She spotted her high school boyfriend in one of those pine-paneled public golf clubs bordering the lake, the type of place specializing in fried fish and martinis. He sat alone at the bar. Even forty years later, he was a good-looking guy: He had retained most of his hair, and his stomach bulged only slightly. She had stopped in to drop off fliers advertising a free outdoor concert in town, the kind of thing the tourists liked. She decided to act as if she were sidling up for a drink. It was ten thirty in the morning.
“Richard, is that you?” She approached the bar, managing a dramatic, faux double-take. She could pull it off only because she had quickly removed her bifocals. He appraised her without speaking, down, then up. Finally, he stared at her face.
“Margaret.” He delivered the name as a statement, flat, like a dead fish. Still, he motioned to the stool next to him, moving a couple of empty highball glasses towards the bartender. She sat down, attempted to yank the stool closer to the bar, broke a nail, and gave up.
“What brings you to this stomping ground?” She tried to sound jaunty, youthful. She regretted that she was not wearing a turtleneck to cover the gathering crepe of her neck.
“I’ve been golfing,” he said. He wore suit pants and a wrinkled Oxford shirt, his tie at half-mast. “What are you doing drinking at this hour of the morning?” he asked.
“I live in this town,” she said. As if that explained it. He ordered her a scotch and soda and another for himself. She didn’t drink scotch.
“Gosh, I never thought I’d see you again,” she said brightly, taking a sip of her scotch.
“It sure has been a while,” he said.
Without her glasses, she experienced his face as pleasantly out of focus; he looked young and handsome, like he had in high school. She could not stop herself. “So, I have to ask,” she said. “What do you think happened to us all those years ago?”
He guzzled deeply on his highball. “Honestly?” He guzzled again. “Your guess is as good as mine.” His blurry face separated from his drink. It seemed to her that he looked directly into her eyes.
Forty years of her repressed longing burbled into the bar’s stale air. “Oh Richard! Every time I hear ‘Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie’ I think of you. I think of you singing it to me in that old Dodge of yours when you drove me to work that summer.”
Richard set down his glass. “I never had a Dodge,” he said. “That was a Chevy.” He peered at her closely. “Say, you aren’t Margaret, are you?”
“No,” she said sadly. “I’m Ellen.”
She tossed back her drink, and he ordered them another round.
practiced law for over thirty years before writing short and flash fiction. She has nearly always lived in the Midwest, and currently is at home in Saugatuck, Michigan, where she writes overlooking the Kalamazoo River. Her work has been published in The Forge Literary Magazine, Blue River Review, and the UK’s Vamp Cat Magazine, among others. She was a 2017 finalist for a fellowship for emerging writers over 50 from The Forge Literary Magazine, and a 2019 fiction finalist in the Michigan Writers Cooperative Press chapbook competition.