Thomas sat outside thinking. He did that a lot lately. His favorite thinking spot was a white stone bench under a weeping willow. She loved weeping willows. Thomas watched the people walking and running and bustling about their business. The world was passing right in front of his eyes in the fast motion sequence. Everything blurred into colored lines like the ones you get when you try to capture something animated but don’t have the right shutter stop. He stared unblinkingly at the people. They were all so colorful, they were all so busy, they were all so obviously. He continued watching. This had been going on for weeks. Thomas would go about his morning, leave his small apartment on the 5th floor, and walk to the park and sit and watch people for hours. What he was watching or waiting for even he didn’t know.
This morning it was cooler than normal. Thomas put on an overcoat and a hat. He pulled the collar up and tucked his head in, chin down to keep the wind out. He walked to the park and sat on his bench. He sighed. The same day, every day, people were just blurring past. Then it happened. One person was running past, but it was like he was running past in slow motion. Thomas blinked to clear his vision. Nope, it was a man running in slow motion while all the other people blurred around him. Thomas sat stunned as he watched. The man ran past his willow tree without a second glance. But Thomas knew he wasn’t just seeing things. This one meant something, this slow motion runner meant something. But he had to be sure. He would sit and wait. What he was waiting for he still didn’t know. But he sat and waited. After hours of watching people his eyes were nearly crossed. He was bored. Thomas sighed and was about to get up when a throat cleared behind him. He turned and looked up.
Standing there was the man from that morning, the slow motion runner as he took to thinking about him. “Is this seat taken?” the man asked while gesturing to the piece of bench beside Thomas. Thomas looked at the seat and then the man. Before his brain caught up with his words he scooted making room for this man to sit down. “Hello, I’m Kevin.” Kevin held out his hand for Thomas to shake. His face held a warm smile and his eyes twinkled kindly. Thomas took his hand to shake and replied, “Thomas, nice to meet you.” The both sat in companionable silence just watching the people pass them by.
Everyday for years the two would meet up and sit under the weeping willow. They shared their dreams, fears, laughter, and tears. Neither had ever had found someone they enjoyed talking to more. It would appear they were soul mates. They were fated to meet on that day. Thomas’ heart was overjoyed every time he would go to the park to meet up with Kevin. They never missed a day and were always overeager to talk. Thomas found that Kevin shared his love for British Literature and planned to travel around the world. Kevin found that Thomas was great at observation. When he looked at the people he just saw them running about their business, but when Thomas looked at people he saw something deeper. It was as if he could feel their very emotions. This was what Thomas did though. He was a psychiatrist. His job was to help people and he loved his job. Kevin was a writer. He loved helping people too but not in the same way. Every day he would return to his home and miss his friend. He often thought about asking him to move in with him but never got the courage. After all it was a million to one chance that he would get turned down. Thomas was busy with his work and his life. They only met at the park and would only be able to talk for a few hours before they would have to leave, well more preciously before Thomas had to leave. He thought he had odd hours and would make it a point to ask him about it one day. Still the odds were just not in his favor that he would find a great companion and share every moment with him. For now the meetings in the park would be fine. Thomas would leave the park and go to his office, meet up with his clients, and then go home. He kept odd hours, usually late afternoon and evenings. He got the working crowd that way. He missed his park companion though. Walking into his small dimly lit apartment just wasn’t as satisfying as it used to be.
Thomas woke one morning and felt light headed. He hoped he wasn’t getting the flu. He dressed, ate, and walked to the park to meet up with Kevin. When he got to the bench Kevin wasn’t there yet. He sat and watched the people pass him by for a while. A couple hours passed and Thomas began to worry. It wasn’t like he could leave and check on Kevin, he had no idea where he lived. He heard heavy footfalls nearby and turned. Kevin was running down the walkway toward him. Out of breath he stopped and put his hands on his knees. Thomas stood up. “What’s wrong?” He was clearly worried for his friend. Kevin looked up with shining eyes, “My book! It’s been published! I got someone to take it on!” Thomas was over excited for his friend. “Today we should drink to that. Let’s go across the street to the cafe and get a coffee. It’s on me!” He put his arm around Kevin’s shoulders and the two walked smiling and talking to the cafe. To anyone passing by they would just think that two friends were walking and sharing great news. To Kevin and Thomas they were sharing a million to one chance exchange. Kevin was finally getting his dream. He was being published. The two entered the cafe and talked till Thomas had to leave for work. Kevin returned home and that empty feeling filled him. Maybe now he could talk to Thomas and ask him if he’d like to move in.
