My son and a friend both dropped off fresh rhubarb so I needed to bake. I made a double batch of muffins and some rhubarb crisp. My daughter came for lunch and took it all with her, for the grandkids.
It was nap time after that and when I was back, checking for e-mails I found my writer friend had challenged me to finish the genre stories we had started last summer. I've shared a number of them in my blog, and was surprised how many I had left to complete.
The list to check as done...horror, science fiction, western, fantasy, and erotica.
To do...romance, inspirational, thriller and humor, not counting nonfiction.
Each of the genre prompts comes with a photo. I was immediately struck with the black and white photo of a bridge on a foggy night. By two am I had the rough draft for a romance story. Black and white seemed to be the theme. Here it is, remember it's a the result of a tired mind, and is as yet unedited.
An Affair to Remember
The day had been unseasonably warm for October, but now, with the sun setting behind the hills, the air had cooled and a dense fog had rolled in off the river. As she followed the path into the park she shivered, could feel the mist settle its dampness on her coat, its droplets in her hair. It was not a night to be out, she thought, as her eyes searched the bridge ahead, barely able to see the lamp post in the eerie grey atmosphere. What was she doing here?
She felt foolish, and if she was honest with herself, a little afraid. Afraid he wouldn’t show, and afraid he would. Who did this kind of crazy stuff? Not her, at least not usually. Subconsciously, she had been waiting for this moment. It hadn’t been a constant on her mind, but was something, she knew, that had directed all her actions, played into every decision she’d made.
“Damn old movies,” she muttered. The bridge wasn’t a glamorous spot, not like the top of the
in that old
black and white film, but it was their rendezvous spot, and her destination. Empire State
She slowed her pace, remembering when they had made this date, one year ago, almost to the day. It had been a time of emotional upheaval, of endings, of change, not a good time for a beginning.
For so many years it had just been she and her Dad, her mother having died when she was a child. And then there had been Nathan, the young man who had come to work in her Dad’s store for the summer, and never left. He had been the son her father always wanted, and for a time, she had resented his usurping of her role as the only child in the family.
Poor Nathan, she thought. Too old to be adopted, her father had pushed them together, making no secret of his desire for them to be a couple, for Nathan to be his son officially. But, she realized, you can’t fall in love on demand, no matter how hard you try. If it hadn’t been for her father’s accident, it might never have happened. There are different kinds of love, and caring about someone, liking them, needing them, does not mean you have the forever kind of passionate love that lasts a lifetime.
She loved Nathan like a brother, and laughed, for that was really what he was, even though they had tried to be more; and failed miserably. When her father had been hurt in an auto accident, had nearly died from his injuries, she and Nathan had been there for him, and each other. The slow slide into a more personal relationship that they had avoided for years had been given a jump start into love and an engagement. If her father had had his way they would have been married with a house full of kids by now. Instead, they had gone back into slow motion, content with the way things were, never making final arrangements for the wedding.
The bridge looked empty. She couldn’t see anyone, hadn’t passed anyone on the path. The fog surrounded her in its silence, giving the park an unworldly look and feel. She had been so sure he’d come, and now, on seeing the empty railing, knew she’d been a fool to ever have thought he’d been serious.
Sam had been her boyfriend in high school. Sweethearts, but not soul mates she’d finally had to accept. If they were meant to be together, he’d have been on the bridge waiting, eager to see her after a year apart.
Last year, standing by her father’s casket at his funeral, she had seen Sam enter the room, looking so handsome, so confident and self assured. She’d felt her heart break even more at the mere sight of him. It had been years since she’d seen him and all the emotions of her youth had come flooding back. Breaking up after a silly argument, they had both had too much pride to make the first move, to be the first to say “I’m sorry.” It had been easy to avoid contact with each of them away at school, hundreds of miles apart. She had come home after her father’s accident, and Sam had stayed away, making his life somewhere else. With someone else?
Overwhelmed with the shock of seeing him, she left Nathan on his own and took off out the back of the funeral home to the small private garden. Sam found her there, and for a few minutes he was a stranger, and then he was the old Sam she had known and loved. He asked her to meet with him, to talk about old times, and she’d said yes, so eager to see him, to be close to him again.
The moment Sam had taken her hand, giving her his condolences on the death of her father, she had known. She still loved him, would always love him.
Their feelings, so long denied, had stormed back, leaving them unsettled and unsure. They had met again, under the guise of old friends; and it was then that Sam had made his incredible plan. Both of them were involved in a relationship, and she was grieving for her father. Emotions were not to be trusted, but needed the test of time, and distance.
