finest art of love ever painted, the finest tapestry woven. They tried to restore all the lost years in conversation but there was not enough vocabulary. They took onto an evening walk under the street lights; “just like the old times”, she thought. They had an ai ai gasa moment when it started drizzling and she swung open her umbrella.
Marvin: It’s been years, I can’t believe we get to meet again…(he smiled)… You are even more beautiful than I remembered.
Nila retorted as she looked up & met his gleaming eyes: uhm… (she gulped) sure, it’s quite… uhm unexpected, I never thought we would see each other again.”
Marvin: I am so sorry for the way things ended between us, for treating you that cold on our last phone call. I told you I was happy because I was trying to convince myself that I was, and wanted to be sure you were not holding back, waiting for me, I wanted you to… (sniffed)… forget me and open yourself up to someone new…’
Nila: I know, I was just hurt that you didn’t give me a chance to choose for myself. I mean, I was dating someone else trying to move on, but always left the part of my heart that was yours; untouched & unfilled, hoping you would come back, to fill that space again. But, I guess your way worked and I’m very sorry too for hurting you the way I did.
Marvin: No, come on, I forgave you for that after you were honest enough to tell me but I’m really sorry Nila. I never meant to hurt you either, you know that…
(a few moments of silence went by)… Are you happy now Nila?
Nila: I’m not dating anyone but I am happy. What about you? I heard you got married and have a son.
Marvin: Yes, he’s the smallest thing yet the biggest treasure of my life. He’s my joy, and so is my wife.
Nila: That’s wonderful. I’m very glad things turned out great for you… (She meant it, but it still hurt that the future they always painted together, he was living without her)
Marvin: Thank you. But I want you to know I’ll never forget you, or what we had, you were & always will be my first love.
Nila: (She beamed)… Neither will I, you were mine too (she burned to tell him he had been the love of her life, that she still loved him after all these years, that there had been no other like him, but she did not. He was happy, that’s all that mattered).
As they said goodbye, to part yet again, her heart ripped with pain. She relived the whole experience again. She had had him for just an evening but it had felt like eternity. She could not believe her first love stood right in front of her, looking in her eyes as he told her stories of his new life. The little 11 year old in her, so vulnerably in love without a care, had been raised, only to be put back to death by nightfall.
They had met under a compelling milk moon many years ago and under a night and moon so similar, they parted again, this time for good.
Before leaving, he took off his watch and wrapped it around her wrist. Inside it, was an engraving that read ‘Only the brave’, he told her she was the bravest person he had ever known, having heard what she had gone through over the years. He wanted her to have the watch to always remember him and be reminded of her strength. With tears she held it across her wrist and hugged it onto her chest, close to her heart, hugged him breathlessly and finally let him go, completely. He really was happy, he was some little boy’s hero (a father) and some lucky woman’s forever.
And She, finally let him go and was finally free.