Ten years later…
The dust had settled and Ted was ten years older. His face was more wrinkled now and his back had gone a few weeks before, so he was careful about how he carried himself. It was a darkish sort of October day and so he’d made the choice to wear his green coat with poppers that covered the zip.
Ted sat down at the bus stop. The memories of Grace had gone to the back of his head but never faded. Other things had stacked on top of them like books, hardly read, but, still perfectly legible should he choose to pick one up. He’d not seen her for years, except one time from a distance and she looked happy in her new life so he watched her for a few seconds and loved her again. Then he walked away with the feeling that his chest had sunken in on itself.
As he sat there quietly waiting for the bus he heard a familiar voice coming closer over the sound of his headphones. “Ted?” Looking around he saw her, she was more wrinkled but still perfect. “Grace?” Was all he could say, his eyes glazed over. The unexpected nature of their meet had caused his mind to skim over their past together and for a few seconds, it felt like everything was the same. She sat down next to him and he started to sweat. He then faced the decision to keep his coat on and keep sweating or take it off and let her know he was a mess. “What’re you doing here?” he said. “I’m visiting my sister and my car’s broken down so I’m catching the bus for a few days. You?” “I still live here.” “Oh.” They paused for a second. “Still the same place?” she asked. “Yeah, St. James street, I like it there. I see your sister sometimes but we don’t speak, she seems good though.” “Yeah she is. She’s got a few problems with her arthritis but we’re all old now.” “That we are, seems like yesterday we were hanging around at The Union on Shaw Street though.” “Yeah it does.”
A few minutes went by, they made small talk and found out what each other had been up to. After a while though they ran out of things to talk about. They both knew the inevitable questions were coming but Ted certainly wasn’t going to bring it up. He’d spend years mentally dodging the whole thing precisely so he didn’t have to deal with it. Eventually though after a good long session of avoidance she came out with it. “What happened Ted?” Even the question annoyed him and in his mind he was viciously blunt but toned it down before it reached his tongue, because he knew at this stage nothing was going to give him back the years he lost. “I don’t know, things got out of hand I guess, and, you did what you had to do.” “That was a spectacular attempt at deflection.” She smiled and carried on, “you always were good at making me feel better about myself.” He shrugged and there were visible tears at this point. The wrinkles in his face looked like makeup to Grace and she still remembered him as a young man. “I’m sorry Ted, I didn’t know it was going to end that way.” “You disappeared Grace, I waited for you to come back but you never did.” “I didn’t know what else to do, I was scared and things got too serious to quickly.” “For you they did, but I was happy. I thought you were too.” “I feel terrible but I did what I thought was best, you had friends around you, you weren’t alone. I had no one when I moved away.” “ You know the true irony of love is that the point where you loose it is when you need it most.”
Ted took Graces hand and for those few minutes they were 20 again and in love. It’s times like that when it seems unfair that the happier you are the quicker time passes. It felt like a blink. Ted wished it was a dream, dreams last a split second but feel like days, he could have spent weeks sitting at that stop. Then then bus came and took Grace away from him again, he never saw her after that but the book never closed, these things never do.