• I walk into the park just outside the city limits. I find the bench in front of the big fountain and take a seat. As I sit, I look at the people passing by me: a forty-something year old man in a crumpled brown business suit with dark circles under his eyes, a fat lady power-walking in a hideous pink-and-purple jogging ensemble, a toothpick-thin woman on a cell phone, walking her Pomeranian as if she were queen of the world.
    I look behind me, over at the fountain. It’s a replica of the one in Central Park (or maybe one of the Centers, Lincoln or Rockefeller?), the one that they showed in Angels in America. The fountain is of a woman; an angel, or possibly a saint, holding out her hands, a big cloth floating around her. She looks serene, peaceful, as if she’s ready to protect whoever comes near her. What was her name again? I wonder. I try to remember but I can’t. Great, now it’s gonna bug me all day. Oh well, at least it’ll take my mind off of him.
    It was here, in front of this fountain, where I first met him. Him, who seemed like a Greek god in the light of the sun. Him, who looked past my frizzy red hair and too-big eyebrows and loved me anyway. Him, who promised that he would change time and time again but never did. He always had something to do, a place to be, and stood me up on at least half our dates with some excuse. Some were legitimate, some were lame, and they all ended in the same way: “Look, I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”
    I broke up with him a month ago, for missing our anniversary without so much as a phone call and leaving me to pay for a really expensive dinner at Chez Pierre (well, technically, I didn’t really pay for it; the thought of him seeing an extra $165 on his credit card bill gave me a smug sense of satisfaction). I told him that I had been thrown around and cast aside like a bad piece of meat since the moment we met, and that I wasn’t going to stand for it anymore. Since then, I had been in a gray zone between sadness and relief: sadness at the ending of our relationship, and relief that I wouldn’t have to put up with any more his crap.
    But just yesterday, he had called me, begging me for a second chance. He told me that he would be better this time, that he would be on time when we had plans and not blow me off and would be my willing slave. I’m pretty good at reading faces and voices, and I could tell from the way his voice was cracking that he had been crying, or doing something of the sort. As icily as I could, I had said to him, “Meet me at the park tomorrow at 2:30. By the fountain. Then we’ll see.”
    So that’s why I’m sitting here, waiting for him to come, testing him. It’s cold, and I’m getting impatient. I take my cell phone out of my pocket and look at the time. “2:43 P.M.” it says in big digital numbers. He’s already late. Surprise, surprise. I contemplate leaving and start to stand up, but then I remember how desperate and heart-broken he had sounded when I talked to him last night. I sit back down and let out a sigh. Five minutes, I decide. I’ll give him five more minutes, not a second more.
    I glance at my cell phone again. 2:44. Four minutes before I leave. I lean back on the back of the bench. I wish I’d brought a book, or at least a warmer jacket. I want to close my eyes, but I can’t let myself fall asleep. I look at my phone. 2:45. He’s got three more minutes to show up. I look at a man walking by me who’s carrying a big Macy’s shopping bag. Is he gay or running an errand for his wife? I wonder. No, strike that, he’s gay, he’s too pretty to be straight. I look at my cell phone again. 2:46. Two minutes before I bolt.
    What will happen if he never shows up? I think suddenly. Will he keep calling me? Will he abandon me for good and never speak to me again? Or what if he does? What if he arrives right now? Do I forgive him and take him back? Or will I just cast him aside forever? CAN I cast him aside forever?
    2:47. One minute more and I’ll be gone. Part of me feels relieved, like I’ll be taking a huge burden off my shoulders; but another side of me feels empty now, like my liver has been torn out. I feel the sting of tears at my eyes. He’s not going to come. I should have known.
    One more glance at my cell phone. “2:48 P.M.”.
    "Well, I say out loud, "I gave him a shot." I get up to leave, trying to hold back my tears.
    I turn around and freeze in my tracks. It’s him, racing toward me, sweating like he’s just run a marathon. He stops in front of me, panting like crazy. Is this happening?
    “I’ve—been,” he pants, “waiting—on the—other—side of—the fountain—for—half an—hour.” He looks up at me. He’s telling the truth.
    “So,” I say slowly, “you’ve been here all this time?” He nods, looking like he’s about to collapse. I take his hand and place him on the bench. He lies down, taking up the whole seat. I look down at him. He actually came. For the first time ever, he really came through for me. Maybe he will change this time. Maybe, for the first time in his life, he’s for real.
    He sees me staring and looks back, confused. “What?”
    I smile at him and shake my head. “Nothing,” I reply, “absolutely nothing.”