“You know, I’ve had a wonderful time this week,” Cassie said to me as we walked in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
“As have I,” I admitted. I pulled her close and kissed her. “I never thought I’d have such a wonderful time with anyone again after…”
“After what?” she asked me.
I shook my head. “It’s not important.”
Cassie chuckled. “She must have been pretty special.”
“Once upon a time, I suppose she was,” I conceded. “But that was a long time ago.” I looked into her eyes. “This is now, and no one is more important than you at this moment.”
She blushed, kissed me quickly, then took my hand in hers. We continued strolling through the park as the skies turned to dark, and the millions of stars began to twinkle and dance.
“Have you ever thought about getting married?” she asked out of the blue.
I stopped in my tracks. “Why would you ask me that?”
“Don’t panic. I’m not about to propose to you or anything,” Cassie laughed. “But is it something that you would consider in the near future?”
We started walking again. “If the right woman came along, yes, I would seriously consider it.”
“It would have to be a pretty strong woman that could keep you from straying,” she replied.
“That is true,” I replied, “but I’m sure that you could rise to the challenge.”
“Nice to know you think I’m that strong.”
I pulled her close again. “Yes, I think you are,” I said, gently tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “I wouldn’t mind growing old with you.”
“Really?” She seemed surprised by my answer.
“Really,” I said, kissing her lips.
We started walking again. “How many children would you like to have?” Cassie said. “I’d like at least one boy and one girl.”
“I’m good with that, although our daughter would never date until she’s thirty.”
She laughed. “Oh, you’re going to be one of those dads, are you?”
“Damn right I am.”
She pulled me toward a bench, and we sat down and gazed at the night sky. “I can’t wait to grow old with you,” she sighed, putting her head on my shoulder.
I stood in the rain, the collar of my jacket pulled up around my neck. The bench where we had sat that night was just in front of me. A small blue urn was tucked under my left arm, and a single red rose in my right hand. I had scattered parts of Cassandra’s ashes in some of our favorite places and had left a rose as well; this was my last stop.
Once again, as it was the last time we were here, it was dark, but I could not see the stars this time. Just as well. This was not a time for stargazing. I scattered the remainder of her ashes around the bench before I sat down.
“This isn’t how I pictured the way things would end,” I said out loud. “Granted, I knew that you would die some day, but I pictured you old and grey, wrapped in my arms, with me telling you over and over how much I loved you as you slipped away. I never thought that you’d die alone at the hand of a man I didn’t even know was my enemy.”
It started to rain harder, as if Nyx was crying for Cassandra.
“You made me feel alive, Cassie. You made me feel so loved. Granted, Aphrodite is the Goddess of Love, but with you, it was different. I’m not sure I understand it. Maybe Artemis said it best: it was a pure love. If she is right, then I have no complaints. You gave me the best part of you, and you made me a better man because of it.”
I looked at the red rose in my hand, gently stroking a petal. Standing up, I kissed the rose and placed it on the bench.
Then I turned and walked away, leaving her, and my heart, behind.