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by Shaara
Rated: 13+ · Book · Sci-fi · #1820930
A time-travel story and a love story
#738247 added October 31, 2011 at 10:52pm
Restrictions: None
Charlie Baker -- Three
I located Laurie's town on a map, checked for law firms, then made some calls. A professor of mine knew someone who knew someone who seemed to know all about Briggly, a quiet little town in the midst of strawberry fields and avocado groves. I talked it about, got some recommendations, sent out my resumes, and began to pack. I wasn't disappointed, three offers came back. Law firms weren't supposed to be hiring with great alegrity, but how often does a little town like Briggly get offered a Summa cum laude from Stanford?

I put my boxes inside a U-Haul, said my goodbyes to the folks, and headed down the coast of California. Pleasant trip, nice on the eyes, ocean half the way. But I was too excited to take in much. Now that I knew Laurie was real, had found where she lived, and was headed there, the pull of her presence stole away whatever tourist-enhanced sense of adventure I might have had. The destination of Briggly was my all.

It had been several years since Laurie had come to visit my dreams, long years when I'd almost lost hope. I wondered what she looked like now, who she'd become. In mere hours I would find out. I pushed down on the gas pedal and zoomed, it's a wonder I didn't get ticketed.

I rolled into her town about four o'clock on Saturday afternoon. Of course, my fingers ached to call her. I had found her phone number on the web. But I couldn't do that. I couldn't act like I knew her, not unless she recognized me. I didn't want to scare her away. I needed to go slowly -- a courtship like they had in the past. Flowers, candy, kisses in the moonlight. But what if even then she didn't like me, didn't recognize the connection between us, didn't fall in love?

Deep breaths, focus, one step at a time. My fingers on the steering wheel clutched too fiercely. I had to relax them, ease up on my grip. Almost there.

I drove by the hotel before I realized it. According to the Internel, Briggly had only one, a Travelor's Inn, located a mile and a half from the center of town. Vacancy. Hadn't need the reservation, but one never knew. Better to be safe than have to turn around and retreat to the next town.

I pulled out my credit card, chatted a moment to the elderly lady taking my information, asked about restaurants, got directions to the Briggly Christian Church, the one Laurie belonged to. I'd decided that church was the best point of contact. Public. Safe. Good first impression.

When I got into the room, I showered, then walked over to a nearby cafe to pick up a sandwich -- no room service at the hotel -- After, I drove about, getting a better look at my future home. The law offices where I'd be interviewing on Monday and Tuesday weren't far apart, all near the courthouse, library, city hall. I stopped at a grocery store, bought a candy bar in case I got hungry in the night, a couple of apples, some orange juice and sweet rolls for the morning, and then allowed myself to feel Laurie's pull.

I pulled out the Internet map, drove straight it, but passed it by so I could park a street over. I walked a bit around the neighbor, not wishing to look suspicious.

3569 Chester Drive. I'll never forget that address now. I'd etched it into my brain 300 miles ago. The house where Laurie lives. My heart sped, grew loud. Calm down, I said to myself. Not going to see her today.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been so obvious. If anyone had seen me they would have wondered why I stared so. But I couldn't help drinking it in, like it could tell me about something about her. It was her parents' house, not hers, I reminded myself again.

I pretended I was a real estate agent looking over the neighborhood. 3569 Chester Drive. Ah, nice house, fresh paint, good roof. Excellent curbside appeal. I stopped, couldn't continue, couldn't be so coldly impartial.

My brain filtered everything, related it to her. Flowers bloomed in the yard, maybe she'd planted them. What was her favorite color, favorite flower? I knew nothing about her. How could that be when I'd thought about her every night for years?

A white porch lined the front of the house. Someone had placed an oblong braided rug on the ground, a padded wooden bench sat flush against the wall. Maybe she'd sat there, stared up at the sky, wished on a star. What had she wished for? Hopefully she was alone, not with a boyfriend, but chances were . . .

A large oak tree took up most of the right side of the yard. Someone had placed a wooden swing on it, Had she ever sat there, her legs soaring up into the sky, her happiness a smile bursting across her face?

I didn't dare stay longer, didn't want someone to notice me, to become fearful of the stranger prowling about. I took one final look, admired the thick, heavy grass, the pleasant atmosphere.

Wonderful house to live in. It fit my image of her.

~~~~~~~

The next day, I rose with trepidation. I would soon meet Laurie, get to see her in person. In an hour or less I'd be in her presence. My hands shook as I finished off the orange juice, ate a sweet roll, sipped from the thermos of warm coffee in the hotel waiting room, and paced. Right at eight-thirty I took off. The church, an old-fashioned brick building with a tall steeple, was located on a side street about a half mile away. As I entered through its huge wooden doors, people smiled at me, welcomed me with an out-stretched hand, a cordial "hello." I wondered if the church my father was getting would be like this one, so warm and friendly.

I knew her the moment she entered. No question in my mind, she'd changed so little, the same bright copper hair, the vivid green eyes, the delicate face with its youthful rounding making her look younger than I knew her to be. She didn't see me at first. The service was well underway when she finally looked my direction and kept looking. I don't think she recognized me, but she felt something. Her eyes returned. She smiled with meaning to. My precious darling. If only you understood what that moment was like for me.

After the minister concluded his sermon, a scolding, fiery one, I rose to follow her out, but I couldn't wait before speaking. