Authors: Ann Graham
Ashley could walk fine and the warm
leather seat on her wet backside felt so good. She watched as this handsome
senior tended to both their bikes. When he got into the drivers side she asked.
“How long did you know Dwayne?”
“I knew from our first meeting. That
beautiful embarrassed look on your face when I startled you brought immediate
flashbacks to our high school days. You always had that turned down head and
upturned eyes when you felt silly or embarrassed or uncomfortable. Yes, just
like that, you are doing it now. Oh how I carried that look with me in all my
Dwayne suggested he drive her to the
emergency room at the hospital in Myers. She refused but thanked him for the
concern. Her jacket needed to be removed; it was getting very warm in the
truck, both in temperature and emotions.
She accepted his help to remove her
wet jacket and when he reached back into the club cab to grab a blanket his
face was almost next to hers. She leaned up to allow the blanket to be draped
around her shoulders and down over her legs. “We need to get you home so you
can get out of those wet pants.” “I’m ok, really. I can ride my bike back to
town to get my SUV.” Dwayne would have none of that. “I’m driving you home and
then I will ride my bike to the station to get your wheels.”
“Before you do Dwayne, where do you
live now?” Dwayne didn’t hesitate. “I’m living on the farm Ashley. I purchased
it many years ago from mom and dad and I have the Amish farming it. I moved
back about six months ago after my wife died. I live in the little cottage. The
kids encouraged it and I was ready.
“How about you Ash?” “My John died
after a lengthy illness and he encouraged me to move back to my home town that
he took me from all those years ago. I purchased a home that just came on the
market and here I am. I have one daughter who lives in Akron.”
Dwayne started the truck and headed
for town. The two of them were becoming very excited that history has
reintroduced them once again. Ashley was thinking to herself and wondered if
her John had something to do with this chance meeting. It would be just like
him to do something like this for his Ashlyn.
Dwayne felt like he was on a first
date. He was giddy and nostalgic at the same time. ‘Remember when’ must have
been uttered two dozen times before they turned into Ashley’s home driveway.
Dwayne sat in awe. It couldn’t be but it was. He looked at Ashley to confirm
his wonder. She nodded yes.
Yes it was exactly where they did so
much together their sophomore through senior years. It was their favorite
parking spot where they shared each others lives, their hopes and desires,
their love for one another and their future plans together and yes it was where
they shared their intimacy for the first and last time. After graduation, Dwayne
left for military duty and somehow their lives drifted apart.
“Oh Ashley, in a million years you
could never understand how important this very spot was for me in Viet Nam. You
and I together, here. I relived every conversation we ever had. I had the time to
think during my recovery from a leg wound that refused to heal. I’m sorry I
stopped writing to you. My injury was life threatening and I didn’t want you to
know and I explained why to my parents.”
“That is what they meant that their
Dwayne was in deep emotional pain and he just wanted me to know that he would
always love me. “Dwayne, why? Why would you not tell me and let me care for
you?” There in the front seat they both began sobbing. Comforting one another
for what was not to be, the decades of questioning what really went wrong and
then assuring each other that their lives were meant to be apart from each
other until now.
Ashley explained to Dwayne that when
the realtor called her about this home she tried to explain where it was but
assured her it was the perfect home for her in the perfect spot and just come
to visit it soon. I drove in from Indiana that weekend and when she drove me
into the driveway I was without words. Tears flowed and the realtor apologized
for causing me to drive all this way to not like the property.
“I just mumbled sold in-between my
sobbing and she thought I was saying it was too old and she began telling me it
was just built three years ago. Finally I composed myself enough to say, SOLD.
To confirm it I got out of her car, pulled the sign out of the ground and told
her to put it into her car. She didn’t understand and I didn’t ask to have a
walkthrough. I got back into her car, we went to her office and the paperwork
began flowing. Cash was transferred and the home was soon to be mine.
Dwayne had to remind her that she
would be more comfortable telling him this if she was in dry clothes. Ashley
started laughing and apologizing saying she just had to get that off her chest.
Yes, her emotions were stirred up from what they had many years ago. She
invited Dwayne into her home and he sat in the kitchen waiting for her return.
Soon Ashley walked into the kitchen
exclaiming how a shower and clean clothes could turn your day around. Dwayne
agreed and asked how she felt. Did she have any bumps or bruises? “Since you
asked, I will tell you. My biggest injury was my pride of being independent
after John’s death. My pride in thinking I was getting it all together and you
crushed it with 16 words just like you crushed me with the surprise 16
birthday party you had for me.”
Dwayne wondered about the sixteen
words. “What did I say Ash, I didn’t mean to…..” Ashley interrupted him. “You
changed the course of my history Dwayne when you yelled out after me, ‘I love
that song, my girl and I sang it together back in high school, Ashley!”
“I’m so sorry Ashley. I caused your
accident. I just couldn’t stand to watch you ride away from me again like the
other day when you left me standing on the Viaduct. I just couldn’t, I was hoping
those words would spark a memory since you didn’t seem to recognize who I was
or who I became.”
“They not only caused a spark of
memory they seized my heart and squeezed it so hard that I had an emotional
seizure Dwayne. I blanked out, my vision darkened and I lost control, so yes,
it was your fault and I thank you for it. It was the best accident I ever had.”
