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After Forever Ends
  • Текст добавлен: 9 октября 2016, 02:08

Текст книги "After Forever Ends "

Автор книги: Melodie Ramone

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Текущая страница: 13 (всего у книги 39 страниц)


“I don’t want a big bloody window in my bathroom!” I shouted.

Oliver was annoyed with me and had been the entire morning. “Get to your garden, Woman!” He yelled, still playfully, but his aggravation was mounting. He waved his hammer in the air, “Let me do everything wrong in peace!”

“It’s a learning experience,” Alexander chimed in, popping up beside him “He’s got no experience and he’s learning!”

“And what are you, a bloody carpenter?” Oliver demanded.

“What? Me? No! I’m learning from your mistakes!”

“Oh, sod off! You make enough of your own!”

“I’m copying you!” Alexander looked at me and pointed at Oliver as if to say his brother had lost his marbles. Alex had somehow managed not to lose his good humour that day and was taking the piss out of his brother every chance he got.

“Don’t you call me woman, you man!” I shook my garden hoe at both of them, interrupting their quibble. I was just as annoyed with my husband as he was with me, “It’ll be next spring by the time we get a toilet in at the rate you two are going! And, for the last time, Oliver, I don’t want a big window in my bathroom!”

“And why not?” He was really stuck on wanting this huge window in the loo, “It’ll give you light to see how lovely you are in the mirror!” Oliver steadied the board his brother was preparing to drive a nail into, “And you are lovely, yeah? Or has being in the dark so long made you forget?”

“It hasn’t me,” Alexander pounded his nail, “You’re beautiful. Every day I say to myself, ‘Alexander, that Silvia‘s beautiful. Today‘s the day you‘ve got to go steal her away from Oliver‘. Then I get drunk and forget to seduce you.”

I ignored him. “I don’t want people peering in at me while I’m in the tub!”

“Oh, aye,” Oliver snapped back, “That’s a big concern because there’s just so many folks wandering around in the wood waiting to peer in at you in the tub!”

“I, for one, would wait,” Alexander quipped, “But I might mistakenly end up peering in on Oliver on the shitter,” He shuddered and took another nail from the pouch on his belt and pounded it in.

“Yeah! An’ what about that then?” Oliver waved the hammer at me again, “That’s why you need a window! Without one, the toilet will stink!”

“Only when you use it!” I called, dropping back on to my knees and clubbing the dirt with my hoe, “This could be your head! Remember it!”

He laughed heartedly, “But I might use the toilet and then you come in behind me–”

“And pass out from the stink and drown in your tub!” Alexander finished for him. They both chuckled. “I think you need a window, Sil, for your own safety!”

“Oh, shut up! Make me any angrier and you’ll be without sex for a month!” I knew I wasn’t going to win this one, so I was reduced to idle threats. I threw down my hoe and wiped the dirt from my hands.

“Who me?” Alexander asked.

“Not you, you silly sot! Me!” Oliver retorted. He turned to me and bowed, flourishing his hammer grandly, “All right then, very well, Your Highness. Would it be all right if I put in a wee tiny window in your loo, up high where only eagles dare tread?”

“And dragons!” Alex added, “Dragons dare tread there, too! We are in Wales after all! Dragons dare tread there so they can eat the eagles!”

“Fine! Where only eagles dare tread to end up being eaten by dragons?” Oliver gave me that look, the one that I could never help but give in to, the one where the one eyebrow went straight up and he flashed the crooked smile. It turned me to a marshmallow.

I smiled, but looked down so he wouldn’t see, “Fine! A small one up high so only dragons eating eagles can see me in my tub! But if the stink of you brings one crashing down on on my roof, they’ll be hell to pay!”

“Alas,” Alex pounded another nail, “The happy twosome has reached a compromise!”

“That’s what this marriage is all about,” Said Oliver, “Well, that and hot sex.”

“Yeah, so you say, but can she cook on the wood stove yet?”

