The Couple



Snow fell steadily outside the big picture window. The woman rocked to and fro, knitting, looking up from time to time at the cypress trees, branches bowing under the weight of the heavy snowfall. A door opened at the back of the room. Her husband came in shaking the drift off himself, stamping his feet, he removed his coat, hung it on a hook on the wall then sat down on a bench to remove his boots. 

"Maybe we ought to have settled at the beach instead. Somewhere warm where we wouldn't need to chop wood and build fires."

"Must I remind you that living here was your idea. Far away from society you said... deep in the woods where no one could find us you said..." 

He chuffed with amusement, "Yes I know what I said." 

She put her knitting aside, rose from her rocker, "I'll make you some hot tea." He catches her hand as she walks by and kisses it gently. She returns the kiss to the top of his head. 

"Tea to stay awake or take a nap?" 

"Stay awake."

He gets up walks to his rocker, situated right next to hers in the same manner as they sat outside on the porch in Summer. He picks the book up from the seat, sits with a groan. 

She calls from the kitchen, "You know we could have Spencer bring us a load of wood. He said he'd be happy to." She chuckled to herself knowing Spencer already did bring wood, in secret, a few pieces at a time and threw it on the pile when Daddy wasn't looking.

"When I can't pick up the axe no more." He gazes out the window, the flakes were getting bigger, falling in thick clumps. His mind wanders back in time... he sits on a bench in a park blankly watching children on a playground, running jumping sliding swinging. Witness to their joy, he felt the lack of his own happiness ever more profoundly. In a corner of his mind he hears a giggle and sees her face, a girl he dreams about and the ever-present sadness of not knowing who she was or where. He laid down on the bench and stared up at the trees, closed his eyes, drifting off. When he awoke it was nearly dark and someone had left a small paper bag on his chest. He sat up stiffly and opened it, a doughnut. It smelled delicious. He reached down into the bag, pulling the glazed treat to his mouth, sunk his teeth into it. Heavenly! Who would have done this? A mighty kind person. He raised the pastry over his head, looked up and said "Thanks". "You're welcome" he heard in reply. On the bench directly across from him sat the girl in his dreams. She had on a bright purple sweater and wore vivid pink lipstick. When she laughed out loud it rang like the tinkling of a bell, the laughter he had heard a million times in his head. And though he couldn't see them up-close he knew in his heart her eyes were just about the same color as that sweater she was wearing and that they would be together for the rest of their lives.

Tossed back into the present by her familiarity, "Here you are my dear" she handed him a steaming mug of tea, "Earl Grey. Looks like you need it. Were you asleep?" 

"No. I was reminiscing about the day we met. Do you remember?"

"Of course I do. You sat on that same park bench everyday for a month. I watched you from my apartment window. I thought you were homeless. Except that you were dressed rather well for a homeless person."

"And you left a doughnut..."

"Yes well I thought you might be hungry. A hungry homeless person with a nice wardrobe."

They both smiled, recalling that moment when their eyes met across the leaf-lined pathway, the outer world ceasing to exist, their inner world just beginning. Now nearly 50 years later, he could count on one hand the number of times he had been away from her, and without a doubt wanted never to be parted from her again. The last time he left was the last time he left. The fear of never seeing her again was so overwhelming he swore that if he did get back to her safely he would stay put. There wasn't anything more important to do than be with her.



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