An Early Morning Date
“I thought you weren’t coming anymore,” the old man tells the woman, in a relieved sigh mixed with reproach.
“I never failed you and I wasn’t going to just today.”
“I know, my love. Can I tell you a secret?”
The woman smiles faintly with a nod.
“You are more beautiful and younger than ever.”
Amadeo looks at Regina with eyes of dazzled infatuation and hugs her. She allows herself to be hugged. They stay like that for an eternity, in the privacy of the living room.
He finishes drinking his coffee, while she stands next to him. Then he grabs his coat, takes her by the hand, and they walk out of the house.
“Let’s make the most of the morning, before it gets crowded,” he tells Regina.
It is a beautiful day, somewhat cold but the sun is beginning to warm up. They walk side by side, leisurely. The peace and tranquillity of that pueblo had always amazed them. They do not come across anyone, only some birds.
Amadeo advances slowly, lately unaccustomed to exercising. Maybe he should go for a walk more often, but he’s getting old. Regina lovingly awaits him. His vitality is the engine that drives Amadeo.
They reach the outskirts of town. Suddenly, the figure of the old cemetery appears before them, with its faded walls and slender cypresses that stand like soldiers guarding the entrance.
Amadeo goes ahead to one of the flower stalls.
“A bouquet of freesias, please,” he says to the seller. “How much is it?” he adds.
“Five hundred pesos, señor.”
Amadeo returns to Regina, with his bouquet of multi-coloured flowers.
“I always loved freesias,” says Regina.
They step across the entrance. The place is deserted. They walk a gravel path between the tombs, little marble monoliths that rise here and there out of the green. The lawn is unkempt, with lots of wild flowers. Butterflies have invaded the place, queens of spring.
They stop in front of a tomb like any other. Amadeo deposits the freesias at the foot of the tombstone and returns to Regina. They both remain silent for a minute, barely holding hands.
“I haven’t been here for a long time,” says Amadeo.
“One year, exactly,” Regina replies.
“Should I come more often?”
“I can always accompany you. I have done it for almost twenty years.”
“I know it, darling. I know. Every time I need you, you are next to me.”
Amadeo looks at the sky and his gaze is lost in the distance. He knows that he doesn’t have too many years ahead of him. Life is hard, especially in solitude. He keeps standing for a few moments, with his eyes closed, feeling the sun warm up the tears that struggle to escape.
Suddenly, his reverie is interrupted by voices that are getting closer, along with some children’s laughter. Amadeo opens his eyes and sees people beginning to walk through the cemetery among the tombs, carrying offerings of flowers.
Amadeo knows that it is time to go.
He takes one last look at the grave of his beloved Regina, turns around and slowly walks back the way he came.