Many thanks to Open Age member and writer Dorothy Adibi for contributing her wonderful, inspiring story to Wordwise – about the meeting of an old love:
“It had been years since I’d felt so excited”
It had been years since I’d felt so excited. I was going to see him again. We were now old people, and then, then we’d been misty young lovers. I suddenly felt anxious – would he even recognize me? Now I wished I had given him my address, and he’d have come to the flat and there wouldn’t have been any possibility of error. But sitting here in a café? But then I thought, “No, it’s all right, I’m the only elderly woman here.” But again I wondered anxiously if his memory of me would lead him to expect the same pretty girl he’d known? But surely I’d remember him and recognize him immediately, even though he’d grown just as old as I had.
I looked around, wondering if he’d arrived before me, but there was thank goodness nobody who could have possibly been him.
The café door opened, but it was only a stout woman carrying a bunch of flowers. Would he bring me flowers? I hoped not, because there’d be all that fuss about getting them into water, and I wanted us just to sit there over a cup of tea and talk. Talk about what? Well, of course, about what each of us have been doing since we parted. “Parted” – that’s a semi-poetic word. But it fits the situation. I remembered it so well. “Tell your parents,” he had said. Or would we talk about the old days, our time together, when we were in love? At least I had been, I know that for a solid-gold fact. I remember how for a long time my every thought ended with him. I likened it to a tram that runs along its lines and always ends up at the same spot.
The door opened again and this time, this time an elderly man came in. He wasn’t carrying any flowers, but there no doubt in my mind. I was sure I’d have known him even if we were rushing past each other at a station or something. The man looked round and I half-stood up. He looked at me and began slowly walking towards me. I was suddenly acutely aware of my clothes. A very ordinary blue trouser-suit, but obviously chosen with great care from the wardrobe. I was even wearing matching shoes and gloves, bought specially for the occasion the day before.
He reached my table and smiled in a sort of perfunctory way, and said with a question-mark “Laura?” I have what I hoped was a dazzling smile back and said “Oh, Jean, how lovely to see you again after all these years.”
He sat down at the table and immediately looked round for a waitress. I felt a bit put out, that his first through would be about getting some tea, and not about drowning in my eyes or something. He ordered coffee and brought his attention back. “I wasn’t sure I’d recognize you, it’s good that you recognized me when I came in.” That wasn’t quite right, somehow, but his voice hadn’t changed, although his accent was less pronounced than I remembered. “But of course, I’d have known you anywhere,” I gushed, at the same time feeling even more put out.
“Anyway, how are you? How’s your family?” because in the last letter I’d had from him all those years ago he’d informed me that he was married and had a child.
“Everyone’s fine, look, I’ve got some photographs.” This was dreadful, two old buddies now. I glanced at the photos, two little girls who should have been mine, and a fair-haired woman who was, I had to concede, quite good-looking, although she didn’t look a bit like me.
“Oh, they’re lovely, I didn’t have any children.” I didn’t explain that the abortion had left me unable to have children.
© Dorothy Adibi