After lunch, Myra insisted on taking a long hike, always in a different direction. The terrain around the farm was dense and woodsy in places so they’d change into boots then don insect repellent. She’d warned him that in some places it was best if he just followed behind so he’d be sure to avoid gopher holes which were the quickest way to break an ankle. Even though he could tell she was serious, he still laughed when she told him he’d have to take a bath in tomato juice and sleep in the stable for a few days if he scared a skunk on one of their daily journeys.
Today they’d been walking uphill for an hour but she still hadn’t said a word and though he never liked the sensation of not knowing exactly where he was, he did like walking behind her, so he too remained silent. The elegant glide of her hips as she trekked through the leaves and dead branches, the unsheathed power in her legs as she climbed ragged pathways with agility and speed, even the way her hair swayed in the breeze when she’d turn back to check on him – he’d follow her anywhere as long as he could watch her in motion.
As they approached the stream, the trees seem to close in on this spot and his boots sank into the muddy earth. Funny how the deep rich amber colors of fall showed up faster here in the cool mountain air while the leaves were still green on the trees at home in the city. She stopped for a moment so he did too, and then walking with some deliberation on the stone bridge over the stream, she finally spoke.
“My Dad knew this was my favorite spot and that when I grew up I wanted a house for my family right near this stream so he built me this bridge.”
He liked the way she talked about her parents as if they were still around, as if her relationship with them was still a solid part of her life; like it grounded her.
Glenn took a step towards her on the bridge and lost his footing at the same time he heard her cry out, “Glenn be careful!”
His eyes closed, as he laid sprawled on the wet slate, mentally checking himself for major injuries. He felt her lean down next to him. Her hands touching his face, his arms, his chest– all the while she fretted, “I tried to warn you about how slippery . . . oh my God Glenn, are you alright?”
“I will be,” He said opening his eyes to look at her, “but I’ll be a thousand percent better if you take full advantage of this opportunity and kiss me.”
Her face was very close to his in that moment so he saw the surprise register in her eyes and something else, that might’ve been fear but, he couldn’t be sure. Her lips were distracting him. He knew that they would feel as soft and taste as sweet as he’d been imagining.
“Glenn . . . I don . . .” She began, leaning back and looking away. Away from him.
“It’s alright Myra. I really don’t know what made me say that. It was inappropriate I guess I hit my head harder than I thought.”
She shook her head back and forth almost violently. “No, you don’t understand. It’s not that I don’t want to kiss you or . . . or that I’m frigid or anything like that”
She sounded so somber, so sad, something inside him broke open. Sitting up, he reached for her and pulled her onto his lap. Her upper body was so small he felt like his arms could wrap around her twice. He held her like that for a few moments before either of them spoke again.
“For the record, I think I do understand.”
“You do?” She said sounding young and scared.
“Neither of us are careless people Myra. If this happens between us, it will mean something, to both of us. Taking it slow is the smart way to go; especially now with everything else going on in your life.”
“You’re pretty smart for an ex-cop.” She pulled out of his embrace to look at him. He could see one lone tear that had escaped make a contrail down her cheek and he used his fingers to brush it away. “Someday you’ll have to share with me why your career path changed.”
“Sure, maybe. AFTER you kiss me.” Glenn grinned.
Her laughter reached out and tickled him. He loved the sound of it and vowed to himself he’d hear more of it before this was all over.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/pmorgan/2097050/”>pmorgan</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>