Five years I nursed my sense of loss. Then I met somebody special. She was very special. I met her at a party and at the end of the hour I felt I had struck a chord. We walked out and preferred to be with each other.
That was just the beginning. I wanted to talk to her every day. I wanted to tell her everything. Clearly she felt the same way. In three months we were a number.
I told her about the other relationship. She said, uncomfortably, that she felt guilty because she was usurping someone else’s place. I said the relationship had ended, definitively, before I met her. I was not sure that she was persuaded.
Seven months later I had an accident. It was late and I was tired. Doubtless I was also careless. The front edge of the car struck a concrete block and caved in. Seat belts weren’t then in common use. The steering wheel ploughed through my chest cracking all the ribs on the right side and breaking the sternum.
A colleague was passing by lucky happenstance. He rushed me to a hospital and arranged for a surgeon. He knew of my long-term relationship and called her. Later he thought of my special friend and called her too.
When I recovered from the painkillers, I thought of them. That, in fact, was all I thought of. But none came to see me.
I lay in bed, took pills, read and watched the lengthening shadows of the day. Some friends and relations visited me, but the two persons I most longed to see did not come. I could not have told either of them, but both teetered endlessly at the edge of my mind.
The day I was finally released from the hospital, the specialists forbade me to use stairs for two months. Since my apartment was on the second floor, my brother insisted that I stay with him and his wife in their large ground floor apartment. They took punctilious care of me.
When I was leaving their place, my brother told me that my special friend had called him regularly to ask about my condition. She did not want it mentioned to me.
I still walked and drove with great difficulty. But I went to see her. How could she not come to see me even when my life was in the balance?
She went to the waiting room. The room was empty save for one person. This was the person she felt guilty about. She was the usurper. She could not face her. She stood, unseen, at the waiting room door for a long time. Then she went home.
She said she felt now she was wrong. She should have visited me; she owed me that. But she could not, knowing the other person would be there.