An Unexpected Monday Afternoon

Fairly sure that she had abandoned him at last, he sat on the aged chaise-lounge in the brick-floored piazza outside the patio, looking nowhere in particular, and lit a cigarette. He thought about her, about everything that had curled, and swirled, and covered their two lives in the few short months that they had been together, and again marveled at how this completely unexpected, unpredicted, unsought love had blossomed, bloomed, and surprised the hell out of both of them. They laughed about it, not nervously, but hysterically.

"Me, with you? No way," she laughed, "no way that anyone would have predicted this thing, baby."

"I know, I know. 'She is not his type at all,' people would say, 'and he could not be further from the kind of men she is attracted to; for one thing, he writes poetry! Poetry? She is no poetry fan, believe me, sister.' And that makes me laugh so much when I think of it, baby."

As he watched his cigarette burn, and studied the paths of the ants scurrying between the bricks in search of food, he wondered how he would ever go on without her in his life, and he felt a mantle of sadness, of real gloom, descend on him like an unbearable weight, pushing him down closer to the ground. As the ash and ember fell from the cigarette, he watched as the fire slowly went out, and everything turned to grey, all of the red nothing but a memory.

But it had been their ritual, all these months, that even though other responsibilities were part of each of their lives, throughout any given week, but owing to their regular schedules, Monday mornings were just for the two of them. No distractions, no obligations, just the two of them. And rarely had anything even come close to disturbing their standing date day. They had just talked the night before, and nothing was said about a change in plans that would prevent their Monday morning together.

And so all morning, from about 8 on, he had waited patiently for her arrival, and he was a patient man. But 8 turned into 8:30, and that turned into 9, and then 10, and then 11, and then as 11:30 drew near, he became despondent, knowing that she met the school bus at that time. What had gone wrong? He searched his memory in vain, for something he said, for something he did, for anything that would explain this breach of their routine. Nothing.

As the cigarette burned itself out, he noticed, and feeling no pain from the burn, snuffed it out on a brick between his feet. Just like my pathetic life, he thought, here for a short time, and then gone, nothing but dust under someone's feet. The world around him, all the birds, and squirrels, and chipmunks, and bees, and worms, and yes, even all the ants, everything seemed to have stopped, frozen in their tracks. And he felt lonelier than he had ever felt before in his life.

And then, as misery seemed to seep into every pore, as despondency climbed over the top of the tallest cedar tree above him, his eye caught movement to his left, near the side garden, and he saw something coming toward the patio, slowly, deliberately.

"Eh, dude, how are you? I thought I would surprise you," she grinned, crooking a finger his way, "so are you surprised? Come here."

June 8, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

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