“She’s getting better. It’s really just about the sex right now.”

“I imagine it is!”

“I hear you!” I told them. I began to make my way across the lawn.

They whooped and hollered at me as I went up into the house. “You’re lovely!’ “What a tush!” “Marry me!” “Shut your noise, she’s married to me!” “Aw, you shatter my dreams!”

“Twincest is a crime!” I reminded.

“Only if it gets reported!”

`“Shut up, Alexander!” Oliver barked.

“Oh, get to work then!” I called as I entered the door, “We only have a day before we have to leave off for school!”

School was ending the following Wednesday, which was at that point the greatest relief of my life. Oliver and I had our applications in at Cardiff University, but neither of us had heard back. Alexander was moving a few towns over from us at the cabin; he’d rented a flat and was, at this time, womanless. Having destroyed more than one reputation during his tirade at Bennington that night, most of the girls were afraid of what he might do if they bothered him. But that was all right. His being single gave him more time to help us put up the additions we were making to the cabin, which were not going up as effortlessly as we had hoped.

Oliver and I had discussed the plans for adding on to the cabin over supper, which we now had in our quarters when we were inclined to carry our dinner trays across campus and didn’t feel like joining the others in the dining hall. We shared our ideas with Alex over breakfast the next morning.

“We need a toilet first,” Oliver told him, “And a bedroom for certain. I imagine sooner or later a kitchen would be nice.”

Alex chewed his bangers in silence, his eyes fixed on his plate, but they shot up from time to time to meet his brother's and I knew he was listening. More than that I knew he was thinking. I didn't bother to ask him what about. Alex never said much when he was in the process of thought, but it was never long before he divulged a plan.

That evening, he came knocking on the door. Oliver and I answered it together.

“I went on the internet and I found some interesting stuff,” He said before he even came in. He had an armload of papers he’d printed out, rolled into cylinders under one arm and filling his hand. He walked directly past us and to the little kitchen where he set them down and unrolled two before he got to the one he was looking for, “There! This one! Look at this, Oliver! This right here is plans for installing eco-friendly plumbing in a remote location. It’s really cool,” He showed Oliver the prints, running his finger along the edge of the paper, “I could get into all this designing they do. Genius, really. Brilliant, mind. I mean, this here exactly as it is would never work in the room we’re building, but I’ve modified it. Look.” He unrolled a second paper and tapped the table, “I drew it out.”

“Lemme see that,” Oliver leaned over it with interest, “You designed this?”

“No. I stole the design,” Alex's chest puffed just a bit with pride, “But I did modify it.”

The twins discussed it seriously for at least an hour. I could hear them mumbling back and forth, occasionally laughing. Finally Oliver agreed, “It won’t be easy to install or very inexpensive, but I think we can manage it if we do it ourselves and I use part of my trust to pay for it.”

“Brilliant!” I had never seen Alexander as excited about anything as he was at the idea of building that toilet. He was chuffed to bugger.

It was quickly becoming a fiasco, however. Over-confidence is more often the kiss of death and we were all arrogant in those days. Life, however, and the pursuit of doing things that you are not schooled in accomplishing, has a way of knocking that out of somebody in the most painful ways. Our hands were blistered, we were bruised, but still, all of us were trying to keep our sense of humour. And putting the room up was fun, in a stressful sort of trying not to kill each other or ourselves in the process kind of way.

“If I hit myself one more time with that flipping hammer I swear I’m going to climb the tallest tree in the wood and jump out of it head over arse!” Alexander stuck his thumb into his mouth, “Bugger it all to hell!”

“I’m going to take money out of the bank and buy us one of those air compressed nail guns,” Oliver was inspecting the skin between his thumb and index finger, “I’ve had enough of these bloody blisters breaking on me.”

“Let’s do it,” Alex kicked a board out of his way, “Right now.”

“I’ve no money for it,” Oliver said disappointedly. “Bank’s closed.”

