By Maureen Thayer
He stood in the lobby of the concert hall, waiting.  His hair was neatly combed, his tuxedo impeccable.  He looked perfectly at home in the formal attire.  No one would have guessed that this was only the fifth or sixth time in his life that he had worn clothing like that.

The man glanced at his watch.  He knew that he’d arrived early, but he was still impatient for her to arrive.  He wanted to look upon her, to fill his eyes with the sight of her.  It had been many hours since he’d seen her last.  It felt like weeks.

‘Boy, you’ve got it real bad, don’t you,’ he commented to himself.

‘Yes, I do, and I wouldn’t want it any other way,’ he replied, also to himself.

How do you describe a love that is as vital to you as the blood flowing through your veins or the air that fills your lungs?  How do you find words to express an emotion that is so deep and strong that it overflows your body like an ocean rising to consume the earth?  There were no words.  He had given up searching for them a long time ago.  He only knew that it was the way he felt for her.

They had chosen to spend this special day apart from each other, to think and reflect on how their lives had changed since they dedicated those lives to each other.  He had spent the entire day in thoughts of her, how he could not live without her, how she had made his existence so much fuller and richer.  She was his life, his heart, his soul.

He had talked to friends about the way he felt, but so many of them did not understand.  They couldn’t comprehend what it was like to have a love like that because they had never experienced it.  They would smile indulgently, like an amused parent allowing their child to believe in a silly fantasy.  He pitied them.  Oh, some of them had more money than he, more power, more fame, more of what many considered to be the important things.  But he was so much richer than they were, richer in the ways that really mattered--and it was all because of her.

The man looked down at the single red rose he held in his hand.  Something glimmered within the velvety folds like frozen dewdrops, waiting to be discovered.  He smiled at the thought of what her face would look like when she saw it.  He loved to see her wonderful smile, to see her lovely face light up with joy.

Unknown to him, others were watching him as he stood there.  The women gazed at him admiringly, wondering if he waited for someone special or just a date.  They thought about how they would like to be the one he waited for, the one he took home at the end of the evening.  Two of the women deliberately passed close by him, giving him that welcoming smile that spoke volumes.  He merely nodded with a small smile of his own and returned his gaze to the doors.  They continued on with a sigh.

His thoughts still on her, the man resumed his waiting.

She stood at the corner, waiting for a taxi, her hands smoothing down the red velvet dress she wore.  Normally, she would have driven herself, but she was too nervous.

‘Silly woman.  You’d think that you were going on your first date,’ she commented to herself.

‘You know what day this is.  I have a right to be nervous,’ she replied, also to herself.

A part of her felt in awe of this day.  It meant so much--at least to them.  It was not a day of great consequence to the world.  It was not a day commemorating some extraordinary event.  Billions of people around the world were spending this day in ordinary, everyday activities.  But, for her and for him, today was a large stepping stone in the path that they had chosen to set their feet upon.  No other day had been or would ever be like today.

They had spent it apart, and the hours without him had seemed like weeks.  She had spent every one of them thinking about him, about how she would not want to live without him, about how he had brought so much meaning and joy to her existence.  He was her life, her heart, her soul.

She had tried to explain how she felt to friends, but so many of them just didn’t get it.  They would look at her with doubt and cynicism in their eyes.  They just couldn’t see, they couldn’t understand that kind of love.  She pitied them, knowing that she had been given a gift that they would probably never have.

The woman pulled out the small box in her purse and looked again at what lay inside.  She couldn’t wait to see the expression on his face when he saw it.  She loved to see his beautiful smile, his wonderful eyes filled with happiness.  Just the thought of them brought a smile to her own lips.

Unknown to her, she was being watched.  Men in passing cars gaped at her, wondering for whom this beautiful woman waited, wishing that it was for them.  They thought about what it would be like to be with her, to know that they were the one who was in her thoughts.  They wondered if she waited for someone special or just a date, hoping irrationally that it was the latter.

The taxi arrived, and the woman got in, telling the driver where she wanted to go.  She then sat back and resumed thinking about him.

The man looked at his watch again.  Soon.  She would be there soon.  He found that his pulse had speeded up, and his hands were trembling slightly.  These last few minutes were dragging by with intolerable slowness, each second like a minute, each minute, an hour.

A slight disturbance farther back in the lobby drew everyone’s attention.  The man watched a couple arguing heatedly.  Still angry, the two people parted and went in different directions.  Seeing the fight brought to mind his own arguments with her.  There had been times when they’d really gotten into it, voices raised, hands gesticulating rapidly.  But, in the end, when all was said and done, they would apologize and reaffirm their love for each other.  The lights had never gone off with either one of them still angry.  And making up was always so very much fun.

The man stiffened suddenly.  She was almost there.  He did not have to see her to know this.   He could feel it with every part of his mind and body.  Turning slowly, he fixed his gaze on the doors, waiting for her to enter.

Soon.  She would be there soon.  Though she knew that it was just her imagination, it suddenly seemed as if the entire world was conspiring to delay them.  A stalled car here, a minor traffic jam there.  Every light seemed to turn red as they approached it.  Her hands had begun to tremble and her pulse speed up.

Finally, the taxi pulled up to the entrance of the concert hall.  The woman paid him and got out.  He was there.  Though she could not see him, she knew it for a fact.  Though it was not new to him, this special way of knowing was something that had only started growing in her during the last few months.  At first, she had feared it, but he had taught her to embrace it, to accept it for what it was: a bond that went beyond the mere physical to something far deeper.

Taking a deep breath, she pushed open the doors.

Their eyes met.  The breath stilled in their lungs as their hearts thundered wildly.  Their gaze never breaking from each other, the man and woman closed the distance between them.  The women who had been watching the man sighed and turned away, seeing the look of complete adoration that had leapt into his eyes.  There was no chance for them with him.  It was clear to see that he belonged wholly to the woman who had just entered.  Men who had laid admiring eyes upon the woman in the red dress entertained thoughts of approaching her for only a moment.  The look on her face as she walked toward the tall man told them more clearly than words that they wouldn’t have a prayer with her.  She belonged wholly to him.

At last standing before each other, the man and woman smiled into each other’s eyes.  His hand came out and caressed her cheek.

“I’ve missed you,” he whispered.

“I’ve missed you too, so very much,” she told him, her voice also low.

The man handed her the rose.  She took it with a smile and inhaled its sweet scent.

“Look inside,” he instructed.

Her smile growing, she spread the petals apart, gasping with delight at what lay within.  A row of diamonds encircled a golden, heart-shaped pendant.  In the center of the pendant was a single opal.

“Oh, thank you!  It’s so beautiful.”

“Look on the back.”

She turned it over and saw that there was an inscription.  “My heart and my soul, yours forever.”

A shiver passed through her.  She looked up at him, tears springing to her eyes.

Without a word, he took the pendant from her and placed it around her neck.

“I have something for you too,” the woman said.  She pulled out the box and handed it to him.  With a smile, the man opened it.  He let out a gasp of his own as he saw what was inside.  The gold and diamond cufflinks had been crafted into the shape of his homeland.

“They’re wonderful!”  He kissed her softly.  “Thank you, Angel.”

“Look on the back,” she said.

He turned one of the cufflinks over and saw tiny writing engraved on it.  His mouth dropped open as he read the inscription.  “My heart and my soul, yours forever.”

Their eyes met, wonder filling them.  As the crowd around them faded away to nonexistence, their lips came together in a long, tender kiss.

“Happy first anniversary, Angela Tyler,” the man murmured.

“Happy first anniversary, Rollie Tyler,” the woman whispered back.


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