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Meetings
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Meetings

Winter hung heavy in the air like a thick coat hanging upon the rack. The entire landscape was made of concrete and the grayish earth which waited for the green explosion that would come with the spring. As Hank sat at a bench contemplating the void that was around him, he thought he recognized someone in the distance. He thought to himself that there was something familiar about this young lady but he could not immediately say for sure. He paused for a minute. It was her; Kate. What was she doing here? Could she have returned home for Christmas? Perhaps. It had been well over a year now since he had last seen her. Looking back, Hank remembered the day that she had said goodbye and had turned away to step out of his life for good. But, maybe that was too much to say. She never really was part of his life anyway. Regardless, he felt an urge to talk to her, but then again, she might not want anything to do with him. Uncertain, Hank tried to slink back into the obscurity of the gray sky behind him.

Kate was passing by his bench when she finally noticed him. She stopped for a minute and regarded him uncertainly. "Hi, Hank."

Hank paused for a minute before looking up into her eyes. "Hello Kate. How was Florida?"

"Oh, it was great. How have you been?," asked Kate as she looked into his eyes trying to find some indication of how he was really feeling.

"Alright. Not great but alright. Did you come to spend Christmas with your family?"

"Yeah, I'm out here for two weeks before heading back to school," Kate answered while nodding her head.

"Well, I hope you have fun," replied Hank as he began to feel uncomfortable. Now that the pleasantries were out of the way, he knew that unpleasant topics might come up. He really didn't want to face this but he could not be rude to her.

"Thanks. Uh, Hank how have you been, really? I can tell that something is bothering you. Are you mad at me still?" Kate took a step forward and sat on the same bench with Hank but chose to remain near the opposite end of the bench

"No, I really am over it. That was over a year ago and half ago."

"You don't like seeing me again, do you?," Kate asked with a hint of pain in her eyes.

Hank paused momentarily considering his words as a light breeze began to blow. "I must admit that seeing you has caught me off guard. I'm not quite sure what to do."

"Why?"

Realizing that the conversation was getting uncomfortable, Hank paused before answering "You didn't want anything to do with me when we last saw each other."

"What makes you say that?," asked Kate looking obviously hurt.

Hank broke eye contact to look down at the pavement, "You never gave any hint that you wanted me to stay around."

Kate looked towards the cold winter sun, which had just managed to barely push past the cloud cover, seeking answers. "I answered your letter."

Hank looked back to her and followed her eyes to the cool disc struggling against the hordes of gray. "Yes, but you said goodbye in that letter."

"You could have called me," she countered in a cracked voice.

Feeling an unintentional burst of hostility in his voice, Hank defended his actions saying, "you never let me have your number."

"You could have found it somewhere else."

Hanks voiced dropped to a hollow tone replying, "I didn't think you wanted to hear from me."

"Oh. Have you been seeing anyone?"

"No, I dated a few people here and there but nothing has developed."

Kate looked at the ground and then continued, "Is there any reason?"

"No. I have just haven't met anyone real special," answered Hank as he looked back to Kate catching the corner of her eye.

"You weren't waiting for me were you?," Kate asked slowly in a broken manner.

"No," began Hank as he considered how much to reveal to Kate. Deciding he had nothing to lose, Hank finished saying, "I know that you deserve much better than me."

"Oh Hank, you are being far too hard on yourself again."

"Am I?," asked Hank in a bitter tone directed at himself."

Kate answered trying to sound reassuring, "I know that there is someone out there for you."

"I'm not so sure."

"I am."

"If you say so, but I should not waste anymore of your time."

"Hank, you're not wasting my time. I really wanted to talk to you again."

Hank felt shocked as he questioned her, "You really mean that? I'm not bothering you?"

"No, it was nice to see you again."

"Really?."

"Yeah it was."

"Thank you," answered Hank as a smile broke across his face.

"You are welcome," said Kate as a bit of a smile broke across her lips as she saw his positive reaction. Hank had to catch himself. That was the smile that had made him fall for her in what felt like a life time ago.

"I don't know what more to say Kate."

"I don't either."

"There is so much I could say, but..."

"You don't know if you should say it?," Kate finished for him.

"Yeah, something like that."

"Hank, perhaps we should just say goodbye, well, for now anyway."

"Alright, if you say so. Maybe I'll see you around sometime."

"Maybe," answered Kate sounding reassured after her conversation with Hank. "Good bye Hank." She stood up and looked at him once more.

"Bye Kate, take care of yourself." Kate nodded, turned and began to walk away.

As Kate continued on her way, Hank sat and was lost in thought. After a time, he rose, slowly and began to walk off in the opposite direction.