There are moments when we get glimpses of things we never thought we’d see again. Things, we loved and hated, but give us a nostalgic feeling nonetheless. I had one when I went to the local Sack ‘N Save to get a loaf of bread in mid December.
I had walked up there from home and headed to the back of the store, picked up my loaf of bread, and headed back to the check out lane. The line was a bit long, but was doable. Then, it took a minute for me to catch my breath, as the woman in front of me flicked her hair in an unusual way, one so familiar.
What force compelled me I do not know, but I tugged on her sleeve. She turned and sported some dark purple horns and a curly bit of blonde hair, fair skin and her signature red, rouge lipstick. I couldn’t believe my eyes, was it really her?
And yes it was, Cassie Lyne, my high school sweetheart.
She stared at me for just a moment, until suddenly her mouth began to drop and her eyes widened in recognition. She went to hug me and spilled her purse, thankfully none of her groceries. I helped her pick them up and laughed until we were red in the face. After we had both gotten our things paid for and bagged, we talked and stood about in our own embarrassment. I carried her groceries to her van in the parking lot, my own bread in hand, and when her back seat was full, she shook two cold ones from the driver’s seat and offered me one.
Same ‘ole Cassie Lyne, a beer not too far away.
I took a bottle and toasted to our meeting again. The years have been a friend to her, her familiar face still young and bright. Her eyes were still that deep shade of blue she’d always had, though when I told her, I wasn’t sure if she believed me. She told me she had married an architect, her wings fluttered when she thought of him, but her eyes shown something close to complacency.
She said she saw a few of my books in a Half Price, and that I must be doing well. I was, but the nights were longer than they should and sometimes my hands would hurt like hell. She laughed and we toasted again.
Soon our beers were empty, and our words were all spent; running out of things to talk about. She offered a ride home, which I accepted. I showed her the way back to home and she stopped at the curb. She blew me a kiss as I got out, my bread in hand; we said our good byes and I watched her drive away.
As she drove down the street, for a moment, just for a moment, I was back in school. And I felt that old, familiar pain. That pain of when we left each other. I could sense it, she regretted not staying, she regretted not having me in her life anymore, and that regret was so close to pulling me back into that van and leaving forever. But, then I turned back to my home and looked through the windows.
In the warm glow of the kitchen light, I saw my wife, my beautiful furry-pawed wife, and our two little girls, ready at the table for Papa to come home. My wife was probably telling them how we met, how Papa swept her off her feet and how the us two fell in love. The girls were giggling, their “nyaa’s” coming out to the yard where I stood.
That feeling of regret, that “What if” of Cassie Lyne vanished the moment I saw my family. Not now; not ever, would I trade them all away to be with Cassie again. I step up to the door and fiddle the keys out of my pocket and let myself in the door.
And as I sprung inside the house and hugged my daughters and kissed my wife, it began to snow outside.