‘Persistence of Memory’
By Sue Wolfson

It had been 39 years since they last had seen each other, teary-eyed at the airport in Fairbanks. He had been in Alaska there on his first assignment in the air force; she as a secretary to earn the money for tuition for art school. There was a boyfriend back home, so she had not been looking for romance...sometimes things like that just happen.

Theirs was something spiritual....a walk by the river, the electric touch when they held hands, the connection felt when they looked deeply into each others eyes. Thoughts flew between them....there was definitely a connection there. They danced together when there was no music playing except the music they heard in their minds. Friends worried that they were losing their sanity when, sitting across from each other in a booth in the corner luncheonette, they would spontaneously start laughing, seemingly at nothing! But they knew the joke! Telepathy is a wonderful thing!

But there was a sadness there, too. Each of them knew that at the end of the year, the girl was to return to fulfill the contract she had made with herself...to stay in Alaska for one year, and then to go to art school and discover what the future held in store.

As that year went on the two became closer, and there was one magical kiss as they walked in their usual path down by the river. He asked her if she would marry him. They were so much alike....two starry-eyed young lovers....blank slates upon which the world prepared to write their stories. But what of that contract? She decided to stay with the agreement, and see what would happen.

On the tarmac that day, sitting in the plane, she cried. She knew that that moment was the end of the innocence...that the person that she was during that year would fade into history. That memories would be all that would be left.

But the memories of that boy with laughing eyes remained with her all those years. Even after she was a married woman with four children, the vision of his face haunted her. She often wondered what he was doing...had he married a woman who was like the man she had chosen? How many children did he have? Did his life parallel hers at all? And, oh, how sorry she was for breaking his heart!


She had a good life, and a good marriage. Time passed away and, ultimately, so did her husband. The woman was at loose ends for a while, trying to discover who she was....her children were all grown and her husband was gone. Every once in a while she would search for her lost soulmate on the internet, but all those with the same name were never the one she was looking for. One day after she had just about given up, there was a strange feeling that this would be the try that worked. Calling up a search engine she had never used, she put in the name she had entered unsuccessfully so many times before, and the state where she knew his family lived. Three names with addresses and telephone numbers appeared. She telephoned the first, but it wasn’t him. When she phoned the second name on the list, a female voice answered.

After the usual hellos, the older woman with the young girl still inside asked, “Was this fellow ever in Alaska in the Air Force in 1958?”

The reply came. “I think you want my father-in-law.”

After a moment of hesitation, the caller asked, “Can you tell me where he’s living? Is he married?”

“No, he’s divorced and living in Palm City, Florida.” The number was willingly given.

It took her a few minutes to get up enough courage to make the next call. A very surprised man picked up the telephone in Palm City. They talked for a very long time. There were 39 years to catch up on.


After that they ‘spoke’ on the internet frequently of old times, of what was going on with them in the present, and of the people they had become. Surprisingly, there were few real changes. They found out that the values that they had at the ages of 18 and 19 had persisted to the present, and the faults, virtues and basic personalities of both remained the same. Although their lives had taken different paths, they also strangely paralleled. They had each had four children and adopted one. Both were involved in art, crafts and creative writing... and both had designed their own dwellings.

They determined to meet and, when it was discovered that he was going to be in Baltimore on business, plans were set. She would drive down and meet him and spend a few days. Then the two of them would drive back to her home in New Jersey, using the time travelling to get better acquainted.

She arrived in the late afternoon, and found the room. After a nervous moment, she knocked on the door and it opened. There stood someone that she knew and didn’t know at the same time. It was someone who had aged 39 years, but aged well, and superimposed over the older face was that of the youth with whom she had fallen in love so many years before. Was that chemistry still there? It seemed to be, but there was a questioning on the part of both parties as to whether the other would still feel the same after all those years.

They went to dinner on the waterfront. They ordered exactly the same foods. Both even had their meat medium rare.

The two walked back to the hotel. As they stood looking out of the window, something drew them closer. He put his arm around her waist. She didn’t object, and moved closer to him. They looked deeply into each others eyes, embraced, and kissed...a kiss that transcended time and became a continuation of the one that happened so many years before, as if those years had never happened.