Note: This was written for the Review Game's September Writing Challenge Contest. Feedback is greatly appreciated so please review, and feel free to check out the other entries. :) If you see something you like, vote on WCC thread September 8th-15th.
By the Daly Park Fountain
"He's fading fast. If there's anything you wish to say..."
Do you think words have power? Can simple phrases that pass the lips of mere mortals last longer than their creators? Can their ideas echo through time, whisper in the unconscious mind of the present, guide others on a path already taken?
Sometimes I wonder...
"We'll meet each other again someday. I know it.."
"In the park, at noon. Just like before."
"By the fountain…"
"Yes, the fountain. I'll be there every day if I have to."
"Every day? Do you promise?"
"Don't make promises you don't intend to keep." I can't count how many times I heard that when I was a little girl. "A promise is forever." I heard that one a lot too.
Forever? "Forever is a long time," Younger Me said. "I'd never make promises that last forever."
"Someday you might, dear. Someday."
I found my Someday by the Daly Park fountain.
"Yes, my dearest. Of course I promise!"
"Then I'll be there."
"You need to promise me now. Say you will…"
"No matter how long it takes."
"Do you mind if I join you?" was the first thing he said to me.
"Pardon?" I asked, looking up from my sandwich as I sat eating my lunch on the steps of the amphitheatre.
He held up his brown-bag lunch and gestured at the empty spaces all around me. "It seems a pity for anyone to eat all alone here. Unless you prefer…?"
"No, of course not," I said, and moved my lunch out of the way. "No one's really talked to me here before."
I smiled. He smiled back and sat down.
"I always imagined it was bigger," was the next thing he said to me.
"The fountain," he said, pointing at the three-tiered war memorial fountain a little way away down the sidewalk. "I used to come here when I was a kid. Seemed much bigger back then."
I glanced at it. "Ah."
"There used to be an angel on top, too," he continued.
"Yeah, I heard that," I said. I didn't remember where or who told me, but somehow I could picture the gilded angel shining in the noonday sun. A small part of me mourned the absence of the little figure, but it was a fleeting thought.
We ate in silence for a few minutes. He stared at the fountain and occasionally turned to me, smiled, and opened his mouth as if to say something. But each time, after a moment's pause, he closed it again and went back to his lunch.
Something about him…I didn't know what, exactly, but his presence awoke a vague sense of familiarity in my mind. I thought perhaps we'd spoken before.
"Do you come to this park often?" I asked, breaking the silence.
"No, not really." He smiled. "I used to walk by here when I was younger and toss pennies in the fountain with my parents but I haven't stopped by in years."
"So why today?" I asked, as I finished up my lunch and prepared to leave.
"I saw you looked rather lonely," he replied, with a shy smile and a humble bob of his head. "I thought I could maybe change that."
I wasn't sure how to respond to that at first. Part of me thought I should find him creepy, with the way he must have stared before he came over out of the blue. But though he was a stranger, he seemed familiar and safe. He was polite and friendly…. I returned the smile and thanked him for the company.
"He's fading fast. If there's anything you wish to say..."
"Everything...that....needed to be said...it's been said..."
"No, dearest, you're wrong. There's so much more we could've said."
"It will be said."
"How do you know? What if we miss each other or we don't recognize each other anymore?"
"Do you mind if I join you?" he asked again, a couple days later, as he approached the amphitheatre with his bag lunch in hand and suit coat thrown over his shoulder.
I grinned at him before I calmed myself and smoothly replied, "Of course not."
He sat beside me on the amphitheatre steps and pulled out his lunch.
I wondered why I had been so excited to see him; I'd felt fairly disappointed the day before when he didn't show up and now he was there again… I couldn't put words to the feeling.
"I've been thinking," I said between sips of my coffee, "about the angel on the fountain. I looked it up the other day and the park says it hasn't been on the fountain in over fifty years."
He cocked his head and gazed at the fountain. "Strange. I could've sworn I saw it when I was a kid."
"Yeah, I thought I saw it like that too." I pondered the three-tiered fountain. "Maybe we've seen it in pictures."
We ate in silence again for a time. Then he said, "My mother told me a story once about a woman who came to the park every day to sit by the fountain. I thought of that when I saw you here the other day."
"What was the story?"
He closed his eyes, remembering the details. "I think she said it was in the 30s sometime. This woman in town lost her husband to some disease, cancer maybe. And she was heartbroken, never recovered. She came to the park and sat by the fountain every day at noon, rain or shine, for the rest of her life."
"Why the fountain?"
"I don't know. I think she met her husband there. Maybe she hoped to find him again."
I sighed and packed up my half-eaten lunch. "That's so sad."
"Yeah." He paused, watching me prepare to leave. "Bit of a conversation-killer, isn't it?"
I laughed. "A bit. I really do need to go back to work, though."
"Would you like to have lunch together again sometime?"
Without hesitation this time, I said yes.
"I might not know your face… but… I'll know it's you. Always. You never forget the feel of your soul's other half."
"Over here!" I said, and waved to him. I sat with my unopened lunch on the concrete edge of the fountain's pool. "I wanted a little change of scenery."
"Ah." He sat down beside me and opened his lunch bag. "Does this have anything to do with that story I told yesterday?"
"Perhaps." I took a few bites of my sandwich while I mulled it over a bit. "You know, it's strange."
"I ate lunch in this park every day for a year and I never paid much attention to it until this week."
He cocked his head. "Oh really? So I've had some effect, at least."
"Yes, you have. I didn't notice this fountain much before." I looked it over yet again. "Now I really see it, though, it's quite pretty. I like it."
He smiled. I smiled in return.
Then I closed the distance between us.
Our lips touched, lightly at first as we both hesitated at the contact, then he took the kiss deeper and I went along with it. Something welled up inside me at his touch.
It wasn't love or lust, exactly. It was something purer than that, not nearly as complicated and yet so much more complex.
I thought, 'This is where I belong.'
I pulled back first and stared at him, astonished. "I'm sorry, that was..."
"It's okay, really. It's fine." He looked as flustered as I must have, and blushed a little as he looked away.
"I don't know why I..."
"Honestly, I don't mind. I actually thought it felt-"
"-right." He nodded. "Yes."
We fell silent again, the most awkward silence of them all. Finally I could contain myself no longer. "This is crazy. I don't even know your name. But I feel like I know you."
"I've always felt that way," he admitted, in a hushed voice, as though he had only just realized this was true.
We both stole glances at the fountain, at the highest tier where the gilded angel no longer stood. In my mind it still stood there, glinting in the sunlight and watching over our conversation.
"It's definitely crazy," he finally said. "But I think I'm okay with that."
I smiled. "I think I am too."
"Goodbye, my dearest."
"Not goodbye. Until...next time."
"Until next time."
"Well," he said, as he picked up his lunch a little while later. "This has certainly been awkward."
"Maybe a little," I admitted.
"So I'll see you again tomorrow?" He grinned down at me as he stood to go.
I nodded. "I'll be waiting."
"I'll be waiting, my dearest."