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Time to Tell
"Excuse me sir, uh, do you by any chance have a cell-phone I could use?" Asked a tall man who looked to be in his early twenties.
"Nope. Sorry." I replied, making a good effort to smile at the man, realizing that I may have sounded rude.
"Oh no! What am I going to do?" He asked, plopping down next to me on the cold park bench, making the entire metal frame shudder under his weight. I resisted the intense urge to ignore him and look away. Instead, I composed a concerned expression on my face and turned to him.
"What's wrong?" I asked, carefully masking my lack of interest.
"I'm gunna be late for my wedding. It starts in-" he glanced briefly at his brilliant, yet expensive gold watch, "-a half-hour! Oh no, what am I going to do?" He looked down, holding his head in his hands as if he were worried that it was going to fall off of his shoulders.
Typical. The kid was getting married. Of course. For the first time, I looked to see what he was wearing; a black suit. A dark chuckle broke out through my throat, from somewhere deep inside of me. I sure hoped that he hadn't heard; I didn't want to offend the kid. "How'd you manage to be late for your own wedding, son?" I asked, slightly more interested than before.
"well," he started, sounding irritated, "the best man was supposed to pick me up an hour ago, but, he never showed, and my cell-phone died, so I can't get a hold of him!"
"Bummer." I said. That's all I could say.
"Yeah, tell me about it. This is my one shot, and I'm gunna blow it! I'll be lucky if she ever speaks to me again!" He sounded genuinely upset.
"Hey, listen kid, and listen good; if that gal standin' at the altar is gunna dump you just because you couldn't make it to the wedding on time, then she doesn't really love you. If you two really loved each other, you wouldn't feel the need to declare it to the world. The Heart's too delicate to be tossed around like that. Use your brain, boy! In the end, your heart's just going to have a nasty case of whiplash." I said, full-heartedly for the first time in a long time.
"Well, what do you know anyway? You're just some old man, sitting alone at the park. What would you know about love?" He looked away and chuckled to himself, as if feeling foolish for even having such a conversation with an old man.
I looked away too. "Age is only a number; but with the growth of that number also comes the growth of wisdom." I didn't expect him to understand, though I knew that he would eventually, when he reached my ripe age.
Just then, interrupting my thoughts, a speeding white car turned the curb, and came screeching to a halt. A middle-aged, African-American man who was wearing a black suit as well, hopped out of the car, and came to meet my nameless acquaintance, who was already standing.
"Where on earth have you been?!" Asked the kid.
"there's no time to explain. We still have twenty minutes to make it to your wedding. Come on!" The man motioned to the white car.
I was surprised to find that the kid was hesitating. "Ummm..." he started.
"Come on, man, we have to go! Do you want to do this thing or not?" The man asked, sure of what his reply would be.
He looked at his anxious friend, then to me. "No." He said, still looking at me. "If she loves me, then she'll wait for me."
"What did you just say?" His middle-aged friend asked in disbelief.
The kid looked away from me, and back to his friend. "Never mind. Let's just go." He replied in a tone of voice that I didn't recognize.
"That's what I thought you said." His friend said, laughing.
I watched them leave, driving away in that white car, and remembered, long ago, when I was about his age, making the same mistake. I sighed, and slowly stood from the cold park bench to which I was so familiar. I walked home alone, fully aware that it was far too late for me.