What would you do for a chance to be with the only person you ever loved?

What would you do for a chance at real happiness?

Linger
Ricardo Alders walks into the café I frequent with a radiant smile. At near fifty he looks half his age with a touch of gray at his temples, dark smooth skin and dark dreamy eyes, dressed casually in brown khakis and a blue shirt and at the very sight of him my heart jumps with glee. After all these years, Ricardo is still the most handsome man I have ever seen. The first time I saw him here he was standing at the café’s counter trying to order a regular coffee from the young clerk. Although Ricardo spoke English, his West African accent was so heavy the clerk could not understand him. Since I was the next in line and spent a year in West Africa with the Peace Corps. I decided to intervene ordering a cup for us both. Ricardo was so grateful that he offered to pay which I accepted with a smile; then he asked if I would share a table with him. We sat at one of the tables near the window and talked for several hours about everything from politics to the World Cup. I had been enthralled with his good looks and charm but after talking with Ricardo for a few minutes I realized he was this brain. He confessed that he was here in the states on a college visa and that he was a road scholar. I have to say I was impressed. I’ve never meet a man, a person that got me right off the bat but Ricardo had. He understood my dry humor and even laughed at the punch-line. He knew when a subject sparked a fire inside me and often took my side of the argument and strange as it seemed, I knew him too. Knew he preferred chaos to order which is seen everywhere. A quiet militant by nature he saw the beauty that chaos brings that’s why he supported the rebellion in his country. We even like the same things; it was as if we had known each other for years. When the evening rush started entering the café it began to get crowded, so we decided we should go, but we didn’t want the day to end. We went for a walk in the park across the street to feed the ducks. Then we had an early dinner, afterwards a drink back at my place. One thing led to another and soon we became lovers. We met nearly everyday for lunch at this little café and for almost a year we lived in complete bliss, until that day; the day of the incident when everything changed and he simply stopped coming. I tried to contact him, tried to see why he left but never got an answer. That was eight years ago almost to the day.

So for me to see him walking through these doors after so many years, I have to admit I’m a bit taken back. Regardless of the reason for him leaving or for his sudden return I’m very happy to see Ricardo. I smile back at him, intending to wave while pregnant with the expectation of finally being able to bask in his eyes, his allure and his masculine charisma once again. But my hopes of a long awaited Reunion are dashed when his eyes scoot passed me seating at the table by the window. I strain to follow his gaze in this crowded café. Seated in the back where the lighting is poorest because of the lack of windows, sat a very attractive middleaged woman. She waves happily with a smile as bright as the sun and eyes of blue. Ricardo’s smile and those amazing eyes are meant for a new face, someone I’ve never seen before and I’m completely shocked. I know I shouldn’t be, not after all these years, but still I thought if he saw me that I might garner a look or even a smile. It hurts that I’m not the person to have put that look on his face and that glow in his eyes. The pain that he’s found someone else that he brought her here to our special place. The realization of that alone hits me like my very soul is drowning. Ricardo quickly walks pass patrons, tables and chairs, his eyes never leaving hers the smile ever present, hastening his stride to reach her. He never once gazed in my direction, never even bother to look at his once consort sitting alone in the usual spot near the new bay windows. Distraught, I watch them embrace warmly; watch Ricardo gives this woman a passionate kiss and I recall how that feels. Always gracious, he waits for her to take her seat before taking his happily. His open show of affection torn me to my very core, how had this happen, when? Had he been seeing her while he was with me? How can this be happening, how can this be real? I tell myself, too distraught and dismayed to move. Although it has been years since I held Ricardo in my arms, seeing this scene still splits my heart in two. They gaze into each other eyes as lovers often do, chatting in low tones while I watch heartbroken in a daze at the natural way in which Ricardo coils his fingers with hers and the effortless sensual flow of them rubbing knees while absently ogling at the menu. We were like that, we were effortlessly. I moan softly at my thoughts and how at ease he is with her, how openly loving and wished he was still mine. I wished that I could turn back the hand of time and forgo the incident. What is a lovesick woman to do; I could walk over there and have it out with them for the world to see and embarrass myself over a man that’s no longer in love with me. I should just go away quietly without him noticing and let them have their time together without causing a scene. I know that’s what I should do, but it seems I can’t move and I can’t seem to keep my eyes off them either. I watch the waitress take their lunch orders and how they reluctantly pulled away, only to pick up again after she left. I watch how easily they snubbed the crowded room, eyes gazing, cocooned in a makeshift world of self made bliss. I

strained to hear their conversation above the mist of the crowd’s buzz. I can only garner small snips of their cozy happy whispers. Suddenly and to my horror, Ricardo takes up her hand to kiss sweetly placing a ring on her finger, its brilliance burned in the late afternoon light. She received the gesture with an endearing smile and a long hard kiss on his full lips. A bone deep ache over took me while the crowd cheered for them. I doubled over in real physical pain. I wanted to scream gazing at them and their open display of affection while a sad dream hung on my mind. I remember he held me once body, mind, spirit and soul. I gave Ricardo all of me; then he simply moved on. I call to mind a vow once holy, a union once shared, but this picture of life anew makes that void. Now just a shadow of what once existed, I’m left to muse over a life once full of love now lost. The incident crosses my awareness and I remember for the first time. Grip with this truth, that I’m no longer Ricardo's focus; he’s found another to fulfill his dreams, his life and his bed. I’ve become a distance memory, a whisper in the breeze, a lost soul that hung back. I stayed put where all our hopes and dreams began and ended. This one spot, where our future was the brightest and where my life ended. The incident happened on a bright sunny day. It was the day he proposed to me at our favorite table here near the window. He surprised me by going down on one knee, I had on idea this was coming when suddenly without warning a car trashed through the building killing me instantly. I took the brunt of the impact saving Ricardo’s life. He spent nearly a year of that life in a coma. I’ve stayed in this spot at the table by the window for the last eight years waiting for Ricardo to return. I’ve stayed with a want and desire that can never be met. I’ve stayed here because I’m a lost soul, a spirit still in love with the living. I was once happy to have the love of a man. That love lingered for the hope of more, but watching Ricardo with this woman and their love for each other, I know I'm no longer needed. I drift over to the loving couple, watching them this close I know I can’t give him what he needs. I’m just a lost soul, but one now glad to have once been in love. I plant a soft kiss on Ricardo’s cheek. He smiles and for the first time, I think it was for me. It’s appropriate for me to move on, for me to fade into eternal bliss. I look to the light so bright near the window that’s luring me. With a sigh, I drift back knowing there is no longer a need to defy the strong pull of infinite and glory that pulls upon me. I turn to look one last time at my love, Ricardo’s happy face, now genuinely happy for him. I turn toward the radiance so bright and mysterious knowing there’s no more time for me here, no purpose. I take my first step into the bright light happy to enter the peaceful rest; bone weary from my time spent lingering.

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