“If I lay here. If I just lay here. Would you lie with me and just forget the world?”
– Snow Patrol
From his favourite stool, where he sat every Friday evening now, he noticed the young man walk into the bar and approach the bar tender. Something seemed familiar about this young man, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it could be.
Every Friday for the last four months, ever since his wife died he had come here to be around people for a few hours. Ever since he lost her he couldn’t stand sitting at home by the end of a long week, so he had begun coming for a drink down the street at the local pup. He used to come here more when he was a young man. the place hadn’t really changed much in all the years.
Now he watched the younger man ordering a beer from the bar tender and then sitting down beside him, looking nervous and anxious. This younger man seemed to be hesitant about something. Perhaps he was waiting to meet a girl for drinks for the first time. The more he observed the younger man’s actions and body language, the more strangely familiar he seemed. It wasn’t something he could quite put his finger on.
“Hello son. My name’s Carl. First date?”
The young man looked at him as if he hadn’t noticed he was sitting next to anyone, like he was alone in the place.
“What’s that?” he spluttered. “Oh, no. Why do you ask?”
“I just notice you seem nervous.”
“Not exactly, no. I…well I haven’t had a first date in a few years now.”
At this the young man slowly removed a tiny velvet box from his pocket, turning it over and over in his hand.
“Congratulations.” The older man recognized what must be in the small box right away and thought this was in order. He remembered the nervousness, the fear of proposing to his lovely wife, some forty-five years before. It was a feeling you never forgot and he smiled at the memory, something he’d found difficult to do of late.
“I suppose,” the younger man slowly spoke the words. He opened the ring box and stared at the sparkling gem lying inside.
“For someone who is about to propose, must I say you don’t seem very excited.” Had he said too much? The younger man rubbed his stubbled chin in thought. It looked suddenly like he was older than anyone in the whole place.
“I haven’t exactly made up my mind yet, about the proposal I mean.” He wasn’t sure why he was saying this, to a total stranger, but he needed to say it to someone and he couldn’t talk about the doubts he was having with anyone else. His family thought his girlfriend was perfect for him and they would call him totally insane if he told them he wasn’t so sure. His friends, same thing. Maybe he was nuts after all. Okay, maybe she wasn’t necessarily perfect, but she was pretty damn close. If she wasn’t perfect for him, who was?
“What is the hold-up, if you don’t mind me asking?” He wanted to know. He would give anything to have his sweet Grace back now, but this young man was clearly struggling with taking this biggest of steps. He felt for the kid. Maybe he could help him see things more clearly. After living this long he knew that, most times, talking things out did help.
“I don’t know exactly.”
“May I?” the older man asked, holding out a hand.
“Okay,” the younger man said, handing over the box.
The older man looked carefully at the beautiful diamond. It looked a little like the one he had given Grace all those years ago. It turned out she was the real treasure, more precious than any jewel on earth and she was lost to him, for good now. What he wouldn’t give to go back to that day, to see her smile at him through her tears of joy.
“Well this is some ring,” he finally told the younger man, who was staring at him, waiting for some kind of response. He closed the velvet box and handed back to the tortured sad looking man sitting next to him. “Are you going to give it to her?”
“I had planned on it, but I went to go home to do it tonight and my car just had a mind of its own and brought me here instead.”
“Do you love this girl?”
“I do. I mean I think so.”
“But you’re not sure?”
“I can’t believe I am talking to you about this. No offence sir, but I don’t know what I am saying. I don’t know what I am thinking. And I don’t know you.” He moved to stand up, but the old man waved him down again.
“Just wait a minute son,” he spoke out rather more sternly than he’d meant to. “But I like to think I know a little about life at this point and I feel I need to say a few things to you, before you just walk out of here and make a mistake, one you may regret for the rest of your life.”
To be continued next Fiction Friday.
What do you think? Do you think the younger man stays? Do you think he will listen to what the older man has to say?