- · Inspired by the song “River of Time” by The Judds
“It’s over, he said.”
Taylor had loved him. He had been the only man that she had ever loved. If she had known, she would have taken a different path.
It seemed like an innocuous meeting at a near-empty bar. She had not planned on anything happening, yet things tossed and turned and spun in such a way that she spent the night in the apartment of a strange man.
Alfredo would not know.
“It was an accident,” she said to herself. She wasn’t going to let it happen again. Yet one harmless affair led to the next. It was not a lifestyle that she chose; it just manifested itself from events that she kept insisting were beyond her control.
She loved Alfredo, she really did. He was not just some transient affair like the rest of them. He was more important to her than she cared to imagine; the last thing that she wanted in life was to hurt him.
Yet time passed and her excuses wore thin.
“How did he find out?” was her first thought when he discovered her cheating.
She thought that she had been careful. Yet, here he stood before her as she professed her undying love. He didn’t seem to care. She thought that she had been careful. Yet, he stood before her without hesitation for the mitigating circumstances which she insisted were many. He didn’t seem to care.
“It’s over,” he said. A philanderous wife was more than he could accept. “It wasn’t one man … how many were there?” He asked.
“You’re the only one I have ever loved,” she pleaded.
However, the hurt she had caused him left no recourse.
“It’s over,” he said.
Five years is a long time, but the memories still plagued her consciousness. Funny, now that she was divorced, the endless stream of men that she had been involved with while she was married now dwindled to none. A solitary life is what she now chose.
Alone in a small diner, she lit up a cigarette to enjoy with her coffee. It was a bad habit she had begun after the divorce. Alone in the diner, she drank her coffee while she read a book. Not very many patrons were there and her solitude seemed quite natural.
Time had not buried the memories and it had taken time for her to realize that the break-up had been her fault.
“I am the only one to blame,” she said to herself.
This recognition, however, did not alleviate her pain.
Music played in the background. It was soft-rock typical for such a setting.
“Not quite sure?” she thought. “Probably REO Speed Wagon?” She knew it was an older song, but she could not place it. The poignant lyrics brought a thinly disguised tear to her eye.
Another year passed. She again sat in that same diner. She had become a regular and the workers as well as the other patrons had become accustomed to her presence, alone, smoking her cigarettes, drinking her coffee, and reading her book.
She had carefully chosen a book by Saint Francis of Assisi. She was not after a religious awakening; however, the philosophy in the book espoused personal recovery and enrichment. The years had passed, but not the pain.
In the past few months, she had begun rebuilding her life. After the recognition that she was to blame, came the realization that she could mend her life and start again. From nowhere in particular, she began to feel love in her heart. She was not in a place in her life where she was ready for a relationship, but she knew now the path to follow when she was ready.
The slight twinge of warmth that she felt in her heart manifested for an appreciation for life. The mundane and sometimes painful path of life had caused hardships. Every morning, waking before work, she dreaded the routine of office life. However, after some time, she began to enjoy the simple tasks as the path to individual freedom. Although monotonous, she arrived each morning with a smile on her face. She was learning that love encompasses all things.
She sat alone in a restaurant; not the same diner where she had sat a year before. A friend of Taylor’s from work had set her up on a blind date. It was much too soon to consider where it might lead; however, it was prominent in the occasion of resurrecting her life.
His name was Mark and her friend had assured her that they would have much in common. It was hardly a basis for a relationship, but they were both avid readers with an encyclopedia of knowledge available from both of them concerning the subject. As it turned out, this simply offered a basis for mild conversation on a somewhat awkward first date.
The conversation began tritely after Mark arrived at the restaurant. Old fashioned as he was, he insisted that he pay the bill rather than splitting it; which would have been expected from such a casual meeting.
The conversation began. They continued discussing the work of classic authors such as Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Steinbeck. Taylor was pleased that the man that represented a new prospective relationship was obviously educated. Rather than a mundane conversation about the many books by Steven King, it allowed for a much more substantive conversation.
They shared a few cigarettes and few more cups of coffee after the dinner ended. She walked out of the restaurant with no hopes for a budding relationship. Alfredo had truly been the best life had to offer; she was to blame for the relationship’s demise. Reckless and haphazard behaviors were trifles of youth. She had hurt the man she had loved and promised herself not to repeat that mistake in the future.