The idea of meeting the right person at the wrong time is brought to life in this story for me. (Pardon the grammatical errors, I tend to type as it comes to me without and do a spellcheck after).
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Sydney sat their on the weathered park bench overlooking the vast park ahead of her. A scene from many a romantic comedies and yet here she was sitting, waiting watching as the sun rained down its glory on the large oak trees.
She sat in silence thinking to herself of how time had passed, how much life had changed and just how much she had grown over the past few years, she couldn't help but smile to herself thinking about all the good times and all the bad times that made her who she was today.
"Spiced chai latte for the lady", a voice said as a take away coffee cup appeared in front her eyes. Sydney didn't have to look up to know exactly who that voice belonged to. She instantly smiled at the sight of the cup for she knew only he would bring her this particular drink every-time they met.
"Why thank you my fair sir", she said as she gently clasped the cup and stared at that face she had learned to care for so much over the years. She leaned in for her hug, the one thing she always demanded she get when she met him, for she always thought of his hugs as the warmest and most calming she had ever received.
Eli was a medium built guy, a few inches taller than Sydney with short dark brown hair and very distinct features. He always wore a smile that made his eyes a link to his soul, very endearing and the very first thing that Sydney remembered about him.
Eli cupped Sydney's hand in his and led her to the bench;
"Well.... it has been a while hasn't it?" he smiled at her, looking straight into her eyes as he always did when they spoke.
"Yes it has, three years to be exact".
At that they both smiled and laughed at each other, what a strange relationship they shared, yet it was theirs to enjoy and they would have it no other way.
Sydney had met Eli 15 years ago at a community outreach program her home town held every year. She was surprised at the fact that she had never seen Eli before that day as she knew just about everyone within a five mile radius of her neighborhood. Both Eli and her had ended up managing the canned goods section and ended up talking... the entire five hours they were there.
Sydney was intrigued at the fact that within that short space of time, she felt so comfortable with Eli. She was also very surprised at the fact that he could keep up with her constant babble for five hours without getting absolutely annoyed. It was from that day their 'unique friendship began'.
Eli was a few years older than her and was very much engrossed with his life. He had a fiance, a lovely house, a new car and a booming career to his name. Evening knowing all this, Sydney never felt the need to shy away from him. Following that day they met up at random moments, with each meeting breathing new life to their budding friendship.
Twelve years passed and their friendship remained constant, Eli moved on to Seattle and Sydney graduated and dived head first into her career as a Publishing Editor at a firm in San Francisco. Although life took them in different directions they still managed to meet up once every so often. Whether it be every year or every five years they some how managed to meet even if it was just for 10 minutes or 1 hour, they always met and it was always they same. He brought her her latte, she demanded her hug and they sat and talked.. it was the simplest friendship yet a most cherished one.
Over the years they both realized their were some underlying feelings,however they made it their job to ensure that that certain line was never crossed, no matter what, they were friends. Sydney was extremely adamant about never crossing that invisible line as she realized that those veiled feelings that lingered on the edge were never worth the cost of losing a friendship such as this.
Now, their friendship had surpassed even their imaginations and here they sat on the park bench overlooking the Palace of Fine Arts at the Marina District in San Francisco. Eli held Sydney's right hand, cupping her fingers between his, he smiled as he looked at her and she couldn't help but notice the fine wrinkles that now rimmed the sides of his eyes. Even though time had passed and taken its toll on both of them, she would always see Eli as the young man she met at the outreach program, with his slightly toned body and expressive aura.
"You look happier this time around" he said as he looked on at her face, still smiling that smile that made Sydney feel he could read her every thought before she herself realized she was thinking it.
"I am" she replied, and slowly she lifted her left hand from her side revealing the ring that now stood on her finger.
Eli laughed and hugged her closer to him on the bench, "So someone finally nabbed you huh?" he said as he gently squeezed her shoulders ever so comforting and caring.
"Yeah well I didn't want to end up an old maid now... so i thought.. why not" Sydney smiled as she said these words, both her and Eli were ever so playful with their conversations to each other.
Eli slowly held Sydney's hand and examined the princess cut diamond that now lay their..."woooo, he must be rich" Eli joked.
"He isn't" she replied.
