Just Like Old Times.

He sat in the bar alone, nursing a Diet Coke. The echo of the phone call lingered in his head. “Noon, at Joey’s pub,” and “There’s something I have to tell you.” After almost ten years of not seeing her, it all came back. The joy of seeing her smile, the hugs and the kisses (oh, the kisses), the sheer joy of being in her company. The pain of the breakup, such as it was; there were no fireworks, only the dark silence of the embers cooling. He had no idea what had possessed him to call her after all those years.

He’d carried the torch for years, told himself that somehow they’d get back together. When a common friend ran into her he’d ask how she was, hoping to hear that she’d mentioned him or asked after him, but nothing. The problem with “I love you forever” is that it doesn’t go away, even if that makes it inconvenient.

Other patrons came and went. Noon came and went. He continued to drink, watching the door and waiting. She walked in wearing a flowing white wedding dress, looking just like she had fifteen years before. But it wasn’t her; she ran over the man next to him at the bar and took his hands.

“I’m supposed to be getting married today, but…”

He tuned out, deliberately directing his attention anywhere else. They talked for a couple of minutes and then left hand in hand.

And he waited. Noon passed unnoticed, then one, two, and three. He wished he could drink to wash away the feelings passing over him. After what seemed like eternity, a raven-haired beauty came up and smiled at him. It was just like old times.

“Excuse me sir, we’re closing to set up for the evening rush.”

He set down the glass and went home. About 8 o’clock he got up the courage to call; she’d probably got busy doing something else, or had been too disorganized to call him back. A girl, about half drunk, answered the phone. The girl told him he’d just missed her, and that she and Mark had just left for their honeymoon.

He thanked her, hung up the phone, and sat while the room slowly grew dark. Just like old times.

Originally posted to Writers Digest.