“So? We go into town and find a nail gun. Then we call Mum and ask if she’ll charge it for us. Two if they’re inexpensive enough!”

“You’re so bloody clever sometimes, Alexander,” Oliver kicked the same board, “I’ll pay her back Monday.”

“Bloody sensible is what I am sometimes,” Alex grumbled. “Let's get some food.”

We had previously spent our weekends at our school lying about with our friends or heading to London and Cardiff to see rock concerts, so it seemed odd how we were now rushing to the cabin on the weekends to lay floors and toss up walls. But the real paradox was that Oliver and I, who now were married and had taken possession of our own home, had to rush from that world of adult behaviour and responsibility and return to school on Sunday before curfew or we faced detention. How ironic that a married couple would be sentenced to spend an evening together polishing trophies in a trophy case for missing curfew, but it happened. We had too much fun doing it as well, so the next time we were late they had us clean the showers. Not nearly as much fun, but we still laughed the whole time.

The gamekeeper’s quarters at Bennington where we stayed those last few weeks of our enrolment were nice enough, not that we had a lot of time to enjoy them. Classes and preparing for final exams took up most every waking moment. Bennington had furnished the little house for us, so we had a sofa, chair and a bed, but we spent the majority of our time studying at the kitchen table. Often, there was little conversation.

Oliver would usually close his books first and yawn. “I am so blooming buggered,” He said the last night before our final exams, as he rubbed his eyes, “I can’t wait until school is done.”

“And then we can start university,” I mumbled, flipping a page in my textbook while I tapped my pen against my bottom lip. “And it the whole thing begins again.”

“Ah, Sil, it’ll be fun!” He grinned and back in his chair, folding his arms across his chest, “We always have fun, yeah?”

“Usually,” I turned another page.

“Look at me,” He tapped the table three times with his fingertips. I looked up, “You’re stressed too much, Sweetie,” He said gently, “You’re not enjoying life.”

“I’ve got to get high marks if I’m going to get into the microbiology programme.”

“You will, Love. You always do,” He stood and came around behind me, “You are Silvia. You are the classic over-achiever, Love. I wish you’d stop working so hard sometimes. If you’d just relax, you’d find out how easily it all comes to you.”

Even though he was standing behind me, massaging the knots out of my shoulders, his words hit me like a stone. Instead of comforting me like he intended, they broke something inside of me instead. “That’s just it!” I told him, “It doesn’t come easily! Everything I’ve done I’ve worked my arse off for!” I was so tired and burned out that it all came bubbling out of me. All the anxiety, all the frustration. Everthing. I sobbed.

Oliver must have felt helpless because he said nothing, which was not much like him. Instead, he just stood behind with his arms around me and let me cry. Finally, he kissed my hair and he spoke, “I wish you could see what I do. You are the most beautiful person who was ever created. In your heart and in your mind, Love.”

“I am not!”

But you are!” He insisted, rocking me gently, “I love the way you smell,” He muttered, kissing me softly behind the ear, “I love your skin. You’re always so soft. And bright! Silvia, you understand things that nobody else does. All that Science rubbish that gives the rest of us headaches, you explain it so we can understand it. Mind, we only understand it for about a femto-second before it all slips out through our ears, but, that’s how good you are. I know what a femto-second is because of you!”

I kept sobbing. No matter what he said, it made me cry harder and I knew why. I was terrified. As much as I loved him, loving him scared the hell out of me. Everybody who was ever supposed to love me had sent me away. My mind was racing. What was I doing married? Why was he saying all these wonderful things about me? When would he leave? When would he tell me to go? When would this whole dream be over and I’d be left standing in a strange place with my bags like I’d always been left before?

I was out of control and vulnerable. How had I let myself get to the point where someone could hold me in his hand and could crush me at any second? How could I ever have let myself feel like I depended on his will for my very breath? How did I ever allow myself to trust him when he could destroy me? Completely and totally obliterate me? I had always been so strong, so focused. But with him, I was lost.

