A Summer Walk
Delora sat rocking slowly in an old wicker chair. The sun was almost setting, but the air was warm, retaining the last remnants of heat from midday. A slight summer’s breeze wafted through the front yard and along the porch, causing just the slightest tingle of wind chimes.
Delora was a very old woman. Her bones were frail and oftentimes she had little energy to even leave the house. Her body had a good many wrinkles; the story of her long life etched onto her face.
Delora closed her eyes and breathed in slowly as the breeze swept past her brow. It seemed as though she could feel the time rewinding, bringing her back to earlier days. In her mind, she could clearly picture the first day they had met.
It was a long time ago: she was only twenty-one at the time, and she was enjoying her summer vacation at home. She had readily welcomed the break from the world of books and midterms. Her studies had made her tense, and she rarely found a moment for leisure or fun. She enjoyed being back in her quiet hometown. The morning air was warm and inviting and she had decided to take a walk about the town.
Her mind wandered as she walked, a gentle breeze blowing back her hair. Only a moment later, she was surprised to find herself sprawled on the ground entwined in someone or something. This someone turned out to be a young man. He was very tall and lanky with long blond hair barely short enough for his eyes to peek through. After they were able to untangle from one another, she learned that his name was Rodger. He was in town for the summer visiting his aunt and had taken a job at the local bakery. He could only talk for a brief moment, since he needed to get back to work.
Delora walked back in a daze. She couldn’t get him off her mind. There was just something about him; he was different than anyone she had ever met before.
The next morning she went to visit him in the bakery. He smiled sheepishly at her when he realized who she was. His break was coming up soon and he offered to walk with her.
They soon become fast friends. Every morning, Delora would walk around the town and stop into the bakery for a muffin. Then the two would walk along the beach. They had the best conversations, about everything and about nothing, about the trivial and the deep; in some ways, it didn’t matter what they talked of.
To Delora, these conversations were the best part of her day. Rodger was innately serene, his presence always calming to her. He was different then were her normal peers. They were all so ambitious, so driven. They competed over everything and they were determined to earn the biggest buck. They became a bit tiresome: all brilliant, but also complete idiots, too caught up in things that didn’t matter, and Rodger wasn’t like that. He took days one at a time and just appreciated things for what they were. He made Delora feel as young as she always should have.
These walks continued for weeks and Delora never seemed to tire of them. One day, she arrived as usual at the bakery to find Rodger nowhere in site. When she inquired about him, the manager seemed almost as befuddled as she was.
“I’m not sure, ” she replied. “Something called both he and his aunt, Mrs. Jamesian, away. They left rather hurriedly, and I’m not sure if they’ll be returning.”
“That’s all you know?” asked Delora.
“I’m afraid so,” she replied.
Delora left with her heart in her shoes. She wanted to cry and scream and run all at once. She ran and ran, until she fell panting in the sand, tears streaming down her face. To know she could possibly never see him again destroyed her. His companionship had been the highlight of her summer; he made her feel free. It was as if by knowing him she began to finally know herself.
Weeks passed and she heard nothing from him. She still walked the town every morning and she still bought a muffin every morning from the bakery, hoping that maybe this would be the time she see his smiling face again.
Soon Delora was packing; her return day to school had snuck up upon her. She walked to the bakery, every breath carrying a bruising pain as it traveled up her throat. She knew he was going to be there. She didn’t know how she knew, but she knew when she walked into the door, she was going to see him.
She held her breath as she entered the door, walking slowly.
But only a young girl greeted her.
Delora ordered her muffin and left glumly. She walked along the beach as they had normally done. She had wanted to see him so badly that she made herself believe that he would actually be there. She knew deep down that she would never see him again. She was sad but somewhere she knew it was all right, that they had still shared something special.
Delora went back to school and graduated that year and went on to lead a full and interesting life: she often traveled to the Amazonian rain forest, opened her own thriving travel agency, published a novel, and somehow managed to raise a family at the same time.
Delora had outlived everyone for whom she ever cared: her husband, her friends, and sadly even some of her children. She knew she was getting up in years and wouldn’t have many to come, but she felt her life had been worthwhile. She would sit on her porch during the warm months and often she would think of Rodger. She never did see him again. She had heard rumors: that he had become an investment banker, that he was an artist living in the south of France. She could never be sure of the truth of any of these stories.
It really didn’t matter much. She would always have that summer and those walks on the beach.
Delora smiled as the memories enveloped her mind, her eyes closed in peaceful bliss, remembering the sweet days of her youth.Posted in truth