We Could’ve Grown Old Together

My first short story

I’m afraid the reason the doctor let Nicole come on this trip is because it doesn’t matter anymore. It breaks my heart to even think of it that way, but she isn’t doing well. Her legs were hurting with just the little bit she had to walk today. She’s resting now, but the pain must be excruciating. Mrs. Oliver told me to get some air while Nicole rests.”

Adrian rolled off the bed and crept down the stairs. He didn’t want to risk waking Nicole if she’d fallen asleep. Mrs. Oliver looked up when he peeked his head into the room, holding a finger to her lips. His daughter slept peacefully. Adrian gestured to the door and Mrs. Oliver nodded. She’d take care of Nicole. As always.

A lump formed in his throat as he pushed the heavy wooden door open and stepped out into the rain. He managed to snag an umbrella from the coat rack before the door labored shut. European rains were his favorite.

Popping the umbrella open, Adrian walked out into the drizzle. He’d booked a small house on a quiet street in Venice. The familiar sights and smells took him back to his college days of walking to school and stopping by the cafe for breakfast.

Others were out enjoying the cool rain, and their friendly greetings cheered him a little. A young couple passed, snuggled into each other against the rain.

“Buongiorno!”

Adrian gave a gentle smile and returned the greeting. He remembered running through the rain with Lilly, defying the rain with their joy.

He wandered along the familiar streets, past yellow plaster homes with their brown shutters and little front steps. The restaurant wasn’t too far. He’d get a cup of coffee and bring Nicole some tea for when she woke up. She’d like that.

Adrian paused in front of the little cafe. The light was warm and inviting, the green awning dripping and clean. He entered.

The table he used to frequent was open, so he shook out his umbrella and sat down. The cafe was quiet except for the patter of the rain. Peaceful.

“Buongiorno! Un caffè macchiato, per favore.” A familiar order. He’d get a piece of chocolate with it, of course. That little courtesy was always on the plate.

There was a lot on his mind and his heart was full of emotions, but none that he could put into words. Adrian sipped on his coffee and watched and watched a corner of the world go by. An elderly couple passed by the cafe, sharing the handhold of an umbrella, walking slowly at the pace of a waltz.

A verse came to mind that Nicole had asked him to write on one of her tired days.

“We could’ve grown old together
But God chose not to deem it
For us to walk through toils and tares
Led by His gracious rod.
But He chose that my steps should stop
And that yours should go plodding on.
Who can blame Him for choosing?
You let me go, but wish I’d stay;
If not for Him I’d prefer it.
Done for me are worries and cares,
And for you now your love is gone.
But God chose that my heart should stop
So that yours can go beating on.
Oh! Would you love Him for choosing?
He left you, but took me away;
Perhaps this is meant to be why:
To give God your love and your years
So you can grow old together with Him.”

The couple was gone, their waltzing walk taking them down other streets. Adrian sipped his coffee. It puzzled him how often his daughter’s poetry voiced the cry of his heart. How often over the years had he cried out to God because of Lilly?

“We could’ve grown old together!”

Yet never once had he asked God to walk with him as he grew old. He finished his coffee and bought a tea for Nicole. The rain stopped and life went on. His daughter waited for him; he’d see her soon, but it wouldn’t be long before it was just him and God again.

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