A man sits at a cafe table. His ankle resting on the other legs knee, he gazes at the mesh design of the black metal table. He wonders where she is. He has been waiting since 8, and now it is 9:15. She is normally punctual, unless something is wrong.
He looks up when he hears someone walking in clicking high heels, but is disappointed. It is only a tour group. He looks for the clicking heels, and notices a girl in a purple coat. The two lock eyes, and in them, he sees curiosity. But as always, the moment passes, and she looks away to talk to a girl next to her.
He wonders about her; what she is thinking, who she is. He is distracted momentarily from his thoughts by the waitress, who brings out his third cup of coffee. He takes a sip of the warm liquid, closing his eyes as it trickles down his throat.
Opening his eyes again, he sets down the white porcelain mug, already missing the warmth that has vanished from his hand.
Pulling out his phone, he goes over emails, waiting for her to show up.
Finally, two hours late, She pulls up a chair, setting down her black leather briefcase on the worn-out sidewalk.
Looking up, he sees her, in a dress suitable for any respectable businesswoman. She begins talking, and he can't help but ignore her. She is bringing bad news, and he would rather not listen.
She catches him, and proceeds to chastise him, before delivering the final blow.
Walking away as a newly unemployed person, he begins to kick the pebbles strewn across the road. Eventually making it back to his small, cramped, dirty apartment, he flings himself onto his bed.
He doesn't realize he has fallen asleep until he wakes up. Deciding to go out to cheer himself up, he walks to the place that has always brought him comfort.
Sitting down in between the rows of bookshelves, he opens the first book on his pile.
By the time the library has closed, he has made it through half the pile; a new record for him.
He shuffles to the exit after checking out the rest. He glances back one last time, and notices a sign in the window, reading HELP WANTED.
He smiles at the perfection of it all, and walks away.
The next day, he wears a new uniform, and walks around putting books away. Most people think he is crazy because he smiles the whole time, but he doesn't care, because for the first time in years, he is actually happy.
Around lunch time, he grabs his wallet and heads to the automatic doors at the front of the building. He looks to wave goodbye to his colleague, who is at the desk, helping lazy high school seniors check out books for a report that is most likely due the next day.
He chuckles at how he was like that not even five years earlier.
Turning his head back, he manages to see the woman in front of him just as he walks into her. She stumbles backwards, dropping her giant stack of books.
Apologizing quickly, he drops to the floor and gathers the fallen literature.
The titles seem like dejá vú, and he realizes that they are the same books he read the previous night.
He notices the woman bends down to help him, stuttering her apologies, before she asks him what is wrong.
He realizes that he has stopped picking up the books, and instead is staring at one in particular. It is an old book, that his father read to him as a child.
Memories are flashing through his head, starting from the first time he heard the tale, to the time when he started high school and it was the assigned reading, to him telling his dad, to the sounds of screeching tires and a collision.
He blinks away the thoughts and tells the woman that nothing is wrong.
She looks skeptical, but says nothing, before saying goodbye and walking to the checkout line.
The man mutters a halfhearted goodbye back, before continuing to the doors.
He walks out, and heads towards the nearest Kean Coffee. Sitting down with a tea-mug full of hot chocolate and a coffee cake, he laughs at the irony and picks up a book laying on the table.
It is the same book from the library, and he furrows his forehead in confusion, all traces of laughter gone.
He sets down the book, and snaps his head up when he hears a woman talking.
He vaguely hears her say some joke about not having seen him in a while.
He laughs again as he recognizes that the person who spoke is the woman that he knocked down in the library.
He starts talking to her amicably, and before they realize it, his lunch break is over, and he leaves.
Though it is reluctantly.
The next day, he sees the woman again. She is a fast reader like him, and has already finished what she checked out, so she has come back for more. He sees her and makes his way over to her.
She is surprised, but also happy.
They begin to quietly talk, and she tells him that she just moved here, so she doesn't have anything to do other than go to the library.
He offers to help her move in, and she accepts, after staring at him. She is surprised he would offer to do something so taxing, when he barely knows her.
He can tell she is surprised, but doesn't say anything.
They set a time for him to come over before she has to leave and he goes back to work.
He arrives at her house, and is surprised to see her waiting outside for him with a blue plaid bandana on her head, holding a water bottle that she hands him.
They make smalltalk as they work the hours away, until she asks him about the book. He has never told anyone about that, but for some reason, he tells her.
Her face looks like she regrets asking.
His thoughts are confirmed when she apologizes, but he stops her, because he knows it is not her fault.
Around three, she offers to make lemonade, and he says yes, for he finished the water a while before, so she walks to the recently finished kitchen.
