20 years ago, a woman I know got an offer to work on an interesting project in a foreign country. She was in her twenties and dated a man she loved and with whom she had a good time. They had been together for 2 years then and spending 8 months separated was something that bothered her and made her think over and over about the job offer.
The man told her that he would support her in any decision she made and it meant a lot to her. With his support, she decided to go on this adventure and gain a new knowledge and experience. It was exciting and the upcoming adventure made her happy but thinking that she would be far from her boyfriend for 8 months and that she would not be able to hug him and kiss him whenever she wanted made her heart ache. But anyway, she was not moving forever, it was just an 8-month project.
The project itself was very interesting and she met some nice people who made her days happier. She was feeling sad though because she missed her boyfriend. And she was wondering if she would manage to stay in the foreign country until the end of the project. But she was a tough girl and she promised herself that she would do her best to finish what she had started.
During her stay in a foreign country, she met an interesting man and started spending a lot of time with him. The man had just broken up with his girlfriend after 7 years of dating and was getting over a broken heart. Friendship with an interesting foreign girl was a remedy for his broken heart. After a month of platonic friendship, they became lovers. The shift in their emotions was gradual. Actually, it was so subtle that they didn’t even notice it was happening until the moment a kindly hug and kiss on the cheek became loaded with intention. It was the sexual chemistry that ultimately sent them over the edge. The woman was shocked and scared and didn’t know what was going on with her. But she told the man that she had someone back home. The man didn’t say anything after he heard about some other man, somewhere far away, but the two of them continued being lovers for another month. And then he went on a long trip which he had planned before he met the woman. He was supposed to come back after 2 months.
After he set off on a trip, the woman spent days thinking about him, trying to understand what was going on with her. She loved her boyfriend, he was an amazing man and someone who made her happy, but the foreigner set her heart on fire.
In the meantime, the work on the project was running well and it seemed that it would end before the planned deadline which meant she would go back home earlier. That also meant she would not see the foreigner before she left. She felt unusually sad and happy at the same time. Confusion of emotions that was boiling inside her would probably end.
The day of her departure came. She was at the airport saying good bye to her project colleagues and the tears started falling down her cheeks, not so much because she would miss them but more because she would miss the man who shook her up.
She came back home and the first few days was pretty disturbed by the things that happened abroad. But she was happy to see her boyfriend no matter that her heart was tied in a knot and her stomach was in a whirl. As the time went by, she calmed down and went back to her normal life. She continued seeing her boyfriend and after a year they got married. She never heard from the foreigner again. However, she kept a small green key chain as a reminder of those wonderful but disturbing times.
After almost 20 years from this foreign adventure, the woman went with her husband on a holiday in a beautiful coastal town in the same country she used to work for those 5-6 months. One early morning, she was walking down the beach with her husband. A tall man with a dog was approaching them. The man kept throwing the stick and the dog was running after the stick that had been thrown and was bringing it back to the man. Once, the stick fell close to the woman’s feet. The dog ran and grabbed the stick but didn’t bring it back immediately to the man. Instead, he was wagging his tail and looking at the woman. The woman bent down and started petting the dog. The man approached and wished the woman and her husband “good morning” in the foreign language. The woman was busy petting the dog but her husband made a small talk in the foreign language with the man. When the woman heard the man’s voice, her heart started beating faster. She had heard that voice before! How could she forget that voice?! She slowly raised her head and looked at the man. That face was familiar, and those eyes…she didn’t forget those eyes. She was speechless. She was flabbergasted. Their eyes met and she saw in them the same confusion as her eyes must have reflected.
The moment of discomfort and confusion was disturbed by the dog who was holding the stick in his mouth and pushing it into the man’s hand. The man was staring at the women a few more seconds and then grabbed the stick and threw it away. He continued walking and the woman turned around and watched him walking away. The husband asked the woman if she knew the man because it seemed that they had known each other and the woman replied:
“He just looks like a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen for almost 20 years.”
And they continued walking along the beach, leaving the footprints in the sand and watching the seagulls gather around something that looked like a big dead fish.
The foreigner turned around for one more time and stopped for a moment. He was watching the man and the woman walking away and becoming smaller and smaller as they moved into the distance so that eventually it was no longer possible even to see them as separate figures. The tide was coming in and the water was washing away their footprints. The sea was calm and so was he. No waves, no sea shells in the sand, even the seagulls flew away. Only the serenity of the blue water and white sand was left behind.