Dwayne smiled and took both of
Ashley’s hands into his. He pulled her closer to him and gave her a long warm
affectionate embrace. Just a few hours ago they were two people on the trail.
Now they are two people who have shared some of each other’s early life on
their trail of life journey and are blessed to be able to once again ride on
the same trail of life together.
Ashley whispered into Dwayne’s ear.
“Would you please stay for dinner?” Dwayne commented that he was sorry but he
had to leave. Ashley felt disappointed and simply said, “Perhaps another time
Dwayne with a twinkle in his eyes
looked deeply into her eyes and said, “I would like that very much. Could we do
it in about a half hour, after I bicycle into town to get your SUV?” Ashley
was elated, “Oh my goodness, I completely forgot about that detail, and yes do
that and I’ll start supper. Around these parts we call it supper.”
As he began unloading Ashley’s bike
and then his, he looked up and saw her standing in the doorway and he had to
ask. “Ashley, can this be considered our first date?” Then as he mounted his
bike and fastened his helmet she came out on the patio in her bare feet,
standing there in her casual dress looking so inviting, she blew him a kiss.
Ashley stood there watching him bike
down the lane and when she couldn’t here him whistling any longer she turned to
walk back into the house to begin preparing their evening first date meal.
Almost on the button, Dwayne was
pulling into the driveway with Ashley’s SUV. In the half hour it took him to
bicycle to the train station and drive back she was preparing a salad from her
own garden produce. The spaghetti was almost done boiling and the meat sauce
Dwayne walked in and commented,
“Smells good Ashley; is there anything I can do to help?” “If you like, you can
set the table. We are Italian tonight, Spaghetti with meat sauce and a fresh
salad right out of the garden.” As an afterthought Ashley asked Dwayne if he
liked cooking and didn’t he cook on the farm as a teen?” “You remember, yes we
all cooked on the farm. Many of my fondest memories were in the kitchen on the
“Hmmm the farm, one of my scariest
memories was in the hayloft Dwayne.” “Oh my, we sure stirred up the dust on a
few occasions while pretending to feed the cows, didn’t we?” “I don’t mean that
Dwayne, I mean the time when we were walking the rafters and I froze. It was in
the spring and the hay was almost gone and the bare floor was a long way down.
You had to walk out and take my hand and inch me off the rafter. I’ve been
afraid of heights ever since that day.”
“I remember that afternoon perfectly.
When I got you down you were shivering so bad. I didn’t know what to do so I
just held you tight; we both settled onto the floor and just embraced for the
longest time. I remember feeling so grown up and needed.”
They continued to reminisce until
almost midnight. The meal was delicious, the after dinner, rather supper,
coffee and desert was so comforting to their appetites but also to their
comfort of being around each other after all these years. “How could that be,”
Dwayne wondered out loud? Ashley easily explained her version. “Dwayne, there
is no doubt that we each had wonderful lives but I must admit I often wondered
how different it would have been if you and I married. Didn’t you think about
that a few times?”
“When we were doing the dishes Ashley,
those were my thoughts. How many times did I wonder what we would have been
doing if we married. When I was in the hospital all those months, the only
reason I did survive was my strong belief in my faith, the wonderful memories
of growing up on the farm and of you and I in love and, and…..,” Dwayne’s voice
trailed off, smothered in tears as he attempted to ask once again for her
It was Ashley’s turn to express her
emotions. Her tears and Dwayne’s combined when she drew him closer cheek to
cheek. “The forgiveness has always been given she said. Never did I doubt your
reasons and whatever your reason was I knew it was for my protection. It was
because of your love for me that communication stopped. I accepted that.
“It’s late Ashley; the Yoder’s will be
wondering where I am when they don’t see the cottage lights on. The main house
where they live has had the power box removed because of the order of Amish
they belong to. Sometimes I wonder how I would get along if I was Amish. Living
a simple, plain life.” “The Amish probably look at you in your cottage with
electricity and wonder how life would be so much easier if they had modern
“Let them wonder Dwayne, do spend the
night in the guest bedroom. In the morning after breakfast let’s spend the day
together on the trail. We have so much catching up to do.” Ashley was taken
back that she even thought of such a thing and Dwayne was surprised at his
simple and most natural answer. “I would like that Ashley; I would like that
The next morning Ashley was up and at
her computer by 5:30AM. Soon after Dwayne emerged from his bedroom and
announced it was the best nights sleep he’s had in months. He was curious why
Ashley would be at her computer so early in the morning.
She explained that she sells things
online and people from around the world order things while she is sleeping and
it’s always fun to start your day by seeing how much money you made overnight.
“Did I wake you, I tried being quiet?” No you don’t wake an ole farmer; we are
just raring to go by 4AM. “But you no longer farm, do you?” No Ashley but my
body and sleep patterns think I do. I tinker on the computer too, selling farm
related items on eBay. But I only ship to the lower 48 and I don’t get to the
computer until 8 or 9 after my morning breakfast.”
“Breakfast, where are my manners
Dwayne? What would you like?” “What I would like is for you to continue your
customer service correspondence and I will make us pancakes, do you have
pancake mix?” “I sure do and some of our famous Myers Maple Syrup too.” Ashley
wondered, “Does the farm still have that big grove of maples and do the trees
get tapped in the spring?”