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Part 28: What If’s
There are many things that go unspoken by new couples. Perhaps they just assume the other knows how they feel, and so they don’t take the moment to confess their fears and worries about the relationship. But in my mind later that night, I pondered if the relationship would even survive past tomorrow. Summer had retired to her room and the sleep she said she needed for whatever tomorrow would bring. I knew she meant the fact that she would be leaving, even though she hadn’t quite told me so.
After our dance and night of kissing, the bed I lay in seemed very lonely. You don’t think of these things much when you have no one. It isn’t until the experience of that first kiss, that first taste of longing and desire, does the bed reveal itself as empty. I lay there wondering what it would be like to sleep at Summer’s side, to feel her breathing form resting against me, to watch her peaceful countenance as she slept and sweetly dreamed. To see her smile in her sleep would be one of life’s greatest pleasures, I imagined.
When sleep did come, it was at first filled with pleasant dreams of the orchard, blues music in the night, and Summer’s sweet peach kisses on my lips, but soon they turned to more dreadful things, such as packed bags, sad goodbyes, and the disappearing tail lights of her car as she went back home.
I awoke to the sound of my phone ringing. It roused me up from sleep like someone screaming in my ear. I checked my cell to see who was calling. It was my brother. I didn’t answer it. I still wasn’t ready to talk to him. I had bigger worries now that I was awake. I looked out my bedroom to the driveway. Summer’s car was still there. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Getting dressed, I feared what I would find once I walked out the room. With just the slightest hesitation, I made my way out into the hall. I glanced up the stairs and noticed Summer’s bedroom door was open. I went around the hallway and to the living room. Looking to my right into the kitchen, I saw her bags sitting by the backdoor and my face fell.
“Matthew,” I heard her say, and I walked towards the sound of her voice. She was sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. “I have to talk to you.”
I didn’t even bother with fixing myself any coffee. I was already wide awake and a bundle of wired nerves. I sat down across from her and looked into her face. It was evident she had been crying.
“You okay?” I asked.
“No, not really.”
“I have to go.”
I wasn’t sure how to proceed, but there was something on my mind I had to know. “What about last night?”
“It was beautiful,” she replied.
I nodded. “You don’t have to go. You can stay.”
“I only paid for three nights.”
“I’ll pay for the next four,” I suggested.
“I can’t let you do that.”
She sighed heavily. “Matthew, I know you want to help, and being here with you has been so nice. I will always be grateful for how you helped me with my dad, and all the wonderful times we’ve had, but I have to go.”
“To tie up things with your mom’s estate?”
“Can I come see you?”
She mustered a smile. “I would like that.”
“So would I. Summer, I don’t want you to go.”
“I know you don’t. And part of me doesn’t want to. But I have to just get away and clear my head for a while. Decide what to do.”
She hung her head and didn’t answer.
“What is wrong with us?”
“You act like something is wrong with us. That we shouldn’t be here together or something.”
“Matthew, it isn’t like that. Please don’t make this any harder than it has to be.”
“It doesn’t have to be hard at all. Don’t you want to stay?”
She hesitated, and I could see her eyes starting to well up with tears again. “No,“ she said.
I couldn’t believe what I just heard, not after all we had been through together. “I see,” I stammered. “Well then..” I got up from the table. “I guess you better go then.”
“Yes,” she said with a slight tremble to her voice. “Matthew, please try to understand..”
“Oh, I understand,” I said, turning on her.
“No you don’t. I wish you could know the turmoil inside me.”
“You’re not the only one, Summer. I was in turmoil too before you came, but you brought me peace. You made me see things different, made me open my heart and take a chance. But now I feel you won’t take a chance.”
“I can’t,” she murmured. “I can’t take a chance only for you to get tired of me, or for you to go back to Ashley.”
“I don’t want Ashley. It will be a cold day in hell…”
“You say that now, but what about tomorrow?”
“Yeah, what about tomorrow? Better yet, what about today? Whatever happened with living day by day? You are making judgments against me before I have even done anything. You are just assuming one day I will do you wrong.”
“No,“ I said firmly. “I won’t.”
“How do you know you won’t?”
“How do you know I will?” I countered.
She had no answer for that, but still I could see there was nothing I could do. She was leaving whether I wanted her to stay or not.
“Look, Summer. Last night to me was the most beautiful thing I could ever have experienced, and you to me are the most amazing, beautiful woman I have ever met. And now, just when I’m getting to know you, to get close to you, you want to run.”
I stepped right up to her and put my hands lightly on her shoulders.
“When are you going to stop running? I’m not your father. I’m not any ex you may have had. I’m me, and though I know I’m not much, I am honest with you and I feel we have a shot at something amazing. Now if you want to go, then I can’t stop you. But know that as you do, you are leaving behind a man who is ready to throw all caution to the wind and leap into the unknown with you.”
“Why do you have to make this so difficult?”
“Because I am difficult,” I replied with a smile.
“Oh Matty,” she said, reaching for me. She wrapped her arms around me and clung to me tightly, resting her head on my shoulder. “I’m so scared.”
“I’m scared too,” I confessed.
“What if we don’t make it?”
“What if we do?”
“What if we grow tired of each other?”
“What if we don’t?”
“What if my baggage becomes too much to bear?”
“Then I will bear it with you.”
I took her head in my hands, my palms lying flat against her cheek and made her look into my eyes so there could be no mistaking me.
“Summer, stop the what ifs. Why are you trying to convince yourself things won’t work between us? Why can’t you just put a little trust and faith in what we have?”
“What do we have?”
“We have each other and all the possibilities for a wonderful forever together. If we both want it. Do you want it?”
She had tears streaming down her cheek. “Yes. Yes I want it.”
I took her back into my arms, kissing her forehead. “Then stay,” I said.
I could tell by how rigid her body was against me that she was torn. I knew she wanted to stay. But another part of her wanted to bolt. Just like she did in the orchard. If she bolted this time however, it would be in her car, and I didn’t think she would be returning at nightfall.
“Summer, I know, just from the past few days that we have a connection. Despite our different backgrounds, our age gap, and our past sorrows, we have something special. I know you can feel it. “
“Yes,” she whispered low.
“Look, you don’t have to leave right at this instant, do you? Even if you want to leave today , you don’t have to go immediately. Would you just stay a little longer?”
“I know what you’re trying to do. To prolong this and make it harder for me to go.”
“Yes I am,” I said.
“At least you are honest.”
“Yes. Would you go somewhere with me, Summer?”
She hesitated a moment, unsure of what I wanted from her.
“I saw something from the bedroom window when I got up and I’d like for us to check it out together. Who knows, maybe it will give us the answers to what troubles us both.”
She finally looked at me. “Okay I’ll bite. What is it?”
“A fortune teller.”
I laughed at the expression on her face. “At the artist’s village. They are set up this morning. There’s a sign out there that says fortunes divined. So, let’s go get divined.”
At first she seemed like she was going to back down, but she relented. “Oh what can it hurt? Never had my fortune told.”
“Me neither. But I did get a crush on the fortune teller at the fair when I was fourteen.”
To this, she laughed. “I can almost imagine it,” she said.
I smiled and held out my hand. “Consider this your wild and spontaneous thing for today.”
Part 29: Fortunes And The Truth
“Orchard House & The Heart Of Everything” 2016 Paul D Aronson.