It was a cloudy day that threatened to rain contrary to the weather forecast. The park was lively as usual; people tossing Frisbees around, a couple having a picnic near the water fountain, two little girls feeding the ducks that normally came to mingle among the people.
He was happy, walking on the cobblestone path that wound around the outskirts of the park, and holding her hand while humming a Coldplay tune inside his head as she said something that made him smile. They had not gotten to spend time like this between his unusual hours and her school. But today was different and he was determined to make the most of it.
“You know, I can almost see us bringing our kids to this park”
“hmmmm”, she sounded.
“We will have a picnic while they play with the dog or feed the ducks”.
“Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves”, she replied.
“What do you mean?” He was confused. “I thought we had already planned all this”
“I know we have but I’m just saying things happen that can delay the plan”
“Are you going to tell me what that thing is, because you are really confusing me”.
It was supposed to be a good day. The last time she would have to spend with him before she was to go to graduate school. She had suggested they went to the park to hang out because she wanted to be around people when she broke the news to him. And from the liveliness of the park at this time of the day, she felt she had made the right decision. But now, watching his face morph from happy to wary, she felt her heart break a bit because of what she was going to have to say. She wished she didn’t have to.
And when he blindsided her with the talk about kids and dogs, she knew this day was going to be a disaster.
She was thinking of how best to tell him and did not realize that he had stopped walking until he called her name.
“Why did you stop walking?”
“Because I want to hear about those things that will delay our plan. The same plan that we had made together”
“Well,” she paused, watching his face, “something came up and…….”
“I know something came up and that is why I asked you”
Damn, she hated it when he interrupted her like this, because it usually meant that something was about to happen that either of them wouldn’t like.
“I have to go away for a while”
“What do you mean you have to go away for a while?”
“It’s graduate school. There is this program that we have to partake in and it’s compulsory and I have to go soon”
“How long will you be gone?”
“A year”, she whispered for she was scared to say it out loud.
“What did you say?”
Dammit, she cursed. Why does he have to make me say it? “I said, A Year”
“When are you leaving?” he asked in that calm voice that carried an undertone of, ‘be careful the next words that come out of your mouth’.
“Tonight”, she quietly said.
“And you waited until the last moment to tell me this?” he exploded.
“You were always so busy and I wanted us to at least have one last special moment to together”
“I don’t care if I was busy every single day or if you wanted us to have a billion special moments; you shouldn’t have waited until now”
“I am sorry”
‘Well, sorry doesn’t change anything”
And with that he stormed off.
The park was as she always loved it. She usually came here to feed the ducks or to read a book. But today she had decided to bring a ball of yarn and just knit a sweater.
She was enjoying the noise; something she normally referred to as happy noise.
She was seated on the bench just outside the cobblestone path on the outskirts of the park and had noticed the couple that were walking slowly and laughing to each other. She felt a sudden ache as she remembered her husband of 55 years who passed away only last year.
But she felt a little happiness for the couple because they had managed to find something good out of all the chaos in the world. Therefore, she was surprised when the man raised his voice. She looked to her right and saw that they had stopped walking and that he was farther behind the lady. She couldn’t hear what they were talking about and she wished they would stop because they seemed so happy before.
Few minutes later, the young lady came and sat next to her and had tears in her eyes. She didn’t know what to say to her so she just put aside her knitting and wrapped an arm around her shoulder