I hadn’t seen her in four years.
The last time I’d seen her, the last thing she’d said had been that she loved me. Then, within a fortnight everything had changed, or perhaps more accurately, been made clear. The truth seemed rather different than what I’d perceived or what she’d said. We hadn’t spoken. Everything that occurred had occurred through third parties; interested third parties.
We started talking again several months ago, she’d made the first move, surprising me, and she’d somehow come up with an explanation, it strained credulity but she’s very persuasive and I’m, well, not usually naïve but when it comes to her I’ve always been gullible. She has another child now. That makes two daughters, the one I’d known, as beautiful as her destiny had promised.
None of them are mine.
Five weeks after we’d reestablished contact, after a series of what appeared to be meaningful, heartfelt conversations, communication stopped abruptly, I’d no idea why. Worried, I’d apologetically contacted her mother and was told she was fine, … just a bit busy.
Yesterday, in person, she said the same thing.
I’d not seen her in four years and she’d changed a great deal, even given the probability that no one could really have been as beautiful as I remembered her to be. She’d cut and lightened what had been her amazing, undulant chestnut hair. She’d lost weight, quite a lot; I prefer thin women but it didn’t look well on her. I noticed wrinkles starting to spread from the corners of her eyes and her complexion had gone from alabaster to sallow with some staining freckles and a few blemishes. Even her eyes, I’d remembered them profoundly dark, seemed lighter, no longer deep dark wells seeing through to my soul.
We were a bit uncomfortable I think.
I know I was but she had all the right answers down pat. We met in a charming open air café atop a tall building overlooking the city. One thing had not changed; she was late. Tradition I guess. While we chatted inanely and she provided her explanations, she received a number of text messages and calls and had to leave early. To meet with her dad she’d said.
But the wonderful thing, the amazing thing, was that I didn’t really care. At all. Not because she’d aged less than perfectly, I’d always expected and accepted that; my feelings for her would only have grown had we remained together.
But we hadn’t.
Still, my feelings for her had somehow grown in the interval. But yesterday I realized they’d grown for a nonexistent illusion, a fantasy, a ghost of might have beens. Fondness remained, memories too of course, questions, a lot, but no longer very important.
Yesterday was not the last chapter. Friendship has survived I think. Perhaps that’s all it should ever have been. Perhaps it will grow now, free from hopes and illusions and aspirations.
Sweet liberation, bitterness melted away, an interesting residue remaining.
As does a void.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2018; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.