A Meeting Of Past Lovers

past lovers
Aaron Burden

His hand is intertwined with her hand. In such a sweet way. In a way that says, look at us, we are together.

***

It’s been eight months. Almost a year. Eight months and almost a year since he stopped touching me. Since he stopped taking my hand in his when we’d walk on the boardwalk. Since he stopped taking my hand in his whenever I was wrought with worry. He’d take my hand in a way that said, it’s you and me and everything will be okay.

***

Hey there, he says as this brand new girl stares at me awkwardly. I decide that she’s perfectly decent looking, but not that pretty. Maybe I’m trying to make myself feel better. These days, I’m always trying to make myself feel better.

***

I remember where we were this time last year. We were at my aunt’s summer home on the Jersey shore. I was giddy and singing, I was always singing, and we were both starving. We decided we wanted to go to The Windmill for burgers and hot dogs. We took our time driving along the coast, while he put on his playlist and told me about the artists he loved since high school and their evolving sounds. I liked listening to him. As we passed through Asbury, I belted out lyrics to some Bruce Springsteen song, because when in Rome, and he sighed one of his ‘what are we going to do with you’ sighs. And then we parked
the car, and he asked for a kiss, and we sat incredibly close to each other in the booth as we ate our dinner, our fingers sticky from the mustard. Later that night, as we lay in bed, he held me as we fell asleep.

***

You’ve been good? I ask. I see that since you’ve been promoted, you have a decent break. Gives you some time to regroup before the kids start coming in.
I know, he says. Rachel and I were saying how when we were that age, we didn’t even drink coffee. I hold my breath and tense up the second he says Rachel and I.

***

I guess I remember when it happened. When we both realized maybe we are too different to stay on the same path. We never plan these things. We never planned to get off track, but we did. And it was gut-wrenching.

***

I have to get back, but it was nice to see you, Allie. To my surprise, he hugs me goodbye. It was nice to see you too, I say softly. I couldn’t hold onto the hug, though. I had to let go. For his sake. For my sake. For her sake. I tell Rachel to have a good day as I gather my things. But I do look at Adam before I walk away.
He looks right back at me. It’s the kind of look that says everything we shared together is captured right here. It’s the kind of look that says it won’t be forgotten.

***

When I walk out of the coffee shop, I wait a block before I let a tear or two fall. Because I miss him. Because I’m still in love with him. But I also let a tear or two fall because someone who gave me some of the best years of my life is happy. And for that, I’m happy, too. TC mark

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