Cheryl lifted her hand to caress his face. His irises glowed like Yemaya. “Goodbye,” she said. “Goodbye,” he responded. “I don’t know when I’ll see you again,” she continued. “I know,” said Robert, smiling. “I know.”
Cheryl turned to leave. She walked towards her cab and turned around once more. “Bye Robert,” she waved before getting inside. Robert stood and watched her leave from his doorstep. She was moving across the ocean like she’d always wanted. He loved that she was so determined to build the future that she’d been craving. Once upon a time, he had felt the same way about traveling. But he was settled now, and he hated the idea of starting over anywhere. Plus, he was determined to start a family with the One, whomever that would be. Cheryl was leaving behind six years of their friendship, of their phone calls, of their dinners together on patio terraces. Sometimes in April, Cheryl thought to herself as she settled into her cab, winter comes.
Robert stood in the doorway of his house as her scent drifted farther and farther away. He turned to walk through his living room and into the backyard. He would plant a new garden that day, he decided. He looked up at the clear blue sky and saw two birds flying overhead. I love the spring, he told himself. He started laying down seeds. His backyard was already awash with budding green leaves and colorful rose buds. The sound of the cab’s engine continued to trail off in the distance. Sometimes in April, was his new favorite thought. Sometimes in April, he continued to think, summer feels like it’s here. That day was Robert’s last day of rehab, where he had been for months. Cheryl had visited him every day and their friendship is what saw him through. They had been through laughter and many tears together. She had fed him when he couldn’t eat and made him cool compresses when he was too sick to get out of bed. He knelt down on the ground in his yard and began parting the soil and planting seeds, one by one. The birds he had originally seen continued flying overhead. The sound of the cab’s engine had definitively faded from his street. He knew that wherever she was, Cheryl would have what Robert could not give her. Both of them knew that a future together was unlikely, but their past had been filled with so many happy memories that neither of them would forget.
The cab made its way to the airport as the raindrops on Cheryl’s window began washing away the tears from the faces of the passing houses. Some six plus hours later, Cheryl landed at Aéroport Charles de Gaulle in Paris. When she exited, she hailed a cab with an illuminated taxi sign on top of the car. The air outside was crisp and cool. “Bonsoir, Avenue de la Porte d’Orléans, s’il vous plaît,” she said to the driver, as she opened the back door. Out of nowhere, she heard loud squawks overhead and looked up. She saw two large birds flying high in the sky, first side by side and then chasing one another. “Ha,” Cheryl remarked out loud, before entering the cab. The cab driver took her luggage and placed it in the trunk. Cheryl bundled her jacket tighter before hopping inside. The car took off down the gray cobblestone streets that were lined with café terraces and budding branches of green. Cheryl wasn’t exactly sure where she was headed – believe it or not, she still needed to find an Airbnb – but she knew that she was headed to where she was meant to be. The two birds followed, all the while chasing each other, as the cab carried Cheryl to her destination.
The two birds continued to fly and dance in the air. It seemed as if their dance involved following the cab as it made its way through the city of lights.
Back in his yard, dusk had fallen and the wind had picked up. Robert had finished planting for the day and came back inside, where he started a fire. He was really looking forward to tomorrow because a new day would come. He was finally going on a date with someone new. He took comfort in the fact that Cheryl was going to live the life that she’d always wanted in Paris. The street lights shone bright in their respective cities on either side of the Atlantic. Tomorrow would be a new day for both of them.
Sandra closed the book as she finished reading it to her daughter, who had fallen asleep. The buzzing of motorbikes grew loud and faint in a continuous cycle outside her daughter’s bedroom window that overlooked the busy Parisian street. “Legend says,” Sandra said to her sleeping daughter in French, “that one of the birds died of heartache after losing sight of the bird it was following and never finding it. But others say that that’s just an old wives’ tale. It seems that in the end, no one will ever really know.”
Sandra turned off the lights. And with that, she, too, went to sleep for the evening.