The Girl She Used to Be: a short story

Jim had loved Allison then and he would always love her. That was why he recognized her now, even though he had not laid eyes on her for nearly thirty years.

She was sitting there by herself in the train station with a large shopping bag at her feet and a leather-bound book in her lap. For some reason, Jim found that strange. But so many things about Allison’s situation were strange—everything really. Why had she disappeared all those years ago? And why had Jim not known that she was back—back from wherever she had been?

Although he would never have told his wife and two children, Jim still executed search engine queries for her name from time to time. She was his first real love, after all; and when she had stepped out of that restaurant, never to return, she had taken a part of him with her.

As he walked over to where she was sitting, a local politician began making a speech that was broadcast via the speakers overhead. The high-speed rail system was new for the city. Today was its inauguration day, in fact. The rail line was touted as an economic boon to this part of the Ohio rust belt.

He passed a newspaper vending machine that dispensed copies of the local paper: HIGH-SPEED RAIL OPENS TODAY DESPITE SECURITY CONCERNS the main headline said. There had apparently not been sufficient funds to install the sort of security systems that (supposedly) protected air travelers from terrorist attacks. But Jim was not concerned about his train ride to Pittsburg. There were plenty of more likely places for terrorists to strike; and right now Allison was the only thing on his mind, anyway.

“Allison!” Jim said, standing before her now. He gripped the handle of his briefcase with a sweaty palm. What would she say to him, after all these years? And would she still find him attractive? He was no longer the slender young man he had been all those years ago, in college. He had lost much of his hair; and he knew that the skin on his face had become baggy and fleshy. 

He noted that she was still as beautiful as she had been—though she had undeniably aged since then. When she looked into his eyes, there was immediate recognition—and another emotion that he thought he recognized as—


End of online preview. 

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