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Regret

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“Don’t know much about history…”

“Turn that off!” he shouts. Elaine begins to raise her eyebrows. “Please.” he adds and his voice has such a tormented note that she complies.

The silcence that follows is deafening and in his memory the words echoe.

But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be.

Forever linked to her. Her shy smile at first, her calloused hands that fit so well into his. The softness of her inner wrist. The firm feel of her body in his arms, her nearly hanging form his arm, her shrieking laughter when he had twirled her around. The happiness he had felt.

Sometimes he pictures himself back at he farm. Coming into the kitchen after milking the cows, her smiling at him from the stove. Samuel just finishing to set the table, running over to him to get a hug, maybe followed by a toddler. What would they have named a child of theirs? Ruth? Ezrah?

The little child on his shoulders, Samuel’s hand in one hand, Rachel’s in the other on the way over the fields to worship, greeting their neighbours.

The more rational part of his mind tries to tell him that it’s unlikely everything would have turned out so sunny. He’d probably develope his father’s temper from being stuck in the monotonous farmlife, making himself - and worse, her unhappy.

But it’s not enough to keep him from waking up with a jolt every once in a while, choking with regret over the chances he has given away.

What if he had crossed the threshold that evening? Walked over to the table, all the while not taking his eyes from her face? Taken the rough towel, stepped behind her, laid the towel around her shoulders, feeling as much as hearing her sharp inhaling? Carefully dried her back and her arms, pressed his lips to the nape of her neck?

What if she had turned in his arms, combing her fingers through his hair? If he had leaned towards her, kissing her with the softest whispers of kisses? He has only ever kissed her in the wild desperation brought by the knowledge it would be the only time, he longs to kiss her with the tenderness she elicits in him.

When he learns his new neighbour, an older lady, is from Germany, he makes her translate two sentences. She waggles her eyebrows at him when she hears them and her pronounciation doesn’t sound exactly like that of the Amish to him, but he makes her say it again and again until he can imitate the sounds. He repeats them into the dark of his bedroom every night, futile because he will never say them to her, just in case, just in case.

Ich habe mich Tag und Nacht nach Dir gesehnt. Ich liebe Dich.