He was quiet for a long time, holding me in that little kitchen. Finally, he spoke.

“I’ll never leave you, Silvia,” He swore. I’ve been told that soul mates can read each other’s minds and Oliver could certainly read mine. He squeezed me tighter, “No matter what happens, no matter what goes wrong. I’ll stay with you forever.”

“I know.” I whispered. I believed him. I felt some of the tears recede, but anxiety burned in my chest.

“Then why are you afraid? I can feel it, Sil. Why are you afraid of me sometimes?”

“Because,” I put my hand back against his face and caressed the beginnings of stubble on his cheek with my fingertips. “Nobody’s ever loved me before.”

“Is it so unbelievable that somebody would?”

It took me a moment to answer. I traced the bones of his face and ran my thumb across his lips. “Nobody ever has,” I repeated.

“That’s the saddest thing I‘ve ever heard,“ He told me softly, “That somebody as incredibly wonderful as you never felt loved. I’m sorry that your life was like that, but it isn’t anymore because I‘m here now,” He warmed my shoulder with his hand, “I love you. You don’t need to be afraid of that, Silvia, or of me. I won’t just stop loving you one day out of the blue. I know your mother died and your father wasn’t there for you. I know you feel they both abandoned you, but I won’t. You are always safe with me. I’ll never hurt you, never on purpose. I’ll never betray you. I’ll always protect you. You have to know that. I have always loved you, Just Silvia. I loved you before I knew you were real and I will love you always in time. I promise. I swear it.”

I suddenly could breathe again, although there was still a bit of post-hysteric gulping going on, “I promise the same, Oliver. I promise, too.”

I stood up and he took me into his arms and held me until I was calm and relaxed. Moments later he walked me to the bed where we lie close, side by side, lost with each other in the place that we could only get to together. It was the only place where either of us felt entirely at peace and knew that we were completely safe and totally loved. We were together. We were home.

We slept, both of us lost in dreams we’d never remember later to share. In the morning, I woke facing him. I sat up and caught myself in the mirror. My hair was a nightmare of frazzled, spidery curls. My eyes looked as if they’d been bleeding and my nose was red like a tomato. I noticed him move and realised he’d caught my reflection as well. Me, looking the worst he’d ever seen. I looked back at him and immediately began pulling at my hair.

He smiled and said, “I have eye drops in my jacket pocket.”

That was when I knew he’d been telling me the truth. He really wasn’t going anywhere.

All of my fear melted away.


I got one hundred percent on my final exam the next day. Instead of rushing back to the cabin, we spent the weekend at school enjoying the year end festivities with our friends. We were all fully aware that this was our final hoorah. It was only a matter of days before life as we knew it would end and each of us would shove off in our different directions and make our own way in the world. It was ever present, this fact, lingering just below the surface, but no one said much about it. No one discussed their anxieties or sadness at the inevitable separation we’d all experience. We just talked and laughed and chased each other about the rugby pitch as usual. Then, the following Wednesday all of us… Alex, Oliver, Sandra, Lance, Merlyn and I, all received our A-Levels and set about preparing to go home.

I kept thinking that this was it. My last and final moment not only as a second form student, but as a child. It was my time of passage, I knew, the moment where I had nobody to answer to but myself. Everything I had worked all my life for, all those tests, all the studying and coursework and worry and aggravation...all of it accumulated into the moment that it all ended. I wouldn’t know if I had been accepted to Cardiff until August, so I pushed it out of my mind and tried to focus on the now, on the excitement that I should be feeling at having completed such a task as finishing secondary school. So many people didn’t make it and I had, with honors.

Then why, I wondered even then, wasn't I excited? Why wasn't I filled with a sense of accomplishment? Why wasn't I bursting with pride? Why did I feel nothing more than relief mixed with sadness, mixed with that horrible sense of regret I always felt, as if I could have done better, as if I should have done something different?

