An Anniversary Moment

A NIGHT AS DARK AND GLITTERING AS THIS

 

Author’s note: I missed posting this during our April 12th Celebration at Catherine’s Balcony 2018 because my internet service was down for three days! That’ll teach me to wait ’til the last minute! To see all the gifts and treats submitted to that party, click here: http://batbtv.com/April12/2018/ 

To love another is something
like prayer and can’t be planned, you just fall
into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief

 

“This year …” she began, taking his hand, turning it palm up, inclining her head over it. Inspecting it, it seemed. “… not the balcony. Okay?”

A fall of hair shielded her face. There was something … something she didn’t want to reveal … yet. He might have persuaded her to tell him – he had a hard day’s work out in front of him, and she wouldn’t want him distracted by worry, would she? But everything about her demeanor spelled surprise: a bitten-back smile she thought he couldn’t see, the flush that rose from the wide scoop-neck of her sweater, her breath that caught just a second’s-worth before she went on with her request.

“Of course,” he replied. “But where should I meet you?”

“Here’s fine, at the threshold. The usual time?”

Already he counted the hours.

 

His day proved even harder than he expected – everything heavy and awkward, wet and cold, the task a muddy, wearing slog. In truth he wore much of his work home. He stopped in at the Library to deliver as short a report as he could get away with.

“Oh, my,” Father said in greeting. “You are a mucky pup.”

“That’s putting a poetic spin on …” He spread his arms, looked down at himself. No matter the long, theoretically drying walk from the work site, he’d left a drip ring on the stone floor. “… things,” he finished. Tonight he actually did regret what he was.

A splat of mud had landed on Father’s sleeve and he flicked it away. “Where has the time gone!” he exclaimed. “We had a rousing game of Euchre in the dining hall tonight and now it’s …” He pulled out his pocket watch. “… nearly eleven. Perhaps you … ummm … Maybe you should …”

“… be on my way.” Hurry, he was thinking. He didn’t even say goodnight. Catherine would be descending the ladder soon, and he wanted to be waiting for her when she did.

Toweled off, he stood in front of his open chifferobe. What to wear? She hadn’t given him a clue to their destination. He pondered some of his finer things, drawn, though, to the blue sweater she said was her favorite and deciding on the new cords he’d acquired that she seemed to like, if her hand on his thigh, her fingers’ tracings of the fabric’s ridges that night under the bandshell were any proof. His cloak was clean and dry and hanging on its rack, not a necessity for working as deep beneath the city as he’d been today. He had, though, spread it as a blanket for them time and time and time again. Maybe the Falls? he thought, swinging it on. A protected alcove in the Chamber of the Winds? Curious and anticipatory, but more … thankful … he darted out, his pace just under that which might conjure up a rude sweat.

 

He arrived a few steps late. She had one foot on the ground, the other on the last rung, and her hands still gripped the ladder rails when he ducked through the rubbled entry. She grinned at him over her shoulder. If she were younger, he imagined she might have skipped through the dust and into his ready embrace. 

“Tighter,” she directed. Her breath was warm, so warm on his neck, the word theirs … but her voice was shyer than he would have predicted. He felt the tremor of her body, sensed … an intensity, an importance. When they parted, when she looked up at him, her expression was … full-toned – dark and light, gentle and afire …

“I want to go … there,” she said.

There? They’d gone to that sorrowful place together only once, not long after their reunion and at her very same request, standing in silence on the crest of the petty hillside over which she’d tumbled. The grass below them was lush and night-green without a trace of the burn of hellish violation that should mark the spot. Thereafter, on their midnight walkabouts through the park, they’d avoided that place. Easy enough to justify, East Drive being too well lit, too traveled to offer him cover, but even on their many circuits of the woods of The Ramble, he’d steered them clear of there. Why now? he wondered. Why tonight? 

He offered her his arm, his protection. His faith.

 

They emerged from the entrance closest to their intention hand in hand, along the way having spoken of the sweetest smallest things – a gift in itself, if anyone had but asked, and he’d have been more than satisfied. But there was that something, something more to come.

Puzzling … her feelings, dancing as they did to the surface, yet anchored to a deeper consciousness. Not a weighted darkness, as he might have described his centermost that night (and as he might have efforted away since) but a solidity, sound and whole and sure. A vehicle rattled by above them on the Transverse – a white panel van, of all makes and models, under any other circumstance assumed a nightshift work crew heading home – and she didn’t even flinch. It had hardly passed when she led him from the shadows they’d pressed in to, urged him on toward the destined expanse of lawn.

