Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kimmydon Week 28: The Hunt


Picture 1

Picture 2

Kimmydon's Choice: Both

The Hunt

I left my office at the end of the day. I’d stayed a little late in the hopes of passing fewer people on the way out. I was still mortified about the lipstick and open fly incident. I saw Beth at her desk with a newspaper. Pulling on my jacket and turning off the office light, I came to her cube, the one she would be moving out of soon. It would be very strange to open my office door and not see her. I would miss it.

Approaching behind her, I wondered what article held her interest - she hadn’t turned the page in my walk here. I was surprised to see her reading the comics.

“Anything good?” I asked, startling her slightly.

“Um... No.” She set the paper down quickly.

I glanced over the images. “Which one?” I asked.

She sighed but knew what I was asking. Her finger stabbed one of a gray woman covered in cobwebs waiting for the phone to ring. I didn’t get it. It wasn’t funny.

“Why were you looking at that one? You don’t wait by the phone.”

“I was thinking about lunch,” she said frowning. “I imagined you dropping me off at home and waiting for you to call to pick me up.”

I laughed; I couldn’t help it. “Okay, first, you wouldn’t sit still that long.” She lifted her eyebrows but nodded grudgingly. Beth was too much of a nature lover to stay in the house. “Secondly,” I paused to kiss her temple, “I couldn’t bear to go that long without seeing you.”

She smiled. “I’m really forgiven then?” she asked.

“I told you you were.” I pulled her up, wrapping my arms around her once she was on her feet. “You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

She hugged my neck in return, tucking her face into my neck. “I’m glad.”

“I’m going to miss you being here,” I told her.

“What?” Her dark eyes went wide with surprise.

“On the floor, I mean. I’m going to miss having you so close.”

She seemed to soften in my arms. “Oh, yeah. That’ll be different. I’ll still come down for lunch though,” she said with a brilliant smile.

“I was hoping you would,” I answered, following her to the elevator. “How much do you have left to move over?” I asked once the doors closed. I was curious. So many of her things were in my bedroom and bathroom now. I loved it.

“Not much! Another box of books, my desk, my bed. The big stuff is really all that’s left.”

I nodded. “How about we pick those things up this weekend? We can borrow Gary’s pick up.” He’d offered me the use of it anytime, as long as he could drive my Corvette. Good thing Mom taught me to share. Gary was a good driver, though he racked up the miles on the girl when he had her. I didn’t know where he drove to, but he had to cross several states.

Beth was smiling. “Really? I mean, we never said as much... Really?”

I chuckled. She had no idea how much I wanted her in that house. Her voice, her presence, had banished the last of the ghosts that seemed to haunt me there. With her, I’d finally been able to let Sarah rest.

“I see I need to make myself more clear.” I pulled the box out of my pocket again. It was my mother’s wedding set. I’d had a Jeweler separate it so the engagement ring was in this box and the band at home. Hopefully she didn’t feel the urge to go digging in my sock drawer.

“N-no. You’ve... made your point.” Her eyes never left the box. “Then again, maybe...” she reached a hand for it, and I stuck it in my pocket.

“Not today. I have plans for this. It’s going to be special.” I touched the tip of her nose with a finger.

She smiled, not disappointed - good. Still, I was going to have to move on this soon, and I was going to need some help.

A call to Jamie and slipping out of the office at lunch, got the ball rolling. Then, I popped into Gary’s office after calling Mary over.

“Gary, I’m going to borrow your truck this weekend, okay?”

He sat back and crossed his arms. “Only if I get the ‘vette.”

“Actually, I need to trade that to Mary for her car.”

Her eyes popped. “What? You’re loaning me your car? Are you serious?”

“I need two vehicles this weekend. Beth is going to be driving the truck, but I need to stay ahead of her.”

“He has a plan,” Gary said, looking to Mary.

“So keep the ‘vette. I can give Gary a lift if he needs one.”

Gary shot her a death glare.

I shook my head. “She’ll recognize it. Your Sentra is a lot less conspicuous.”

Mary smiled. “I think I’m going to like this plan.”

“I’ll admit I’m curious, too,” Gary grudgingly admitted. “Do you need us for anything besides our vehicles?”

“Yes.” I pulled out two envelopes and handed one to each of them. “Give these to Beth when she comes to you.”

Mary pulled the piece of paper out of the unsealed envelope.

“Jam or Jelly?” she read. “What does this mean?”

“Nothing to you, but something to Beth.”

