I looked deep into his eyes, trying to remember whether I’d ever really noticed them before. He looked patiently back at me, his lips turning up slightly in an understanding smile. I tried to reach into his soul, scooping up as much of it as I could, not knowing if or when I would have another opportunity to try. Like a child, I felt as if I took fistfuls of him and shoved it in my pockets, I’d have him to keep this time. Like no one would notice.
He reached down and took a sip of his coffee. Drank it black, little wisps of steam blowing out of the mug, swirling and clinging to the surface. Somehow he did this without breaking our stare.
“Are you mad at me?” he asked.
The question took me by surprise. Mad? I thought. Mad? How could I be mad? You came back! You came back! And before I could answer, a tear spilled out from under my eye and rolled down my cheek.
“No, I’m not mad,” I answered, turning my gaze down to the table and the napkin I’d slowly been shredding without even realizing it.
His hands covered mine and held them still. I closed my eyes and wondered, is this real? Thought of the years that had slipped by since we last held each other’s hand. Hundreds of years had passed, at least. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. And I pulled my hands away, looking back into his eyes, full of questions, full of doubt, full of hurt.
He pulled his hands back to his lap and looked at me. Like he wanted to memorize me. Saw the pores in my cheek. The little wispy curls of hair at my temples that caught the breeze. The creases in the corners of my eyes. My earlobes, missing a pair of earrings.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“I know,” I answered.