Nothing But Remembrance
Written in 2022 inspired by Harry Styles Song Two Ghosts
He stood in front of the pale green door holding his fist in the air. He knew he should knock, but the anticipation of this moment had been built for so long that he was frozen. The heat of the desert exacerbated the heavy pounding his heart flushed through his entire body. He had no thoughts at that moment, just the pounding of his blood pulsating over every inch of himself. Realizing that he was in full view of the world and possibly embarrassing the love of his life by standing on her porch frozen in fear snapped him back to reality.
He brought his knuckles down on the door and left a loud hollow thud, he nearly let two seconds pass before he lifted his hand pounded two more knocks into the thick wood. He dropped his hand to his side and looked at his feet. The world seemed to silence with the space between his knocks and the answer of the door. His mind swam with the curiosity of why he was nervous, why he was hesitant and before the door swung, was she feeling the same thing?
His eyes traced up the door as it swung wide to reveal the same girl he had been fantasizing over for the last thirty years. Her slender features still held up even in her forties reminding him of his adolescence. Her platinum hair still hung down to nearly her hips framing her pale tall face in a haunting painting of the girl he fell in love with when he was still a young man, barely a teenager. Her slight blush mixed with the girlish stance she held told him that she was just as happy to see him as he was her.
He reached forward to give her a hug and she misread the situation leaning in for a kiss. The awkward dance sent both of them into the strange nerves that neither had felt since their teenage years. Eventually she grabbed him by the hand and turned back to her apartment leading him into the darkened one-bedroom abode hiding her dalliance from her neighbors.
Following her he watched her overly thin frame lead him through the hall and into her kitchen. He was mesmerized by the sway in her hips the same way he was last time they saw each other. He flew trough his memories to find that day in his mind. He was in his early twenties and had received an odd call from Rachel that she was stuck at a gas station with a flat tire. She hadn’t known who to call and he was the lucky one that she dialed.
Just as he felt the shame back then rushing to her aid knowing that he would have to abandon Darla, his then girlfriend for the dinner they were supposed to share together, the same shame came rushing back knowing that girl, his now wife, was back at home watching over his three children. But he could not let that invade his mind now. He had made the trip, he had lied to his Darla, now his wife, he had committed to the sin and was looking that shame dead in the eye. Or straight at Rachel’s ass as it may be. He continued to stare at her small butt when she swirled around and put her arms around his shoulders.
“Timmy Meyers.” She said in a voice that only someone who knew her in her youth would appreciate. “My hero is finally here.” She laid her head on his shoulder trying to find the love she felt for him for so many years. The love she swore she still felt just a few days before when they were sneaking texts back and forth from his wife. She kissed his neck and whispered, “I love you.”
The words stung, they were the wrong thing to be said, but Timmy desperately wanting to make the moment happen repeated the words back to her as he drifted back to that day, she had the flat. As they swayed in her kitchen, he remembered pulling up to the gas station and seeing her near anorexic frame leaning against a light pole smoking a cigarette. The plume of smoke drifted around her head and disappeared into the light of the parking lot.
The night was almost forgettable. He arrived, they exchanged pleasantries and he put her spare on. It was afterward when she begged in her playful way that he never could resist to come back to her apartment that the night became something to remember.
He had followed her to a cheap run-down apartment complex. It was not unlike where she lived now. There was a chain link fence and a bunch of signs threatening to tow anyone who dared park there. He parked and followed her into her place.
They joked about her night and she told him of the odd arrangement she had with the man who owned the apartment. He was twenty years older than her, rarely was around, but she claimed he offered her room and board for nothing but the knowledge she was safe. He believed her then, but was realizing the bullshit while he remembered the day while dancing with her in her Arizona kitchen.
She had shown him around and ended up in her bedroom where he was sitting on her bed while she suggested she would be with him in just a moment. She bent over and picked up a tank top from the floor. Looked him deep in his eyes and removed her shirt and bra. She watched as he clenched his jaw realizing the situation he was putting himself in. She bit her lip as she removed her shorts to reveal a lack of panties and then put the small tank top on barely covering her nipples.
She leaned forward and breathed on his neck while slowly rubbing her hand up his thigh. He shook his head no as he pushed himself to the side to avoid her advances. She sat down next to him and pouted as if he was being a tease and not acknowledging the commitment he had to Darla. He turned to her to tell her not to take it that way when they ended up in a passionate kiss. It was something that would stick with him the rest of his life. It was one of those moments that you read about in books or see on television that does not seem real. It was kiss that they both just fell into because it was what the moment demanded.
