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The Walk

Central West End


He stayed as long as he could stand it, until the girls seated behind him grew too irritating to tolerate. He'd read the same page for the third time now; their chatter was relentless, railroading his train of thought (which wasn't very strong to begin with).

Outside, he breathed in the wet, cool beginning of fall. Down the street, captured perfectly in the glow of a streetlight, a man stood talking to three women who were seated around an outdoor café table. The women were laughing. Obviously whatever the man was saying was endlessly entertaining.

The light showed off the man's taut upper body to its best advantage. There it was again: that old familiar ache of inadequacy. Is she with someone like that? he wondered. Well, he said to himself, love is never wrong. Only people are wrong.

He wandered around a while. For a long time, in fact. Because the thought of waiting at home for her to return from "wherever" again was just too much to face.