“Look,” she said, pointing.

He didn’t think he could look, not away from her face upturned to his. She was radiant and it was more than the golden lamplight, more than the silvery moon and the stars … but he complied.

“A bench!” he exclaimed. Where there hadn’t been one before.

“I adopted it,” she told him, tugging him closer.  

In the glowing, something glittered – a plaque, a nameplate, etched and affixed to the seat back. He bent to read … and then he turned to her …

“I want to be reminded,” she said, beside him on their bench. Her words were soft, whispered just below his ear, his kiss still warm on her lips. “I want others to be reminded – that love does exist, that it’s worth waiting for, that it’s worth fighting for, enduring for.”

He drew her even closer, stunned he could hear what she was saying over his hammering heart.

“I thought we could … retrace our steps from that night … well, your steps.” She sighed, smiling with the release of a long-held breath. “Walk me home?”

He didn’t say, “You can see your apartment building from here through the spring trees,” even though it was true. He didn’t ask if she were sure or what she meant by home. He didn’t have to question their direction; there’d been but one all along. He did have to shake his head to clear his thoughts, though, because she was speaking once more.

“… taken some time off. I’m yours for ten days, Vincent. Again.”

And forever after. 

A close-up of a park bench in Central Park's memorial plate, engraved and affixed to the bench back. Text reads: April 12th. I found hope again that night. I found you.

____________

Anne Sexton. Admonitions to a Special Person. (opening quotation)

The graphics as wallpapers may be downloaded from the Art page

20 Comments

  1. It was worth the wait. I could see and hear every moment.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Norma! I’m so glad you came by to read this little story. Thank you for such kind words. It means a lot to me.

      Reply
  2. That is just lovely. Thank you. ❤️

    Reply
    • Thank you! For reading and for your kind words!

      Reply
  3. Aww! I love this! Perfect.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Sandy! I’m so glad you liked it!

      Reply
  4. Vicky

    Reply
    • Vicky! What a nice surprise so early this morning. Thank you for reading – and for your encouragement.

      I realize in my haste to get this up I didn’t add the alt text to the graphics. I’ll do that as soon as possible, but in the meantime, the header graphis is of V and C IN EACH OTHER’s arms in the park at night, a hillside and streetlamp behind them, a streetlamp shining, a park bench in the background.

      The second graphic is a close-up of the nameplate screwed into the park bench back, and its text reads: “April 12th. I found hope again that night. I found you.” Since that wasn’t actually in the text of the story, that must have seemed like a vagueness!

      Reply
  5. Carole, you made my day reading this. It is just so ………… aw, words escape me – brilliant, touching, all those and more, much, much more, just beautiful. Skip

    Reply
    • Thank you, Skippy! You’ve made my morning! Your encouragement means so much to me. Hugs!

      Reply
  6. I’m late to the party for the same reason as you — no internet for two days! Thank you so much for this beautiful story. How perfect that Catherine should choose to reclaim the spot where Vincent found her in such a lovely way!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Lindariel! You’re always so kind, so good for my spirits.

      No internet for those days – of all days – was tough!

      Reply
  7. It’s perfect! I’m so glad you posted it. It’s never too late for something as lovely as this. And your graphics are such a wonderful touch! Thank you! ??

    Reply
    • Oh, thank you, Barbara! I’m so glad you enjoyed this little story. Thank you for reading and for leaving a message. It means a lot to me.

      Reply
  8. You give us all hope with this story, Carole! And those next ten days, well, I wish them to be the happiest yet!

    Reply
    • What a nice thing to say, Pat! Thank you for reading – it matters that you did!

      Reply
  9. Thank you for this beautiful story, Carole! In my mind, we’ve all planted a tree (or perhaps a rosebush?) next to this bench in celebration of our favorite pair.

    Reply
    • Heather! I’m just now getting back to Imagine after quite a while away, so I should have long ago said Thank You! It’s so nice to see you here. I’m grateful for your reading and really happy that you liked this little piece.

      Reply
  10. I love a secretive Catherine with a plan! I see the particular smile she would wear…
    Such tender anticipation in this buildup. If proof were still needed, it would show that an “established relationship” premise doesn’t kill the magic…
    Please don’t be surprised that I came to read it (so late, i know) – I will ALWAYS come back.

    Reply
    • Claire! Your kind words make such a difference in my day. I’m really glad you found magic in this little story. And I’m really glad you came back. 🙂

      Reply

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