The days went by with the two meeting up in the park and talking. Once in a while they would catch a meal. Kevin was becoming quieter and less enthusiastic about their talks. Thomas decided it was time to confront his dear friend. “Kevin, you’ve been so quiet and withdrawn lately. Wanna tell me what’s wrong?” Kevin looked up at Thomas and realized that he just couldn’t tell him. “Oh don’t worry about it. It’s just family stuff. Nothing I want to talk about.” Thomas knew better and wanted to point that out but figured Kevin wasn’t telling him for a reason and he would come around eventually so he let it go. That night he went home and felt saddened. His friend wasn’t confiding in him and he had to return home to this small apartment. It was too much though to ask his friend to move in with him and it would be an imposition for him to ask to move in with Kevin. He sighed. He just wished his odds were better. It was after all a million to one that he would never find anyone else like Kevin but with those odds Kevin must have found someone else. If only he could just tell him.
Kevin’s book was released and it was a huge hit right away. Thomas shared in his excitement and helped him celebrate every step of the way. They had started meeting up at each other’s houses for movie nights, game nights, dinners, and just hanging out. Neither of them would actually ask the other to move in or for anymore than they were already sharing. After all odds were always against them right?
Thomas went to the weeping willow bench one day and Kevin was already seated there. He was just staring off. It was then that Thomas realized how old they were getting. Kevin’s hair was greying. His eyes were crinkled, and age lines were showing in his smile now. How long had it been? How long did they spend under this tree. He observed him for moments longer and thought it had to be his imagination. Kevin wasn’t that old, he himself was only fourty six. He walked over to the bench and sat down. Kevin looked over and smiled. “Hello friend.” Thomas smiled back. Today no words were spoken as they just sat and enjoyed each other and the fast paced world around them. Thomas cancelled his appointments for the day telling Kevin he could catch up later. The two would have a lazy day together. Kevin smiled. “You know, you’re just being lazy.” Thomas laughed. “You caught me. Now where should we go?” Kevin’s eyes lit up, “Let’s go to a play. I haven’t been in so long. Then we can go back to my house for dinner!” The two agreed. Back at Kevin’s house Thomas watched TV while Kevin cooked and chattered from the kitchen. He began to think, THIS must be what it’s like to be cared for, to be loved. He smiled and thought about the man cooking for him. You never knew who your companion in life would be, you went along waiting and watching. He was happy with their situation, but was this a relationship. He looked back at Kevin and smiled. He was still happily cooking away in the kitchen. For now, this would just be enough.
Days turned in to weeks, weeks turned in to months, months turned in to years. The two grew closer everyday. They shared everything and talked about everything. Thomas still left his apartment every morning and went to the park to meet with Kevin. Kevin would still call every night and ask Thomas over for a drink. Tonight Kevin was nervous. Thomas could feel the tension in the air, could probably cut it with a knife. “Kevin what’s wrong?” He reached out and touched his shoulder and Kevin nearly jumped out of his skin. He laughed a high pitched nervous laugh, “Nothing. Don’t worry about anything. I’m going to go get some crackers and cheese to go with the wine. Kevin disappeared in to the kitchen. Thomas watched his friend go with concern. He was hiding something. Kevin went to the kitchen and took a deep breath. He would ask him tonight. There was no getting away from it this time. He would just ask him to move in and that would be that. He got a tray of crackers and cheese and walked in to the living room. Thomas was the picture of health. He was fifty and looked as if he were not a day older than thirty. He envied that. He walked to the couch and sat, setting the tray on the table. “Thomas I have something to ask you.” Thomas turned to Kevin and raised an eyebrow in question. Kevin swallowed and said, “Can you watch the house for a week while I go out to town to visit family?” Thomas laughed, “You are nervous about asking me to watch your house?” He nodded and said he’d grab the mail and stay at the house while he was away, after all what are friends for? With that statement Kevin’s world seemed to crash around him. Right. A million to one chance.
Thomas watched Kevin leave the house. He would miss him. Somehow their friendship had grown into something stronger. It had morphed without his knowledge and he just needed to figure out how to tell Kevin. This week while he was gone he’d figure it out. He’d talk to him. Who knew maybe he even felt the same. Kevin walked away from his house feeling empty. He waved and smiled at Thomas as he left but his smile never reached his eyes. He just couldn’t keep faking it. He called his family to say he was coming home for a visit. But really he just needed to get away.
Thomas cleaned house and took in the mail. It was amazing being there everyday and taking care of things. He had a clear mind and knew just what he wanted to say to Kevin when he returned. For a whole week he didn’t go to the bench under the weeping willow. He would be at the house to greet Kevin. The day Kevin was supposed to reach home he text Thomas. “Meet me at the tree.” Thomas smiled. It was always at their tree. He took a deep breath and walked out he door. Chances were a million to one that nothing would come of their conversation, but there was that one chance.
He walked to the tree and saw Kevin standing under it looking at the bench. He walked closer to him and could see a single tear slide down his cheek. Thomas was alarmed. He walked quicker to Kevin and put his arms around him in a hug. Kevin was taken aback but returned the embrace. He hadn’t realized he had been crying. Thomas spoke, “Kevin you are my best friend, my solid companion, my soul mate. Move in with me?” Kevin laughed and agreed. He had been so afraid of that one chance, that one in a million chance. Thomas was afraid of the million chances that he took the one he wanted to take. They walked away from the weeping willow hand in hand.