She was scared. She didn’t know how else to explain it. Not of flesh and blood monsters or even spiritual ones. No monsters at all really. It was of the known and the unknown; of the future and the past, of love and of loss.
And he was waiting for her answer. He was looking at her expectantly and she didn’t know what to say, much less what to do. “I can’t do this.” She started and pulled away from his arms.
He was confused. “Don’t you love me?”
“Yes, but…” she turns away from him. She cannot look him in the eye. She doesn’t want to see the hurt in their depths.
“But, what…? You love me. I love you. What else is there to know?” he asked her.
“I don’t know. What’s going to happen?” she whirled around. “This…we ended before. I still don’t think even after ten years my heart has completely recovered. How can we know it’s meant to be?”
“How can we not?” he countered.
“Thomas, what if we only get one chance?”
“What do you mean?”
“What if you only get one chance? What if what we had before, the love we had…what if that was our shot? We had a choice then and we chose to walk away. What if the choice isn’t ours anymore?”
He could see she was serious. She had a habit of letting her rational mind get in the way of her heart. He knew this about her, he always had.
Ten years ago, after their college graduation they had a choice. They both had very lucrative and esteemed offers; both on very opposite ends of the United States. For him, ten years ago, his choice was the same as it was now. He loved her and no matter what was on the table, he would give it up in a minute to be with her.
Even then, she had reasoned that if they didn’t follow their opportunities they would regret it and then resent each other. So, he let her go, knowing that if it was what she wanted, then he would walk away; his heart silently breaking, so that she could be happy.
A decade later, they were standing on the edge of the same cliff and she was scared. He didn’t know what to tell her. He wished he could find the words that would convince her. She had a life of loss; a life that didn’t allow her to trust in chance. Aside from her deep love for the theater, that was the reason she was an actress. She could control the outcomes. Everything was scripted. She could hide there and she was safe.
Now, she was standing before him asking for an absolute and he didn’t have one.
“The choice is ours and I will tell you why. If you walk away right now, I will wait for you another ten years or longer. No matter what it takes to bring you back to me, I will wait. I believe in forever. I believe in ‘happily ever after’ and if that makes me a fool, then fine. Call me a fool.”
“You’re not a fool; I just want to know what happens next.”
“I can’t tell you that. I don’t know what the future holds. No one does. You are asking for guarantees in a world where there are none. But even in a world with no guarantees, I can tell you one thing. I love you. I have loved you since the first time I saw you. Life isn’t scripted, Jessie. There is not some cosmic director telling you what to say or where to stand. There will always be other parts if you don’t get the next role. There will always be another audition. But there is only one me. And there is only one you. Sure, we could go on with our lives and walk away from this and probably be reasonably content. But I don’t want to be just content.”
She had tears in her eyes. He wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. In two steps she was in his arms again and crying. She found his lips and he wasn’t sure if it was goodbye or if she finally was taking a chance. He felt her pull away and looked into her eyes, searching for an answer.
She smiled at him through her tears and said, “Well, I guess we will have to ad lib, then”