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Authors: Randy Mixter

Tags: #Mysterious, #Twists, #Everlasting, #Suspenseful, #Cryptic

Summer's Passing (7 page)

BOOK: Summer's Passing
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"Everything except the stuffed animals," and I told her the story of Frank Sellers and Bruno.

"I remember that pesky dog and his bark. You're forgiven of all sins. You'll just need to take the place of my furry friends."

I wasn't quite sure what she meant by that and was about to ask her when I remembered the dress. How had I forgotten something so important? 

"One of your dresses looked familiar to me; the white one with the flowers."

"My favorite," she added.

"Are you familiar with The Sand Trap?" I asked her.

"The tiki bar on the beach? Sure. April and I have been there a few times."

"Have you been there recently, like about two weeks ago?"

"If you mean right before my accident, no. It's been over a month since I've been there. Why do you ask?"

"The flowery dress. I saw a girl on the beach wearing it. It was a week before your accident. She stood near the surf and she wore your dress, or one identical to yours. I sat at a table in the sand watching her, and she turned my way, but it was too dark to see her face. I looked away for just a few seconds and when I looked back, she had vanished."

"Vanished?" Beckie's look of concern might have been for my benefit, but I doubted it. She seemed genuinely puzzled.

"Here's the weird part. I went down to the water, where she stood, and looked around. I thought that maybe she had disappeared into the gulf. I had to be sure."

"And?" Beckie asked.

"And she was nowhere to be found, not in the water, not on the sand. But this was lying near where she had stood." I pulled the necklace from my pants pocket, and Beckie gasped so loudly it startled me.

14

"Where did you find that?" She grabbed the necklace from my hand. "Where?"

"On the beach, by where the girl stood."

"My God. I thought I lost it. It went into the water. I saw it drop."

"What are you talking about, Beckie?"

"My necklace. You found my necklace." She looked at me, her eyes filled with tears.

I had so many questions; I wasn't sure which to ask first. I started with the obvious. "Are you sure this is yours?"

She held it out to me. "Look on the back of the cross. Tell me what you see."

I took the necklace from her and examined it. There was something carved onto the cross where the two parts joined, the initials RC, small, but plain enough to see. Why hadn't I noticed that before?

"Rebecca Carlyle," Beckie said. "My mother saw it in a country store while she was on vacation many years ago, before I was born. The owner of the place was selling the necklace cheap because of the initials carved on it. My mother bought it anyway. Not long after, she began dating my father and eventually married him.

"Now she had the C, but not the R. She solved the problem when I was born. Rebecca she called me, everyone else called me Beckie, but my mom called me Rebecca."

"Because of the necklace?" I asked her. 

A tear fell from her eye. I gently wiped it away with my hand.

"She loved me so much. I was with her, next to her on the hospital bed when she died. The last thing she did was raise her hand to my cheek. It took all the strength she had to do that. She was so weak by then. She touched the cross at my neck. Her fingers stayed there for a while. She smiled at me the entire time, Doug, and when she lowered her hand and passed away she still had a smile on her face." 

Beckie took the necklace from me. She unclasped it and fastened it around her neck. "After she died, I hid the necklace away. My father seemed to despise it. Why, I don't know. I hid it from him until the day I left home for good."

My eyes were drawn to Beckie's neck. The necklace had gained color somehow. It looked brighter than when I held it. It looked
new

Beckie brushed the cross with her hand. “It’s all I have left of her, the necklace and the white dress with flowers. Once, long ago, it was her favorite dress too.Everything else is gone.”

“I believe she’s still here, looking out for you,” I said.

“Maybe she is. That’s a good thought,” Beckie added. She turned her head once again to me. “I need to use the bathroom and I could use some help.”

 

She leaned on me and I gripped her waist. We could have easily been two drunken sailors, staggering about the way we did, but I got her there in one piece. I helped her out as a therapist, nothing more, that’s the way our relationship worked for that week. Honestly, I found her lack of modesty refreshing, even if it was out of necessity.

“I’ll try the crutches now,” she said when done. “I’m sure that will be a part of my work regimen when the therapist shows up. Might as well get a jump on it, besides, I have yet to see the rest of your place.”

