by: Mark Thomas [firstname.lastname@example.org] date: 09/11/95 06:27 AM
My friend Grant once told me a New year's Eve story that I remembered the other day, can't remember what prompted me to recall it. Grant is in his 40's, and he was saying that when he was in college 17 years ago he had met this woman named Cindy, and they fell in love; he asked her to marry him (they had been dating for 2 years), and she said yes, she would marry him. Thing is, a few days later, she just kind of vanished, and he never saw her again. Without so much as a word to him, she moved to California, never returned his calls or his letters, never acknowledged any of the gestures he made to her through their mutual friends, and he spent the better part of a year in the greatest confusion, wondering what he could have said or done, but knowing that there could not have been anything so unforgiveable that it could have murdered such a fantastic relationship as theirs. after a year or so of thinking she would somehow repent and at least offer an explanation, he moved on to other things, and in his own mind he treated the whole disappearance as a death, the kind of thing for which there is no mercy and no answer. 17 years later, at 2 minutes before midnight on December 31st, 1991, Grant was with his wife and several friends in their apartment in New York City; as midnight approached, the telephone rang. Grant answered, and as soon as he heard her say "Hello, Grant," he knew it was Cindy. Grant told me that for some reason he grabbed himself at the throat, and he squeezed his neck very tightly as she slowly and tinily said "I was calling to say I'm sorry. I hope you're doing well." Grant started to laugh. Cindy said "Can you talk to me?" He shouted "No! This is not a good time. I can't talk right now." She said he could call her later, and she gave a phone number, but he didn't write it down, and he threw the phone onto the hook before she finished whatever her next statement was. It was 30 seconds before midnight, and he rejoined the party back in his living room. He told his wife about the incident later. She said that she somehow understood how a woman could do something like that, and he said that in a strange way, so could he. But he was instantly transported back to his first encounter with real pain and real disappointment and frustration, and it occurred to him that that was only the beginning. I don't know why he told me this story, but as with so many stories Grant told me, I've remembered it with the stinging regret that infects those stories which I myself will someday tell.