Tuesday, May 10, 2016

An Adventure to Remember

Megan stared at the mess  in front of her . She set down the article she was reading. She knew moving and divorce were the two most stressful points in anyone's life; she didn’t need to keep reading about it.  She was in the midst of both. Packing up papers, photo albums, and books made her head pound. She popped an Advil as she sifted through old report cards and pictures.   Music blared through the room as the radio station played a wide assortment of oldies. The beat of the music motivated  her to continue until “Your Song” by Elton John came on.  She loved that song during junior high school.  She picked up a seventh grade class picture and wondered about her classmates.  Her eyes were drawn to one boy, Roger Feller.  As she gazed at the sweet, scrawny little kid with glasses, she remembered how he helped her with her homework . In return, she defended him when other kids poked fun of him.  I wonder how he is doing?  she thought.

Megan glared at the boxes and the papers that seemed to multiply hourly. She pulled her phone out of her pocket, opened up Facebook and typed in his name. As soon as his picture popped up, she immediately recognized the face of her childhood friend.   Wow, he aged nicely. I wonder if he is married, she thought. His settings were private, making this information inaccessible. Before she could stop, she pressed friend request and put away her phone.  She needed to continue packing.
After  five minutes, she grabbed her phone and impatiently checked . Nothing yet. She thought  she would be married until she died. She married Eric right out of college. Unfortunately, after twenty years of marriage, he decided to trade her in for a younger model.  Luckily, they never had children.  
She checked Facebook again and saw he accepted. She stopped what she was doing and stalked his  profile.

He was an avid hiker , exerciser, and sports fan.  She enjoyed exercise too but was more into yoga and Pilates.  He was the sports director of a big health club. Wow, he must be really athletic, she thought.

There was no mention of a wife or girlfriend on his timeline so she assumed he was single.
“It’s been a long time, how have you been?”  she asked in a private message. He immediately messaged back and they continued messaging each other for the next half hour. They chatted about their jobs and hobbies.  He finally wrote, “We should meet up and catch up on old times. I’m going hiking tomorrow, do you want to join me? “   The truth would have been,  I am not as athletic as you,  can’t we meet for something safe like lunch?  Instead she wrote, “Sure, sounds fun, I love to hike.”   What was she thinking?  She told him she watched baseball and football, in her desire to impress.  She  didn’t watch or understand sports at all.  After plans were confirmed, she put her phone down and rubbed her temples. What have I done ?  she thought.

She woke up the next morning in a cold sweat. Her head pounded and her heart felt like it was going to beat a hole through her chest.  She rummaged through her closet and pulled out a pair of floral leggings, a stylish pink sweatshirt, and multi colored sneakers.  She glanced in the mirror and smiled, happy with her attire. Until she got to the hiking trail and saw he was dressed in professional hiking gear.  He smiled and her heart melted. He still had the same boyish grin, and thick head of hair, even though it was streaked with gray, giving him a classy look. She trembled as she realized  this was not going to be a leisurely walking trail where they can chit chat, but a vigorous hike. She looked up at the mountain, trying desperately to forget that she was afraid of heights.

She realized she was doomed. This guy looked confident and athletic. She was scared and semi athletic. Could she fake it?

She walked over. “ Roger?”

He pulled her into his arms for a friendly hug. “Oh my, it's been way too long, you look awesome.”
“Thanks, you too”.
“So, let’s start. This is one of my favorite hikes. We can probably finish it in two hours. Ready?” he said.
She gulped and meekly said, “ Yep, great, let’s go.”

She lifted her head and saw a mass of rocks. As her throat constricted, and her arms and legs trembled, she  grabbed onto rocks and lifted herself up. She decided she was going to plow through this as long as she didn’t look down.  

I can do this, I can do this, she thought.  As she climbed another set of rocks with utmost confidence she felt better. Roger turned around and smiled at her as she smiled broadly back, thinking,  I am such a moron, I am never going to be able to finish this hike.  As she grabbed onto the rock in front of her she felt something slimy under her hand.  She looked down and screamed as she realized she was holding a small garden snake!  

“Are you okay?” he asked. She tossed the snake and put on a big fake smile.
“Great,” she said .
Her feet felt like daggers were inserted into each toe and her throat was parched.   But then she gazed at him and her insides melted.  She imagined him holding her and kissing her. Her heart was fluttering, and she wasn't sure if it was a reaction to him or her fear.

