She stood on the balcony, looking out over the ocean. Time takes everything, she thought. People, the sound of their voices, places, memories, everything.
She closed her eyes and felt the sun on her face. She’d had a good run, with the best of everything. Life was one big party, a never ending gala ball. What was it that they said? LIVING WELL IS THE BEST REVENGE, yes that was it. And they lived well, no one could ever say they didn’t.
She pulled a cigarette from the sterling silver case and put it between her lips. Those had been the days, she smiled, flicking on the lighter and inhaling deeply. And what else is life for, if not to live well, if not to squeeze every single bit of excitement and wonder out of it and leave it drained and exhausted, by the time you make your exit? She laughed and brushed the hair out of her eyes.
But then how cruel life can be, to take all of that away. There are those who would say that she should be happy to have lived it at all. How silly those people are, she thought. They don’t miss what they never had. How can they possibly understand what it’s like to have had everything and then, just because the years continue to pass, little by little, your life is ripped away.
“Well. No matter,” she said to herself. “That time is over, never to come again.”
Her cat looked at her, as if he might be expected to answer.
“That’s the thing,” she said. “Things can never happen twice, my darling. There will never be another Scott and Zelda, another Sara and Gerald, another…”
“Rooowrrr,” said BeBe.
“You’re right, of course. I’m being silly.”
“Yes, yes, darling, I know. But the memories are so fresh. I can still hear the music, the laughter, the clinking of glasses, the dancing. I can feel the days on the beach. The creativity was touchable then, but I won’t talk about Ernest. He was a beast and a bully. No, my sweet BeBe, will shall talk about sun-kissed children and delicious picnics. Love and breakups, war and warm beds.”
The cat stretched out in a sunbeam and began to doze.
“Those were the days. And it’s not as if I want to live in the past, my love, I want the past never to have gone. I want the past to be the present. Is that too much to ask?” she said, lighting another cigarette. “I suppose it is,” she sighed. “The Riviera, darling. Paris, sparkling like diamonds, rain or shine. Yes, BeBe, nothing can compare. But Lee Miller, now there was a woman who was gorgeous and brave. She was with Man Ray for too long, but then, what is too long? She was brilliant on her own and didn’t need anyone. Not really. And did I tell you about Sylvia Beach? I know I did, BeBe. A lovely woman. She was very sweet and generous to a fault. I never saw her angry. Not once. I’m telling you, darling, it was magical. Every moment of it and I’m not exaggerating in the least. Magical.”
“But someone also said that, all good things must come to an end, although for the life of me, I don’t know why,” she sighed. “Everyone is gone and while books are written about that magical time, no one gets it exactly right. How can they? They weren’t there. It’s also because each of us experienced it in a different way, so we were all having different moments, during the same moments. Isn’t that the strangest things, BeBe? We were all together, doing the same the things while having different experiences.”
The cat rolled over.
“And times change. The wars are different, the feelings, the clothing, the attitudes. Nothing stays the same. All we can do is be in love with the things that happen during the moments we are alive. But it seems such a waste to let that special time pass. Let it go, so that no one can ever feel it again. The poetry and theater, the art. It was all so amazing and that’s the thing, BeBe, we all knew it was amazing. We knew it then. We knew we were living magical lives, when we were living them. Oh, yes, yes, you’re right. Not everything went smoothly. There were fights and hurt feelings, jealousy and even envy, now and then, even poverty, but for the most part, we all got along.”
An alarm went off, the cat woke up.
“Did you hear that BeBe?” she asked looking around.
The she heard the honking of a car horn and ran to the balcony once again. Zelda was waving and telling to come and join them. She waved back and told them she’d be right down. And with that, the dying woman left her worn and battered body, and went to once again join the party.