“This doesn’t feel wrong,” Rebecca said, as she and Patrick were saying their goodbyes before going to the airport. “We’ve waited so long to be together and it feels so natural. How could it possibly be wrong?’
Patrick smiled his soft, gentle smile at her. “Sweetie, from other people’s perspective, you know our relationship would be considered wrong. They wouldn’t understand. From a moral perspective, I guess it is wrong, but it certainly doesn’t feel wrong to me.”
“Nothing in my life has ever felt more right,” says Rebecca, as they hug and gently kiss. “How could this wonderful thing between us ever be considered a vice?’ Patrick just smiled and put his arm around her shoulders as they walked to the taxi.
Patrick had to fly to New York City to attend his daughter’s piano concert at Carnegie Hall. She was a classical pianist on a meteoric rise to fame. Patrick was meeting his wife and younger daughter there. Rebecca, a published author, was flying home to her small town in central Virginia where she lived with her husband and dog. She still worked as a writer. She and Patrick had been able to manage an interlude together in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. A longer interlude than usual but it was never long enough for them, especially not for Rebecca.
As Rebecca climbs in the taxi that will take them to the airport, she looks at Patrick and thinks back. She had been in love with Patrick for a large part of her adult life. She had fallen in love with him a few years after she had married her husband, unfortunately. Patrick had also fallen in love with Rebecca and he was also married. It was just one of those things. Almost a love at first sight thing. Rebecca was not yet a writer and was hired at Patrick’s place of employment — a large bank in Atlanta, Georgia. He was a junior bank executive. She was a little younger and an even more junior bank executive. There was an instant attraction between the dark, handsome man and the blonde girl.
Rebecca smiles at Patrick as they race toward the airport and remembers how they resisted their attraction, though briefly, all those years ago. Finally, they gave in as they enjoyed being together so very much. The enjoyment they found in each other’s company gradually led to sexual attraction and their relationship blossomed into a full blown affair. Rebecca finds it hard to believe that was 35 years ago. She and Patrick have marveled at how they have found each other again after all this time. They have giggled about their ages now and then.
Patrick has been divorced and remarried since that time. Rebecca has been married to the same man. Both are content in their marriages in their own way but something has always been missing from their relationships and they have concluded that it is that mysterious something they have only with each other. That something neither can quite put their finger on but something they both need to be happy.
Almost to the airport now. The moment when they leave each other that they both dread. The two start chatting about what each will be doing during their trips to their destinations and after they arrive. Effectively just making small talk in order to avoid saying the important things they both want to say but think unwise under the circumstances.
Rebecca starts feeling like she always does when she leaves Patrick. Like she is about to lose a part of herself. She has so enjoyed the past few days. Curling up in his arms to sleep at night. Sitting across the table from him at breakfast. Having an intellectual conversation with him. Much more personal things that she can’t stand to consider right now.
Patrick turns to her and breaks her reverie. “Almost there,” he says. Rebecca can’t speak for fear of crying. The taxi pulls up to the taxi stand and they get out to retrieve their luggage. As they kiss and say goodbye, they promise to talk to each other soon. They are about to rush to different terminals. Rebecca grabs Patrick’s face and is able to choke out one sentence. “You are my love,” she says to him. “I miss you already,” he responds.
She turns to grab her luggage. When she turns back, Patrick is gone.
Something shrill is sounding in Rebecca’s ear. Suddenly, she wakes with a start and feels for the alarm clock. Shutting it off, she turns over to her back in her bed, pulling the covers tight up under her chin.
As tears stream down her face, Rebecca relives the dream she just had, the dream she always has, where Patrick vanished at the airport. The dream is always the same. She and Patrick, the man she has loved most of her life, reconnect for a brief time two years ago. They spend some wonderful interludes together that summer that seems so long ago now. It was 35 years after they had first met and fallen in love – and lost each other. After their last, and most wonderful time together, they go to the airport to fly off to their respective lives and, Patrick vanishes. That is always when Rebecca wakes, just like this morning. She has this dream night after night, rarely skipping a night.
The dream is so disturbing to Rebecca because it is an almost exact accounting of the truth except that day at the airport, Patrick didn’t vanish. He just caught his plane. In reality, they still had some time after that, but their time was short and Rebecca remembers every second of it. Even two years later. But, when the end to their time came, it was quick and brutal and Rebecca has never recovered. At her age, she knows she probably never will. After all, how can she stop loving a man she’s always loved when the end was not his fault?
Patrick was caught up in a situation that Rebecca did not really understand. However, not only had she given Patrick her heart, she had also given him her trust. Rebecca was notified that Patrick could not see her anymore back then two years ago. Then, Patrick notified her in a brief message that clearly did not sound like him. Rebecca did not question him or the situation. She trusted Patrick. She knew he thought he was doing the right thing. Rebecca, of course, wishes Patrick could have made a different decision.
Rebecca jumps out of bed and races to her bathroom to splash cold water on her face, to try to get rid of the demons in her head. The ghosts that plague her almost every morning. The questions. The desires. She slowly walks to the kitchen to get her morning coffee, remembering all the way all the mornings she and Patrick had talked all morning while they drank their coffee. She still hopes, every morning, that he will be on the phone or on the other side of the computer screen. He never is. She hopes someday those hopes will be gone but she doubts she will be that lucky or free ever again. Too much passed between them during that summer. Too much to forget.
Mostly, she wonders and worries about Patrick. They no longer have any mutual friends left. There is no way to get news of him, to find out how he is, to see if he is still in the situation in which he found himself. She wonders if he is even still alive, still reasonably well. Once a week, Rebecca faithfully searches the obituaries, just in case. Every few days, Rebecca also searches social media for Patrick but he long ago disappeared from that social scene. Still, she searches. Not because she would contact him. She wouldn’t. Just because she wants news of him, to know he is well and happy.
Happy. That word almost makes Rebecca laugh. Could Patrick possibly be happy? He was always basically a happy guy. She was surely not happy without him. How can you be happy without your love? The last thing they said to each other on that fateful last day was that they were each other’s loves. She hopes he found a way to be happy. Just as much, she wishes she could hear his voice, just one more time.
Rebecca knows that won’t happen. She won’t hear from Patrick again. He did what he had to do, probably to protect her. She has always had the hope that he would do what he said he might one day. He said that one day she might get a phone call and it would be him saying, “Rebecca, I need you.” That has never happened. Patrick has no way to know that she and her husband have been divorced for over a year now and there is nothing to protect her from.
“I have to get these ghosts out of my head today,” Rebecca says to herself. She jumps up, goes to her bedroom and puts on her clothes, and grabs her dog’s leash. She and her little dog start their morning walk up the road. No one, including Rebecca, can see the ghosts following close behind. She will never be completely free of them again and deep in her heart she knows this.
Rebecca goes about her days, sees her friends, and does some work. Her days don’t vary much. She doesn’t travel very much. Travel reminds her of Patrick as they traveled the world together off and on over the years. Over 1000 miles away, Patrick sits in his house, pretends to be happy, and quietly goes about the business of drinking himself to death. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #romance
Random Number 35
Time = 35 minutes
TBP’s On-Line Writer’s Guide #31
Excerpt from the upcoming novel The Lost Romance
Please see the excerpt from The Lose Romance – The Affair