The sky loomed a dark, threatening a storm. Anna glanced out the window at the dark sky and thought perhaps she shouldn't go. She didn't want to go.
She hated these academia type parties she was compelled to attend. She dressed in black, the color of her mood. Her silver hair hung down her back clipped in the back.
She wore sapphire earrings and necklace that matched her eyes, the last gift her husband had given her.
He had died six months before, and he made her promise that she would attend this dry, boring party for him.
The taxi arrived. She grabbed her black leather coat and gloves, took her purse, locked the house, and left. She told the driver to take her the long way around to Professor Harris's place.
In a small college town like this, everyone knew the college president, and so the driver drove her around the courthouse square.
She asked him to stop for a bit as she looked at the lights in the square. She closed her eyes and remembered the last time Sam had been well enough to go there.
They sat on the bench and watched children catch fireflies. He struck up conversations with the parents, and because he loved people he would talk far longer than she cared for.
She would nod and smile, and sometimes interject her thoughts, but she was a stark introvert compared to his gregarious nature. Sam taught history and made it come to life for his students.
Anna had taught English, and she brought literature to life for her students, but in a quieter,gentler way.
Her students admired her and learned from her, but they had not become close to her as Sam's students had toward him. It didn't bother her. Contentment had always befriended her.
The driver reminded her the meter ran, so they drove off. She paid the driver, and then stood in the driveway. She didn't want to enter.
Lightning flashed, thunder crashed, and she sighed and knocked on the door.
Mrs. Harris, hugged her and told her how good it was that she came. She took her coat, gloves, and purse, and told her go in.
People sat in groups of twos, fours, and there she a group of three. They nodded her entrance smiling at her.
Sam would have taken her over to the Collins and immediately struck up a conversation. Mariah Collins and Anna had lunches together sometimes.
Mariah's personality was easy and they both were in the English department, but Anna didn't see them, they had moved to Florida.
Jim Collins had taken a job at Florida State, more money plus tenure. She heard someone call her name, and Professor Harris, offered her a drink. She declined asking for water.
She found a chair oddly in the center of the room. She sat and looked at everyone. She knew all of them. Some had been Sam's friends, and a few were hers.
She thought, Sam, this is so lonely without you. Why did you want me come? I don't want to be here. This room is crowded, yet I am lonely, and feel it more now than ever.
How can loneliness be a crowded room?
"Anna, may sit beside you?" She looked up and there stood Mariah and Jim Collins. Anna looked puzzled.
Jim spoke, "Sam called me and asked if we would come to Professor Harris's annual New Year's party.
He wanted you to step out of your comfort zone, and he knew without him it would be difficult.
He told us that he had made you promise to come, and Mariah knew you always kept your promises, especially to Sam. He wanted us to support you. Tears came down her eyes.
Sam knew her like no one else in her life. Mariah saidSam wanted me to give you this messag: "Tell Anna, it's my last gift to her."