But the second the kiss ended he told her he had to leave and left her alone, nearly naked and rejected. He remembered that moment as the split second he decided to marry Darla. It was the point in his life that he rejected his first love and chose his new love. He would come to question that moment many times over the next couple of decades.
Rachel remembered that moment slightly differently. It was the point in her life that all the possibilities walked away. She had always seen Timmy as her chance at a normal life, but when he left, she was stuck working as a prostitute for room and board. It had been a hard twenty years, but Timmy was in her arms again.
She stepped back from their embrace to take a look at him. He was not the same boy she fell in love with. He was a middle-aged man that let the stress of life show across his face. The receding hairline exposed the insecurities that his youth learned to hide. But her mind would not let her see the truth, she found it in her mind that he was still the same chaotic boy that always pulled at her heartstrings. They said no words, she just stared into his eyes in the scene she had in her head for the last decade when they would meet again. She would stare into his eyes and he would follow her into the living room where he would let his passions overtake him.
The reality was not what she imagined. The stare was unsettling, but they both were too committed to let it hinder the day. Instead, she tapped her finger on his bottom lip as she turned to walk into her living room. He followed still trying to see the girl he knew so many years ago.
He settled on the couch and watched her as she pulled out a DVD from the shelf and put it in the player. She walked over to Timmy on the couch and snuggled up in his arms, “Your shell is here.” He smirked at the reference which he had not considered since his teenage years.
“I forgot about that bracelet.” He told her thinking of the beaded bracelet he made her in seventh grade where the letters fell off and instead of Rachel the poorly made trinket quickly said chel.
She looked up into his eyes just happy they were connecting over something. The movie began to play on the screen. It was When Harry Met Sally another reference to their past.
Rachel had been thinking about this moment for years. It was late high school when they watched the film together. They had both moved on from their love of one another and were in what they thought were committed relationships at the time. As the first few scenes ran with different couples talking about how they met she could remember watching the movie with him as a friend and saying, “This will be us. We will come back together in ten years and realize that our relationships were not the one. Then we will have a break for another ten years before we decide to be friends. Then we will realize that we were meant for one another.” It was just the plot of the movie, but the idea that she claimed they would live and now in their midlife they were meeting once again. It was what she imagined as a child.
As they sat on her couch huddled up like long-lost lovers, they both let their minds wander into the film. Neither could truly feel like they were the characters on the screen. They did not actually live the story, but the dream that they were destined to be with one another still filled their stomachs with the same butterflies they felt as young teens exploring one another for the first time.
As the movie came to a close Rachel rolled over and straddled Timmy. She leaned in on him and gave him a huge kiss hoping for the intimate feeling of their last kiss, the feeling that it happened because it was the way it was meant to be. Instead, she felt like she was acting.
Timmy tried to give in as well. He kissed her back and let his hands glide up the back of her shirt pressing his fingers against her bare skin. The discomfort hit them both as she pulled back and smiled at him while trying to place where their love had gone.
She played it all in her head. Over the last few years, they had been texting back and forth. She felt like she knew him better than any other person in the world. She had confided in him about her life, her relationships, her lack of career. And he had been up front with her about his marriage and his children. She knew everything about what he regretted and what he felt was unfixable with Darla. She did not understand why the connection she knew she had with Timmy was missing.
He got up from the couch and went to the kitchen. The night had fallen over the Arizona desert and the only light to fill the room was the one coming from the fridge as he rummaged for a drink. Rachel not wanting to let the love of her life go because of some awkwardness reverted to their last meeting. She removed her shirt, bra, and shorts and put on the same small black tank top that she wore for him years before.
She entered the kitchen where we saw an image of a beautiful woman slowly walking his way. He recognized the shirt, the look, the pale supple skin of his one-time love, but realized in that very second that no matter how much they wanted to change their decisions in life, they were not that same people any more. As much as he wanted to woman who stood before him, completely vulnerable and giving herself to him, to be his future he knew that it was a stranger. They had nothing but memories, nothing but the same conversations they shared for the last three decades.
He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her into him. They kissed as deeply as they could trying with every ounce of their existence to make it as magical as before. When he pulled back, she bit her lip as her eyes filled with tears. “I’m sorry I asked you come.” She whispered as she huddled into her arms trying to cover her nakedness.
“No. We both thought it was…” He paused while he rethought his words, “I don’t recognize the me that is here, how I expected you to.”
“Don’t.” She put a finger up to his lips and he nodded understanding that there was nothing left to say.
He would return home still with all the troubles of his marriage lingering in the background. He and Rachel never spoke again, but they had not really spoken to each other for over a decade. They just had seen each other as the option they missed out on, the choice they turned down, path not taken.