There had been a nagging feeling swelling within my mind that I needed to visit Sarah next door, I wanted to make sure that my answer to her question had been understood correctly. I raised myself off of my bed, which I had been sitting and pondering for that last hour, retrieved my jeans and proceeded to put them on. After buckling my belt, I slipped my feet into a pair of loafers and put on a shorth sleeve button down shirt. The evening weather was quite comfortable outside, so I didn’t have to put on other layers of clothing.
I stepped out of my room, walk the short distance to the living room where I found my mother nestled in her rocking chair working on her latest crochet project. Here hands moved methodically maneuvering her needles pulled the yarn here and there creating the pattern she was working on.
“Hey mom,” I said in a quiet tone not wanting to startle her. “I gonna walk next door to see how Sarah is doing. I saw her standing outside and she looked a little depressed. I’ll be back in a little bit.”
She didn’t miss a loop as she looked up and smiled at me. “Okay honey that’s probably a good thing to do. Take care and let her know I’m here if she needs another ear to listen.” I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt there was more to this than meets the eye.
“Okay back in a bit.” Being away for so long from her I always felt bad that she spent so much time alone at home. When I was fifteen, dad had a major accident at work which took his life away from her and me. His insurance policy and the settlement from his accident left her with a substantial amount of money for the rest of her life. Before it happened, we never could have afforded to move into this part of town being more of a working-class family versus a business one.
Thirty years had passed, and I always wondered why she never remarried, when I did ask, she gave me the same explanation each time. “Your father and I had a very loving and happy relationship. Our time together could never be recreated again, I am quite sure of that.”
“But mom that was so long ago,” I would say. “I hate thinking of you being alone in this house when I am away.”
“We had more joy in those twenty years together than most people have in a lifetime and that is more than enough to keep mt going. One day you will understand, you just haven’t realized who that right one is for you then you will know.”
She always left me with that hanging statement that I hadn’t realized and not that I hadn’t met the right one yet. During these last thirty years I had been through several bad relationships and a very rough marriage, and here I was back home once again.
Stepping through our front door and out into the mildly warm summer air, I began walking down our driveway and headed over to Sarah’s house which was next to ours. I hadn’t told mom the full story that I did see her outside but that I went over to where she was standing.
All alone on the sidewalk between our two houses I found her staring blankly out looking down the road wearing a face of sadness I had never seen on her before. I quietly walked up and stood next to her not wanting to spook her or thinking that I was going to spout some insult at her.
We had always had a tumultuous relationship since the day I moved in almost thirty years ago. I never understood why we established such a bitterness towards each other when either one had ever done something to the other. It’s was like second nature that we would hurl insults toward the other almost on queue the second we came near to the other. I never could figure out how or why that soured relationship had even gotten started.
It took a couple of seconds before she realized that I was even standing next to her. Looking in my direction she gave me a sad smile and only said “Hi.”
Neither one of us were those nasty kids from thirty years ago but a little more mellowed with age. She wasn’t the preppy bouncy teenager, and I was no longer the angry against the world person. I saw a new side, a mature beautiful woman with life’s scars echoing through her gentle smile and tender voice.
Some other worldly power took over my thoughts and actions at that instant as a reached towards her, cradled her head in the palms of my hands then gave her the most tender kiss I had ever given anyone. She didn’t flinch back but reached up and held my hands in place as I was about to remove them hold our embrace for a few seconds longer. She stepped back, looked into my eyes and asked with a deeply apologetic tone, “Do you think we could try?”
Staring back into those beautiful brown and remorseful eyes I replied, “Yes.” She then turned away and walked over, up her driveway and into her house. I then returned to mine and proceeded to sit on my bed and ponder what had just happened.
Still thinking about those earlier moments, I had made my way to her front porch. Mr. and Mrs. Landers were sitting in their double porch swing slowly rocking back and forth while her younger brother Steven, now thirty-five himself was resting on the door stoop looking at his cell phone.
“Hey Pete,” Mr. Landers announced. “How are you doing?”
