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Gathering of the Angels
by Nelson E. Ward

“Sim, that’s a difficult target to achieve.  Once on paper, we’re committed,” I warned.

“Jack, this comes directly from Harrison,” he replied.  Harrison was his boss, just like Sim was mine.  And Harrison likes to impress his boss with lofty goals.

And with that, my five corporate comrades immediately offered incoherent opinions in this Friday evening dinner meeting that threatens the third hour.

Yet, you have never left my thoughts.

The image of you sashaying in the Park when I first saw you is always with me. Your skin was as golden as the autumn leaves, your smile more illustrious and vibrant than the rising sun.  And your lips stirred images of rosebuds.

I was mesmerized.  And before you disappeared from my view, I had fallen in love with you on that Indian Summer’s day in October. It happened that quickly.

Sitting here, my eyes follow my finger as it traces lazily down the beveled wine glass, making a trail in the garbled condensation. The smooth and refined curvature reminds me of you.  Without direction in their slippery venue, the droplets are me.

“…calls for a 68% production capacity the first 12 months.  Those figures were all double checked,” someone quipped.

Throwing only a brief glance at the faces at the table, I nodded.  “We certainly have upside potential with minimal investment,” someone agreed.

From the day you agreed to be my friend, to be my lover and to be my wife, I asked God to grant me a lifetime with you.  In return, I promised that I would love and care for you like no other. I would touch your soul, and share mine with you.

When we made love, we gave our essence.  We shared an unbridled and reckless hunger until the sun and moon became one. I would watch my fingers glide slowly along your lips, your face, the contour of your body, and all your places that torture my soul with desire.

I was captivated by my love for you.

“Jack, you’ve had experience in hiring new technical people.  We could use some guidelines for our Singapore office,” prompted Vogel.

“Technical people can be complicated, but yes, I’ll email you some stuff Monday,” I said, nodding…

I dance with you.

In the evenings, I often dim the lights and pour your favorite wine into a glass next to mine.  I hold a dress to me with the scent of you, and close my eyes.  Our bodies sway in rhythm in the quiet solitude.

I cry for you.

I cry out into the night for you to rescue me from my gloom. When I reach to your side of the bed, and it is barren, I search the house for you but only find your memories. My aimless wonderings in the dark stillness end on the sofa, the place we would share our divine passion in lazy afternoon shadows.  There, I sit until the light of dawn stirs me.

“…group has that covered.  I wish they’d stop bringing that up!  It’s a red herring! Maybe they need more…”

Seared forever in my memory is that night when I awakened to your quiet sobbing, as are the days that followed.  The tears you never fully explained, my darling, only that I hold you tight and to never let you go.

I never understood your sadness until the final days because it happened so quick.  I tried my best to comfort you and to hold you, to gently caress your thoughts.  Looking back, I suppose that it was I that I tried to console, to understand the unfairness of it all.

“Jack.  Jack, you coming?  Want us to drop you off?” asked Sim, nudging my shoulder.

”Neighbor’s dog last night. I doubt I slept an hour,” I responded, pushing back from the table. The others were filing out, clamoring like busy yard hens.

Slipping into the chair next to me, Sim peered at me for a few moments, and then quietly said, “Jack, I don’t pretend to understand what you’re going through. I want you to think of seeing someone.  Your work has softened, but mostly, I hate seeing you like this. Hell, we went to grade school together, high school, best men in both weddings…”

“Look, I’ll take a walk to the park, loosen up, and then go home.  I’m good,” I smiled, watching the maître d' direct a bus boy to a spilled drink.

“Not tonight, Jack.  Been raining heavy for an hour.  Supposed to drop way below freezing tonight. Ice and snow. Get home and sleep in tomorrow. It’s Saturday. Come on, I’ll walk you out,” he directed.

In the icy drizzle before we parted, he paused, “Jack, you would come to me if you needed to talk, right?”

Holding his gaze momentarily, I slowly nodded, feeling no words.

They say that the hottest fires burn the brightest, and that they burn out the fastest, leaving only wisps of smoke and ash, and emptiness, and sometimes, a walking death.

For hours, I am sitting here in the Park in the freezing October drench on our anniversary.  And I wait for you. Missing you has taken its toll. You were my inspiration, my beacon for being. Yours was the love that I never knew was possible.

The feeling in my feet and my hands is leaving me, my eyes have grown dim and my mind is slowing.  Yet, I can still see you so clearly, running to me with outstretched arms.

Finally, my darling, the Angels are gathering to bring me to you.

Nelson:  I have written a number of articles over the years, all being of a technical nature for my work as a PhD nutritionist.  This serves as my first nonfiction and I hope that you find it worthy of publication."  Contact Nelson.