He stood at the corner near the park. Waiting.

She was ten minutes late. She’d never been late before.

He looked at his watch again and let out a sigh. He knew she wasn’t coming, but something held him to that corner. A thought, that if he left he’d have to accept that it was really over. He remembered when they first met.

She was walking around the park. Alone. He’d seen her a dozen times because he too walked the park alone. It seemed silly to him so one day, he just introduced himself. They struck up an easy conversation about nothing in particular and from then on, they met at the corner and walked the park together. There was a certain familiarity in the conversations he had with this stranger. It intrigued him and made him think and feel in a way that conversations with his wife did not.

At a certain point, he knew he’d fallen for her. They were both married, but rarely talked about family. They talked about politics and religion and philosophy – things that common etiquette said you weren’t supposed to talk about with strangers. They rarely argued points, but when they did it wasn’t angry, so much as fun. Because she was smart.

He thought perhaps that it was her intellect that drew him to her. But actually, that wasn’t true. It was a thousand little things that she’d done or said that did that. But he’d fucked it up.

He’d thought about telling her how he felt a million times – he’d rehearsed it in his head – what he’d say, her response, the logistics of leaving his wife. He’d have to move out. Would he get to take the dog? The kids were grown, so that wouldn’t be an issue, really. Unless they hated him for it. That was the only thing that scared him. But still. He thought it would be worth the risk. To be with someone who challenged him.

One day, he just blurted it out. Like word vomit. And as soon as the words started coming out of his mouth, he watched her recoil. They were sitting on a bench after their walk. One minute they were watching the ducks and swans and the next he was alone. He hadn’t even finished talking before she simply got up and walked away. In that moment, he knew it was all ruined.

And yet, despite knowing it was over. He showed up the next morning and waited. She’d never been late before.