I didn't give myself time to give it any mind. I couldn't feel anything back then, not anything in any depth other than my strange emptiness and occasional bouts of sadness. Nothing but him, nothing but Oliver.

One the last day there, we left one by one. One by one, without truly understanding the magnitude of it at the time, we each left any life we had known before and began a journey from which we could never return.

“I can’t believe you’re all going!” Lucy howled, clinging to Oliver on the quad, “You’re leaving me here all alone!”

“All alone?” Alex asked incredulously, looking about the crowd, “You have a thousand friends at this school! You‘re Queen Bee of your class!”

“Not friends like you!” She choked back her tears and hugged Oliver tighter, “You’re more than friends! You’re my family! I’m going to be all alone! Ollie and Sil have moved away and now you’re leaving me, too, Xander! How am I supposed to come and see you?”

“We are family,” Ollie squished her to him and kissed the top of her head, “Which is why you’ll always see us!”

She howled.

Alex looked at me and shook his head, “Is she serious?”

I nodded. I had been aware that Lucy had been upset for weeks about us leaving Bennington. She hadn't pulled any punches letting me know. When she’d figured out that I wasn’t going to be living in the house with her and Dad anymore and that no one would be travelling one way or the other to visit all the time, she had sank into a deep funk. “It's not fair!” She'd told me in a fit one night, “We've always been together!”

“Lucy,” I tried to remain calm. Part of me really wanted nothing more than to tell her to grow up and remind her that there was a long, long time when we weren’t together, but it seemed cruel so I didn't. Instead, I took the logical route, “We're five years older than you! We had to go before you or we'd be in college until we were twenty-three! Besides, Ollie and I are married now and we have to have our own place. It's not like we won't ever see you.”

“I hate it!” She stomped her foot so hard her hair went in her face, “I absolutely hate it!”

Nothing I had said seemed to comfort her, so that last day on the quad I didn't even try.

“We’ll never leave you forever,” Alexander sounded annoyed, “You know you’ll see us from time to time.”

It only made her cry harder. “From time to time! I’ll be so lonely in Denbigh this summer!”

“Take the bloody train then, yeah?” Alex snapped. He'd had enough of her moaning, “You can come to Welshpool any time you like!”

“Really?” She blinked up at him. Her pale, round face was pure innocence. She was pretty even then, Lucy was. Lucy was always pretty, even when she was a baby, and she was pretty with tears streaming down her cheeks at twelve years old.

“Do you think my mum would turn you out?” Oliver asked gently.

“Would you come and see me?” Her eyes were wide, still fixed on Alex.

“Lucy,” Alexander’s shoulders slumped. The look of annoyance was swept away with another that said he couldn't believe she'd ask such a thing. He shook his head, “If you need me, you call my name and I’ll drop what I’m doing and rush to you. Don’t you know that by now?”

“You always expect people to know things without telling them,” She sniffed.

“Only clever people,” Alex teased.

Lucy giggled.

As much as I had wanted to leave Bennington since our marriage, the thought of walking out of those gates and never returning was very sad for me. After most people had already gone, the six of us Bennington kids gathered in a group on the quad for the last time to say our goodbyes to each other. It was surreal. I looked at the friends I had made since I had gotten there…the ones I had been close with like Sandra, Lance and Merlyn and the ones that had sort of flitted in and out of my life, like Meredith and Josh. Three years I had known all of them, but it seemed a lifetime. I could not even begin to measure the ways that all of us had changed in that time, nor was I able to fathom how we would change once we went our separate ways.

“Take care of yourself and of that giant oaf you married,” Merlyn told me in my ear as he gave me a very firm farewell hug. He was going to his parent’s cottage in France and needed to catch his plane, “I’ll miss seeing you both every day.” He held me at arm’s length and smiled broadly, “Take care of you, too!”

