He stood in front of the gate, looking down at the slip of paper etched with the number that was on the mailbox right next to him. The number on the paper, 808, had been traced over and over again in pencil, giving the back a raised texture that he was absent-mindedly running his fingers over. A white privacy fence circled the property, but he knew it was not meant to block the eyes of those passing by, it was a part of the decor of the property. The fence was decorated with flowers growing in beds along the base, and climbing ivy covered most of the surface. He knew from the address that this was the right place, knew even better from the living fence, but he still hesitated. It had been years, years that felt like decades, since he had seen her. He was unsure, about himself, the idea of seeing her again, the future, and pretty much everything in between. It wasn’t that seeing her again meant anything more than two people catching up, it was just the opportunity to do so after so long was overwhelming. 

He found himself reaching for the handle to the gate, then pulling back without opening the latch. He even turned to leave, but found himself still facing the gate a moment later. He thought back to their phone call, the unexpected phone call that had come two weeks earlier. She had met a friend of his, unbeknownst to either of them, and through conversation had come to realize they knew the same person. Questions had been asked, apparently. Starting with the standard, “Oh..how is he doing? I haven’t seen him in years,” and ending with “Do you think I could call him?”. A day later his phone rang and she was on the other end of the line. A forgotten pleasure that time had moved into distant memory, but could not remove all together. She was like an old injury, forgotten in history, but the limp still slightly visible to anyone but the limper.

And now he was here, hand outstretched for a gate latch that had been taunting him for several minutes, daring him to take hold and grasp reality firmly in his hand. Before his eyes the latch lifted itself, as if some ghostly figure had opened the gate. Then she was there, standing on the other side, looking as amazed as he. The moment held both of them, she surprised at his presence, and he enthralled by hers.

“Oh my,” she gasped, the words falling not from her lips, but exhaled from her chest, her very breath hinted at the shock of seeing him standing outside her fence.

“I…”, he began to try to explain that he was going to call, but his words were cut short because her arms had been flung around him and she was squeezing him tightly. He found himself in a very odd place, his arms were splayed wide to his sides and he was unsure if he should return her embrace. He thought it would be strange to her if he did not, so he brought his hands in to her back. With the slightest brush of his hands against the soft fabric covering her back his instincts took over and he was no longer guiding his hands through any conscious decision. This was familiarity, and practice that caused his hands to push down her shoulder blades, across the tight strap of her bra, to the dipping curve at the small of her back. His hands slid to her hips and thumbs pressing firmly against the well defined crease of her leg and stomach. His hands held her waist tight against his, and her arms held his upper body locked against hers. For a moment they were lost in a swirl of timelessness, aware only of the other. A dozen seconds, each counted with longing, passed before they separated.

“I can’t believe you are here!” she exclaimed, her eyes smiling as deeply as her lips. “I didn’t expect to see you so soon. You have to come in,” she grasped his hand and began pulling him inside the gate. His head was still swimming in the feeling of having her pressed against him, and his feet moved with her prompting and without his knowledge he was soon sitting on the stairs to her porch. She was across from him, her legs folded up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them, and her face was tucked in the valley of her knees.

“I ended up here not too long ago. I sold my old house, sold most of the stuff I owned, and bought this place. It was a dump, still is in some places, but I’m working on it day by day. It’s become my passion, to reinvent this place into something glorious,” she turned her head laid it on her knees, her eyes glancing at every bit of the area enclosed by the white fence. It was very much still a work in progress, he saw. The house needed to be painted, and he could see through the large windows closest to him that she had barely any furniture. The pieces she did have seemed to be perfectly coordinated with the house. The lot that the house was occupying was large, larger than what the fenced area seemed to indicate, as it stretched farther back than was visible from the street. There was an open grassy field, with a peeling red barn at the back. The area was surrounded by trees and the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves engulfed the whole lot. 

“I find that every time I work on something here, fix something, add something, or whatever, I fix a little piece of myself,” she was looking at him again. Her face was serene, but her eyes had darkened and there was a serious glint to them as she studied him. “Things are pretty messed up in me, too. Most days are good, but I have some dark ones now and again. You don’t ever realize how screwed up things are when you’re in the middle of them. But now that I’m not, now that I’m here, away from everything, I realize all too well how broken I was. It’s amazing to come here, and just be free of all of the things that hold you down.”