She slowly turned her head and now looked Eli straight in his eyes.
"He reminds me of you you know", she said to him.
Eli returned a look of shock and slight happiness on his face, "OH! and how so pray tell?" he replied.
Sydney touched his hand that still held hers and with all the honesty and sincerity she could muster she said "He's determined, hard working and knows what he has to do in order to get what he needs. He values his family and cherishes time and never regrets those things that make him a better person."
"Sounds like a true catch" Eli replied, the smile on his face growing a little more, revealing more signs from the toll of time.
"So i guess this is it then?" Eli asked, in a most serious tone that put Sydney on edge every time he used it.
"This is what is?" She replied.
"Well you're moving on with life and i just figured you wouldn't want this anymore" He said in such a nonchalant tone that she couldn't contain herself.
Sydney looked at him straight in his eyes, gently squeezed his hands and replied;
" ARE YOU MAD!? what the hell is wrong with you!?, just because i'm getting married gives you the audacity to tell me you don't want to be friends with me anymore?.. are we in high school?"
Eli glared at her, he had grown used to her random outburst over the years but this was a whole new version of her he was seeing.
"I didn't mean that i don't want to be friends with you, i just figured you'd want to focus on you and enjoy this new stage in life."
Eli hugged the now angered young woman who held such a big part of his heart; pulling her closer to him on the bench. Even though she refused to watch him, he could feel the tension in her body subside and he knew she was no longer infuriated to the extent she was a minute ago.
"You of all people should understand this Eli, we are friends, we have been friends for 15 years, FIFTEEN YEARS! and we have made this work. We have had many changes occur and yet we still maintained us... so NO i am not going to give this up even though i'm getting married okay??!!".
Sydney could feel the rise and fall of her chest as she said these words, she didn't want to argue with him but she couldn't believe he would say such a thing. Was their friendship that disposable to him?
Eli sighed and finally spoke after a few short moments;
"I'm happy to see that you still value our friendship as much as I do, and No i don't wish to stop being in your life."
Before Eli had the chance to utter another word Sydney spun around and hugged him tightly in the type of embrace you only receive on rare occasions.
" You should have known that to begin with I would never had stopped wanting you as my friend" she said, as she buried her face in the crook of Eli's neck.
"You have a friend for life with me, that is if you would have me?".
Eli didn't even bother to let go to look at Sydney in the eyes, "I would like nothing better" he replied and pulled Sydney in closer to him, both lost in their affection for one another as friends and companions.
The two spent the next two hours talking about how life had changed since their last meeting. Eli spoke about his newly graduated son and his venture out to Berlin with his friends, his new car and the latest fixtures his wife had made him put into the family's foyer. Sydney gushed about the wedding plans and how happy she was to just find someone who accepted her for her and nothing more. They both laughed and smiled, reminiscing on the older days from the inception of their relationship till now, how both couldn't believe they had reached this far and still maintained what they had together.
The sun was now a few stray rays peaking out behind large fluffy clouds and as the cool afternoon winds began to blow in over the park lake, Eli and Sydney looked at each other with that familiar glance knowing that their time together had now come to an end again. Eli stood up and held his arm out for Sydney, he gently helped her up and the two just smiled at each other, taking in these last few moments before they parted ways.
"So im seeing you for the wedding right? Sydney asked.
Eli stared at her with a quizzical smile lingering at the ends of his lips. "You already know the answer to that one my dear" he said softly as he squeezed her hand in his.
"Well it was worth a try" smiled Sydney, she knew that would be his response, a gentle reminder of their invisible line that forever existed between them.
"Guess that means i'll be bringing you pictures when next we meet" she said.
"You better had my dear, I need to see how you look in your dress. make sure they do you justice" he replied.
And with that final statement, Eli leaned in and kissed Sydney on her cheek as he always did when they bid farewell, she knew they would meet up at some time in some place but every time they said goodbye she felt the sting all over again; the tiny twitch of pain that reminded her that no matter what she would always cherish him and every meeting with him would always be worth the wait.
Eli then turned and gently let go of her hand letting it fall softly back to it original position next to Sydney. As she walked back to her car she smiled to herself thinking about how life had been towards both of them and how thankful she was to just have this unique friendship exist in her life.