They were to meet here on the bridge where Sam had first kissed her, in one year’s time. If they were truly meant to be together, they would have ended those other relationships and been free to start again, together. If either one of then didn’t show, then that was the end of it, proving the old saying about absence making the heart grow stronger, just that, an old saying.
She stepped onto the bridge, moving to lean on the railing, pretending to watch the water below her, lost in the fog. She and Nathan had ended their engagement, amicably, for he had harboured the same doubts as her. She sold him the store. It had always meant more to him, and she was sure her father would have approved. It took most of that year to finalize the details of the estate, and the sale, but now it was done and she was free.
During all of that time, she had kept this day in her mind, playing it out over and over again. When she was grieving, it gave her comfort and strength, something to look forward to. When she was sad and lonely, it gave her hope.
Now that day was finally here, and she was standing on the bridge all alone, enclosed by a damp and dreary darkness. The droplets of mist on her hair ran onto her face to mix with the tears.
She wiped the moisture from her face, her shoulders shaking with the effort to catch her breath. All her energy drained away, and if it were not for the railing, she would have collapsed, fallen to the cold, hard ground. Until that moment she hadn’t considered that he wouldn’t show.
Sam wasn’t going to come. She could picture just how it happened. He must have returned home, been greeted by his current love and shaken his head in wonder that he had been so foolish as to suggest they play out some scene from a movie. “An Affair to Remember” she thought; a tale of a love tested by time and turmoil, and in the end, true love prevailed. If she was to follow the script, she would search for Sam and ask him why he didn’t show. In the movie it was the woman who had stood up her true love, but she’s had a good excuse. She’d been running to the meet, and was hit by a car, left paralyzed.
She didn’t think Sam was lying on the side of the road, hurt, unable to get to her. This was not some story made for the big screen, each scene creating tension until it came to the happy-ever-after, the end. This was real life, her life, and she had just received another of those hard knocks. Forget all that ‘when one door closes, another door opens’ stuff, Sam was to have been her open door. No matter what, she had made the right decisions, maybe for the wrong reasons, but right just the same. She and Nathan loved each other, like siblings, and marriage would have been a mistake, would have made them miserable. This way they could remain friends, and Nathan would go on running the store, while she had her future open and empty, she realized, ahead of her.
She realized how cold and damp she was when she shivered and sneezed. It was time she went home, though home was a temporary thing. She had stayed with Nathan, in the house she’d sold to him along with the store, her belongings all packed and ready to move. Move, move where, she now wondered. The world was a big and scary place when you had nowhere to go.
She pushed back from the railing, and turned to leave, shoving her hands in her coat pockets. Head down, her steps slow and reluctant, she walked off the bridge.
The fog muffled the sound of running footsteps, but not voice calling out to her. “Hey, where are you going?” Sam yelled as he raced onto the bridge from the other side.
She turned, saw him slow to a determined walk, and stood her ground, not quite believing that he was there.
“Where were you going?” Sam asked. The smile that had lit up his face dimmed the closer he came to her. He realized she had not moved; had not spoken a word. “Did you change your mind?”
“I thought you’d changed your mind and weren’t going to meet me,” she said as she reached out to touch his cheek with her fingertips, as if she needed the reassurance that he was real.
“You’re not going to believe this, but I had a car accident. I was hit by a car, but fortunately for me, I was still in my car at the time.”
“That’s a really lame excuse, you know, the old ‘I was hit by a car’ story.”
“It’s the truth. Nothing less than being hit by a car and paralyzed would keep me away,” he said. Sam saw the light come back in her eyes, saw her mouth twitch, holding back a smile. “Would you come looking for me, hunt me down until you got the answer to why I didn’t show?” He took hold of her hand, covered it in both of his and raised it to his mouth, placing a kiss in the centre of her palm before enclosing it in a fist.
“I would have never stopped looking,” she told him, “not until I found you.”
With his arm around her, he led her to the railing. “Remember when we were here the first time?” he asked, a devilish look on his face. “We were playing a game of Truth or Dare.”
“You dared me to kiss you, if I remember right.”
“And you did.”
“Play it again, Sam?” she laughed.
“Oh, switching movies are we?” Sam said. “You know that’s one of the most misquoted movie lines of all time? Humphrey Bogart in
“Ilsa had a similar line in that movie. “Play it once, Sam. For old times sake”.”
“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” Sam quoted another line from the movie as he pulled her into his arms, and lowered his mouth to hers in a long awaited kiss.
The End, she thought, kissing Sam back, wrapping her arms around his neck, the damp fog and chilly evening air forgotten. The end, no more searching for that missing piece of her heart, it had just been returned.
...what can I say, I love old movies.