After 30 years, one of the first things you mention between bites of a California frittata is that spring evening. I remember too. Both of us had been alone in Manhattan. We met up and saw Anthony Hopkins in Equus and afterward meandered dozens of blocks from midtown to the West Village. It was a night without intentions.
The conversation bloomed as the city streamed around us. We talked about the psychiatrist in the play and wondered if he was worse off than his patient. We remembered our favorite English teacher from high school and winked about her taste for rosé then agreed she had cared more about us than any other teacher. We laughed swapping stories of our friends and discovered we both knew who had secretly fooled around. I told you about the famous film critic I had as a professor. You said you were glad to be away from school and your boyfriend. As the glitter of Times Square fell away in favor of streetlights flickering behind sidewalk trees, we speculated about the future.
“Do you want to come in?” you said.
Standing close to your rippling hair, the color of star anise in the doorway light, I saw the real you was softer than the provocateur I had once imagined. It would be perfectly natural, and I wanted to. Then I thought of my lifelong friend who yearned endlessly for you.
“I should be going,” I said.
Now, you no longer have breasts or much hair under your hat. But this doesn’t take away your grin, and after lunch we set out for a hike into the Oakland hills.
We move off the sun-dried path and walk into a cathedral of redwoods whose canopy rests a hundred feet above. Bark chips on the forest floor cushion our steps. The only sounds are from birds somewhere high overhead in the leaf-filtered light. There’s a sense of wholeness in this place, a feeling that time is complete, as if every passing moment leaves behind its imprint and all of them are here at once.
“Here’s to a third walk,” you say.
Todd Morgan writes flash fiction in Chicago. His work has appeared in Split Lip Magazine.