June walked down the boardwalk with Ben, watching as the waves crashed onto the beach below, coloured gold by the setting sun.
“This is nice,” she said with a careless smile, “I haven’t done this since me and Mark were teens.”
“Oh? Who was Mark?” Ben asked with a wink. “Should I be jealous?” June pursed her lips.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to mention him and spoil the mood. Mark is… Well, he was my husband.”
“So you’re divorced then? Tough luck for him, letting you slip away.” Bem gave her a sly smile. June smiled wistfully, recalling bad memories.
“Thank you, but we weren’t divorced. Mark went missing twelve years ago. He went to pick up some milk and never came home. No one ever found him again.” Ben frowned with confusion.
“So he just walked out on you? Sounds like a douche to me.”
June shrugged, “That’s what my mother used to say, but I was never convinced that’s what happened. Mark and I were happy together, he even kissed me goodbye that day. But then he was just gone.”
June stepped a little closer to Ben to steal his body heat as a chill wind blew in from the beach. With a chivalrous sweep, he slipped off his jacket, wrapping it around her thin sundress as it’s namesake slipped below the horizon. She gave him a grateful look as she snuggled it closer. Ben reached out to pull her closer, but changed his mind at the last second. He faked a stretch instead, blurting out words to cover his awkwardness.
“And no one found him again?”
June shook her head. “I’ll tell you the oddest part though. When I finally got around to giving away all his clothes, I found this shoebox in his sock drawer, filled with 3 passports and over $2000 in cash.” She smiled as Ben’s eyes went wide with the juicy detail.
“Wow, I wonder what that was for?”
June shrugged under Ben’s too-big coat. “Don’t suppose I’ll ever know. But enough about my former husband, tell me more about yourself. Any skeletons in your closets?”
Ben laughed. “Nothing quite as exciting, just one crazy ex named Amy. Some of the shit she used to pull…”
The boardwalk ended below their feet as Ben kept talked, and June wordlessly lead him down familiar streets towards her home. The Miami streets were brightly illuminated with strings of Christmas lights on every bar patio, filled with people out drinking on a Friday night. But the world stopped momentarily when she caught a glimpse of a familiar face in the crowd. Mark’s grey eyes met hers, still framed by his boyish locks and large ears. June’s heart caught in her throat, but as quickly as she saw him, a woman in red stepped in front, and he was gone.
She tried to tune back into Ben, trying to calm herself. Mark would be older now, she reminded herself, not looking like he’d just stepped out the door. She tried to glance back, but all she saw was a mass of people sitting on a patio.
June caught just the end of Ben’s question. She had to ask him to repeat it.
“Am I taking you back to your place?” He asked again. June reconsidered, replaying their date before reaching a snap decision.
“Actually, I’d like to see your place.” She said with a wry smile. “I think the ghosts in my house are a little too loud tonight.”
“What are you looking at, Daniel?” asked a woman in a low cut red dress. The man with black curls turned his attention back to his date.
“It was nothing- Denise. Just somebody that I used to know.” The woman glanced curiously down the sidewalk at the passing people.
“Why don’t you go say hello then?” She asked. Daniel sipped his drink as he watched the pair walk away.
“Nah. She doesn’t need me interfering right now.” He said with love in his voice.