Old Times

The envelope had arrived at Angela’s office a few weeks ago, the address hand-written on the outside. There was no stamp or return address. The card inside simply read:

“Oolong. February 20th. 8:00 PM. For old times’ sake.”

“You look good,” David said with a smile, as he stood up. She felt that same nervous rush in the pit of her stomach that she had when she’d first met him. She smiled out of habit. For a moment, she was young again.

“You’ve barely aged a day,” she said, in a voice that was equal parts wonder and annoyance. “It’s been what, twenty years?”

“Twenty-three,” he said, pulling her chair out for her. “But who’s counting?”

His hands brushed her shoulders when she sat. Angela was suddenly aware of every gray hair and stretch mark, of the crow’s feet and laugh lines that make-up couldn’t hide. She picked up the menu, staring at the words while she tried to think of something to say.

She watched him over the top of the menu. His thick black hair was neatly trimmed, without a trace of gray. His dark brown skin had the same youthful glow that it had when they met. Lounging back in his chair, he radiated self-confidence. Her thumb drifted down to her wedding ring, sliding over the smooth surface of the band.

“The card was a nice touch.”she said, forcing herself to look at the menu and not the way the candlelight reflected in his eyes. “You did the calligraphy yourself?”

“Modern conveniences have their purpose, but you can’t beat the old ways for style.”

They sat in silence, each looking at their own menu. Angela closed her eyes, listening to the quiet conversations of the diners around her. For a moment, she felt the heat of each flame on every candle prickling against her skin. It had been years since she’d opened herself up to the world. Her heart broke for what she’d given up.

“I was surprised to hear from you after so long,” she said, swallowing the regret.

He raised an eyebrow and then smiled gently. “Why is that? You weren’t exactly easy to track down.”

“I moved on,” she said. “I have a family now. Children. A husband.”

“Clearly your relationship with the humans has treated you well,” he said, gesturing at her body. “You can barely see the years at all.”

Before Angela could reply, the waiter arrived with the wine. She watched as David locked eyes with the young man. The waiter blushed, almost dropping the bottle, and then hurried away from the table. David watched him leave with a lazy smile before appearing to remember that she was there.

“You haven’t changed a bit,” she said. “All this time, and you still flirt with anything that moves.”

“Why shouldn’t I?,” he asked with a shrug. “Beauty is still beauty, no matter how much time has passed.”

“So why did you invite me here? What was that plan, we’d have some wine and then go back to your hotel room for the night?”

He smiled, the smug little grin that she had learned to hate over the centuries. “Would it be so bad if it was? You could be young again. Look like your old self.”

“I’m fine the way I am,” she said, struggling to maintain the conviction in her voice. “There isn’t anything you have that I want.”

“I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately,” he said. “I don’t like the way things ended between us.”

“What part did you not like? The part where I left or the part where it wasn’t your choice?” It was hard not to smile at the look of hurt that passed over David’s face. Thousands of years of pain and heartache welled up in Angela’s chest.

“I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry,” David said. “I should have handled it better. There were a million things I wish I had done differently.”

Angela sat, absorbing what he just said. In the all the time they’d been together, David never apologized for anything. The last time she’d seen him, with a girl under each arm, he had simply stated that they were better off with other people and that it obviously wasn’t working out. Now he sat across the table from her, watching her as she tried to process everything.

“I don’t forgive you,” Angela said with a shrug. “I had centuries of your bullshit, David. Why would you possibly think I’d believe anything you had to say now?”

“But I apologized–”

“And I appreciate the effort it must have taken to be decent for once,” she said, as she got up from the table. “But I don’t accept the apology.”

“Wait,” he called after her. “We need each other. You’ll die without me. There are so few of us left, as it is. It doesn’t have to end this way.”

“It ended twenty-three years ago,” Angela said, as she made her way out of the restaurant. She felt David stare at her back as she left him for the final time. For a second, the years stretched between them, spread out like miles behind her. At the door, she gave one glance back, and she saw him the way she always remembered him: his wings stretched behind him to fill the room, skin faintly glowing in the starlight.

Her thumb slid down over her ring again, as she turned away from him for the last time. Forcing herself to move forward, she stepped out onto the street and walked slowly to her car, just another person on a crowded city street.

©2016 Chris Page. All rights reserved.

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