“I’ll miss you, too,” I said sincerely, kissing his cheek, “We'll see you soon!” I turned to Lance, who was standing to my left, grinning, “Goodbye, Lancelot,” I gave him a good squeeze and bent to kiss his cheek as well, “I know you’ll do wonderful at Cambridge. Keep growing like you are and soon you’ll be tall as an oak!”

“Liar Silvia!” He chuckled. I watched the red spread across his cheeks about the kiss, “I’ll miss that about you!”

“I’ll stop the world and melt with you, Oliver Dickinson!” Merlyn wailed out the chorus to the song they were always quoting to each other. It had some private meaning I was never in on. He began walking away, “You see the difference and it’s getting better all the time!”

“There’s nothing you and I won’t do, Merlyn Pierce!” Oliver wailed back as Merlyn gave us all one final wave good bye. Ollie held his hand high above his head and bellowed, “I’ll stop the world and melt with you, Boyo!”

I hugged Sandra, the last to leave the quad, for a very long time. She was the hardest for me to leave. Oliver said nothing about it, but left us alone instead, going over to stand with Alexander.

I can honestly say that one of the most beautiful experiences of being a girl is finding a best friend. It took me fifteen years to find mine and it had happened at that school. In a number of ways it was a love affair with me and Sandy. From the very beginning we'd understood each other. I trusted her implicitly. I told her everything, things I'd never even told Oliver. She knew about my feelings for my dad, my ambitions, my sexual encounters. She knew my most intimate secrets and my greatest hopes and fears.

She was my harshest critic. I’ll never forget how she tore me to bits while we were gown shopping for a Yule Ball. “Oh, God! Silvia!” She scolded, “You can't wear ruffles! You look like a fucking retarded six year old!”

To this very day I can't even think of wearing a ruffle.

But in contrast she was my greatest, most honest supporter. “Now that dress, Love! Is gorgeous!” She had gasped and slapped her hand over her mouth. I had tried on an off the shoulder black, sequence satin gown, “Bloody gorgeous!”

“Is it really?” I turned in the mirror and looked at myself over my shoulder.

“Oh yeah!” She placed her hands on her slim hips, “I'd fuck you in that!”


“Really! I hate you!”


“No, I love-hate you! You're too cute!”

“I love-hate you, too! You're so tall!”

“Shut up and zip me!”

Sandy and Silvia. That was us. I loved her like a sister, true and real, and I knew that because I had a sister and it was difficult to compare the two.

On that quad the day we left Bennington, we wept knowing we'd be apart for a good, long time.

“You’ve got my address,” I finally let her go, wiping the tears from my cheeks.

“I do! And I’ll be back in Wales around Christmas, we can have tea then.” She dabbed her eyes with a tissue. “I can come back sometimes and you can come to Ireland, too!”

“Of course we can!”

“Oh, Silvia, I feel like I’m losing a sister!”

“You’re not losing anything!” I swore. I grabbed her up again and squeezed her hard, “We’ll be mates forever! I’ll see you around Christmas!”

As much as I meant the mates forever part, I knew somehow deep down in my heart that we wouldn’t meet for tea at Christmas or at any time soon after that, either. She might come to Wales from time to time, but she'd have no time to leave her obligations to come and see me. We would send posts and make phone calls and one day we would reunite, but our lives were going to take us to different destinations. My world was below hers, a simple one, where hers was one born with responsibilities I would never understand. It was like a stone sitting in my gut. I knew that Sandra knew it as well.

As Oliver and Alexander approached us, she let me go and turned to them. They both hugged her and the three of them stood chatting for a bit.

I suddenly felt incredibly lonely. The meaning of the old saying, “A page has turned” dawned on me. How true it was. I had spent three years writing a page of my life at Bennington and it was now over. Those days were safely tucked away, bound by time in my memory. My past could never be edited, revised or changed, but I could re-read it as time went on and review its lessons if I needed to. It was the first time I understood how precious memories are. I felt so empty and so full all at once.

