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Authors: Michael Baron

Tags: #Romance

Crossing the Bridge

BOOK: Crossing the Bridge
11.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Table of Contents
Raves for Michael Baron’s
When You Went Away
“Nicholas Sparks fans will rejoice to hear there’s a new male author on the scene who writes beautifully about love and emotionally charged relationships. Tears of sadness and joy go hand in hand in this immensely satisfying story. It’s hard to believe that this is Baron’s first work of fiction. Outstanding!”
– RT Book Reviews
“Michael Baron writes with such depth that the emotions were tangible. It is rare that a talent like this comes along. This will be a classic. This is one to read and recommend.”
– BookreviewsRus
“Simply breathtaking!
When You Went Away
is an exquisite literary nugget not to be missed!”
– The Book Resort

When You Went Away
is a very powerful tale full of laughter, tears, and romantic moments that keep you enthralled with the author’s voice. Between the wonderful scenes of Gerry being a father, his journal entries to his missing daughter, and a look into his past, I think every reader will fall a little in love with both this outstanding author as well as this amazing character!”
– Coffee Time Romance
“Touching, tender and gentle, the moments between father and son in
When You Went Away
pull at the heartstrings and the tear ducts . . . an exceptional read, and one that makes me want to watch for more works by this author in the future.”
– Freelancing and Fiction
“Michael Baron creates an unforgettable tale. . . . I truly loved this story. It is so well-written that it’s hard to keep yourself separate from the fictional characters. I absolutely recommend this book and plan to read every other work written by this author. Triple-A reading!”
– Fresh Fiction
“A gem. I couldn’t put it down. The characters are people I’d like to know.”
– Peggy Webb, author of the Southern Cousins Mystery Series
“More than a novel about grief and fatherhood; it’s a novel about being lost and the journey to find the right path.”
– Savvy Verse & Wit
“Baron creates characters the reader can empathize with as if they were friends or neighbors. . . . Michael Baron is an author name I will look for in the future.”
– Long and Short Reviews
“If you want to get into the heart and soul of a man, BUY THIS BOOK!”
– The Bradford Bunch

