Friday, March 16, 2012

Bronwyn Week 95: Fresh Starts and Memories

Bronwyn Keith

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Picture 2

Bronwyn’s Choice: Both


Fresh Starts and Memories

Bernadette walked down the old retired rail line, dragging her toes in the red and gold leaves that covered the ground. She was still surprised that she agreed to this adventure. It's one thing to meet a stranger in a coffee shop, but to meet one you knew from Twitter in the middle of the woods was probably a bad idea.

He probably won’t show, anyway. So what do I have to worry about, she told herself.

She had been chatting with Ethan for almost six months. They met through someone they both interacted with on Twitter and quickly hit it off. Soon they were sending each other emails and text messages. One late night, Ethan admitted to Bernadette that he lived in the same town she did. But with over twenty thousand people living in Delta, she didn’t know if she had ever met him. The name was familiar from her childhood but that didn’t mean anything. A month later, he suggested they meet in person. Bernadette agreed immediately and suggested this beautiful place in the woods just west of town. It was a spot that she used to sneak off to while in high school. It surprised her that he knew the location.

As she got closer to the clearing, her heart lifted in joy at seeing the familiar spot. It had been over ten years since she last visited. The old tree was still there, with a branch low enough to sit on and a perfect spot at the base to sit. The roots were far enough apart that two could sit side by side. She spent many hours sitting there with a book. As she sat at base of the tree to wait for Ethan, she pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her forehead on them.


She lifted her head at the sound of the husky male voice. She had not heard any rustling of dry leaves to let her know he arrived.

"Ethan?" She asked as she rose to her feet and looked him over. A snug dark long sleeve shirt covered his upper body. She wanted to run her hands over that muscular torso. Snug jeans encased his legs and they covered black biker boots. Her eyes traveled back up and noticed his dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Bernadette could have sworn she knew him, but she didn't know from where.

"You look beautiful, Bernadette. Even more beautiful than I ever remembered." Ethan walked closer and she could feel his eyes roaming over her body.

"What do you mean by remembered? Have we met before?" She paused at his comment. What if he was a stalker and wanted to hurt her? Her mind whirled with possibilities, each one more dire than the last.

"Relax, Bernadette. I'm not going to harm you." His voice softened, as if he sensed her distress.

"I'm relaxed." The words even sounded unsure to her ears.

"You're as tense as a frightened rabbit." He chuckled quietly. "We knew each other in high school. But at that time I went by a nickname."

Bernadette stared at him, trying to figure out who he was. She tilted her head from one side to another, hoping that it would give her an idea. He smiled big at her, clearly enjoying her confusion. But his smile jogged her memory.

"Ed?" Bernadette whispered, not sure it was the same person.

"Yes, Bernadette. It's me." He stepped closer and put his hands on her shoulders.

"But you are going by Ethan now. Where did Ed come from?"

"As you know by now, my given name is Ethan Daniels, but growing up everyone called me Ed."

"Did you know that it was me when we chatted online and over text messages?" She was angry at the thought that he knew this whole time and never told her.

"No. I figured it out when I saw you." He took a deep breath. "I wondered when you suggested this place, but I wasn't sure until I saw you." Her anger dissipated, but in its place sadness took hold.

"I'm sorry, Ethan." Bernadette looked down at her wringing hands, tears threatening. They had a summer together the year she went to college. But her father intervened and said Ethan wasn't good enough for her. After that, she never heard from him again.

"Why are you sorry?" He asked quietly, lowering his forehead to rest against hers.

"My father was awful to you."

"That was fifteen years ago, Bernadette. He was partially right." He squeezed her shoulders when she tried to protest. "No, he was. I was a kid from the poor side of town that would never go to college. It was either crime or low paying crappy jobs waiting for me."

"Obviously he was wrong about all of that. You work as a consultant, at least that is what you told me." She pulled back a little to look up at him. He gave her a small smile.

"I am a consultant of sorts, but we'll discuss that later." He looked over her shoulder at the tree. "One of my favorite memories from that summer involves that old tree."

"It's a good thing it can't talk. The stories it could tell." She smiled as she looked fondly at the tree. She could easily see them as the young adults they were. Him standing next to the tree wearing a baseball cap kissing her while she sat on the low branch. It had been her first kiss and the start of a fairy tale summer.

"What are you thinking about?" He whispered as he wrapped his arms around her middle and rested his chin on her head.

"The first time you kissed me. What about you?" She relaxed in to his embrace, slightly surprised at how comfortable she felt with him. They only had one summer together and it was a life time ago.

"I don't think you want to know."

"Of course, I do."

"I was remembering a picnic we had under this tree." He dropped his head to her shoulder and nuzzled her ear. "A very special picnic."

Bernadette felt herself blush at the memory. It had been late in the summer, only a few weeks before she left for college. They sat on the blanket and discussed their future while feeding each other and holding hands. Next thing she knew, they were kissing and he slowly lowered her to the blanket. He had been so caring and thorough when he made love to her that first time. The clearing was already a special spot before that day, but after it was even more important to her. But after a couple of summers being home from college, she quit visiting the spot because it made her lonely. She shook her head to dispel the memories and turned in Ethan's arms.

"What now? Do we start all over or pick up where we left off? Assuming you want to be more than friends, that is." Bernadette said in a rush.

"How about we take it one step at a time? We have a lot of catching up to do." He pulled away and moved to the tree. He sat at the base and patted the ground next to him. "Come sit and we will talk. Then we will go from there."

She smiled and quickly moved to sit next to him under the tree. Not every day was a girl given the chance to rekindle the flame of first love. Hopefully it will last longer this time.