I picked up my phone and called his number. Again.
It hadn’t changed in over 30 years.
I had called it so many times I knew it by heart…and I always ended the call before entering the last number.
But not this time. This time…I forced myself to finish..
It rang seven times. I waited…seven times. My heart beating just a little faster after each ring.
And after each ring…my other hand…as it had done so many times before…moved a little to disconnect. But not this time.
It was him!
My God…he sounded so young! I hadn’t expected that…
Suddenly the years disappeared and we were both seventeen again and he was asking me…to go to the football game…to go to a movie…to go to dinner at Freddie’s…or…or…
…to find out if I was pregnant…and then when hearing I was not…laughing nervously with me in relief.
Now…I couldn’t speak. I didn’t know what to say. This was a mistake. I had made a terrible mistake.
What if he had forgotten me?
I couldn’t bear that…my heart would shatter into a million pieces…dreams vanishing in a split second.
I had waited too long.
“Riley?” His voice was now urgent, intense….
My hand started to shake so hard, I dropped the phone. I grabbed at it with both hands.
“How did you…?” I whispered but was then stunned into silence.
“Oh, Riley…” he said…ever so softly…and I could tell he was starting to smile.
“I’ve kept track of you…I’ve waited for this call for so long…for you to…” Then suddenly his voice broke and I could hear the tears in his eyes.
“Yeah?” I could barely speak…my voice cracking as well.
“Are you…okay?” That familiar deep voice was back…but sounding a little hesitant…perhaps wondering if he had the right to even ask…now…after all this time.
“I’m okay…” I sighed. I could breathe again. It would be all right. Somehow I knew…it would be all right.
“God, I’ve missed you, Riley.”
“I’ve missed you…”
“It’s been almost 40 years…”
“I know…” My words dropped into the depths of unspeakable anguish. The pain of so many lost days and nights slashed like a razor into my heart and would not let me say more…
“Yeah?” I struggled to answer as hot tears were streaming down my cheeks.
“I still love you…I still love you, Riley.”
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Hey kiddo…thanks for the “tears”… It means a lot!! I actually got tears in my eyes the first time I wrote this…is that nuts or what??? Of course…after several re-writes…I became hardened:)
Loved this story – it brought tear to my eyes. I’m looking forward to the next one 🙂