A fire crackles in the fireplace as the wind howls by the windows, sounding like a lovesick spirit mourning over a broken heart. A large red candle sits by the window; its flame, though burning deep inside the candle after all the years of use, still fights against the drafty window. White curtains hang halfway down the window and sway in ghostly manner from the same unseen force. Candles litter the small cabin, providing just enough light to comfortably see and just soft enough to allow the shadows a stage on the walls to dance. An old grandfather clock stands proud in the corner of the room. Its aged red mahogany wood is a testament to the memories that lived here over the years. The snow is falling heavily and drifting to small hills just under the windows. You know if it keeps up like this, we will surely be snowed in.
Two small logs sit upon the hearth of the wood burning brick fireplace waiting to do their duty. Above the fireplace hangs a mantel and on it are small knickknacks and pictures of old relatives. A picture sits upon the mantle of you and I when we were kids, sitting in a canoe making faces at the camera. A dried rose sits centered on the mantel, though aged and fragile it still holds its beauty and as you look at it memories flood over you.
You remember coming up here with your family when you were young and walking out on the beach and seeing me next door standing on a tree log trying to keep my balance. I walked to you and asked if you wanted to help me find skipping stones. You never skipped a stone and were not good but I taught you and by the end of the summer you were skipping stones as far as I could.
You remember every summer after that, and how the drive-up seemed to get longer each year, due to the anticipation of being together. You knew I would meet you on that log when you each arrived. You remember stealing kisses at picnics when we thought nobody was looking and of our secret hiding spot under the deck that really was not a secret to anyone. You recall the big weeping willow tree on the other side of the lake where we sneak away as teenagers and learn about love.
You recall our senior year riding in the passenger seat of my 89 Ford Mustang, music blaring when suddenly I pulled over in front of this roadside house and jumped out. I ran up to its flower garden and picked that rose from their rose bush and then ran back to the car in terror because a Chow hiding under a tree had caught up to me and was nipping at my ankles. Having safely jumped in the car I gave you that rose and despite that dog jumping on the car door, I looked at you and told you I loved you for the first time and said no matter how far apart we might be you would always be in my heart…I promise. To that you replied, “I will keep this rose forever.” You remember me simply giving you a crooked smile and a wink clearly not taking that seriously, but you meant it and you wondered if I'd even notice it.
You remember our last night and how we spent it on the beach of this cabin, where we made love for the first time under the stars knowing the next day, we would be apart. I was leaving for the military, and you were going to college. Though our future was uncertain that night, we were in love and confident it was enough to keep us together. Life, however, had other plans and despite the valiant attempts we grew apart. Deployments kept me away for much longer than intended and your career took off, keeping you on the move. Time passed, friends made, friends lost, and lovers came and went, and we eventually lost touch but never forgotten. Social media is what allowed us to reconnect and after continued let’s do it and we will’s… we finally decided to stop talking about meeting and instead make it happen. You thought, no better place to reconnect than where it all started. Though, not wanting to entertain this thought, you could not help it and wondered if after 20 years could there a flame to stoke…could I even have kept my promise, because deep down inside you still loved me and that made you vulnerable. Your father’s cabin brings back memories so thick you can cut it with a knife and as you sit on the old green plush couch and cuddle a blanket. A tear rolls down your face and with nervous excitement you hope I can make it through this storm.
Just then the fire crackles, pulling you out of that pool of memories and back to the present. The wind continues to howl, and the steady tick of the grandfather clock matches the beat of your anticipating heart. The teapot on the old cast iron stove starts to whistle and you get up to tend it. At that moment, the door opens, and the bitter frigid wind blows snow wildly inside then shuts. There we stood, looking eye to eye just staring. Goosebumps, travel your body as you watch me pull off the hood of my black military issued parka.
20 years, 6 tours and numerous combat missions did not prepare me for the flood of emotions that rolled over me after seeing you. There I stood staring at you simply taken back by how beautiful you were and at a complete loss for words. I was a teenager again and butterflies filled my insides. You broke the silence by simply saying “HI” to which I replied “Hi” with a loving smile. I had rehearsed what I was going to say to you repeatedly knowing I was going to see you again, but now that you were standing in front of me, I was at a loss for words, and it showed.
You rehearsed yourself, what you would say to me and how you would act, but all you could do was stare as well, reminded at this moment of how blue my eyes were. We seemingly embraced both moving toward each other at the same time. The cold snow on my jacket pushed against your warm dry clothes, but it didn’t matter, you were in my arms again. I wrapped my arms round you and gently squeezed, never wanting to let go. I just wanted to become one with you and it had been forever. By now the teapot was screaming like our hormones and we ended our embrace. You walked over to the stove and pulled the kettle off and the whistling started to subside. You glanced over at me, and I was taking my coat off and wearing my full-dress uniform. Metals hung from my chest and silver stars sparkled like the new fallen snow outside.
I had brought in two small logs and set them by the fireplace and turned back towards you. We smiled at each other and you noticed a tear beading up under my eye and you also noticed my determination to hide it. I then made way over to you, pulled you close and whispered in your ear “no matter how far I was, you were always in my heart and been part of me” then I kissed you. Chills raced up and down your body our lips blanketing each other’s trying to become one. I placed my hand behind your head and ran my fingers into your hair as our tongues wrestled with passion. I pulled your head back and started passionately but gently kissing your neck up and down and nibbling on your ear. You moaned and gasped for breath as I explored your neck with my lips, sliding your hand up the back of my shirt and running your fingernails down my skin hard enough to make me tense up and give your hair a dominant tug and explore your ear with my tongue. We continued to passionately embrace our tongues battling for position and dominance...then I pulled back, looked you in the eye and said, “So how you been?” Stunned by the sudden transition you looked back at me, seeing me smiling and then started to laugh.
My joke offered a natural transition before we moved to fast and we composed ourselves. I took off my boots and made my way over to the couch and you grabbed mugs and poured us tea and set the kettle back on the stove. I watched you move subtly swaying as you walked. You ruffled your hair with both hands and let your soft blonde hair fall back onto your shoulders. As you made your way back to me, you pulled your hair up in a bun trying to fix what my fingers left a mess revealing the elegant lines of your neckline. You were wearing a tan sweater like a turtleneck and Jeans which fit your body like a glove yet not so tight to imply to anyone that is all you had to offer. Your eyes glared at me in a seductive, yet gentle way and I knew you were trying as hard as I was to not to let this get physical too fast. There would be time to make love and though we never spoke about sex, it was on both of our minds and clearly we still physically attracted to each other. You sat next to me and placed your head on my shoulder, and I put my arms around you pulling a blanket up over you so you were completely leaning against me. You pulled your legs up on the couch and held your cup of tea with both hands. The fire added warmth but without it we would have been warm.
“Hey, is that the rose?” I questioned in a shocked tone to which you simply smiled and replied, “What rose?” We continued to talk, laugh, and even cry and it was the most comfortable place I had been in a long time. I was running my fingers through your hair keeping it behind your ear as my hand gently rubbed your other arm. The candles were starting to die out and the fire was just a little flame. Burning wood hinted at the air and shadows continued to dance on the walls. The fire cracked, the wind howled and you were asleep in my arms…. where you should be.