“Exquisite”, Rex Hadley whispers as he draws his wife into his embrace. The cruel years had not diminished the softness of her. A smile lights his face as he sees the jeweled clip in her snowy white hair. The Indian merchant had kept shaking his head in refusal of their offers until Rex had whispered, “It’s our honeymoon.” After a pause, the merchant had finally winked and handed over the clip without accepting their payment.
Sadness clouds Rex’s eyes as he is drawn back to the present and releases his wife from his embrace. Delicate arms hang at Evie’s side as her haunted blue eyes stare into Rex’s clear ones searching for some clue to unlock her confusion. Faintly she remembers the scent of his aftershave, but can’t place why. A kind of security wraps around her every time he is near. That strong sense of love seems the only thing her memory is able to grasp.
“Come, let’s go sit. The fire will warm us.” As Evie settles into what used to be her favorite spot, Rex picks up something from beside the loveseat.
“Here’s the book. Just like old days, eh, old gal?”
“Book?” Evie’s faltering word doesn’t stop Rex.
“Our New Year’s book. I always marveled at your talent for putting pictures and clippings together. Becka’s followed in your footsteps, you know.”
“New Year? Becka?”
“Becka’s our daughter, Evie. She’s so much like you.” Rex gently sets the book in Evie’s lap and opens the first page. “It’s an old book this year.”
Time seems locked for a moment as past and present stare each other in the face. Evie’s eyes are drawn to the woman in the yellowed photograph. Joy, hope, and expectation shine from those eyes, drawing Evie into another place that is faintly remembered.
Rex points to the young bride, “Remember the first word out of my mouth when I saw you?”
“Ex-qui-site.” Evie’s halting word brings tears to Rex’s eyes. There it was. As if nothing had ever tarnished her ability to recall. Moments like this had been mentioned, but he hadn’t dared to hope. Evie places her wrinkled hand on his, blue eyes shining. “More.”
Memories fill their minds as each picture carries them away into a world lost to them just moments ago. Souls once again in union, bound by a lifetime of joys and sorrows shared. Each knowing this moment was a treasure too valuable to price.
As Evie turns the last page, the curtain begins to close once again. She lifts her head and Rex catches the familiar look of confusion. Tears blur his vision of the last picture.
Smiling back at him from a New Year’s past are Evie and himself. He could almost hear her words from that night, “Oh bother with tradition, Rex. Don’t bore me with everyone else’s words. Let’s make up our own phrase, something special just for us.”
Gently Rex closes the book and takes it from Evie’s lap. He tucks the book back into its place and stands reaching out his hand to his beloved, lost wife. As his embrace encloses her with warmth and acceptance he whispers that remembered phrase, “Happy ‘Nother Year, Evie, my darling, Happy ‘Nother Year.”
unpublished copyright 2005 Tammy Johnson
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Tammy, this is a delightful story, right out of left field. Beautifull drawn characters. The story, told in one moment of time, was very satisfying. Their love for each other, fraught with genuine heart rending hardship was beautifully rendered. I could see and hear them. So sad for you that it missed the challenge!