Mark and Tracy Chapman were married on a Saturday afternoon in May, and spent their honeymoon in the Three Bridges Bed and Breakfast. Hidden in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it promised privacy to those who wanted it, access to local hiking trails, and the best trout fishing in Virginia. It also hosted an annual craft fair showcasing local artists.
Mark was tall and slim, and wore his cowboy hat and boots with pride. His passions were hunting turkey, fishing, and playing basketball. Tracy only reached his armpit, loved music and reading, and preferred solitude. They had met at church, but most of their friends wondered what they had in common besides the Lord.
On Sunday afternoon, Mark and Tracy sat in the inn’s garden. Redbuds and azaleas bloomed, and Eastern bluebirds with their orange breasts nested in the open ends of a clothesline pole. Each held a brochure picked up at the front desk.
“Listen to this, Tracy,” Mark said, opening a colorful brochure. “‘Fly Fishing at its Finest!! Learn the secrets of successful fly fisherman! Spend Time in Virginia’s Great Outdoors! All top quality equipment – we rent waders, rods, vests, etc. Classes available – learn to tie your own flies!’ Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
Tracy’s answer was a look of total disbelief. “You want to go fishing on our honeymoon? You must be kidding!”
“Well, yeah! You’d like it if you tried it. Look here.” He pointed to the pamphlet. “‘There’s plenty to see for a spouse who’s not fishing-inclined.’”
“I don’t believe it! I thought we’d go to the craft fair. See?” She opened her brochure.
“You won’t go fishing, but you expect me to go shopping? You want me to spend all day looking at stuff we can’t afford and won’t buy?” He stood up, startling a pair of squirrels, who scolded them from the safety of an oak tree.
They spent the rest of that day not speaking, and the night with their backs toward each other.
On Monday, Tracy wandered among booths of blown glass, hand carved toys, and jewelry. She ate funnel cake and drank fresh-squeezed lemonade. She watched men make furniture, women spin angora rabbit fur into yarn, and clowns paint children’s faces.
Mark drove to the local trout stream. Dressed in rented waders, he fished all morning. Flicking his long pole back and forth in the sparkling water, he occasionally caught and then released a colorful trout.
That evening, Tracy lay curled up in their room’s window seat, reading and waiting for Mark. When he returned from fishing, Tracy spoke first. “Did you have fun?”
“I guess,” he answered, sitting on the bed. “Maybe our friends were right,” he said.
She sighed and looked out the window. “Maybe we really are too different.”
Mark knelt in front of her and took her hands. “Let’s go for a walk.”
They strolled into town. Vendors were packing and preparing for the next day’s sales. An elderly couple selling hand stitched quilts was just finishing their last sale.
“Can we help you?” the older man asked. Tracy had stopped to admire the bedding and was fingering a blue and white quilt in an intricate pattern. “You like that one? It’s called ‘The Drunkard’s Pathway.’ Odd name, don’t you think?”
The man’s wife stepped forward. “Hello. My name’s Emma Fisher and this here’s my husband Wallace.” She smiled as the men shook hands and Mark introduced himself and Tracy. “Why don’t you set a spell? I got some fresh iced tea right here.”
Without waiting, she poured four glasses while Wallace brought out two more lawn chairs. “We’re done for the day, and I do like talking with young people.”
Mark and Tracy accepted the tea. They watched the old couple finish taking the quilts from the hangers, folding them into trunks. When they finished, they sat with their tea. “Ya’ll honeymooners?”
“We just got married Saturday,” answered Tracy.
Wallace nodded. “We been married 50 years. Started out working the coalmines down south of here. Couldn’t hack that, so I took up truck driving. She stayed home with the young’uns. It’s been a hard life, but a good one. Some people thought we’d never make it.” He patted Emma’s wrinkled hand. “But the Lord put us together and ain’t nothing going to take us apart. Right, honey?”
Mark reached over and took Tracy’s hand. “Same here,” they said at the same time.
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