Note: Today it’s Two For Tuesday, and so we will celebrate with two parts of the story, instead of the usual one. Not only that, but these two parts fit together in a nice way, and I don’t feel like making my readers wait a full day for the second half. So, here we go with part one of our double post. I’ll post the second one here soon.
As always, if you are new to Orchard House and need to catch up, click the link below to go to the main page and table of contents. Thanks for reading!
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Part 35: Kiss And Drive
The hike down the mountain seemed much shorter than when we hiked up. Perhaps it was because we were going downhill the whole way, or that we were alternating between running and limping, in an effort to reach the bottom before it was too dark to see the path. After the clearing at the halfway mark, night descended on us like a dark shroud. Holding hands to stay together and slowing up our pace, we hiked the rest of the way with only the moonlight and stars in the sky to guide us. Reaching the car, we looked back to where we had been. You couldn’t see the top of the mountain or the rocks that dominated it, as it was too dark now. I think we were both thinking of our time up there and how beautiful the sky had been, how wonderful being close to each other was. A part of me wished we had stayed up there in that old stone house and cuddled up in the floor next to the hearth. I could picture it in my head, she and I, arms and legs entwined, lips pressed together, bodies drowning in the heat of the moment.
“You okay?” Summer asked.
Startled from my reverie, I tried to regain my composure. “Yeah. Sorry. I was lost in thought.”
“I got a penny,” she said.
“Just thinking of you and me.”
She slid up close to me and I was surprised how easily my arm went around her, how natural she felt by my side, her hip touching mine. “I’m glad,” she said, nuzzling against my neck. I kissed her on her forehead and waited to see if this tender moment between us would pass. It didn’t.
The drive home to Orchard House started off in silence. It had been a long day up in the mountains, but we both agreed it had been wonderful. For me, sharing the sunset together was something that was ours alone to share. I’d never watched the sun set with anyone before, and I knew no matter how many more I would witness from this day forth, none could compare to this one. The warm moment at the foot of the trail afterwards seemed to cap off the day. We both were contented and at peace with ourselves, and each other.
After a few minutes of riding in silence, her hand holding mine in her lap, she reached for the radio, flipping through channels, seeking out some tunes to fit the mood. She settled on an indie station, coming in faint here in the mountains, but still clear enough to hear the acoustic folk pop song playing. The singer could be heard lamenting the girl he’d left behind, and his voice, caught somewhere between Roy Orbison and John Waite, expressed his regret.
“With the wind in her hair, she whispers to me,
This is the last first kiss I’ll ever believe;
There’s always been you to set me free,
With the wind in her hair, she whispers to me…Don’t go…”
Summer sighed. “This song is so sad, but I like it.”
I agreed. Despite his apparent sorrow, you couldn’t help but get reeled in by his emotion. “He’s in love with you,” I said.
She turned to me. “What?”
I caught myself and laughed. “I mean, the guy singing. He’s in love with the girl. That’s why it’s so sad.”
“So when you’re in love with someone, you’re sad?”
“No, you shouldn’t be. But he seems to have messed up and left her behind.”
She turned to look out the window. “Hope he finally got it worked out.”
“Yeah, me too.”
The DJ piped in, cutting the song off as it was fading out. “Alright, that was a mild blast from the past, a one hit wonder of say, five years ago, The Wind In Her Hair, by Dan Marsten. Hey, did you know Danny grew up only about ten miles from here over in Sunset Fields. Small world, huh? Well, hey if you want another one hit wonder, but just a little more upbeat and a heck of a lot happier, check out this real blast from 1979, Phil Seymour and Precious To Me…”
I grinned as the next song began, jangly guitars and a definite Beatles influence. “I had this record when I was a kid.”
Summer smirked. “Why does that not surprise me?”
She lay her head on the window sill, and closed her eyes, the wind tousling her hair. It made me think of the sad song we had just heard. In that moment, I believe I realized I didn’t ever want to leave her, that I was going to want her by my side forever. It’s hard to look back and pinpoint the exact moment the realization hits you that you have fallen in love. We can narrow it down, possibly recall the day, but the precise moment when that warning bell goes off in your head is often lost.
“So, still think I can’t kiss and drive?”
She raised her head up and looked at me, a mischievous smile playing across her face. “I don’t think you can.”
“I’m waiting, “ I teased.
With that dare in place, she leaned towards me, sliding across the seat so her leg was resting right against mine. She reached up her hand and turned my face from the road to her. Her soft kiss sent pleasant chills up my spine. I tried not to close my eyes as I felt myself give in to the butterfly rush that came with the touch of her lips. It didn’t really matter though, eyes opened or closed, because I was no longer looking at the road at all. Good thing it was a straight and lazy stretch of pavement, otherwise we would have been over in a ditch somewhere. Summer opened her mouth against mine and I felt the car starting to sway from its course. I righted it the best that I could without taking her kiss from me. She smiled, and the laugh that followed almost seemed to echo in my mouth. We pulled away, both of us giggling like teenagers on a Friday night after a high school football game that neither of us watched.
“Not too shabby, “ she said. “I guess you can kiss and drive.”
Looking ahead now at the road , I found myself grinning ear to ear. “I can’t let a dare go unchallenged.”
“Hmmm, I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Uh-oh,” I said. “What are you thinking?”
She didn’t answer, but instead just kissed my cheek, keeping her thoughts to herself. This worried me, because if there was one thing I learned from Ashley, it’s when women keep their thoughts to themselves trouble is not far behind.
On the way home we stopped off in town and ate some tacos at a little Mexican restaurant chain. I half expected to see the migrant workers we kept seeing in the orchard, but they weren’t there. Summer reasoned that real Latinos wouldn’t be caught in a fake taco shop, as she called it. As for ourselves, it didn’t matter to us if the food wasn’t true Mexican fare, we were starving.
When we finally got back to the house we realized because it had been closed up all day in the summer heat, the air had become quite stuffy. We went from room to room turning on every AC unit we could find. Then we retired outside, where we sat on the side porch to await the cooling down of the house. I sat in the porch swing and Summer settled herself onto my lap. The night was quiet except for the sound of crickets and cicadas. Every now and then, we would hear the distant croak of a frog from the creek bed across the road from the drive.
“I could so get used to this,” Summer said.
I put my arm around her and gently squeezed. “I already am.”
“Orchard House & The Heart Of Everything” 2016 Paul D Aronson.