When You Went Away
really surprised me with how much I enjoyed reading this book. Gerry and Reese stole a place in my heart. Mr. Baron is a prolific writer. He is going on my must read list of authors.”
– Cheryl’s Book Nook
To A, for always keeping my hopes alive.
I marvel at what you’re becoming.
As always, my wife and kids were a huge source of inspiration and sustenance during the writing of this novel.
I’d also like to thank the brother I never knew for putting mysteries in my head that I’ve only begun to explore in this novel.
Thanks to Danny Baror and the people at The Story Plant for their encouragement.
Thanks, Barb, for the beautiful design.
Thanks to Ann Pearlman for the thoughtful cover comments.
I’d like to thank the towns of Essex, CT and Lennox, MA for being sources of inspiration and endless stationery stores on Long Island for allowing me my research time.
Music is always a tremendous source of inspiration for me. As such, I’d like to thank Lucy Kaplansky, Lowell George, Richard Shindell, Fountains of Wayne, and the irreplaceable Kurt Cobain for being especially inspiring this time.
One Definite Destination
They closed the Pine River Bridge for six hours after my brother drove off it. I heard that the rush hour commute was a nightmare that day. I remember thinking that Chase, who loved to make fun of the “drones” heading to Hartford every morning in their Brooks Brothers suits, would have found it satisfying to see so many of them backed up on River Road, chafing at the maintenance crews who couldn’t possibly appreciate how valuable their time was. Chase could find entertainment in practically anything. He would have found even this amusing.
By the time the police reopened the bridge for traffic, my mother was on her third Valium and my father hadn’t moved from the window in hours. I wasn’t sure what he thought he would find by looking out there. It wasn’t Chase. Richard Penders knew his son was gone forever.
I sat in the living room with them for hours, sharing their suffering and their astonishment at the way life pivots. But other thoughts filled my mind as well, thoughts of something I couldn’t ever talk about to them. Chase and I had been together only a few
hours before he died. His personality changed when he was drunk, and he had a lot to drink by the time I met up with him. The alcohol had made him say things I didn’t want to hear, and when I’d had enough, we’d argued and I’d left him to make his way home on his own.
I should have known not to let him drive. Before I got in my car and took off, wondering what the hell was wrong with him, I should have reminded myself that my annoyance with him was temporary. Then I should have taken him with me to sleep off his foul mood. That I didn’t, that I tossed it off with the easy confidence that I had the luxury of being pissed at him and that I would always be there when Chase really needed me, was something I knew I was going to have to live with. But I knew I couldn’t share it with my parents. If I ever admitted in any way that I had anything to do – even tangentially – with their son’s death, I don’t know where that would have left me in the family.
I couldn’t move myself to try to console Chase’s girlfriend Iris until the wake. They’d been together for nearly a year and I knew she needed consolation at least as much as the rest of us. But as soon as I thought of her, I convinced myself that I wasn’t the person she needed to get this from, that in fact she might prefer no comfort at all to any she would receive from me.
Though at eighteen Chase was three years my junior, he’d gone on his first date before me and always had more women around him. Iris was the first one – after many had flitted in his space before her – who didn’t seem like a groupie. She was centered and
soft-spoken. And it was only when he was around Iris that Chase showed any desire to let someone take care of him. She was the only person I’d ever seen him willingly defer to, though even then it didn’t happen often.
I found it fascinating to watch the two of them in action. At least until the day that I realized that what really fascinated me was watching
in action. Long after it began, I became cognizant of how completely she had taken residence in my thoughts. I thought about talking to her, sharing quick snippets of conversation, a meaningful glance over my brother’s escapades. I thought about what the two of them were like alone together, laughing, kissing, making love. This was very new territory for me. It wasn’t simply that I hadn’t thought this way about any of my brother’s previous girlfriends. I hadn’t thought this way about any woman at all. It was simultaneously disorienting and seductive. I considered it all harmless fantasizing on my part.
Until the day that it went beyond that.
On the first warm day of the early spring, when Chase left me to await Iris’ arrival while he attended to other business – something he was doing with greater frequency – Iris and I kissed. Before it happened and even more so afterward, I was conflicted and unsteady. But while we were kissing, maybe thirty seconds that redefined the act for me, I knew that this was precisely what I should be doing, what I needed to be doing. And in the moment, Iris’ reactions seemed to echo mine. At first, she seemed confused to be moving toward me, and afterward she looked at me with embarrassment and regret. But
while it was happening, I remain certain that Iris was fully and willingly there with me.
From then until the day Chase died, I tried my best to avoid being with them. I came home from college less often on the weekends and made certain never to be alone in a room with Iris. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could control myself. I just couldn’t bear to see the warning in her eyes.
When I arrived with my parents at the wake, Iris was sitting alone in Chase’s viewing room in the funeral parlor. Chase had been dead fifteen hours at that point and I’d spent most of that time standing guard over my mother, watching her watching the distance. While I did, I replayed my last conversation with my brother, thinking about how leaving this home – something I’d planned to do once college was over anyway – would have an entirely different meaning to me now. Chase would forevermore occupy every chair and glance out from every picture frame. These were the thoughts I’d been tape-looping since the police officer had come to the door to tell us about the accident. But still, when I saw Iris sitting by herself, the very first thing that came to my mind was,
do I touch her?
I approached her tentatively, hoping that someone would get there before me or that she would make some movement that would give me an indication of what to do. Instead, her eyes stayed focused on the casket at the front of the room. When I was only a few feet away from her, she turned in my direction. She stood and we embraced awkwardly, our stomachs and heads touching briefly and then pulling away. Then she sat down quickly. My parents were
settling into seats in the row reserved for immediate family and I knew that I should join them, but I felt compelled to sit with Iris, at least for a short while.
The first time I met Iris, I thought she was beautiful. All of my brother’s girlfriends were beautiful, so this didn’t surprise me in any way. What did surprise me was that she seemed more beautiful to me as I got to know her and as I got to see her from a wide variety of perspectives. She was more stunning with disheveled hair after wrestling with Chase, with a flushed face after a snowball fight, with clothes spattered electric blue after helping my brother paint his room. And she seemed nearly unearthly now, with her eyes thickly encircled in red, her cheeks ruddy. Looking at her this way, I somehow felt that her loss had been greater than mine.
BOOK: Crossing the Bridge
11.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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