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Romance Drama

There is a peace at sunrise that surpasses all understanding. A renewal. A feeling that anything is possible. I’d like to say I drag myself from the comfort of my bed every day to enjoy the sunrise’s splendor, but you wouldn’t believe me and I would be lying. What is true is I was there that day and so was she. There is a connection between sunrisers just because they are sunrisers, but Delilah would have drawn me in no matter the time of day.  


I was sitting there, at my favorite secret spot, overlooking Lake Quinault. It’s a hidden gem in Washington State owned by the Quinault Indian Nation, and if I had my way, no one would ever sit and admire its beauty other than me. Oh and Delilah. Definitely Delilah.  


The lake, a destination point for fishermen, swimmers, and sight seers, is proof that God exists and is located deep in the Olympic National forest. In an era where more people have flat screen TV’s than tents, Lake Quinault is a reminder of the reasons for taking vacations as the sunrise over the lake is the very definition of must-see.  

It was early summer, and to catch the sun as it appeared over the mountain, I had to be in place just after 5:00 a.m. Summer is the best time to watch the sunrise because no one in his or her right mind, other than me, would be up early enough nor be hardy enough to make the journey to my secret spot.


“Is this seat taken?”


Not many people can remember the first words spoken by or to the love of their life, but I absolutely can. As I turned to see from where the voice was coming, the first light of dawn revealed the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Not all men might have said the same thing. Delilah wore no makeup, ripped jeans, and a faded brown hoodie. Her hair, perfectly light red, looked as if it hadn’t been touched since she rolled out of bed that morning, yet her smile and her inner spark couldn’t be hidden by tattered jeans or a faded hoodie or even the disinterest she showed in her hair. She was beautiful. At that moment, surprisingly, unexpectedly, delightfully, I wanted nothing more than to share my sunrise with her.


That being said and also being undeniably true, I was still a guy so I responded welcomingly: “It’s a free country.” With that, she invaded my secret spot, both on the lake and in my heart. 


The silence that followed was both loud and revealing. Delilah wasn’t there for small talk or to meet me; she was there to admire the beauty of sunrise. We sat in silence and watched as the sun peaked its warming light over the horizon, we carried on a conversation in perfect silence. She wordlessly told me she understood the moment, and I responded in kind that the moment was made all the more special because she was there to share it.  


It was the most beautiful conversation, and at that moment I realized that my being alone was only important until the one person with whom I was destined to be with found her way into my life. 


Perfection is a goal impossible to realize in this mortal realm, but that morning came as close as is humanly possible. So many thoughts ran through my mind as the sun revealed itself completely. Then just as quickly and quietly as she had come, Delilah rose to her feet, wiped some residual dirt from the seat of her ripped jeans, and headed down the trail and out of my sight.  


Eight words verbalized, an infinite number of combinations of events contemplated. Thirty minutes passed, a lifetime imagined. I was sure I would never see her again, and I was impossibly sad at the thought.  


Five years, five long years since that day at the lake. First dates, first kisses, words “I love you” spoken, yet every time fate or intention would reach down and sabotage promise. I became determined to find peace in my solitude.   

There was a reason or an excuse for my ending every potential relationship, but at its core was a sunrise and a conversation that didn’t happen.  


I went to our spot from time to time, to see the sunrise, not for her. At least, that’s what I told myself. Five years of disappointing sunrises. Five years of disenchanting beauty. I had given up without realizing I was hoping. Hoping to see her again. Hoping to feel what I felt that day. And then hoping she would be there.


“Is this seat taken?”


“It’s a free country.”


The same eight words. Just as five years earlier.  


At the time, I didn’t know that she, too, had often made the trip back to our secret spot. 


Seeing her, I knew I wouldn’t let the opportunity slip from my grasp, not a second time. When the sun had accomplished its part in our play and when she rose to her feet and started to wipe the dirt from her jeans the same way she had done five years earlier, I stood as well and said the first original words between us.  


“My name is Peter. I don’t like coffee, but I’d really like to have a cup with you.”  


“My name is Delilah, and I would be glad to share a cup of Joe.”


She called it Joe? It’s funny the things that confirm that a love is real. I couldn’t tell her that day, for fear of losing her, but at that moment, I was sure. I had said “I love you” to others before, but it was obvious to me that I had lied. For in that moment, I was finally sure what love felt like.  


Lifetimes are only lifetimes when viewed from the end. A cup of coffee became a dinner date. A dinner date became a commitment. A commitment became a proposal, and a proposal became forever. There were kids and dogs and vacations, but more than anything, there were trips to Lake Quinault. Always at sunrise. Always just the two of us. Never any words.  


You never know the last time is the last time until it’s too late. The last trip we took to Lake Quinault was like all the rest. It took a little longer for tired, old bones to make the trek, but we found our spot, sat together, and conversed in silence. The sun, unaffected by time, rose as perfectly as always, but Delilah rose only with my help.  

“Would you like to share a cup of Joe?”


