Central Park Promenade

by Kerry Jo Bell
Ontario, Canada
genre: Romance




Kami wasn’t in love with Kane anymore. But she was in love. She was still friends with him though, always priding herself in staying friends with her exes. Besides, she’s known Kane for half her life.

As she strolled through Central Park, with all its familiar smells and beingness of the place, the words of her grandmother came to mind; Nature’s first green is gold. She never quite understood what her grandmother’s words meant, but Nana Rose had been her everything. It had seemed unfair five years ago, when, at age 65, God had taken her grandmother away from her. Sometimes she felt like God herself was dead. But then she would have moments like these, where she could see the leaves changing, or smell the fragrant aroma of flower as she strolled. She remembered the beautiful sunrise that morning from her balcony. Yes. These were definitely God moments.

The crisp autumn air reminded her of many lazy romantic strolls with Kane. Autumn was their favourite time of year. “The season of and for change,” Kane had dubbed it. Kami had always preferred referring to it as Pumpkin Spice Season. But change was definitely in the air, and Kane had no idea what was about to hit him.

They had their favourite park bench, near the zoo, where they would sip their pumpkin spice lattes and tease each other about things they did when they were younger versions of themselves.

“You were a mess,” he often told her. “Thank God you got some sense and started dating me.”

“You are my tall black and handsome knight and I am not worthy,” she would often retort.

They would often people-watch from their park bench — which they’d nicknamed Bertie —inventing stories about the lives of strangers as they walked by. 

A light breeze brought her back to the present moment, rustling the leaves in its wake. She smiled as a catchy lyric came to mind, from a song Kane would often attempt to sing; I recall, Central Park in fall, when you tore your dress, what a mess.

She would say to him, “Schatz, dankaschön for ruining Dankeschön for me forever. I’m calling Simon Cowell.”

I hope I don’t tear this skirt, she thought to herself. It cost her $150 at Macy’s.

A stronger gust of wind blew, whirling her hair around her face like a cyclone, and lifting at her skirt, threatening to expose her very red and uber scandalous underwear. “… not in the mood for a Marilyn Monroe moment, thank you,” she muttered softly into the air. 

She held down her red skirt, which she’d paired stylishly with a black and white striped shirt and a terra-cotta orange jacket. The wind settled, and she took a long sip of  her pumpkin spice latte.

As she neared Bertie, to her surprise, Kane was already sitting on him.

“Hey you,” she said on approach. “Sitting on Bertie’s nose, are we? All this time and I didn’t know you were bi.”

“Kami,” he said, always stretching out the last syllable of her name with excitement. “You always did like your men a bit camp. Remember that salmon shirt you bought me that Christmas? Never wore it.”

She chuckled. “So, what’s new and good in your life, Bud?” she asked, having sensed from his earlier text that he had some kind of big news. She hadn’t let on that she had news too.

He gave her that boyish grin that up to a year ago, would have made her swoon. “Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Penguin Random House has just hired me on as 

Executive Vice President of Consumer Engagement. I start in less than a month.” He waited, studying her expected thrilled reaction, before he continued. “They let on during the hiring process that they’re looking for a Director of Talent Acquisition. Someone with a minimum of ten years experience. Someone who would actively search for diverse manuscripts and authors, to match their new and improved diversity and social inclusion strategy. Of course, my dear, you came to mind,” he said, a satisfied smug grin on his face.

“Wow, I … .” is all she could say.

“Wow is right. I would only be stronger with you on my team, Kams. You’re perfect for this.”

She stared at him, happy for him, and for what could have been. This is only going to make her news harder.

“Kami?” He asked, a puzzled eyebrow raised. “What’s wrong with you woman? You’ve been wanting to work at PRH since the ninth grade. This. Is. Good. News.”

She looked around, everywhere but at him. “Kane, I’ve met someone. Well no, wait, that’s not right. I’ve been seeing someone, for almost a year now, someone you know. Someone we both knew.”

His eyes widened with bewilderment and curiosity.

“It’s Andy Kincaid,” she said, exhaling heavily. There, it’s been said.

“Andy Kincaid? Smelly Andy Kincaid who wore tattered shoes and cracked coke-bottle-glasses and got laughed at all through high school Andy Kincaid?”

“Well, he’s not smelly anymore. As a matter of fact, I don’t think he was smelly back then either. You and the other kids were just cruel to him because he was poor.”

Kane didn’t respond, he just stared blankly at her. He often went quiet when she was right. They sat in silence,  allowing her revelation to linger. 

Finally, he said, “Well, you’ve really downgraded your standards since we broke up, haven’t you?” Kami stared at him, hardly recognising the man sitting beside her, wondering if he’d changed, or if she had just insisted on not seeing this side of him all these years.

“Actually, smelly Andy Kincaid has done quite well for himself. He’s now the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Google, he’s ditched his cracked coke-bottle-glasses for contact lens, and he has several pairs of Louis Vuitton shoes, lining the floor of his walk in closets in both his homes in Silicon Valley and Beverly Hills. So, upgrade, actually.”

Kane’s jaw visibly tightened, as did his fists.

Kami continued, “He’s asked me to move to L.A. and … I said yes. I’ll be moving in two weeks.”

Finally, somewhere in the middle of the silence he said, “You don’t even like L.A. You’ve always said the people there are fake. Their smiles, their tans, their so called personalities. Matter of fact, you used to call L.A. the real Silicon Valley. Plastic everywhere all the time. Also Kami, you’ve never dated a white guy before in your entire life. What’s really going on with you?”

She took a deep breath, ready for this moment. In some ways, she’d been ready for this moment for two years. Ever since the day he broke up with her, no explanation given. Ever since seeing him walking hand in hand with a leggy blond one week after their breakup, right here in Central Park.

“What’s going on with me is that for the first time in my life, I’m not living in your shadow, or pining for you. What’s happening here, is I’m finally telling you that I’m okay that you broke up with me for no good reason, other than mistakenly thinking the grass was greener on the other side. What’s happening, to be clear, is me taking charge of my life, and finally, finally, doing what’s right for me. I’ve never needed your approval or your permission to be me. I’ve spent the last two years discovering myself, and I love who I’ve become.” In that moment of anger, she understood her grandmothers words. The first sign of birth or rebirth, is golden. And right now, she felt golden. Thank you Nana Rose.

She smiled as she got up, the wind taking aim at her skirt again. But this time she didn’t try to stop it. Victoria and all her secrets could do whatever. Her secret was out. And she felt light as air.

“I’d say I upgraded the hell out of my life, Kane, wouldn’t you?” But it was a rhetorical question. “I loved you Kane. With all my heart, but then you broke it. But it turns out, it’s the best thing you ever did for me. I learnt to love myself more than I love anyone else. And that, my friend, is a super power. So thank you. And good luck with your life.” As she walked away, one word came to mind. Dankeschön. Love is complicated, but a broken heart makes everything clear. And for that, she would always be thankful to Kane.

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