It was 6 PM. Hadley stood facing the magnificent skyscrapers from her balcony.
"I mean, how worse is it gonna be? It's just a dinner, we will talk about ..stuff.. I guess?!" she thought to herself. "Ugh, I am 40, why am I acting like I am 23 again?!" she thought as she blew out the last puff from her cig. Tying up her hair, Hadley walked back into the living room. "I want to live in New York, I mean in the heart of the city. I want the skyscrapers to be lit around me and I want to wake up to the hustle and bustle of the traffic!" giggled a 23-year-old Hadley. John looked at her, amused and full of love, "You're always in your fairyland" he said. Hadley smiled with a sense of achievement. "Well, now you're going to be in my fairyland soon," she thought as she stepped into the shower. "Uhmm not bad for a 40-year-old, who invited her 43-year-old ex home for dinner" she thought as she put on her black bodycon dress. Hadley picked the tag apart and rolled her eyes embarrassed by the fact that she bought this dress just for this date. She checked her phone and there were two unread messages. One said "Hey, I have started, will reach around 8 :)" She smiled and opened the other one. "Let me know how it goes. I am so excited for you mommm!!". She kept stupidly smiling at the messages when the bell rang, jolting her back to reality. Her heart started racing with excitement and fear. When she opened the door, she saw a charismatic, suave young man transformed into a sophisticated 43-year-old gentleman. "Oh.. hey,... John!" Hadley blushed and hugged him. Unfurling from the hug, John looked at her like he was looking at the sparkling Eiffel Tower for the first time.
"Missed that hug" thought John as he walked inside. "Gosh, you still look hot!" he said. "Ah..uh yeah I think so" Hadley awkwardly brushed off his compliment. John smiled at her like he knew that response. "Well, your fairyland looks amazing." "Wow, you remember?" "How could I not?" asked John familiarly. When he saw Hadley's smile fade into a poker, he quickly changed the subject to dissolve it. "Ugh, I mean, great place. Do you stay alone?" "Yeah, Kelsey used to visit me during summer, but since she has her own band now, she hardly comes home. Children get bored no matter how amazing the house looks" she joked. "I wish had one to know about one" lamented John. Hadley smiled timidly and showed the way to the dining area. John and Hadley caught up on 20 years of life stories over steak and wine. They discussed heartbreaks, divorces, successful careers, and living alone. John helped Hadley clean up. While they wiped the last part of the droplets on the plate, Hadley realized that John's eyes instigated a feeling that felt exactly like the one she felt 20 years ago. She walked closer to him and stood just inches away from his body. John looked at her passionately. He looked down at her lips and inched closer.
A whirl of awkwardness attacked Hadley out of nowhere. Muttering "Mar..err..Marlboro?" she shyly reached for the cigarette pack on her right.
Realizing what happened John chuckled and said "Sure."
John tried to light one in the kitchen. "Wait.. no, not here. The sprinklers" she signaled at the ceiling. "Oops, sorry" said John as they moved to the balcony.
"Love the view..this is so peaceful. The water is glistening in the moonlight. You have a great taste in selecting..." paused John as he saw Hadley lost in her thoughts.
"Hey..Haddie, you okay?"
Convulsing back to the present, Hadley said "I am sorry. Really. I wanted to apologize. For so long, so many years. For moving away from Massachusetts, for moving away from you. I know it's not easy..I should have waited for you to.." before Hadley could finish, John stopped her and slowly held her face in his palms. " I know.. and it's okay..it's really okay. We have turned out fine." he smiled regretfully at her. With a faint smile, they both enjoyed a couple more minutes, standing together in the moonlight.
Hadley walked John down to the parking. "Do you wanna call your chauffeur? This parking is a bit tricky... I mean.." she stopped when she looked at him dialing and informing his chauffeur of the right direction. "You never stop impressing me" said Hadley. She then blushed and hugged him once again. Not wanting to let go of her, John buried his face in her shoulders. They looked at each other like they were longing for this moment all their lives and kissed passionately. They missed the warmth of each other.
A distant honk from John's car quickly made John and Hadley release themselves from the kiss Awkwardly wiping Hadley's lipstick off his face, John signaled "2 minutes" to his driver and looked at her. Hadley brimmed with mixed emotions.
"Come with me. I want to do this, all over again. Like how we did it 20 years back" said John.
Eyes filled with tears, Hadley denied.
"I don't know John. I don't think this will work. At this point, I can't take another heartbreak."
"Why do you say so?"
"Why? Seriously? We never worked out, John. We were never meant to be together. This is us. Life always has a different plan for us. Like how you have to catch a flight to London in a few hours to return to your life" she tearfully reminded.
Realizing the impossibility, a heartbroken John walked to his car. He tearfully looked at Hadley. "It's you who is holding us back" he said.
"Yes. Back then I told you we could work this out, and you proved me wrong. I just wish I could prove you wrong once if you give me the chance." blurted out John and got into his car. "Airport" he mumbled. Hadley watched him fleet away in his car, away from her life.
John walked into the airport, dragging his luggage and heart out of New York. His phone suddenly rang. He swiftly pulled out his phone only to realize that it was not Hadley, but his assistant Andrew. "How did the conference go boss?" "Wish I hadn't attended it at all" replied John. "Eh, why?!" asked a confused Andrew. "Nothing, I'm gonna board now. Meanwhile, clear out my calendar for the next couple of days, I need some time off." and he cut the call.
John took his seat and quietly started at the passengers getting into the flight. Some were happy, some were nonchalant. John checked his phone one last time to see if there were any messages from Hadley. There were none. The Stewardess directed everybody to turn off their phones when John suddenly saw "typing..." on Hadley's chat box. He sat back to see what she was trying to send while the stewardess was stressing about turning off the phones. Typing disappeared. John sighed and switched off his phone. When the phone was shutting down, one text message came in, "Prove me wrong this time..."