by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|2nd place win. 628 Word entry into the February "Verfabula: A Creative Nonfiction Contest"
Bryce Canyon National Park is a temple of pink rock spires. Summer employment for college students like me offered pay for anticipated pleasure. I walked underneath the ladder in the doorway of the gift shop hoping bad luck would not follow.
“Hello. Hand me that hammer, will you?” Phyllis leaned down, our hands touching. Brown eyes and curly mop of hair adorned a willowy figure. A charge of electricity sent a shock through us both.
“You sure are. I won’t give you any static about that,” she laughed. Our first meeting yielded constant others while working and getting to know each other.
“Want to go for a walk on the rim tonight? Full moon should be beautiful.” The other employees had paired up together for the summer. It made it easier for us to fall into the same pattern.
“Sure.” There wasn’t much else to do than make our own entertainment. The rim overlooked a sweep of coral pink cliffs and bounty of carved spires. My best friend and his new fiancee wanted to be shown around by me as their guide.
The romantic double date evening turned cringe worthy. Slurpy, noisy kissy faces destroyed the silence behind Phyllis and I, making us both feel embarrassed. Our relationship was to the point of our holding hands.
I’d never had a girl so interested in me. She seemed to memorize every word I said. I didn’t realize I was her first boyfriend. She was practicing on me, testing my reaction to what worked. I was totally smitten.
I wanted to show her what a real kiss should be, a gentle quiet caress of lips and hearts joining together. When I dropped her off at her girls dorm, I asked her if it would be all right. “I’ve never been kissed before,” she closed her starlit eyes.
I whispered her name as our lips met in the silence of a heartbeat filled with love and longing. “Goodnight,” I said my goodbye.
Phyllis said she felt nothing until halfway up her stairs. Suddenly faint, feeling feverish, she swooned. “Wow. So this is what it is like.” She had to pull herself the rest of the way up the staircase by holding onto the bannister. The next morning, after she threw up and fever hadn’t gone away, the nurse said she had the flu.
So much for anticipation. Walking under that ladder had done its evil work. It had come back to haunt me. I was truly shocked when I heard she was sick. Flowers followed, along with get well wishes, for the next three days until she surfaced again, looking wane and wary of my greeting.
It was nearing the end of our summer employment. All that work getting to know Phyllis ended in a shy shaking of hands and promises to stay in touch. Every other couple traded hugs and addresses. “I’m sorry how things worked out.” I slipped a note with my college address on it into the palm of her hand. “I really like you.” Love was only a word away.
“May I have yours?” I offered a pen and piece of paper. “What can it hurt? We’ll be far enough apart you should stay healthy enough.”
Her face broke into a smile and laughter. “Why not.”
All I needed was that hint of continued friendship. Letters between Utah and Rhode Island grew into long lasting phone calls culminating in a Christmas visit with families. We traded hugs and kisses of our own. Neither one of us got sick of them.
There was a new shocking electrical chemistry between us. The following summer, after our June wedding, the tall steeple spires of Bryce Canyon welcomed us back in a delayed honeymoon. Every expectation had been more than met.