Flash Fiction

A New Perspective of Passion

It was intermission and I was descending the stairs from the theatre balcony when I saw her, which was remarkable considering the crush of people in the lobby. After the initial shock, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to say hello or hide in the men’s room until the lights dimmed and the play resumed. I had decided on the latter when she looked up, smiled and twenty years melted away.

She’d never been a beauty, but just as age can diminish an attractive woman, it had enhanced her. She walked toward me, piercing eyes, always her best feature, never leaving mine. As in the past, I was enveloped by her presence, my awkwardness countered by her warmth and charm. Though I never understood why, she’d always loved me more than I loved her, and I had basked in the high opinion she held of me.

She was attending the performance with her niece. I was there to write a review for an online theatre magazine. She’d heard my wife had died several years ago and volunteered that she and her husband had amicably divorced about the same time, and she’d returned to Vancouver.

Our circumstances had changed. The cloistered kisses, clandestine rendezvous, the innovative lying to secure the never-enough-time-always-hurried-moments of the past, would no longer be necessary. I could tell the prospect of unlimited and unrestricted time together was something we both were considering.

The lights dimmed, we exchanged emails then returned to our respective seats for the duration of the performance.
During the final act, I was distracted by memories. It had been a dangerous time, emotionally and personally, but the risk and subterfuge intensified our passion. When we met, we always looked our best, were at our best, there were no conversations about careers, finances, Christmas at the in-laws. Our context was passion – and dreams, impossible ones. I would write a novel. She would devote her energy and resourcefulness to worthwhile causes. Our lives would be expansive, uninhibited.

Then her husband got a promotion. It meant they would have to move to Toronto three thousand miles away. It was a moment of truth. I remember our last meeting, not in some trendy café but in a park overlooking the city. We arrived in separate cars and planned to talk as we walked the deserted paths of the winter forest. But it was a bleak February morning with an icy wind and lashing rain, so we sat in the front seat of her Lexus. I had a Fiat Spider, cool but uncomfortable.

I remember saying something trite like “I guess this is goodbye.” She stared at me, then out the fogged window. I began to suspect this was not what she had planned. I leaned over to kiss her, but she turned her face away. I got out of the car; she drove away.

At the time, I assumed neither of us had the courage or the faith to walk away from what we knew into the unknown. Revisiting the road untaken makes for sleepless nights and soon the ambivalence of our final goodbye was forgotten.

Twenty years of reality changes your perspective, not to mention your energy level. By the time I arrived home that evening, after much soul searching as well as practical considerations, I’d decided to delete her inevitable email without responding.

I needn’t have worried. It never came.

Rod Raglin is a Canadian journalist, photographer and self-published author of 13 novels, two plays and a collection of short stories. His short fiction and poetry have been published in several online publications and aired nationally on CBC radio. He lives in Vancouver, BC, where he is the publisher and editor of an online community newspaper.