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Romance Inspirational Speculative

Strange how a simple shift of the wind as it stirs the branches of a nearby tree could bring to mind something which occurred to me years before. It was after the rain. The path I walked upon felt slick beneath my sandals. There was a clean, crisp feel to the air. It was early morning. The birds were singing. I decided to walk down my backyard and sit on a make-shift wooden bench. Sleep had become a distant memory—my long lost friend. So many ideas, images, emotions, and feelings swirled through my head as I sat there staring out into the nothingness. It felt as though my mind was about to explode or implode, which ever was the quickest and least messy. I knew that boredom and ennui, during my COVID 19 self-isolation, gave rise to my insomnia-induced-madness. But knowing did little to diminish my state of mind. My thoughts shifted to love ones and friends in other countries around the world—countries that were crippled by the Coronavirus. I shook my head in an attempt to force the dark thoughts away. “The pandemic is going to pass,” I reminded myself. I had to keep the faith and persevere; we all did. I focused instead on happier times: moments that stood out in my life. The reminiscing produced a tentative smile upon my lips: something I haven’t been doing much lately. It was then that a memory came to me of another summer, another place.

It was during my last semester at university. I remember how hot it was that summer: a regular Dante’s inferno. Staying indoors trying to study in the dry heat was a lost cause. So I would often venture outdoors in search of a cool shade. It was during one of these treasure hunts that I found a spot I came upon by accident. There is an enclosure in the middle of a square of buildings. The secluded area is surrounded by trees and bushes completely isolated from the rest of the university. In the clearing of the enclosure stands a weathered wooden bench. I spent my lunch hours and study periods there, to escape not only the heat, but also the noise and distractions of the world. No one else seemed to know about the spot but me. It became my secret place.

Until one day, I happened upon someone sitting on the wooden bench. Her face was smiling while her feet swung playfully beneath her. I recognized her. We took a class together. She always sat at the back of the lecture hall away from everyone. I found it strange that she sat alone; she was quite attractive. I heard her once as she spoke to someone in passing. Her accent was thick and exotic, like women in those James Bond films. My presence woke her from her reverie. Her smile faded and her feet stopped swinging as she looked over at me. Our eyes met. We gawked at each other in dumb silence.

I remember her methodically picking up her belongings, disappointment written on her face. I felt ashamed, for I knew that I had disturbed her. Like me, she found comfort in this place. On impulse, I awkwardly offered her half a sandwich I had. She looked at me intently and smiled (in a crooked, thoughtful kinda way). It was a look I would later learn was her way of considering an unusual or awkward situation without seeming disrespectful. To my surprise, she accepted.

We sat and talked, formally at first about school. I could tell she was self-conscious about her accent. Little did she know, her accent and shyness made her that much more attractive to me. The conversation soon gave way to more casual subjects as we began to share parts of our lives. It was her first musical laugh that broke the ice. Suddenly, I became funnier and more charming then I ever thought possible. She just seemed to bring out the best in me. In no time at all, I could not understand how either of us could ever have felt uncomfortable or uncertain around each other. The place became our place. We often found ourselves there, even when it was raining. We would cuddle beneath an umbrella finding warmth and comfort within each other’s arms, as the world past by around us.

The summer all too soon came to an end. I had no further reason to go to university. We saw each other when we could; that is before her student visa expired and she had to return to her country. Then we wrote to each other, often, and spoke on the phone. We made plans to meet and travel the world. Our plans, however, never found their way to fruition. Until the inevitable occurred and we lost contact with each other all together, as the days and months faded into years. I wonder where she is today. Back home no doubt with a husband and children. The romantic in me began to speculate whether she ever thought of me, as I was thinking of her now, and if she still smiled that certain way whenever she considered something off-hand.

The wind stirred once more, shattering the wonderful spell I was under. I found myself sitting on a damp wooden bench in my backyard. I was alone with my thoughts once more. But strangely, somehow, I was in a place that was not as dark as before, not nearly as gloomy.

It was the happy memories—like my last semester at university-that kept the darkness away. An undeniable sense of clarity washed over me. Suddenly, my thoughts weren’t in a swirl of randomness. I saw peaceful sleep in my very near future. I realized what an amazing gift I was given, an escape locked deep within my imaginings. I thank her for that gift, as well as, the summer we spent together years before. If life is nothing more than a string of experiences bound tightly together by memorable moments, then I know, in her small way, she has forever enriched my existence. She has provided me with an experience to cherish and treasure all the days of my life…

August 08, 2020 02:12

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6 comments

Chub Chub
04:00 Aug 10, 2020

Cool got more details about this story. You told me about this but in passing once before.

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Rodrigo Juatco
04:12 Aug 10, 2020

Yeah. That's right.

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Roshna Rusiniya
07:28 Aug 08, 2020

Wow! This was such a beautiful story! So poignant. Loved the title! :)

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Rodrigo Juatco
16:15 Aug 08, 2020

Thank you so much. I appreciate the comment.

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Zion Hintay
04:03 Aug 08, 2020

Wow what a wonderful tie in on the end. This is a very vivid moment you've managed to encapsulate so well. Well done. I always like how you bind the title into it as well. Felt like the story was as you said threaded very neatly and bound tight. Can't wait to read more of you're writing!

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Rodrigo Juatco
04:09 Aug 08, 2020

Thanks man. Appreciate the comment.

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