Gary pulled his out, curious now. “Seek the tree of knowledge, or the one who fell from it.” He snorted. “That’s you,” he said looking at Mary.

She narrowed her eyes.

“I’ll be waiting at the end for her. Think she’ll like it?” I wasn’t sure she would, but I thought she might. Mary knew her better. Jamie seemed to think it was a good idea.

“Sure. She loves puzzles and problems. What’s at the end? Besides you,” she said rolling her eyes. “Not that she won’t be thrilled with that,” she mumbled, folding the note back into the envelope.

“This.” I pulled out the box that I almost always kept in my pocket now.

Mary actually squealed as she ripped it from my hand. I looked to Gary who shrugged.

“It’s beautiful, but not modern,” she observed. “Grandmother’s?” she asked.

“My mother’s,” I told her.

She nodded but didn’t ask about my mother. “It’s very nice but won’t fit her. It’s too small.”

I frowned. “Well, I might have time to get it sized.”

“Seven,” she said. “This is probably a six.” She pulled the ring out and slid it on one of her fingers before I could protest. “Yep, six.” She pulled it off again right away, returning it.


“Will you need help loading?” I asked, watching Beth from the couch. I was pretending to read although I couldn’t focus much.

“No, Jamie and I can manage. As long as you’ll be here to unload,” she said with a smile. Her hair was in a high ponytail, but she wore a dress. I was a little surprised. She came and kissed me before leaving.

As soon as she was out the door, I nearly ran to Mary’s house. She laughed at me, but gave me the keys to her car.

“Is that what you’re wearing?” she asked. I was still in my pyjamas and robe.

I’d been so hasty, I hadn’t really given it any thought. “Yeah, why?” I said with a smirk. It occurred to me how much Beth would like to see me out of the house in tousled hair and a robe.

Mary shook her head. “I like what she’s doing to you. Enjoy your day.” She laughed as I left.

I had planned to follow Beth through her hunt, but I realized that it would only beg her to spot me. Instead, I headed to the end point. From the roof of her cabin, I enjoyed the cool breeze. It blew through the flannel of my pants, but wasn’t bitter. My slippers were terrible footing, but they kept my toes warm once I was sitting, so I pulled them back on. I gave my head a good scrub and then checked my pocket again. The ring was there.

It was completely irrational, but I had a fear of her saying no. If I were honest, she’d already shown me that she wanted this, us, to be something more, something permanent. She had no reason to say no, but she might - she could. I wasn’t taking a yes for granted, and I hugged my knees as I thought more about it - about life a few months ago, before Beth was really in it. I didn’t want to go back. I couldn’t go back. What would I do if she said no?

I heard a vehicle approach and looked to the road. Someone from another cabin, not Beth. I continued to brood.

It got dark. I checked my other pocket for my phone. Surely if she hadn’t visited one of the stops, they would have called me. Wouldn’t they? Was she still coming?

Headlights blinded me for a moment, and I closed my eyes, trying to keep my dark vision. When I opened them again, I saw a figure exiting a truck. The breath I’d been holding whooshed out of me.

She walked slowly to the dock. Bending, she looked over the edge. Confused, I climbed down, standing at the near side of the dock.

“Catch and Release?” she asked, holding up the note.

“No release,” I said. “You can’t throw me back. Well,” I amended quickly, “you could, but I wouldn’t make it.” I smiled to take any sting from the words.

“Poor thing. You got hurt in the catching?” she asked, stepping toward me.

I nodded and took one step closer to her. “That silly fisher girl went and pulled my heart right out. Now I need her to bring it back.”

She smiled. “Here you go.” She thumped my chest.

Shaking my head, I argued, “You still have part of it. The only right thing to do would be to put me out of my misery.”

She laughed. “Fry you up in butter?”

I narrowed my eyes, scowling slightly. “No.” I went down on one knee. “Keep me forever.” I opened the box. “Beth, will you marry me?”

“In your robe and slippers no less.”

“Well, this is how we started,” I pointed out.

She smiled. “Yes.” Her hands went to my hair, pulling it slightly and making me moan quietly. “Of course, Peter. I would love to be your wife.”

I stood, taking the re-sized ring from it’s place and slipping it onto her finger. “Thank you,” I whispered, pressing my forehead to hers.

“Thank you,” she replied. “This means almost as much as the hunt,” she said, pulling on my robe. “What did it take for you to come out here dressed like this?” Her dark eyes reflected the small lights from the cabins.