While gone, he continues working, thinking about how much his life has changed since a week ago.
He promises to return the next day to finish up the house, before driving away in his beat-up rag-top mustang.
He promises the same thing again and again throughout the next three weeks.
By the time the house is finally done, the man realizes how close the two of them have become, and wishes that he had slowed the progress of the house, even if only by one day. He realizes that she must feel the same way, because she offers to take him out to dinner and a movie.
She is nervous when asking, and he thinks that it looks adorable. He accepts immediately, and can practically see the tension leave her shoulders.
She wants to see a chick flick, and although he doesn't want to, he puts up with it. When the end credits roll, he starts to get up, but she pulls him back down, explaining that ever since she was a kid, her family waited, just to see if there was an after-credits clip. He is glad he stayed when there is in fact a small thirty second clip, and wonders how he never knew that before.
For dinner, he gets to pick the restaurant, and he chooses a small Thai diner. He tells the manager after they finish that the food was great, as always, but he really does need to expand his property. The manager laughs, as he always does, for this was a ritual for the two. He drives her back to her finished home, and walks her to the door.
After saying he had a great night, he quickly (before he can chicken out) kisses her cheek. She blushes, says goodnight, and closes the door.
The same thing happens the next week, and the next, and soon a pattern has formed. It is isn't long before she wants to introduce him to her friends, and he almost says no. He is scared that they will not think he is not good enough for her, but he looks at her face and can't say no.
The meeting goes smoothly, and he is really happy when she introduces him as her boyfriend. He then invites her to meet his friends, and the same occurs.
It's not long until he gets a call from her dad, wanting to meet him. This time, both are nervous about the meeting, but they both put on placid masks. It is a rather quiet meeting, neither of the two dares to say something in fear that it would make her father hate him.
Her father laughs at their antics, and they force out laughs as well. Her father refrains from embarrassing his daughter too much, and waits until she is out of the room to interrogate the man his baby girl is seeing.
Firing question after question off, hoping to find something- anything- wrong about the man, the father manages to pick up on subtle clues to his childhood. It is not long before he deduces his whole life story. Being a detective in his youth has its perks.
The father senses the young mans anxiety as he asks about his parents, although he already knows what happened. He wants to see if the man is serious enough about his daughter to confide in her dad. Unfortunately for the father, the young man tells his darkest memory to him.
He is surprised, and respects the young man for revealing, and reliving in the process, his past. Thinking that this man is the only person he has ever met that is good enough for his daughter, he tells him what he was doing, and that he passed the test, and, though it almost pains him to do so, gives him his approval.
His pains disappears instantly though when the young man smiles his truest smile of the night. The aged man knows in that instant his daughter picked well.
Through the years, the young man and old man become close, until it is almost like the old man is the younger mans actual father. Both cherish the relationship, and don't know what would happen if it ever disappeared. It is for this reason that one day the man drives out to the fathers house, and asks him the most important question he has ever asked. Driving home an hour or two later, with a smile donned on his face, he calls up the tiny movie theater where he and his girlfriend had their first date, and asks for their help. The owner and the couple had become close friends after the first few visits, when one of them had accidentally spilled their popcorn all over the floor, prompting the owner to come out and see what his cleaning crew was fussing about.
The owner smiles when he hears what the other man is asking, and immediately agrees to help him. He tells the owner when he will arrive, and the owner hands him a small token, and tells the man to present this token, and that his staff will lead them to the right theater room. He thanks his friend, before he heads out to his car, calling his girlfriend while he walks. He asks her if she wants to go see a movie later that night, and he is so relieved when she says yes. All of his hard work would be for nothing if she said no.
The movie they are seeing is one that he knows she has been wanting to see. They are the only ones in the theater, which makes it more personal in his opinion. He knew that she was curious when he handed the ticket man the token, and then even more so when they were led to the reserved room. She knows something is up, especially when he won't stop fidgeting. She finally just tells him to stop moving because it is moving her seat. He apologizes quickly, but she is already back to watching the movie. He knows she isn't really mad.
After the movie is over, and the credits start to roll, he listens as she starts to rant about how well the movie compares to the book, minus that one scene where the character didn't die the right, and that other scene where the character didn't die at all, and the fact that the dad wasn't supposed to discover the zombie until later, and after that much, he started to drift off, because he hadn't read the book, and he knew that she wouldn't make much sense soon.
He notices the credits coming to an end, and draws her attention back to the screen, knowing that its now or never.
He pulls the small black box out of his pocket while she is distracted by the message on the screen. He can see tears leaking out of her eyes, before she turns to look at him. She throws herself into his arms and kisses him, before pulling away and answering the question of the screen with a simple word.