“Alright, stay here. I’ll get them,” I said and leaned her against the wall in the same manner I would a wobbly bookcase.

“Oh, and I was just about to take a jog on the beach,” she added sarcastically.

She took to the crutches rather quickly and before long, she moved about the surroundings like a pro. Still, I stayed near.

“Stop riding my butt, I’m not going to fall. The door please, I want to check out your porch,” she said while impatiently waiting for me to do the honors.

“Watch your step,” I said as she stepped out and looked around.

“Don’t think I lack gratitude when I say the best part of your house is standing outside of it,” Beckie said while admiring the view.

“Yeah, the porch is my favorite part of the house too,” I said from behind her.

Beckie sighed. “What did I tell you about standing so close? Back off, Monroe.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” I moved off to the side, but she wasn’t finished with me yet. “Just one chair, I see. Awfully selfish of you, knowing full well I’d be spending time here.”

“There’s another like this one in the closet. I’ll go get it. Will you be okay until I get back?”

She smiled and the short-lived battle of wits ended, with Beckie winning of course. The playfulness of our relationship might have surprised some. These things take time to nurture, weeks, months, years - not days; but here I was, married in spirit to a woman I had just met.

 

Beckie sat next to me on the porch, our drinks - a beer for me, and an iced tea for her - sat on a small round table between us. My bare feet rested on the porch railing, as did her cast foot. Not very ladylike considering she wore a summer dress, but I wasn’t about to say anything.

“I’ll go out and get us some dinner in a little while. Anything in particular?” I asked her.

Her head leaned back with her eyes closed. I thought she might be sleeping. 

“You decide. I trust you.” 

“Okay. Chinese it is,” I said.

“Good choice,” she replied. “Later, I’ll want to take a bath. You up to helping me?”

“No problem,” I said.

“I doubt I’m turning you on in my condition anyway,” Beckie said.

Speak the truth, my mother once told me. When a woman asks you something, and you’re not sure how to answer, always speak the truth.

“You’re a beautiful woman, with an outstanding body, cast, stitches, and all. You always turn me on.” 

She leaned back farther. Her eyes remained closed. “You might make me fall in love with you, Monroe. I’m not saying I ever will, just maybe. I thought you might like to know that.”

I turned to face her, and she must have sensed it.

“Don’t say anything yet,” she said. “Wait a while. I was lost and you saved me. That’s enough for now.”

15

A nurse from the hospital called after dinner to see how Beckie was doing. She also wanted to tell me that the therapist would be visiting the next morning at ten.

Beckie wanted to
eat like a normal person for a change
so we sat at the kitchen table and feasted on carryout General Tso’s chicken and pork-fried rice. Afterwards we retreated to the porch to watch the sun set before she took her bath.

We were sitting there when Eric, Cassie, and Eve strode by.

“Whoa,” Eric said when he noticed me. “Hi, stranger.”

My silently begging the three to keep walking didn’t work. They made for the porch. 

“Wondering where you’ve been the last few nights,” Eric, always the designated talker, said as the girls eyed Beckie up and down.

“Eric, I’d like you to meet Beckie. Beckie, this is Eric and his friends, Cassie and Eve,” I said.

"Short for Evening," Eve said.

“Wow.” Eric looked at Beckie as he stepped onto the porch. “You okay?”

I cringed a little, but Beckie was polite. “I was in a car accident,” she said.

“Oh yeah, you were on the news,” Cassie said before whispering in Eve's ear. 

A light bulb went on over Eric’s head. “Wait a minute. That was you on the news?The guy who saved the girl.”

I nodded.

“Oh man,” he continued, “I know a celebrity.”

Then it happened. I knew it couldn’t last forever.

“Would you like an autographed fender?” Beckie asked.

“You got one?” Eric asked in a seriousness manner.

“C’mon Eric,” Cassie said. “The Trap.”

I guess my celebrity status was short-lived with the two women at least. They skipped away, whispering and giggling.

“Hey, wait up!” Eric jumped from the porch. “Next time, bro,” he said before giving chase to his flighty companions.

“It looks like I saved you too,” Beckie said.

