Monday, 3 September 2012

A Short Romance

Coming Home -Seasons

The trees along the driveway showed bright orange and yellow.  They’d been a fresh green the day she’d left, the light breeze stirring the tops of the avenue of liquid ambers.  Today the wind gusted, bright leaves scattering across the dirt of the drive, into the overgrown grass of the neglected paddock.

She accelerated up the narrow track, noting the last remnants of wattle flower in the bush that surrounded the house.  It sat, squat and broad, the veranda empty apart from a table and two chairs.

They’d been wedding presents.   That first year she and Trey used them every weekend, even in the chill of Winter.  Trey’s parents chose them, the stained timber table and cushioned chairs suiting the Federation style of the newly built home.  Would they ever forgive her?  Would he?

A light showed in the study, the mountain behind the acreage shadowing the sturdy building once the Autumn sun lowered in the late afternoon.  Trey must be home.  His parents said he would be, but she’d not taken it for granted.

Edging the car around the circular driveway, she slowed to a halt at the front stairs.  If he was in the study he would see her.  How would he react after six months?  That last fight had been horrific.  Even now she still saw his harsh face vivid in her memory, taut with anger, his grey eyes pale as ice.

He recognised the car immediately when it stopped at the gateway.  He’d chosen it for her not long after they returned from the honeymoon.  The personalised number plate provided the final confirmation, if he’d had any doubts.  Her initials and year of birth.  Lacey Ann Cruikshanks, aged twenty-three.
She laughed every time she said the name, like she had the first time she’d heard it.  ‘Next you’ll be telling me your mother’s name was Widdershins.’  He’d laughed too.  He couldn’t help himself.  And as he laughed, he’d fallen in love.

Now the joke was on him.  He’d been a fool to think staid Trey Cruickshanks, lawyer and stalwart of the town, could hold a dancing sprite twelve years younger than himself.  She’d danced into his dull life, tossing her bronze curls and making his world sparkle with the light of her amber eyes. 

He’d noticed how blue the Winter sky could be after a frost.  The brightness of the Spring flowers.  The misty arc of a rainbow after a Summer storm.  He’d enjoyed snuggling with her in front of the wood fire, stoking it to a blaze to keep them warm as they made love on the woven rug she’d bought on one of her trips to South America, before they met.

She’d seen the world and all he’d seen was his home town, and the city where he’d gone for those few years to university.  No wonder, when that second Spring came around she’d gone.  He could barely remember why now.

She’d been so young, he’d not wanted to tie her down with children before they had a chance to have adventures together.  A chance for him to prove he wasn’t the stick in the mud she’d teased in those first months together.

Now it was too late.  Lace would breeze in and pack up the last of her things.  Her musical instruments, the carved wooden ornaments from all the corners of the world, that rug in front of the fireplace…  The breath he drew hurt and he rubbed the heel of his hand against his chest, through the light cotton of his plain white button up shirt.

He’d put away the bright colourful polo shirts and printed T-shirts and jeans she’d given him over the short months of their marriage.  The plain navy slacks and long sleeved business shirts suited the man he was.  Boring.  Ordinary.
She could see into the office now.  Empty, the large window framing the antique timber desk with the matching swivel chair.  Solid, dependable, like Trey.  It had been that air of permanency that first drew her to him.  Apart from his looks of course.

He had a body to die for, tall and lean, his angular hard boned face topped with a mane of dark blond hair that never seemed to sit neatly, for all his attempts to tame it into submission.  His eyes seemed chilly at first but when he laughed they softened into a cloudy grey.
Kind eyes, that until those last weeks always crinkled tenderly at her when she did something ditzy.  He’d been a rock that she could cling to in the stormy insecurity of her life.  All those years battered from pillar to post with her unreliable mother, a virtually unknown father, had left her lost.

Travelling the world, she’d searched for a place to call home, yet she’d found it here in this small rural town, while backpacking across the country.  Now she’d risked losing it all because she’d done what she always did when things didn’t work out.  She’d run.

The call to his parents, just to ask if Trey was ok, had brought her back.  They’d always been so kind, but when they’d told her how he’d withdrawn into his shell, she’d heard the condemnation in their normally gentle tones. 

Gathering her courage, she climbed out of the car, rubbing the small of her back as she stretched after the long drive.  Trey stood at the front door, watching her.  What would he say when he saw her stomach?

Nothing.  He just stood there, face drawn and closed, waiting for her.  The six steps up to the veranda felt like a hundred under those cool eyes. 

‘What brings you here, Lace?’
No welcome, no pleasure.  His eyes lingered on her stomach and those sensual lips tightened.  Suddenly all the things she rehearsed to say seemed unimportant.  ‘I’m sorry Trey.’


‘For running.  I should have talked about it.  I should have stayed.’

Lifting her eyes to his face, always a journey in itself, he was so tall, she caught her breath at the expression in his eyes.  Not cold or angry.

‘Are you staying?’ 

‘Will you have me?’

His large hands cupped her face.  ‘Do you doubt it?’  The soft tones wrapped her in warmth.

Closing her eyes she let him draw her into the solid strength of his embrace.  ‘I love you, Trey.’

‘Welcome home, love.’