She knew I did. She knew sitting next to her pretending to like coffee was my greatest pleasure. She knew it was the last time even though I was too stubborn to see it.  

That day in the café, we told stories of family and friends, living and lost, as we sipped on what had eventually become my favorite beverage. We made a mental scorecard of our life without admitting what we were doing, and we realized we had won.  


Two days later I lost her. Just like that first day at the lake, I watched her as she left me alone, this time without even the hope of return. The sadness I felt from years back flooded over me like a tidal wave.  


I’ll save a seat for you. Those were her last words to me.


True to myself, and being a guy, I replied: “It’s a free country.” Then, she was gone.

  

One day, hopefully soon, I will watch the sunrise with my Delilah again from a far better secret place, but until then, I only go to our place at night.  


I’m never alone when I go there. I make my way to our spot and sit down just as I did all those years ago. As the moon reflects off the lake, I feel her comforting hand reach down for me and in the silence only we understand I hear her very clearly. 



November 17, 2020 16:38

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96 comments

Karen Kinley
15:36 Jul 08, 2021

Thom, This story is perfection! Such a love story! So beautifully told! The pacing is perfect. I'm glad I got to read the final, edited version all these months later because I loved every single word. I was truly near tears when I finished. It was like listening to a sad song about a wonderful marriage over and over and feeling the music swell in my chest and being so sad that the song ended. SO. WELL. WRITTEN!

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I.B. Dunn
20:28 Jul 08, 2021

This was one of my favorites. I am an introvert at heart and the ability to be with someone in silence is so attractive, I'm really glad you chose to read this one and I am so grateful for your time and feedback. I am writing one now using the same prompt you did. I'm still editing it but I'd love you to read it once it's done.

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Karen Kinley
20:39 Jul 08, 2021

Of course! Can't wait to see your unique take on it!

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I.B. Dunn
21:22 Jul 08, 2021

It's posted. When you have a moment, give it a read and let me know what you think.

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Jane Andrews
10:25 Dec 23, 2020

Hi Thom. It's soooo long since I've had time to log in to Reedsy but I'm so glad I checked out your stories first. I've just read 'Silence' and it's a beautifully written, heart-warming and heart-rending piece. As ever, you write with a distinctive voice, telling a simple story in a way that we can all relate to. I've said before that I can imagine Morgan Freeman narrating your stories - I thought of that again when I read the line 'Lifetimes are only lifetimes when viewed from the end.' Somehow, you manage to compress decades of a relations...

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I.B. Dunn
23:40 Dec 24, 2020

JANE!!! I asked Santa for three things for Christmas. World peace, my Giants win the Super Bowl, and Jane comes back to Reedsy. Who cares about the other two? You’re back!!! Seriously I’m so thankful for your feedback. I’ve missed it. You always make me want to write more. I saw you wrote a story and I am so looking forward to reading for Christmas tomorrow. Welcome back and Merry Christmas!!!

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Julie Ward
17:11 Dec 19, 2020

Ok, Thom...I've been checking every week to see if you've posted something new. I miss seeing you here! It's the busy holiday season so I understand, but a new story with a red bow on top would be such a lovely thing to see. Just sayin'.

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I.B. Dunn
20:30 Dec 19, 2020

This is a great week for a story. There is one prompt I particularly like. I'll let you know when it's ready to be read. Thanks for the kind words. You inspire me.

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Julie Ward
23:31 Dec 19, 2020

I'll be waiting! I've got one in mind for this week too. : )

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Julie Ward
23:31 Dec 19, 2020

I'll be waiting! I've got one in mind for this week too. : )

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Anna Mosqueda
22:18 Nov 20, 2020

WOWIE!! This story brought me to the very edge of tears!! A whole lifetime was told through your story and man was it amazing!! You said you weren't as descriptive, but I think you are, in a different way than I am. You say things like "Fate or intention would reach down and sabotage promise," and "She wordlessly told me she understood the moment, and I responded in kind that the moment was made all the more special because she was there to share it." These are SUCH amazing quotes that kept me reading so I applaud you for that. I can tell y...

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I.B. Dunn
22:29 Nov 20, 2020

Thanks so much. I say it all the time, complements from talented writers mean the world to me and you are very talented. I will continue to keep an eye out for your stories. I hope you did well on your exam. :-)

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Anna Mosqueda
17:10 Nov 21, 2020

Awesome! I love to hear that, and you are one talented writer too!! I can't wait to read more of your stories as well! And thanks! I made a 96:))

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23:42 Nov 19, 2020

This has got to be my favorite line: "With that, she invaded my secret spot, both on the lake and in my heart." That's just so perfect! But then it gets so sad! The ending is just so heartwrenching! Amazing job with this!

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I.B. Dunn
23:58 Nov 19, 2020

Thanks so much. Your words are so kind and inspiring. I’m not going to pretend it didn’t make me tear up as I was finishing it but I wanted there to be an overarching happiness to it. You have to have something really good to hurt so much when you lose it.