“I couldn’t agree more,” I added.

“You miss the Sand Trap?” 

“Not really, no.”

“I mean, don’t feel obligated to babysit me if you want to go out and have some fun.”

“I’m having fun being with you,” I said with a smile.

The sun lowered itself into the gulf, leaving the horizon painted in hues of rich red and gold. 

“In that case,” Beckie said turning to me, “your fun’s just beginning. It’s bath time.” 

 

As it turned out, bath time wasn't a real fun fest. I might have lied a teensy bit when I said Beckie's body really turned me on earlier. She was still, even a week after her accident, a mass of bruises, most of them the dark rotten- banana type color they get before they start to fade away. Parts of her were swollen, including her stomach, which Doctor Reynolds told her was the result of her medications.

The other not so fun part was getting her into the tub. Avoiding the bruises was difficult enough, but keeping her cast dry presented the biggest problem.

Eventually we came to a mutual decision. I would stand behind her in the tub, while she rested her broken leg on the side of the tub, and then I'd lower her into the water.

The idea worked better in theory than in practice. I had her halfway down when I started to slip. Luckily I regained my balance or I too might have ended up wearing a cast.

Once I had Beckie safely in a prone position, I plopped down on the toilet seat, still too shaken from our near miss to move.

"Next time, it's a sponge bath," she said. "And when am I going to get a boot instead of this God-awful fifty pound cast. What is this? The sixties?" 

"I'll ask the therapist tomorrow," I said.

"Yeah, the therapist. Something else to look forward to," she said with more than a touch of disgust in her voice.

The porch and the serenity of the surf and sand beckoned. I rose to my feet. "Can I get you anything else?"

"I'm a pain in the ass, aren't I?" 

"No. You have every right to be in a foul mood. You must be sore all over."

"I am. I'm sorry. I get moody sometimes. You're probably wishing you'd gone to the Sand Trap with your friends."

"First off, it's just Eric, and he isn't that good of a friend. The tank top girls, well, they're on another planet altogether."

"They did seem strange."

That I had almost slept with them was something Beckie would never know. 

"Turn off the bathroom light," Beckie asked.

Afterwards, the moon provided the room's only light. 

"That's better, don't you think?" she said.

"Yes, much better," I replied from my seat on the toilet.

"Do I look better in the dark?" she asked.

Her eyes reflected the moon. I felt among the stars as she watched me. "You're just as beautiful in the sunlight."

Sometimes, when the light leaves the world, you see things more clearly in the darkness that follows. I saw everything in a perfect clarity. The beauty of Rebecca, even ravaged by wounds, left me breathless.

"I would think if you looked hard enough, even by moonlight, you might find a part of me that’s not bruised. Are you the adventurous type?" 

"I believe I am." I went to the side of the tub and knelt down. 

"I'll give you a hint," she said and did.

My thank you was silent.

16

"You must try to walk. Use me as support."

The morning, sunny and warm, gave Rachel a sense of safety, as did the strong man gripping her.

"Last night I heard strange noises from the forest outside the window," she said as she gingerly put a little weight on her tender leg. "I didn't want to wake you with my concerns."

"Were you frightened?"

“No, you were beside me.”

Morgan held her tightly as they slowly walked the perimeter of the trees. "The night winds bring danger. Here, in this place it is not safe." His father told him that many years ago, yet he had found a home here. He would not stay here long. He never stayed in one place for any length of time, but for now, he could not forsake the forest's mysteries for the humdrum life in the village.

"Did your parents not tell you of the forest's temperament?"He asked her.

"They did not tell me much of anything."

"The forest, at least this part of it, is a moody beast. In the day, it is benign and accepts intruders with either disregard or kindness. When the sun sets, its mood becomes malevolent. It has a sinister, even murderous, hate for all who dare walk through it."

"And yet you did to save me," Rachel said.

"Yes, I did, but only because of that." Morgan pointed to her necklace. "The precious metal that now adorns your neck has a power; the sort I've never witnessed before. It warns of evil. Somehow, it feels its presence. I'm not certain of its methods or why it does so, but it helps keep treachery at bay."

BOOK: Summer's Passing
13.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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