He couldn’t help noticing how the woman at the table across the room kept looking at him.

She could have been his age, but better preserved. Where age had ravaged his body and appearance, it had blessed her. Her long and flowing hair, streaked with gray, cascaded on her shoulders. The loose-fitting denim shirt didn’t hide a trim body that many younger women would die for.

Damn, he thought. I think I know her. Could it be? He looked and smiled. She smiled back. Jesus Christ. It was her.

She picked up her coffee cup and walked over to his table.

“I heard you were back in town,” she said, sliding into the booth. “When were you planning to come see me?”

“Didn’t know you were still here. It’s been a long time.”

“Yes, it has been.”

Almost 40 years. She’d been four years behind him in high school and he hadn’t paid much attention to her then.

Later, after high school, a work assignment took him to a college. This perky blonde walked up to him and said “Hi, remember me?”

He hadn’t but she wasn’t offended. She took him by the arm and gave him a tour of the campus. Later, at dinner, she admitted a high school crush.

“God, I wanted you to notice me in high school,” she said. “You never even gave me a second glance.”

“You were an eighth-grader,” he said. “Seniors didn’t go out with eighth graders.”

“Other seniors did. ”

“Not this one.”

“Well, I’m a college senior now. Am I finally old enough for you?”

She was. They dated during the rest of her year in college. Incredibly, she was still a virgin at 20. It didn’t last long.

“God almighty,” she gasped afterwards in a motel room just off campus. “If I had known it was that good I wouldn’t have waited so long.”

Once the wait was over, sex became a dominant part of their relationship. As with all relationships based on sex, it ended — badly. He hadn’t seen her again until that day in the restaurant.

“You know,” she said, circling her coffee cup rim with her finger, “you left some unfinished business when you walked out.”

“I did?”

“Yep. Like an explanation on why.”

“I can’t really explain why.”

“You can’t? You end it and walk away just like that and you can’t explain it?”

“No, I can’t.”

“I was a good girl. I intended to remain a virgin until I married. You might not remember, but that’s what good girls did back in those days. Then you walked into my life, someone I’d had a crush on since high school. You wanted sex. I wanted to be with you.”

“I seem to remember it was consensual.”

“It was and I loved it. But I loved you too and I don’t think you loved me.”

“I don’t believe I was capable of loving anyone in those days.”

“Except yourself.”

“Yeah, except myself.”

“Your were a self-centered bastard. After you left, I started sleeping around. I screwed a lot of men. Some women too.”

He must of looked surprised.

“Does that shock you?”

“Yes, a little.”

“Don’t know why. Aren’t you the one who said I shouldn’t be afraid to try anything sexually?”

“I said a lot of things.”

“Yes, you did, but to your credit you never claimed to love me. I knew you didn’t love me but I didn’t want it to end.”

“I’m sorry. Are you married?”


“Why not?”

“Decided after a while that I didn’t really like men. I live with a woman. She loves me. I love her.”


“Sometimes, I don’t know whether to thank you or hate you for what happened. I would have married you in a heartbeat if you’d asked.”

“It probably wouldn’t have lasted.”

“Probably not. I understand your first marriage didn’t last.”


“Your married now?”


“How long.”

“Twenty-five years.”

“Guess you found someone you love.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Good, so did I. So maybe everything worked out in the end.”

She finished her coffee and grabbed his lunch check.

“This is on me, for old times.”

She got up, then turned back and leaned over to whisper in his ear.

“I prefer women now but every once in a while I wonder if I still like men. If you’d like to find out if I do, give me a call.” She kissed him on the cheek, pushed a card into his hand and walked out to the cash register.

He waited a few minutes, then got up and walked out of the restaurant. Once outside, he realized he left her card on the table.

He stopped, thought about it for a few seconds, then shook his head and walked away.

–Doug Thompson
Washington, DC
May 6, 2004