Choices. She counseled herself. Life is about choices. She stood in the dwindling twilight as the mist rolled in off the Channel, her hair curled in damp tendrils around her face. It was thirty-five minutes past six, and the benches were empty. Guessing that it was either too foggy, or too close to Tea for anyone other than herself to be out, she was happy to be alone with her thoughts.
She had agreed to meet him at the benches at seven.
Until today, they had been unaware that the other even existed. And then on the double-decker this morning, he’d given up his seat for her. Handsome in his uniform, she became suddenly shy and could scarcely murmur her thanks. He was friendly, though. An American. Very charming, with his foreign accent and big smile. The attraction was instant, and they’d spent the whole day together. By that afternoon they seemed to feel that their destinies were meant to be intertwined. At five, she left him, so that she could feed her cat. That had been her excuse, at least. She’d wanted to spruce herself up. Put on a nicer dress and freshen up her lipstick. She would get a cat tomorrow, she told herself. Just to keep herself honest.
Back in the small and comforting nest of her apartment, she had time to mentally sober up. What on earth was she doing? Meeting him might change all of the plans she had made for herself. Or it might change none of them. She simply didn’t know. What plans had she, for her future, anyway?
At six she left for the benches. She knew what conventional wisdom dictated. A girl was supposed to be fashionably late, and she should make him wait a bit. But she wanted to arrive first, pick her spot, and firmly entrench herself. She wanted to be well prepared for whatever might be coming down the road to the rest of her life. When the benches came into view though, she stopped, concealed in the darkness of a corner. A short time later, she observed him step out from the shadows across the street, checking his watch before sitting down.
Choices, she reminded herself. Life is full of choices. It would be easier, she lamented, if someone could tell her exactly what to do. She continued to hesitate. Six fifty-five. Seven-ten. He looked at his watch and looked lost. At seven-twenty, he stood up. His shoulders noticeably slumped, he started to walk away.
Choices. The here and now. The now or never.
She reached out. And grabbed the unknown.