a fantasy

It’s ten years in the future. 2023. I’m 36. A stunning 36, actually. I’m lean and athletic. My face has grown older, but I look mature, striking, sophisticated. My hair is long and dark. I’m wearing something chic. Trendy, yet classic. Modern and flattering. I’m at a local coffee shop waiting for an iced coffee with whole milk at the bar when you walk in.

I see you before you see me and recognize you instantly. It’s the chance meeting I’ve been half hoping for, half dreading since we broke up nearly fifteen years ago.

You eyes graze over me briefly as you scan the room, but only linger back to me when you realize I’m staring at you. You take a moment before figuring out how you know these dark, intense almond-shaped eyes. Why the curve of my nose seems strangely familiar. And why you’re hit with a wave of nostalgia when I run my fingers through my hair.

I wave, once I see you know who I am and smile, tentatively. You come over and I offer an unsure hug. You release yourself from the embrace quickly and step back taking me in one more time.

Time has shaped you also. Your hair is thinner and balding slightly at the crown. Tufts of gray are beginning to poke out around your ears. You’re still slender, muscular. But you seem shorter than I remember. Your face is free of wrinkles, but shows age in deep pockets of blue under your eyes. You look tired, perhaps a little worn.

We make small talk. Beginning and interrupting each other and stopping awkwardly and starting over. You tell me you’re married. Two kids – 4 and 6 years old. You work in insurance. Moved back to the Atlanta area after having your fair share of New York.

There’s a brief pause in the conversation and you ask how I am. Before I can even begin to answer, you quickly blurt out that I look great. I smile, knowingly. I did turn out well. Clearly the better of the two of us, I’d have to say.

I answer a few harmless questions before my coffee appears at the bar. I begin gathering my keys to leave and see your expression drop slightly. You don’t have to say out loud what we both already know to be true. I was the love of your life. Your selfishness and stupidity is what did us in. And you never found someone else quite like me. Or a love quite like ours.

I pull my sunglasses over my eyes and walk away satisfied with that encounter. I feel you studying me as I exit into the parking lot. Watching the subtle sway of my hips. The same toe-over-toe walk I’ve always had. I open the car door and look back one more time. Your stare lingers on me still and you raise your hand to wave goodbye. A somber smile crosses your face. I smile and wave back.

I know those grey eyes. I know the way they looked when they loved me. I know the way they looked when they hurt me. I know the way they looked when they were lost. And as I get inside my car, I know this look too.

The anguish of watching the best thing you’ve ever had realize you weren’t the best thing she ever had. And knowing she is much better off without you.