My flight took off and landed without delay. I had called in sick to work on my way to the airport, doing my best to sound at death’s door, when in reality my heart was singing and full of life. The plan was for Ian to pick me up at the airport and I fully expected him to be there waiting for me as soon as I walked out of the terminal.
The minutes ticked by. I repeatedly checked my watch. Ten, fifteen, then twenty excruciating minutes passed. And then I saw him walking up. He wore a white shirt tucked into dark denim jeans and as our eyes met, his adorable lopsided grin lit up his face.
“You came,” I sighed into his chest as he held me.
“I’m so so sorry I was late! I was trying to get here early and then shit happened,” he said, kissing the top of my head.
The next two days are a blur in my mind. We went shopping together, hands held as we browsed. We ate dinner together, talking of our personal histories candidly. We slept together, an intimate, yet mostly sexless coupling.
Flashes that I remember vividly—the end of Titanic playing as I sat on the back of the hotel room’s sofa rubbing his shoulders while he folded his laundry, the taste of his tears as I kissed them off his face while he held me, and mostly the stab of pain through my heart when he told me he would not be able to communicate with me once he returned to Australia.
“I can’t do it Marian,” he said, tears pooling in his eyes, “I can’t bear it. I can’t be the man I need to be for my child and its mother if I still have access to you. It will torture me.”
“What?” I said, shock filling my voice.
“Once I’m home,” he repeated, “I can’t keep in touch.”
The air left my body and I began trembling all over. How had I missed this? How had I not seen this coming?
Racking sobs escaped as I curled up in the fetal position. And there, in his arms, as he tried to soothe me, my heart broke.