Timing | A short story by Beth Walker

The first time I met him, I was sixteen years old and just becoming a woman, or so my mother said. He was eighteen and clumsy, but he made me smile. We hung out for weeks at a small park, swinging on the shabby swings and talking about our dreams. I remember our first kiss, it took him so long to pluck up the courage, but as his lips touched mine, I felt those elusive butterflies and I fell; even though he tasted like McDonald’s. He showered me with love and affection and I thought “this is it”.
A few weeks later his father got a job over the other side of the world and we had to say goodbye. I was crushed and thought my heart would never mend.
Five years fly by, university is tough, but the parties are good. One night in our local bar I was heading to grab some drinks and there he was. He looked exactly the same, floppy brown hair and big deep brown eyes. I watched as he spilt his drink and I smiled because he was the same clumsy boy he always was. I took a deep breath and walked over, only to see a beautiful blond girl drag him away and wrap him in her arms. I spent the rest of the night looking for him, then I went home; my heart bruised once again. I spent the best part of a year missing him and jealous of the woman that got to hold him and gaze upon his wonky, endearing smile.
Four years passed, and of course I’d met a few men and I can even say I’d loved. However, I never forgot him. I made my way to my parents house, which was decorated with lights and music was booming as my parents celebrated their forty year wedding anniversary. I was late, as always, and as I entered I saw my parents dancing in the front room, surrounded by loved ones. I watched with a smile, envious of the love they still had for each other. My mother looked towards me and smiled, she kissed my father on the cheek and made her way over. With a hug she told me to find the photographer. I thought nothing of it and went on my way, searching the house. As I made my way into the garden I saw him, my mother by his side, smiling as she let her imaginary cupid’s arrow strike. His hair was longer and he had stubble, he looked more like a man, but I could still see the boy I fell in love with in his eyes. We spent the rest of the night catching up and laughing, and since that night we became inseparable.
Today we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary.  As we sit in our back garden, the summer breeze blowing through our greying hair, and the cloudless sky creating an endless theatre for the stars; I think back over my life and smile. If there is one thing I have learnt, it is that timing is everything, and what is meant to be, will be.
I look at him and smile, and as our swings stop, his eyes melt into mine and the butterflies return. He leans in and our lips touch, this time he doesn’t taste like McDonald’s, and I fall all over again, thinking, “This is it! This is love.”
> Beth Walker