A Second Chanceby~hellbaby~©
In high school, his class voted him most popular, most athletic, and best looking. He married his high school sweetheart, a woman of equal beauty one year his junior and they lived the proverbial 'Happily ever after'.
Happily ever after until two weeks ago that is. Leaving work, Mike's lovely wife Ellen was ran over by a fleeing felon and killed instantly. The funeral was in the Midwest where they spent their entire married life. Michael traveled back east to attend a memorial service in Ellen's and his hometown. He now finds himself surrounded by extended family and old friends who came to pay their respects for his slain wife.
Liz opened the sliding glass door and left the overheated kitchen for the brisk February air. The sky was gray, snow clouds loomed low to land, and occasionally the first flurries skittered through the sky.
"Oh, Michael, I'm sorry, I didn't know you where out here" Liz said.
"It's OK Liz, how have you been?" Michael replied
Liz walked over and stood by Michael. Looking at him, Liz thought to herself he is even better looking now than he was thirty-four years ago. Michael is tall, almost six foot three, his hair is golden, and there's plenty of it. His eyes sparkle, a clear crystal blue. Mike's a big man; he is very athletic. He has a firm square jaw line; he is simply the epitome of the all-American boy look. A Robert Redford type of beautiful, like the way he was in "The Way We Were" . Standing there in the cold wind Liz did not know what to say to him . "You know, Liz, I still cannot believe she is gone" Mike went on, "We had twenty six great years together, in a way that makes me luckier than most people. Ellen will always be alive for me. I see her in the faces of the kids. We spoke so much of this day, if it were to happen, and now I am so glad we did. Her words comfort me and as odd as it sounds I feel OK, maybe I'm still in shock I don't know."
Liz looked into his blue eyes and said, "I know what you mean, I think I do at least. Michael, if you ever want to just talk, you know, well, I am only a phone call away"
"Hey Liz, do you remember when we were kids, playing freedom back here? That one time you climbed up to the very top of one of those pine trees that used to line the left side of the property and you were there for about two hours when you finally let on where you were,.?"
"I remember well Michael," Liz said. "I was afraid to come down and you had to climb up and help me down. I always had a way of finding a good spot to hide"
Together Liz and Michael walked down the wooden steps that led off the deck and out into the frozen yard, reminiscing and laughing as they walked.
Liz stopped and leaned against a large oak in the middle of the yard. Looking at Michael, she began to speak slowly, "Michael, I need to tell you something, I know this is not the best time but this has been on my mind for thirty years and I don't know when I'll get another chance".
"Go on Liz, you've got my attention now, what is it?"
Liz continued, "OK, here goes, Michael, do you remember one night when we were kids playing freedom, I was the only one caught and you were the guard? We were sitting on that old picnic table that used to be right here under this tree."
"Yes, Liz, I think I remember the night, it was devastating for me. I finally got up the nerve to put my arm around you and no sooner than I did you removed my arm and said 'And don't even think about trying it again!' Boy, you set me straight that night."
Michael, that's exactly what's on my mind. I was so scared I had waited years Michael, years for you to do that. When you did I panicked, the next thing I knew I was removing your arm and the entire time saying to myself,' What are you doing Liz are you nuts?' You know", Liz continued, "There are not many things in my life I regret, mistakes I made I think of mostly as necessary learning mistakes. You know the things that shape us into who we are today. Regrets, well that is another story, when I think back that night here on that picnic table, well, that is something I still regret to this day. I had the biggest crush on you, ever since the first time I saw you. I was beginning first grade and you were going into fourth."
"Wait, You had a crush on Me? I had a crush on you; you were the prettiest girl I had ever laid my eyes on." Michael said.
"You thought I was pretty?" replied Liz
"Yes Liz and you've grown into a beautiful woman." Michael said softly.
A brief moment passed as they looked into each other's eyes, then Liz spoke "Um, well, it's getting really cold, we should go back inside."
With that they turned and walked slowly back to the house. Michael took Liz's coat to the closet as Liz went to the kitchen and fixed them some coffee. Returning to him Liz said, "It looks like my mother is getting ready to leave; I'd better see her out. I'll talk to you in a bit Michael."
The hours dragged on. There was still a steady flow of people coming to pay their respects, bringing casseroles and cakes enough to fill an entire dining table. Why, when you lose a loved one people assumed you have forgotten how to cook at the same time is something Liz never understood. Liz looked over and sensed Michael needed a break. She caught his eye and made her way over to him. Michael grabbed her arm and steered her out of earshot of the lingering mourners.
Whispering in a low voice so no one would hear he asked her, "Liz, I need to get out of here for a bit, you want to take a walk with me?"
"Sure" Liz replied
"Great" Michael said. "Mom keeps her walking thermos in the cabinet above the coffee maker, why don't you fix us a nice pot and I'll get the coats?"
"Sounds like a plan." Replied Liz
When they got out to the street, Michael offered Liz his arm and she looped her arm within his. The two walked in silence, not an awkward silence when no one knows what to say. It was a silence shared by two friends, content to be together both lost in their own thoughts.
They came upon the crumbling stone wall they once played on as kids and stopped to sit. Liz and Michael shared the steaming coffee. They talked of old times and places. The stories they told made them laugh until tears flowed from their eyes. The conversation changed and they spoke of Ellen, her premature death and what a shock it was. They talked about getting old, wondering where the time went, how it passed so fast. This time they cried until there were no tears left.
The snow was falling steadily now and the crystal flakes glistened in Liz's hair. Suddenly Michael removed his gloves. He pulled himself to his full six foot three stance, bringing Liz up with him. Michael's warm hands softly caressed Liz's rosy cheeks. Standing there, locked in each other's eyes, time seemed to stop.
Slowly Michael lifted her head as he bent down. Their lips met in a kiss thirty years in the making. Every part of Liz was on fire. She loved the feel of his lips against hers, the feel of his tongue in her mouth, caressing her own. Slowly they parted from the most exquisite kiss Liz ever experienced.
Looking in her eyes Michael began, "I need some time Liz. I need to figure this all out, but I promise you I will be back. When I do return Liz, I'm going to put my arm around you, now promise me you won't remove it"
Liz smiled and said, "I promise, Michael, I did that once a long time ago and have no intention of doing it again"
They both smiled and laughed before turning to start the walk back to the house.
Later that evening, Michael waved as Liz pulled away, both lost in their thoughts of what the future may hold.