Exactly the Same

by Ella Kennen

In the distance, a train whistled.

“I can’t believe it!” Her words were smothered by their fierce embrace.

“It’s been a long time,” he agreed huskily.

She bit her lip. “Too long.” Then, recovering, she smiled. “You look exactly the same.”

He tugged at a strand of her hair. “So do you. As gorgeous as ever.”

She glanced down, blushing, and was momentarily disturbed to see her wedding ring gone. It was like the past eight years had been erased. “I’m back at the beginning,” she muttered.

“Excuse me?” he asked.

She looked up at him. She could get lost in those eyes. Had gotten lost in them. And now she had a chance to again. “Oh, nothing,” she said. “Let’s get out of here.”

As they walked out of the train station, he slipped his hand into hers. She couldn’t believe how easy – how natural – it felt to be with him even after all these years.

She turned to him. “I’m sorry I left.”

He shook his head. “Grad school. Your post-doc. It was important.”

Her mouth twitched. “My marriage.”

“That doesn’t matter anymore.” And to prove it, he kissed her.

Her world burst into in liquid pleasure. As she let herself be washed away, she remembered it had always been like this with him.

He broke off, gasping. “We’d better stop before I do something that gets us arrested.”

She chuckled, but agreed. She wasn’t sure how much more of this heady feeling she could take.

He blindfolded her as they got into the car. “Just in case you remember the streets.”

Eventually, she sensed him park.

“You can look now,” he said.

She tore the blindfold off. “I knew it!” It was that little Italian place they’d both loved.

The tinkling at the door, the grapes hanging from the ceiling, the sage-colored booths, the atmosphere around the dimly lit room – and that heavenly smell. It was all exactly the same. 

They dipped bread into the sweet tomato sauce and she laughed. “I’ve had dreams about doing this. I can’t believe this tastes just like I remember.”

She looked at him with palpable love. “The whole day’s been magical. It’s like the world –“

He leaned forward. “What?”

Her stomach tightened as she stared at the thick red sauce. “Everything’s the same.”

Her years of study rushed back. The mind was an endlessly elastic thing, and memory a fragile one. New connections subtly overlaid over old ones, until…

“Everything’s the same,” she repeated slowly, numbly. “But that’s not possible.”

He looked at her. “No, it’s not.”

The warm sauce was running down her fingers. “I never noticed it was sticky before,” she said lamely.

Before her, he seemed to waver. She blinked.

The world looked familiar, yet different.

In the distance, a train whistled.

Right, she thought. The station. Only crooked, somehow, and taller. And grayer… or was that her vision?

Her hands were still sticky from the sauce. No, not sauce, she corrected herself.  From her spot on the station floor, she could sense people running to her, shouting.

Her hometown never did have a train station.

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Writers Bio

Ella Kennen has lived here and there. She works hard at finding excuses not to work on on her dissertation. Check out more of
her writing at http://ellakennen.wordpress.com

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