Part 1: Terry
He was a beach bum. No, I don’t mean the kind that rides the waves and plays hacky sack all day. No, Teddy was a just your regular, ordinary, average, run-of-the-mill bum that happened to live on a beach. South Beach, Miami, to be exact. The surprisingly striking, yet weathered, young man could most often be found strumming his guitar in front of the Clevelander busking for pennies and wondering how he got to this place. Wondering where he went wrong. Wondering if he’d ever get over her.
The setting sun had sky had turned into a swirl of orange and white clouds and most of the dinner crowd had died down. Terry collected the loose change and bottle caps from the bottom of his guitar case. He lit a cigarette and was starting to head to the beach when something stopped him dead in his tracks. It was a voice. A voice that he hadn’t heard in ages but played on repeat in his mind.
“Terrence?” her lilting voice cried. “Is it really you? I can’t beli---” The voice faded. The eyes softened. “Terrence---uh--wha----are you--I mean--how--” She glanced away.
The pair stood in silence with miles and years between them.
“Terrence. Hi,” she breathed with an honest smile that told of secrets and a past they shared.
“Madison.” he mustered. “It’s so good to see you.” His mind raced with a million things to say.
At that moment, a tall, thin man with jet black hair and a leather jacket too big for his own good came up from behind and grabbed Madison by the arm.
“Who’s this?” he said with a condescending nod of the head. “Let’s go,” he demanded, uninterested in the reply.
She sheepishly submitted to the request and clumsily tugged at the man’s grip half-urging him to let go. She glanced back one last time, locking eyes with Terry, who’d kept his gaze on her since the moment she spoke. He hadn’t blinked once since she appeared, for fear of missing a split second’s worth of her beauty. But they didn’t need to speak. Their eyes did all the talking and said what couldn’t be said with all the breaths from a thousand conversations. They knew.
He stared in her direction long after she was gone.
Part 2: Madison
“Mads, you’ll have a good time. Don’t worry. Just enjoy yourself while you can and don’t worry about the whole ‘commitment’ thing for now. ”
“I know, you’re right Lisa, but I don’t know. It doesn’t feel right to go on vacation with someone I don’t-you know, love.”
The two sisters discussed Madison’s upcoming vacation to Miami as they worked pruning and watering and planting in the family-owned greenhouse in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. Madison, now 36 and half years old, was beginning to feel the pressure from friends and relatives to get married and start a family.
“So, you’ll just go, have fun and if he happens to pop the question...well...what’s the big--”
“Lisa!” Madison interrupted. “”Stop. Not you too! You know how I feel about that.”
“I know, I know...there’s only one man that you’ll ever truly love...blah, blah… You really gotta get over that, hon.”
The next day, Madison and Robert landed in Miami around noon. After spending a few hours by the pool, and some late afternoon shopping, the two headed to dinner on Ocean Avenue, at the Clevelander Hotel. About a block before the entrance, Robert stopped in a bodega to grab a pack of smokes. It was then that she saw him. She recognized the profile from a half block away. She didn’t hesitate and made her way over to where he stood. She could barely catch her breath.
“Terrence? Is it really you? I can’t beli-” She paused, taking a moment to make sense of the scene revealed to her.
“Terrence---uh--wha----are you--I mean--how--” She fumbled hopelessly looking for the words to make it OK. To not make him uncomfortable. But then, she remembered: It’s Terrence.
Whatever had happened since they last spoke, whatever had led him to this place, whatever he’d done or seen or been through didn’t matter right now. It was Terrence and she was Madison. And they were standing in front of each other at last.
She wanted to jump up and hug him tight. She wanted to squeeze him and tell him that she’ll never leave him again. She wanted to run away with him right then and there and never look back.
But instead, she just smiled a whole-hearted toothy smile and said, “Terrence. Hi.” She waited for him to utter back all the thoughts that spiraled in her head. She hoped so desperately that he felt the same. That he would say what she couldn’t bring herself to utter.
“Madison. It’s good to see you.” And that was all that came from his lips.
“Who’s this?” came a stern voice from behind. “Let’s go.”
Feeling stupid and defeated and heartbroken, Madison reluctantly walked away from Terrence. She gave one last hopeful glance back and caught his eyes returning the stare. It was as if his heart had jumped out and locked with hers.
She knew then that they would never have to speak. She knew that all the words in the world would never be enough to say what needed to be said.
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