Her expression darkened and her tone grew very somber for a moment, “I want you to know,” she began, but her voice cracked and she looked away for a moment. He could tell she was attempting to collect herself, and that she was dealing with one of those troubled moments. She regained her composure, but did not turn to face him. She was staring at the fence, this side of the fence was painted in varying different shades of color, and if he squinted his eyes until everything went blurry he could see a rainbow swirl into being. He wondered if she had done that on purpose, or if that was just a chance happening. “I want you to know that I didn’t make the best decisions at times, and I’m sorry for that.” 

He reached out and placed his hand on her leg, squeezing it reassuringly. Touching her felt almost electric and the tingling sensations in his hands gave him the sturdy realization that this was real, concrete. He was here talking to her, and it felt exhilarating. He could not respond to her though. He wanted to say something that would ease her burden, but he knew that what she was going through was something private to her, and that he had no place to comment or bring relief, not anymore. So he just sat, holding her in the only way he really could, for several moments. 

The moment passed, and she stood. The glint had returned to her eye and she looked down at him. 

“I’ve got something to show you,” she said through a smile only slightly tinged on the edges with tears that had streaked down her face. She turned and walked through the front door of the house, disappearing into a room he could not see through one of the large windows on the front of the house. She returned a few moments later, carrying a large wooden chest. She sat it at the top of the stairs, and he stood to see what she brought. She lifted the lid and revealed a record player, it looked to be very old, but in good condition. Beside the player were slots for records and she slipped one free of the protective sleeve that the slot held. She vigorously turned a crank several times, laid the record on the turntable, placed the needle and the rich sounds of a piano began to play. The entire lot was filled with the music, and he felt like if he stood inside the barn he would still be able to hear the melodic playing as clearly as he could now.

She grasped his hand, again pulling him to where she wanted him, this time down the stairs and into the thick, green grass in front of the house. She ran into the middle of the lawn, and it was for the first time since he saw her, that he actually looked at her. She was wearing a thin yellow sundress, the curves of her body plainly visible through the thin material. He marveled as she spun, the warmth of the sun reflected off the vibrant grass and it lit her form perfectly. The dress kicked up, spun around her waist and bared her thighs. He eyes fell upon him, and caught his. She kicked off the flat shoes from her feet, launching them at him playfully. Her hands reached to him, beckoning to him. He walked forward, unable to resist her call, his hands catching hers and they pulled each other close, dancing slowly to the sounds of the music reverberating through her sanctuary.

He felt her against him. Laughing and smiling, and he remembered all the moments she had laughed before. He had them all catalogued and stored in a secret place. But at this moment he brought them all out, lost himself in the joy of knowing her, of who she was to him, and who they were together. The music stopped playing, but still they danced, the song that remained in them giving them the beat to continue on together. They swayed in the comfort of the sun, his hands soaking in the feeling of her warm skin underneath the wisp of clothing she wore. As the sun set, the little glade in which they tarried began to darken and he released her long enough to look into her eyes. They were deep, bottomless, and he could hear a roaring sound building in his ears when he looked into them. The sun was fading fast and the light that was fueling their time together diminished by the second. The loud sound grew more intense, driving, and he could take visit online casino julietta it no more. He leaned in to kiss her, to brush his lips across hers, to feel her again. Her hand stopped him, her fingers on his lips. He opened his eyes and saw hers, deep and dark, lost long ago. 

He opened his eyes in reality. Rain was pounding heavily upon the window above his bed, a roaring torrent of wind and water thrashed about in a storm outside. Lightning flashed, briefly giving life to the dark room in which he was laying. He saw all of the things that he had made of himself. His life without her, that he had forged when she left. He was not ever sure why she had chosen to do what she did, but he lived with the thought that it might have been his fault, that he had pushed her through his actions. He had rebuilt his life after her, but it was never the same. He missed her, some days less than others, but the hole in his heart was always there. It ached in the way a wound that can never be fully healed aches. But he had seen her, just now, in all of the ways he remembered her and she had told him that it was not his fault. That was what she meant, he knew it. It had to be, or he could not move on any longer. The thought of joining her was so very strong. Stronger than it had been in the first few days after it happened, but he knew that it was not his time.

With tears in his eyes he rolled over, away from the bright digital clock showing him the date 08/08 on the nightstand, and struggled to go back to sleep. Perhaps if he fell asleep soon enough he could go back to that place and dance in the sunlight with his departed love.