My hand trembles as I watch her approach on her daily walk around the park. Her ponytail and tight jeans make her appear to be in her mid-twenties.
I shuffle to the middle of the path. To talk to her, I must slow her down. “Do you think it will rain?”
She stops and looks at the darkening sky. “I hope so.”
She turns to size me up. A balding man of fifty, shaking like a schoolboy about to ask a girl to dance, leaning on an umbrella is all she sees. “I wish I had taken my umbrella.”
The threat of rain is the reason I chose this day to speak to her. It would keep the crowds away. “Perhaps we can walk together, in case it rains. That is, if you don't mind an old man slowing you down.”
“I'm headed to the top.”
This is unexpected. For weeks, I had watched her take the path around the pond, never the one to the lookout. I resolve to see my plan through. “I'm going that way too.”
She backs up. “Are you sure? It's a long way up and I’m not planning on returning… soon.”
I touch the envelope peeking out of my breast pocket. It’s still there. I return my hand to my side only to find my thumb and index finger have taken it upon themselves to rub each other in circles. “I am. It is the last item on my bucket list.”
“You've finished your list?”
“After I reach the top, I'll die happy.” I try to make her believe.
She smiles as if I was an old friend. “You have made your final... resolution?”
I resolved to pop my question and let the chips fall where they may. The chance of hearing the answer I want is slim, but I need to know. “Yes, I have a final resolution and I intend to see it through.”
“Me too.” She offers me her arm. “We can go together.”
I accept and we begin walking up the hill, arm in arm. I imagine what it would be like to be younger and held in her arms. I’m in love. “They call me Jack. What is your name?”
“You haven’t seen the news.” She took a deep breath. “They call me the Ice Princess. Back in 2014, I was pregnant and suffered a heart attack. My husband rushed me to the hospital where I died. My family arranged for my body to be cryopreserved. It wasn’t my choice to hang upside-down in a vat of nitrogen for fifty years waiting for medical science to advance to the point where I could be rejuvenated.”
“I did read your story in the paper. You were Jane Smith.”
“They didn’t tell the whole story. How I woke to find my last thoughts frozen in my mind, my family. Without them, I find it lonely. That’s why I’m… abdicating.”
She forces a smile. “You...