A Final Meeting

It happened that day that both of their plans came to fruition. He had his moment to say goodbye at last and she her moment to get closer to him. Both had failed miserably. His carefully planned goodbye was met with skepticism and her digging found nothing but hard ground.

As they sat awkwardly across from one another, poking at the remains of breakfast, he reiterated his plan to her. "Like I said, your father left you quite a lot of money. It was hard to find at first. He had hidden it well, even if it was an accident, but he also never planned on their being accountants like the ones I have."

She continued to stare at him from across the table with a look that could only be read as confusion. "But, I read that he died bankrupt. Why would he die bankrupt if he had all of this money? It just doesn't make any sense."

"It's a convoluted story. Your father had attempted to hide his money in multiple accounts in case of a serious collapse in the world market." He sipped his water casually. "The money was handled through a firm that specialized in these things and in some cases used handlers instead of electronic transactions. So as can happen, one of the handlers died after placing money in an offshore account. With his death, the key documents telling where the money was located were lost."

She stared intensely at him as he told the story and so he attempted to maintain composure by eying his water glass.

"Since it was a small amount of money, the firm faked the records given to your father and made it appear that all of his money was accounted for. No harm, no foul. Then the market collapsed. Almost all of the money became inaccessible overnight. He lived off of what he could find and recoup, all of the money that some other government had not already seized to stay afloat. But he never knew about this money, and so died destitute."

He saw her twinge at the words and ignored the glass for a moment. "I'm sorry. I forget that for you, your father died two weeks ago, but for me he's an historical figure that died almost a thousand years ago. He was a good man, with good intentions, and through no fault of his own..." He stopped short. He hadn't practiced this part of the conversation. There wasn't an answer here, only more questions.

He renewed his attention on the water glass, as if it was the one who had lost a father. "I'm sorry. The money in question was invested in a small breakaway republic that because of it's size and location remained relatively unaffected. Over time the country grew to be very wealthy and the money grew exponentially. Over a thousand years of compounding and reinvesting it's left you with a sum that you probably could not spend in your lifetime." He lifted his water glass to her "Congratualtions, you're rich!" and realized the crassness of that statement too late.

He had practiced every line, gone over the story time and time again. He had gotten the accountants to forge the proper records, create a trail that anyone, no matter how detail oriented, would believe. Yet he sat across the table from a twenty one year old woman who didn't believe any part of his story. 'Damn-it!' He thought. 'It's the improvisation that's killed it. I stink at lying to her. I should have sent someone to do it for me!'

But he couldn't do that. He had to see her one last time. He had to be sure that what he was doing was right. Then just like every time before he convinced himself that she would be better off somewhere else, somewhere without him.

While he flung internal insults at himself and distractedly rubbed the stem of his water glass, she reached smoothly across the table and slipped her hand over his. The touched jarred his attention back to her. His faced reddened and his heart pounded and then a tidal wave of calm washed over him quashing all of the blame and lies and machinations.

She captured his eyes like she had his hand. A hint of a smile touched her face. 'I have him,' she thought. 'I have my moment.'

"Why do you think you have to lie to me?"

His brain fought desperately for an answer and he started to speak, but a small squeeze from her hand, squeezed off the answer.

"I would ask you why you don't like me, but this seems like a lot of work to go through for someone you don't like. So I'll just ask; Why don't you want me around?"

"I'm married," he blurted.

"Married?" She maintained eye contact. "I thought your wife was dead."

"She's alive every time I see you. I hear her voice every time you speak. I feel her hand when you touch me."

At the moment she saw the tears touch the edge of his lids she knew he was telling the truth, a hard truth. Despite her desire to keep holding on she felt like she was invading his space and so gently released her grip.