Invitation to the Past
The light was blinking on the answering machine. She'd kept the land line even though she didn't use it anymore. All of her personal and business contacts came to her cell phone or email.
She'd had the same phone number since 1974. Since she hadn't moved from her home town, she was able to transfer her number with each address change. The question now was why?
Without listening, she knew who it was from. She could hear the sound of his voice, the slightly pleading tone. After almost 30 years, he still called. The old flame. She'd walked away when he cheated on her. No regrets. The first call came in the second year of his marriage; "Can we just meet for a coke? You said we could still be friends." But it was there, just under the surface. The certain knowledge that it was more than coke and conversation that he wanted. She gently closed the door, not wanting to be harsh. "It just isn't a good idea." "I'm seeing someone and he would not like it." "I'll always care for you... yes, we were in love... no, I just can't see you."
Over the years he continued to call, always with the invitation. And always, she was gentle. There was no need to be mean. The past was the past and she held no bitterness. She'd forgiven and forgotten. Maybe that was the problem. She'd forgotten. She'd heard stories over the years. His ruined marriages and relationships. He could not stop cheating.
She was totally and completely in love. She'd met a man who shared her convictions. They enjoyed many of the same things. And, he was open to try new things that she loved, like visiting museums and listening to jazz.
She sat in the big plush chair next to the phone, the light blinking steadily. Slowly she reached over, picked up the receiver and looked. The caller ID had confirmed what she already knew. She dialed, and waited patiently. A friendly voice answered and she responded, "Hello, I'd like to have this number disconnected." "No, I won't be needing another connection at this time. Can you get it done right away?" "Thank you so much."
Taking the receiver, she placed it in the cradle. She knew without a doubt that she had prolonged this moment with her kindness. If she'd been blunt or angry, it would have ended sooner. Standing, she walked over to the wall and unplugged the line. She wrapped it around the old, familiar phone, then walked to the hall closet and placed it in a donation box.
It's done. No more guilt over a love that had been destroyed, and had died, so many years ago. No more blinking red light. No more invitations to turn down.
She'd received a beautiful vase of flowers from her new love last night. Carefully, she moved them to the spot where the telephone had sat. They looked lovely there, and there was just enough room for a photo. A photo of her new love, holding her.