“Not too bad sir, just sorting out a few things.” I answered him. “Is Sarah, okay? I saw her earlier and she seemed sad.”
“We’ll I know you’ve been away for awhile and been through your own things, but she’s been through a very couple of years. She had been married to a man who didn’t treat her very well and had a son with him.”
“I didn’t know, I’m sorry.”
“The worst thing is,” he continued. “This man through his recklessness caused them to lose their ten-year-old in an auto accident.” I was somehow beginning to take on the sadness she was feeling.
“Anyway, he survived but the child didn’t cause her to spiral into a deep depression needless to say he left her in a horrible state for a long time until we finally convinced her to come back for a while. She’s been home now for a couple of months and beginning her slow path to recovery.”
“Oh my god!” I blurted out. “I found her out on the sidewalk earlier and could see the sadness within her and something made me want to comfort her, so I gave her a small kiss. I feel like shit now because I may have taken advantage of the situation. I’m so sorry, please forgive me?”
“Don’t feel sad Pete,” Mrs. Landers said as she stood up and gave me a hug. “That was probably the best thing that could have happened to her in a very long time.”
“I…I don’t understand.,” I stammered out confused.
“Listen,” she continued. “After you were older and gone and Sarah had moved out and began her life’s journey, your mom and us became much closer friends. We would often sit around and try to understand why the two of you were always at odds with each other we could never figure out why. The one day we both came to the same conclusion which had never enter our minds before, but it all made sense then.”
“We’ll I spent most of my life trying to figure that one out. She’s always been on my mind I almost began to believe that she was trying to interfere with my relationships subconsciously, but I realized that it wasn’t her fault. If you have some insight, I’m all ears.”
“Okay what you mom and I realized that you two were so bound to each other you couldn’t stand the thought of the other being with someone else. You lashed out at each other but could never accept the fact that you were meant to be together and never did anything about it. The two of you were never mad or angry at the other but were angry at yourselves for not doing anything about getting together.”
“Did Sarah ever talk to you about this?” I was taken aback but beginning to realize that what she was saying made perfect sense.
“Yes and no,” Mrs. Landers continued. “Over the years she would subtly bring up the fact that she felt bad about how she had treated you, that was when your mom and I out the pieces together.”
It was then Mr. Landers turn to pipe into the conversation. “Do you think it was an accident that you saw Sarah out on the sidewalk earlier?” It was then that Mrs. Landers poked him in the side and said, “George!”
“We’ll Barb the man needs to know! Didn’t you mother ask you to get something out of her car for her.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “But I didn’t think anything of it.” I paused my mind for a second. “Did both of you set this up?”
“We’ll you two weren’t going to do anything about it, so yeah you were setup,” Steven entered the conversation with a chuckle.
All of those years of badgering each other raced through my mind, memories which didn’t make any sense then came flooding back but having a different underlying tone. “Dam all of this time wasted.”
“Hold on their kid,” Mr. Landers said as he placed his hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay maybe if you had realized it at the time things could have gone sour in your future. When were young were also stupid and make rash decisions sometimes it takes a while then our maturity helps us in ways we couldn’t imagine?”
“Look,” Mrs. Landers said. “She’s told us what had happened, but she was afraid that you might still hold some ill feelings about the way she treated you.”
“No way! That was a long time ago and I was just a mean to her.”
“Good, she’s in her room, the second door on the right with the little pink ribbon on it. Go and talk to her, it’s never too late to start over.”
Steven got up from where he had been sitting and opened the door for me then pointed towards her room. I swallowed hard and gathered my thoughts together and went in. A few seconds later my hand was shaking as it was gently knocked on her door. “Knock, Knock.”
“Yes?” I heard her soft voice ask from behind the wooden panel.
“It’s Pete, can I come I and talk with you for a little while?”
“Yes, please do.”
I turned the knob and pushed gently against the structure causing it to open slowly. It was then I saw this fragile beauty sitting on the edge of her bed. I smiled and said “Hi.”
“Hi,” she replied in a welcoming tone. I stepped through and closed the door behind me beginning a new phase in both of our lives.