Walk with Me
by Russell Mickler
“Walk with me,” Luciana said, taking Kent’s hand.
They stepped into a lush, green field. A steepled white church floated in a sea of orange and yellow tithonias. Warm, Kent shielded his eyes from the mid-morning sun.
“Luce, listen, I can’t. I’ve got a meeting.”
Luciana smiled alluringly, pulling him along. “This won’t take long.”
They arrived at a checkered blanket draped over the ground. On it, a wicker basket filled with fresh citrus, sliced cucumbers, warm corn tortillas, and a bowl of pico de gallo joined a chilled bottle of Albariño.
Kent folded his arms and grumbled. “Nostalgic.”
Luciana turned and smiled. “Victoria de Durango, your first taste of Mexico.”
Her back to Kent, Luciana addressed an easel to dab pale blue paint into her brush. Sipping her wine, Luciana flicked her wrist to add a brushstroke to the canvas depicting a sunset over the Seattle skyline.
Kent paced behind her. “Yes, Durango. I recall being sweltering and uncomfortable. The food was miserable. There wasn’t a decent hotel--”
Luciana stopped painting, rested her glass, and asked him, side-eyed, “Do you remember?”
“My proposal?” Kent blurted, surprised. “Well, of course, I do--”
“No, not that,” Luciana interrupted. “What you promised?”
Kent shrugged and sent his frustrated eyes to the horizon. “No, Luce. What?”
Luciana lowered her chin, her face awash in melancholy. “You said we’d see the world. Money wasn’t important. We’d travel. Life was less … grandiose.”
Kent gestured angrily at her canvas. “Yeah, that was before the condo, the cars, our portfolio. Life’s different now.”
“Life is in the way,” Luciana argued before gazing longingly at the church. “I want to go back.”
There was a slight breeze.
It mussed her hair; billowed her skirt.
She smiled and extended Kent her hand. “Walk with me.”
Kent reeled. His eyes rolled. He slouched his shoulders. “Luce, I don’t have time for this. Jack Sheldon? The developer, downtown? We’re reviewing his energy assets in five minutes.”
She implored him with soft brown eyes, but Kent, impatient, refused.
Lowering her arm, dark, roiling storm clouds blew in from the west, stirring their blanket. Luciana gripped the easel to hold the canvas steady against the wind.
“The rain was coming,” she whispered. “We had to leave.”
Exasperated, Kent pleaded, “Can we talk about this later?”
Luciana glanced over her shoulder. “You were charming that day. Kind. Perfect.”
Behind her, Kent raised his voice, and demanded, “Take me back--!”
“You dreamed more, back then,” Luciana added wistfully before stepping away.
“Luce!” Kent screamed, grasping at her only to strike the painting. The easel fell to the grass.
Stepping into her condominium, Luciana paused to admire the painting resting on the mantle above the modern fireplace. A solitary man dressed in a black business suit faced the church she painted in Durango. His arm outstretched, clouds gathered on the horizon. She squared its corner to the floor.
Satisfied, Luciana grabbed her purse, keys, and plane tickets, and closed the door behind her.