He slips the ring onto her finger, and grabs her face, his eyes staring into hers. He smiles, before pulling her into a hug.
The weeks pass by quickly, as the two plan all the details. They agree on a small wedding, and invite only their closest friends. They are both nervous on the big day, but manage to hide it. They are both anxious for the ceremony to be over, and zone out just staring at each other.
They finally say their vows, and are officially married. Everyone is crying, but the reception goes smoothly. He takes her to Greece for their honeymoon, and knows that she is ecstatic, because she had wanted to go there since she was a kid. They visit all the city-state remains, and all the temples in them. He listens as she talks on and on about who built them, and who they were to, and who worshiped at them, and finds that he is enjoying it.
They stay there for a week, before taking a small boat around the peninsula, which lasts a week on its own, before arriving in Rome, where the same thing happens.
Boarding the plane that will take them back home, the man surprises his wife when they sit in the first class seats. She is happy though, and relaxes with his hand in hers.
The time passes quickly, and its not long before he is a father of two. His first, a boy, is kind and respectable, and protective of his younger sister, who is a little ball of sunshine.
The man is shocked when his son is a senior in high school, and his daughter is a junior. He doesn't believe how fast the time has flown by, and when he voices this to his wife, she laughs and agrees. More times passes, and he cries when they each graduate from college, his son from Harvard, his daughter from Wellesly.
Soon enough, each has their own successful job, and they are married, and then he is a grandfather.
Then his world falls apart. He and his wife have retired, and they are out living in the country, riding horses and sipping lemonade on their wooden porch. He is reading his wife's favorite book, again, as she saddles up her horse to go riding on a trail. She kisses him goodbye, before mounting the horse and cantering off. He manages to get through the first seven chapters before he hears the gallop of hooves. He looks up with a smile, but instead of his wife, there is just the horse, with the saddle turned sideways around its stomach.
The horse slows down, but comes right up to the man, before grabbing his shirt in its teeth and pulling. The man is worried, but immediately unlatches the saddle, and jumps up on the horse bareback. He doesn't say anything, but the horse knows what it is doing, and the moment the man is settled, it takes off like a bullet.
The horse slows down near the ravine, and the man has fear slam through his heart. Jumping off the horse, he slowly crept toward the edge, wary of the crumbling slope. He hears his horse whinny in the background, warning him, but he doesn't realize that it isn't about the ravine. The horse is trying to warn him about what is in the ravine.
Finally, he manages to weasel himself to the edge, and look down. He wishes he didn't.
His kids are there at the funeral, and that helps him tremendously. Their kids are their also, and they all are silently crying. The day carries on, and the man feels like it is mocking him, because it is shining bright and happy. He wonders how anyone could be so happy. Soon enough, the day is over, and then the week, and then the month. Time carries on even when its people aren't. Before anyone can realize it, it has been a full year. The anniversary of her death hits hard, especially when her horse has to be put down. The man feels like his life is falling apart, and in truth, it is. Everything he knows is falling apart, and then the final straw is when his kids and their families move across the country.
He falls sick, and is taken to the hospital. He spends several days there, before his kids show up with their families. He can tell that they have been crying, and he knows that they are trying to keep him from knowing. But he knows nonetheless- he is dying.
He spends another week in there, his family visiting every day. Finally, in the night, he can hear the heart monitor start to beep as his pulse gets slower and slower.
The nurses come running in to save him, but he has flatlined, and all they see is a smiling corpse.
The angel opens his eyes for the first time. He takes in all the sights and sounds of this new bright world, and it is all too brilliant for him, so he quickly shuts them again. He hears whispering all around him, but one voice calls out to him. It tells him to get up and walk forward, and even though his eyes are still shut, he obeys, stumbling along, completely trusting the voice. He realizes that it is in his head, and then the other whispers get louder, urging him on.
He stops at what he knows is a door. He opens his eyes, and is finally able to see. He twists the knob of the door, and walks in. On the other side is a room, filled with monitors of a mans life. It takes him a second to realize that it is his own, and once he realizes that, wonders why they only show him from when he is twenty-three and up. He turns around, confused, when he sees her. She is smiling, and holds out her hand to him. He takes it quickly and pulls her into a hug. He realizes that they are both youthful again, and then pushes the thoughts to the side, because here she is, with him, and that is all that matters.
He asks her why flashes of his life are on screens, and she responds by telling him that the same thing happened to her. He asks what it means, and she tells him that she has been wondering the same thing for a year, and has finally realized the significance.
The first day visible was the day they met- the days their lives truly began.