“That’ll be us one day.”
“What will?” I ask her. I open my eyes and remove my head from the place between her shoulder and her neck; the place where I fit so perfectly. When I look at her, she’s smiling. Her smile is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s contagious, and I find myself smiling, too, despite still having no clue what she’s talking about.
“Over there.” She points to a mother, a father, and their two children. They’re walking by a large water fountain when all of a sudden, they stop. The father lifts his first child, places him on the edge of the fountain, and, handing him a penny, introduces him to the concept of wish-making. The mother watches them in both amusement and adoration as she holds their newborn daughter. They are a family beaming with joy. Even from where we are, sitting on an old wooden bench on the far side of the park, we could see that they are filled with nothing but love for each other and for what they share.
The next thing I know, she kisses the side of my head, because she knows that I am watching that family in awe and with desire. She knows that as I watch that family, I am imagining me and her instead. She knows that I am thinking of us and of what our future may hold.
I grab her hand, dancing my fingertips on top of hers, nervous to ask a question that holds too much. A question that scares me.
“Do you promise?” I finally ask her. She looks into my eyes with such intensity that I begin to hear my heart pounding inside my chest as I struggle to hold her gaze. The air feels thick with my words, and I start to get breathless waiting for her answer. But somehow she knows this, too, as she then places her hand ever so gently on my chest and grins.
“It’s a shame, isn’t it?”
I’m shaken out of my reverie when the woman standing beside me attempts to start a conversation.
“It is,” I reply quietly as we both observe the two construction workers who have been demolishing what was once a beautiful three-tiered water fountain.
“I used to come to this park every weekend with my kids, and they would make the most ridiculous wishes,” she explains, a hint of laughter in her voice. I remain silent, though the mildly intrigued expression on my face prompts her to continue. “It’s a little sad knowing that our little tradition has to come to an end.”
After a brief moment of silence from the both of us, I decide to speak. “Look at it as a chance to find something new.” The corners of my mouth rise as I give the woman a small smile. She smiles back at me, nods, and begins her walk toward the tall office buildings across the street at the other side of the park.
I stay in my spot for a little while longer, breathing in the crisp air of winter. It’s beautiful, I think to myself. But soon enough, the smell of coffee draws me toward my destination and away from the sight of the wooden bench where initials were carved and empty promises were made.