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04:56 Nov 20, 2020

Thank you so much! Haha, I feel emotion when I write, as well! For example, I was just writing a romance (now finished and posted) and I started feeling all warm and cheery at the end! It's my most recent story, you can go check it out!

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Hannah B
14:26 Nov 19, 2020

Beautiful story. You immediately drew me in with the setting, and the writing describing the forest, etc. was fittingly serene. I thought the pacing was well-done, and even though I technically knew how it would end because of the prompt, I didn't know where you would take it, and you handled it in a beautiful, subtly sad way. Very well done--I was hooked from beginning to end. I am writing a story on this prompt as well that is a rather similar vibe to yours (if I actually get around to typing it up and posting it today or tomorrow...).

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I.B. Dunn
14:31 Nov 19, 2020

I'll be on the lookout for it. As you know I am a big fan of your writing. Thanks again for the read and the positive feedback.

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Christina Hall
04:07 Nov 19, 2020

I loved this. Your story flowed beautifully; it carried me through with no effort on my part. I loved how Peter felt like a real person. The romance was all the sweeter for seeming natural. Great job, Thom!

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I.B. Dunn
04:11 Nov 19, 2020

Thank you for the time, the read, and the kind feedback. It validated what I was trying to convey. You are a super hero.

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Killian G.
19:56 Nov 18, 2020

This story is soooooo good! It was so well described, and is an overall amazing story! I don't have any editing suggestions, cause I'm horrible at it too :/

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I.B. Dunn
20:01 Nov 18, 2020

Thanks so much for your kind words and don't worry about the edits. We poor editors need to stick together. :-)

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Katina Foster
16:24 Nov 18, 2020

Beautifully done, Thom. I love how the lake is as much a player in the story as Peter and Delilah. The magical quality bookends an otherwise "normal" life, but somehow lends magic to the relationship itself. Your stories are always so picturesque and heartbreaking. I wish I could live inside one. :)

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I.B. Dunn
16:28 Nov 18, 2020

Feedback is a funny thing, I love it all but some people's feedback carries more weight. You are just such a somebody. I want everyone to enjoy what I write but when you do it makes a difference in my life. Thanks for being a reader. Thanks for being a friend.

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Katina Foster
22:32 Nov 19, 2020

Ditto Thom!

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21:02 Nov 17, 2020

Well, damnit, you made me cry! The first words the love of my life said to me were, "I'm a bastard and you are a good girl and we are friends, you got it?" I only nodded in response. I think this is your best work ever! I have not edits or things you should change. It's perfect.

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I.B. Dunn
15:29 Nov 18, 2020

I made myself cry. Is that a good thing? Seriously, thank you for the read and response. Get working on your book. I’m waiting. 😀

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16:50 Nov 18, 2020

I have a two-book series The End and After the End that is similar to Walking Home. There was a character that died in the second book and I cried like a baby. lol Making yourself cry is a good thing, I think! Do you have anything published?

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I.B. Dunn
17:00 Nov 18, 2020

My story "Choices" is set to be published this month. I entered it into a contest and got second place as well as the Judges Choice award. I am writing a novel now. Its a romcom heavy on the rom light on the com but it is my fervent hope that one day it gets published. (About the crying, who cares? Lets just keep crying. We'll show them.)

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17:26 Nov 18, 2020

I'm so excited for you! You know you can self publish....

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Mark Wilson
11:26 Jun 12, 2021

Such a good story, Thom. Very touching. Love lost. I truly believe that the folks who say that it's better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all, were never really in love. Great job here!

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This is the best story I've ever read

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Claire Lewis
23:49 Mar 03, 2021

This is incredible, Thom. It’s tender and quiet, which fits perfectly with your title and your motif of silence and sunrises. I’m impressed by your effortless navigation through time, that you managed to fit a whole lifetime in a short story is no small feat. That’s something I struggle with, so I tend to lean towards writing smaller moments in time. You’re welcome to choose any of mine next! This one reminds me a bit of ‘Water and Stone,’ so you might enjoy that one. It’s a bit older.

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Hey, great story. I like how you really focused on the beginning and end of the story, and kind of zoomed through their life together.

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Doubra Akika
16:22 Nov 23, 2020

Silence can be such a powerful element and your story definitely conveys this beautifully. Sometimes dialogue can be very necessary but in this, the silence was very meaningful. Such a heavy, beautiful love. Thom, you have a very beautiful way with words and this is definitely not an exception. I loved all the emotions that came with this and how several lines pulled at my heartstrings. You are such a terrific writer and it has been my absolute pleasure to read your work here on Reedsy. Hope you're staying safe.

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Megan Sutherland
15:26 Nov 18, 2020

This is so sweet, Thom! Great job!

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I.B. Dunn
15:30 Nov 18, 2020

Thank you. I’m glad you liked it.

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Megan Sutherland
15:34 Nov 18, 2020

Of course, loved it!

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