Weeks had passed since he returned from San Jose. He went there a year after the anniversary of Coco’s death. Eleven years seemed like a long time. They said that time heals the pain of losing someone you loved but that wasn’t true. The passage of time may take the edge off of the pain so that it isn’t as deep and sharp as before, but it doesn’t completely heal the pain. The pain was always there, a dull ache which he felt when he stood there on the beach where she and he once made love after an impromptu swim in the cool waters of the tranquil sea.
As he watched the waves gently lap the sand, he thought of Coco and the plans they had for their wedding and honeymoon. The life they were to share together. Instead of celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary, he was here alone, thinking about her as she lay in the grave Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose where both of her grandparents were also buried. No, time didn’t heal the pain, it just took the edge off it. The tears didn’t come any more but the sadness was like a steady companion, especially when he allowed himself to think about the last time they were together–the night he proposed to her.
The wind blowing in his face brought him back to the present. His eyes adjusted to the scene in front of him. Instead of the sea, it was the channel where fresh and salt water merged. Boats went by. He was no longer in San Jose but in Seattle.
She watched him as he stood still like a statue. He hadn’t moved for a while. Who was he? Often she would see him standing there, lingering, stopping and not in any hurry to go anywhere. She couldn’t see his face but she sensed a sadness. Had he recently lost someone or had he been laid off? Perhaps, he was lonely or perhaps, he was just a solitary person.
Strangely, she felt drawn to him. It was as if they were the only two people in the world. People were out and about now, hurrying to their different destinations, some talking with their companions, others with their heads down as they texted. No one seemed to notice him as they walked by or maybe, they did but didn’t care. They were too busy and caught up with their own affairs.
Should she go over to him on the pretext that she needed to know that time? Or should she just continue on her way? She was on her way to the office. Today was her first day as Editor at Dynamictales, a publishing company. She was going to work with Jenna Roberts, the Editor-in-Chief. The last thing she wanted was to be late. Still she lingered. Glancing at her watch, she saw that she had twenty-five minutes to kill and the office was a five minute walk away.
Hunching her shoulders, she walked over to him. He didn’t turn or acknowledge that she was there. He stood with his back to her. So, she went around him so that she was standing beside but in front of him. That’s when he realized that he wasn’t alone.
Smiling apologetically, she said to him, “Sorry to trouble you but do you have the time?”
He took his hand out of the pocket of his coat to glance at his watch. “It’s 8:40,” he said. She noticed that there wasn’t a wedding ring on his finger. So, he wasn’t married. She took a moment to study his features. He was very attractive although his expression was morose. He looked to be in his late thirties or early forties.
“Thank you.” She lingered.
He returned her gaze. “Was there something else?” he asked quietly.
“This is probably none of my business, but I’ve seen you here on more than one occasion, in this very spot. Are you all right?”
“Yes. I’m fine. I like to come here. It’s nice and peaceful.”
“Me too. I like to watch the boats on the weekends.” She could tell that he wasn’t American. His accent sounded…British? “Are you visiting Seattle?”
He shook his head. “No. I live here.”
“Oh. I thought you were visiting because of your accent.”
“I’m originally from London, England but I lived and worked in San Jose before moving here.”
“I’ve never been to London although I have family there and I visited San Jose a long time ago. Seattle is a great place to live and I’m not saying that because I was born here.”
He smiled and somehow, she got the feeling that he hadn’t done that for a very long time. “It’s ranked one of the 10 best places to live in the United States and it’s environmentally friendly.”
“And people living here earn above-average incomes.”
“That too. Do you live or work around here?”
“Both. I live ten minutes from here and work five minutes from here.”
“My office is about a twenty-five minute drive from here.”
She barely stopped herself from glancing at her watch. “I’d better to heading off to work. It’s my first day so I really don’t want to be late.”
“Goodbye…I didn’t get your name.”
“Liliana. What’s your name?”
“Hart as in Melissa Joan Hart?”
“Yes. It’s an English and Northern German name. It means stag.”
“It’s a nice name. Mine means “God is abundance”, “God is my oath” and “God has sworn.”
“Do you believe in God?”
“Yes, I do. What about you?”
“I believe that He exists.” He believed in God until Coco died. Out of his mind with anger and grief, he had demanded of his Creator, Why did Coco have to die? She was only 18. She had her whole life, her whole future ahead of her. Why did You take her in the prime of her life? Why couldn’t you let her live and grow old with me? His anger towards God had abated over the years but still he yearned to know why He had taken Coco.
Liliana watched him. The same morose expression which Liliana had seen earlier on his face had returned. “I’d better go,” she said, reluctant to do so but she had to get to the office before nine.
“Goodbye, Liliana,” he said.
“Goodbye, Hart.” As she turned and walked away, she could feel him watching her. She hoped that she would see him again.