Sitting on the dock alone, I watched the early morning sun peek out from behind Mount Hood. This was the end of a long night of sitting here thinking - remembering. I played the last year over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of what happened.

I suppose it started when I met Julia. That was the day my life began and ended. I didn't really think much of her then. It was a short introduction at a party. We shook hands and passed a few words. Then she was off to mingle. I didn't see her again for several weeks. When I did, it was at an art show. I'd gone there with a Japanese woman I've known for a very long time. She was a friend, nothing more. Some guy and his wife were in a argument over something. They were making quite a scene. I bent to whisper a rude comment to my friend while watching the couple.

Then I heard a laugh. It wasn't my friend. I looked down and she was standing next to me. I stared at her a moment.

"I was thinking the same thing," she said with a wide smile.

"Oh. I'm sorry. I thought I was talking to my friend, Miko," I stammered. "You're Julia, right? I met you at Howard's party."

"Yes, I remember you." Again she smiled that smile. That smile. I felt something when I saw it.

From that moment on we talked. We talked about everything. We talked about our kids. We talked about our friends. We talked about everything. It was almost like we couldn't talk enough. After the art show, we went to Starbuck's and sat and drank Latte' and talked until they closed.

The next night we met at a little Italian place, Luigi's, for dinner. We drank red wine and talked and talked. We never got around to eating.

Every night for weeks we met and talked. Every day I looked forward to our meeting. I suppose you could call me a rough old bastard, because I really don't care much for women. My X-girlfriend cured me of women. After her, I swore, "Never again!" That woman was a cast-iron bitch. But, Julia was different. She touched me somehow. That smile. In a way I found it confusing, but I couldn't stop seeing her.

August 23rd, 2006. That was the night. I remember it as if it were just an hour ago. Julia and I were sitting in a little coffee shop in Hawthorne. She was prattling on about something. I wasn't really listening. I clearly remember reaching out and putting my hand on hers. Then I heard myself saying, "Julia. I think I'm falling in love with you."

Julia's eyes got large. She pulled her hand away. Then she stood and ran - I really mean ran - from the coffee shop. I was too stunned to even follow her. How could I be such an ass? Does my mouth have a mind of its own? I could have died there on the spot. Not because of what I said, but because I knew it was true.

I drove home wanting to die, wishing I'd kept my big mouth shut. That night I couldn't sleep. The next morning I went to work and couldn't work. That night I drove home from work still wishing I could have kept my mouth shut. I was lost.

At home I sat in my den staring at the wall. I couldn't think. I didn't want anything. The phone rang. I answered on the third ring. It was Julia.

"I'm sorry about last night."

"Don't worry about it. I should have..."

"No. You don't understand. You said exactly what I was thinking too. I just..."


"I didn't know what to say. It scared me, so I ran. Meet me at Luigi's. Please."

"Okay. Luigi's. Say, in an hour?"

"Yes." I heard the phone click as Julia hung up.

It's hard to explain how I felt at that moment. The best I can say is I felt something like a condemned man strapped in the electric chair, the warden with his hand on the switch on the Governor on the phone with a full pardon.

I ran to the shower. I chuckle thinking how fast I cleaned up and got ready to leave. Then I arrived at Luigi's twenty minutes early. I circled the block thinking I would look pretty stupid sitting there in the restaurant waiting for Julia. But I spotted her Ford Explorer parked at the curb just around the corner. I parked and walked into the restaurant. Julia was sitting in a booth near the back.

I slid in next to her. I think I wanted to touch her to see if this was real and not some daydream. Julia leaned over an kissed me on the lips.

I was both shocked and delighted. I touched her arm and drew her to me. Then kissed her back. It was delicious. Our tongues played and darted. Her body pressed against me so hard I could feel the beat of her heart.

Later, we retuned to the houseboat where I lived and made love in the sleeping loft for the first of many times that night. Thinking back, I can still feel the soft, smoothness of her skin, hear her moans, feel her fingers in my hair, feel her heels digging into my back, feel her legs clamped tightly around my neck. The gentle touch of her hands grew with the passion until she became a tigress, clawing me as she writhed in her orgasms.

When she left in the early hours, I was exhausted. There was nothing left of me. I felt as though I had been devoured by her. Not that I really minded. By then I knew I was in love with her.

The next day she called me on the phone. "I'm going to the mountain. My aunt is sick. I need to be with her."

"How long will you be gone?"

"I don't know. I hope only a few days. I will miss you, darling."

"And I will miss you too," I replied sadly. "But hopefully, it will only be a short time."

Julia smiled and touched my hand. I can still remember her sitting there. Her long dark brown hair flowing over her shoulders. And that smile. That smile that seemed to touch my heart in a way I can never explain. I had to force myself to hold back. All I wanted to do was take her in my arms and hold her, kiss her, tell her how much I loved her. But there were no words, only emotions of pending loss flooding through me.

I never saw her again.

It's hard to even remember the following months. I slept. I worked. I went through the motions. But was I alive? Was there any reason to go on living? Every moment Julia filled my mind. I could look at a blank wall and see her smiling face. I could close my eyes and smell the fresh scent of her hair and hear her laughter. I was not really alive. Agony was more like how I lived.

The sun was now just over the peak of the mountain turning the sky a deep red. The clouds wandered slowly across the sky as I watched, almost as if my entire world had slowed to a snail's pace. I stared upward into the deep blue and felt as if I were drowning in a great sea. Maybe it was a sea - a sea of despair.

Inside my head I could hear my telephone ringing again. I couldn't recognize the voice on the other end.

"This is Sergeant Maxwell of the State Police," it said. "I have some bad news."

"I have some bad news." Those words screamed over and over again inside my head. The police officer didn't have to say anything farther. With those words I knew somehow.

Now exactly a year later, sitting here on the dock, I have tears streaming down my face. I long to see her, touch her, love her, to live again.

I looked up at the raising sun. "I will be with you soon, my love." Still crying, I put the gun to my head. "Soon now, my love."

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