Story Time: Twenty

Author Garrett Hise


by Garrett Hise


They were just children when they met. Even then he was drawn to her. She used to run through this field, her blonde hair would bounce about her shoulders and he would chase the sound of her laughter until the suns parting rays bid them to go home.


She was fourteen years old the first time he kissed her. She hadn’t even seen it coming. Truth be told, neither had he. The shock was enough to stop them from talking to each other for an entire week.


When she did finally speak, he watched her lips move. The words she spoke that day were never heard. That fleeting child like first kiss occupied his mind so deeply. It still does.


Why must things turn out this way? That man should have realized he was not part of God’s plan.


He earned his first commission in the King’s Navy that year. While older than some of the boys aboard ships, he still felt that this honor would surely grant him the favor of the father and so, the girl.


Two years abroad and he had only thought of her. He was a much better kisser now. He felt no dishonor. He would win her love and forget all others. There could be no other ports in his future, save hers.


Engaged! How could she be engaged, he had given her everything. No. He had meant to give her everything once he had acquired anything to give. Who was this other man anyway? He seemed a prissy sort.


It is funny the turns life’s road will take. He was always a man without a violent bone in his body. His father had remarked once, “You could steal anything you wanted from the lad whilst he watched on and did nothing. Yes, carry anything away at all, save his heart.”


Her father just smiled at him. He patted him on the shoulder and turned him away. A simple dismissal. It was no more difficult to him than brushing a dog off his bed. Of course the hound wants to sleep there, but the hound is not at that station. The gentleman’s daughter was to be joined to a much more prosperous gentleman.


Over the next year he wrote her time and time again. She never responded. He couldn’t stop himself though. Somehow when she turned away from him on the street, he knew it was for his own protection. He could feel her blush and shut her eyes tight from half a block away. Surely she yearned for him in secret as he cried out for her in open and public adoration.


This could possibly be the largest field he has ever walked in. Each blade of grass etched into his mind the way a mighty oak silhouetted against an evening sky would. Every splash of morning dew above his stocking seemed to tell of the waves crashing against the white cliffs of Dover. The sounds of his footsteps echoed into eternity. Ten thousand strong could have been marching at his side for all his senses knew. Only his heart knew the truth. He was horribly alone.


The wedding announcement was heralded by the entire town. The pre celebrations of hundreds of merry people caused him so much pain. Was it not bad enough that the wedding was to be so soon. Why did everyone he knew have to be so agreeable towards the situation. Luckily the fuss masked his own slide into liquid counseling.


The second time he kissed her was as much a surprise to them both as the first. She was walking toward him. He was swaying ever so gently along. The new found rhythm of spirit’s courage coursing through his veins. As she passed, eyes averted and lips pursed slightly, he caught her hand. In a whirlwind of whim and fantasy, he pulled her beneath an awning and with his hand pressed on the small of her back, he kissed her.


He could have died at that moment. Should have died at that moment. For the next moment all was lost. She no more wanted to be kissed by him than she wanted anything at all. She had learned long ago that she was to be proper. No less no more. She remembered him from her barefoot youth. They had enjoyed scandalous fun during a time in their lives that all judged innocent. Now he had ruined it for her and she screamed and ran. Better he be judged a criminal than her a tart.


It was not the law that responded to her cries of feigned outrage. It was a priss of a man. Had the lad been of a rougher nature he certainly could have whipped the groom to be soundly. However the boys father had been correct in his assessment. While the Navy had made him strong physically, it did not alter his gentleness.


Why couldn’t he have just stayed at sea? Why was this man in love with his woman? Why was this field so large. He had been walking all morning it seemed and gotten no where. Surely this was not a far enough distance.


Her eyes were the same color the sea had been on mornings a world away.


Damn this man and his foolish sense of pride. Who did he think he was anyway? He had no more right to court her than anyone else. Especially a member of her Majesty’s Navy. An experienced Seaman with a promising career and half a globe under his belt.


This is it. It all comes down to this. If the priss dies, then she will no longer be engaged. After all, the lad couldn’t be blamed for participating in foolishness that wasn’t his idea. She would see. Her Father would see. They would all see that he had been the proper choice all along. He loved her.


He turned abruptly. The rising sun now behind him as he faced due west. The air had fogged ever so slightly as the dew burned out of existence. He raised the polished dueling pistol and cocked the silver hammer. Two shots sounded as one in the damp morning air.

She came then. Bounding toward him. Holding her skirt above the waving grasses. Her blonde hair flipping around. She was so happy to see him. She was so beautiful. She looked just as she had the first time they met. They would just play here in this field, she and him, together, forever. He felt it. This is better than being her husband. Better than triumphing over other men for her attention. To be children again, just the two of them, here in this place, where no one else existed. He couldn’t imagine Heaven being any better than this. He reached out to take her hand. She giggled the giggle of a child, and they skipped away hand in hand until the sun went down day in and day out.


Garret Hise is a blogger and an aspiring author who is presently concentrating on flash fiction, short stories and fishing. You can read more about Garrett at his blog.

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