"Scene from a Farewell Party"
She had waited all evening. Waiting for the time to be right. Or a miracle. But he stood on the other side of the room. He never walked her way. And she knew he left in the morning for New York. This night was her last chance, but her last chance for what? She didn't know. She couldn't begin to hope, but she knew the perfect words she wanted to hear.
Most everyone else was dancing. Hopping up and down to a manic pop single, but the beat of her heart took all her attention as it drummed a rhythm of fear and hope.
All the way through high school and college, the time had never been right. She had been with Kent and then with Richard. He had been with Laurie, Joanne, and Jenny. But now they were both unattached. What kept this from being the time?
How long was she supposed to wait to hear those perfect words? Or had their time already passed? She knew some things got lost. People grew up. Passions faded. A fire couldn't smolder forever.
They had exchanged glances. Significant, perhaps, but nothing more. They had never been close friends, just friends of friends. They had kissed once in a gazebo in a summer rainstorm, but his cell phone had rang. Joanne was looking for him. Richard was looking for her. She ran all the way back to her cousin's house, soaked to the skin and spent the rest of the vacation suffering from a cold and hiding in her room. He tried to call her several times, but she never took his calls. They hadn't spoken since.
Another song started, more frantic than the last one, but she couldn't hear it over the slow drum in her chest.
Somehow she pulled away from the wall. Somehow she took a step and then another. Four steps, and she reached in the middle of the room. If this had been a movie, he would have met her halfway, but it wasn't. Among the dancers she was alone.
The next step was the hardest. But the rest were easy. She reached him, put out her hand, touched his shoulder.
He turned, his ready smile fading as he saw her.
She couldn't wait anymore. Now. Now before her courage failed her.
She pulled his face to hers and kissed him.
If it had been a movie, he would have laughed and kissed her endlessly. He would have said, "I love you," the perfect words she wanted.
But he didn't.
He looked at her for a long moment.
Panic filled her. This wasn't a movie. This was real life, and their time had passed. She was a fool.
But then he reached out and crushed her against him.
He said, "What took you so long? I've been waiting forever."
As it turned out, those words were perfect, too.
(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.)