They continued the trek upward. She could feel blisters forming and her hands were bleeding but she wouldn’t let him see it.
I shouldn't have lied and pretended I was athletic when I am clearly not, she thought.
“How are you doing?” he asked.
“Oh just great. Are we almost at the top?”
He laughed. “We haven’t even gotten to the hard part yet,” he said.
Her heart fell.
“Let's sit for a second,” he said as they sat on a rock.  “It's so funny after all these years, we’re meeting up again.”
“I know,” she said and then thought I know?  That’s the only response I can think of. I know?
“You seem like you’re doing great. You ready for more?” He gave her an energy bar and some raisins, which she gobbled down.

As they continued. he asked if she was OK. She responded yes as her heart pounded and feet ached. She mentally chided herself for wearing indoor sneakers on a rigorous outdoor hike. She dreamed about a foot massage and after what felt like the longest day of her life,  she made it through the hike.

“So, do you want to go for a ride on my bike?” he asked.
“Um, bike? Like a bicycle for two?” she meekly asked.
He rubbed her back and said, “You are quite the jokester. My Harley is right there.”
He pointed to a motorcycle.
Oh boy, now I’m screwed. Do I admit I am terrified of motorcycles and never rode one or do I fake it like I did with the hike?  Damn it. I really like him. What the hell do I do? She thought.
“Sure, that sounds great.”
“OK, there is a great place for lunch about 15 minutes away. Let's ride there and then after lunch I’ll bring you back here for your car. If you’re hungry that is, I know the energy bar can be filling.”
She got on the back of the motorcycle and immediately looked for the seat belt.  “Um, where is the seat belt?”
He laughed. “You always had a great sense of humor!”
She realized motorcycles didn’t have seatbelts. As the engine roared, she held onto him for dear life.
“You may want to loosen your grip a little.  You have ridden before, right?,” he said.
“Right.”
She loosened her grip and prayed.  When he made a turn, she thought she would fly off.  She thought her heart would beat out of her chest as they entered the highway.  She imagined herself being thrown off and squashed by a car.
A big truck was tailgating them. Damn, this was it, she thought, my life is over.  She could  feel the hot fuel emanating from the truck. She prayed a million prayers in her head and before she knew it  they were off the highway and at the restaurant. Her arms and legs felt like putty.  

“Sure you're okay?”
“Perfect,” she said as she imagined her messy hair, after she removed the helmet.
This is a disaster. I should just go home. I am so not his type, she thought.
“You ready?” he asked?
And then the stress from the hike and the ride engulfed her and she felt the energy bar travel up her esophagus and she thought she would die as she put her hand over her mouth .
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
She ran to a bush and vomited while thinking,  I want to be eaten by a bear right now, anything but being here facing this potential new boyfriend that I just completely humiliated myself in front of.
Look, let me call a cab and go home, I’m not who you think I am. This isn’t going to work,” she said as she wiped her mouth on her sleeve.
He handed her a handkerchief. Wow, he carries around a handkerchief?, she thought.
She brushed it across her mouth and said, “Let me wash this out and I’ll mail it to you.”
“You know I had a big crush on you in elementary school.” he said.
“I’m sure that’s gone.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. I never forget how you stood by me when all the mean kids picked on me.  You’re a nice person. C’mon, let’s go eat..”
“ I’m embarrassed, I’m---”
“Don’t be. “
“You love to hike, you’re athletic, I could barely make it through that hike. You deserve  a more --
“ Sssh, we’re just having lunch, not getting married,” he said softly.

Two years later
Megan experienced deja vu as she stared at the mess in front of her. Two years ago, she packed and moved out of the house she lived in for twenty years.  As she put things in boxes, she reminisced about the last two years.  She thought about her small apartment, and  her life as a single woman. 

 Her thoughts were interrupted by a voice that still made her skin tingle.
“Honey, I think this box will work.”
Roger came over to her. She stopped what she was doing, and jumped up, hugging him so hard she thought he would crack.
“I love you,” she said.
He poked her in the ribs. “ Not as much as I love you. Oh, my sister wanted me to give this to you.”  He handed her a Brides magazine.  “I think she may be more excited than us about our wedding.”  
“ I think she wants to join us on our honeymoon,”  she laughed.
“ That’s not going to happen. I love my sis but...you know, I never thought you would agree to go hiking through Ireland, you’ve come a long way,” he said.
“ Remember that disastrous first date?” she said.
They both laughed.

“How could I forget?”. He kissed her and held her tight.

2 comments:

  1. I loved reading this very clever and well written story. It was tremendously entertaining, and so funny that I couldn't contain my laughter. I loved the unexpected happy ending. Really great work, Shelley! Thank you for posting it!

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