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Out they came, the older you and The Girl. Except, watching her walk toward you wearing a perfect crown of black-black hair, her fluted green dress rippling over the delicate flare of her slender hips, you could not rightly call her The Girl. She was The Woman. Mature, regal, and beautiful, where The Girl, in your memory, was still only pretty.
You could not keep your eyes on the road for the rest of the trip, so engrossed were you with staring at The Woman. You wanted to talk to her but could think of nothing to ask. Instead, feeling quite jealous now, you clumsily told him that you had considered studying Astrophysics once. He was nuzzling his nose into her hair, and unlike The Girl you had known, who would have pushed you away and scolded you for ruining her new hairdo, The Woman only laughed.
They ignored you. Whatever outcome this could have been, whatever kind of man you would have had to be to make The Girl love you again, love you even though you were not rich, even though you drove a taxi and not a Mercedes, you did not know anymore if it was worth it. You could spend your whole lives trying, but she would never be this woman, and you would never be this man. You are a beautiful couple, you almost said, tears quietly filling your eyes. You could not see through them. The road fell away in broad, silver arcs, and you were forced to pull over.
Why did he stop? you heard The Woman whisper. It was unfair what that voice could do to you.
We’re here, you said, even though you knew that the banquet hall was still a block away.
So we are, he said.
He tipped you generously and, with a little wink, wished you good luck. When he got out, offering The Woman his bent arm, she slapped it twice before weaving her own through it. You were grateful to him. Perhaps he knew why you had stopped prematurely. Perhaps he knew that you had wanted to watch yourself walking with her for only a few microseconds more, to savor the brief, blissful time that they were having together in this possibility of a world, before he would have to be swept up into the fanfare of the occasion, into the unknown, into the life that was his far superior dice roll.
Above the din of car horns blaring behind you from a seemingly endless line of taxicabs, stretching out behind you into infinity, all you were able to hear was the lonely, beautiful clopping of their footsteps down the street, echoing like the footsteps of several or dozens or maybe an infinite number of the two of them, disappearing forever into this and all nights.
And what mattered was that you were a taxicab driver with your lights on, open for business, and that each night, like this night, you would drop off a fare and join the stream of other drivers along the highway, passing one exit ramp after the next. Driving home with a hand pressed between the seats and that vexing pinch in your back, you would roll down your window, breathe deeply, and feel The Big City spreading out around you in a shimmering, invisible web of possibility.