Moments later, Sandra left off with her older brother for their home in Ireland. Lance had left off with his mother for their estate North in Caernarfon. Alexander left off with his parents for the family home in Welshpool and Oliver and I took one last walk around the lake together in silence. We looked at the little gamekeeper's cottage that had been our temporary home, at the tree we sat under when he had kissed me for the first time, and the spot on the bank where we would hang out with our little group of friends and laugh until we ached. Neither of us said a word. Then we walked across the grounds to the bench where we had first met.

“I want to take this with me,” Oliver said quietly, patting its surface. “Maybe I’ll steal it.”

“It’s made of stone. We couldn’t lift it.”

“Yes, but Professor Wilkins took the rubber ball from Lance when Merlyn broke a window with it and wouldn‘t return it, remember?”

I nodded, “You lose a ball and you can’t have a bench. But you ended up with me.”

He wrapped his arm around me, “Just Silvia, who’s not hurt or ticked off, but just fine.” We watched a butterfly flutter past and land on the grass, “What would it have been like here without you?”

“You’d have had loads of girlfriends.”

“Like who?”

“Oh, like Peggy McGhee!”

“Who? Oh, her. Yes. I mean no. Definitely not her.” He was looking straight ahead.

“Serena McLaughlin then.”

Oliver snorted. “Try another!”

“Amber Monahan.”

“No way! She‘s revolting!”

“Well, you could have had the half of the female students that Alex didn’t,” I squeezed his arm, “Or the two you might have exchanged if it wasn’t a good fit. Wait! Would that be twincest?”

I watched the dimple appear in his cheek as Oliver smiled and shook his head, “Gargoyles, ninety-five percent of them. I wouldn’t have wanted any one of them and none of them would have been clever enough to get me through Physics.”

“I didn’t help! You nicked the password to Professor McClellan’s computer, picked the lock on her office and changed your mark yourself! And maybe you wouldn’t have wanted to keep any of those girls, but they’d have wanted to keep you.”

“So? You practically wrote my essay once!” He looked up into the sky, “I’d have been miserable here without you!” He paused, “Well, maybe I’d have gotten an urge to go to Edinburgh then. Maybe I’d have gone and seen a beautiful red haired goddess on a bench and beamed her straight in the back of the head with a rubber ball just so I could meet her.”

“You did that on purpose?”

He looked at me with the devil in his grin, “No, but it would have been brilliant, yeah?”

I lay my head against his arm. We were quiet for a long moment. “So it’s good bye to Bennington now and off to our little house in the wood.”

“Oh, I’ll make it big. I’ll make a mansion out of it for you.”

“I don’t want a big house.”


“No, just a couple of rooms.”

“A toilet with a window?”

“Up high, sure,” I squeezed him again, happily imagining it, “Nothing we can’t manage. Just something where we can go at night and be warm and eat fat sausages and bacon and toast in the morning. Of course, running water would be nice.”

“A room for us and a room for a muffin or two?” He nudged me.

“Oh, yes, definitely, but we’ll worry about the muffins as they come. They can always share a room for a while if they have to. Lucy and I did.”

“I really do think you are absolutely the most fabulous person in the world, Sil.” He looked at me seriously, “Marry me again?”

“As many times as you ask, Sweetheart.”

“Then I’ll keep asking.”


We sat there awhile longer before we both knew that it was simply time to leave the place and everybody in it behind. Both of us sighed, taking one last glance around. How special Bennington was, really. Despite its constraints, it had been a sort of magical place for us. Oliver had spent a good amount of time growing up there, but I tell you this for nothing. That is that I was born there. I said it in the beginning that I swear my life began the day I walked through those gates and I wasn't joking. I certainly would not have grown to be the woman I did had I never set foot on that quad or sat on that bench that morning to check my schedule. It is so amazing the way such a simple act can launch the direction of your destiny. One just never knows, do they?

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