It was not a defining moment in his life, and yet it was a memory that would linger for the rest of his days, and even on his deathbed, she would be his last, purest thought.
He was touring Ireland on his own in the fall of the year, and just outside Galway he saw her at the side of the road, hidden by fog and mist at first, hitchhiking, as so many young women seemed to do in that country at the time. Although, he would never admit it to anyone other than himself, it was the sexual intrigue that, after spotting her cocooned in a hooded parka, drove him to slow initially and then put on the brakes. He'd done it a couple of times before and had spent a few hours traveling with a young woman, one on her way to Killarney, the other to the Cliffs of Moher. Always, they abandoned him at their destination.
At first, this young lady seemed no different. "Call me Missy," she volunteered. "I'm on my way to Donegal." But where the others had been a trifle uneasy and rather closed mouthed, she seemed settled at first, even downright comfortable, if less than talkative in the passenger seat an arm's reach away from this man she knew nothing about.
He wouldn't call her beautiful, but something about her face produced a longing within him that he knew he should have never permitted.