An hour ago, at the depot, she saw him off, waving goodbye as she blotted the corners of her eyes with an embroidered hankie. They’d sat together, mostly in silence, before his bus arrived, their lap-constrained hands folded like the crescent rolls they’d eaten with their luncheonette blue-plate specials. But she’d smiled at him often. She could tell it meant a lot to him that she was there.
That same hour ago, when it came time for him to depart, he fumbled a crude farewell-hugging her awkwardly as his lips collided with her cheek. “Write me?” he asked, hope sketched on his face. She saw fear, as well. “Of course,” she promised, and gave him a kiss on the cheek in return.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Staring fixedly at the familiar field studded landscape-vanishing rapidly in the wake of dusty bus wheels-he seems mesmerized by the view as it races past his windowed seat. In truth he is intent on memorizing it. An hour from now, farmland will give way to foreign land. Rocky slopes and stands of pine. And an hour from now-a day, a week, a month, or longer-from now, it will continue to weigh heavily on his mind that he might not return from foreign lands even farther afield.
For the sake of his morale, she intends, while he is gone, to pen him sentiment-scented letters. Allow him the false certainty of finding her waiting for him when he comes home. And an hour, a day, a week, a month or longer, from now, she will find herself wishing desperately to fall in love with him.
Knowing that she won’t.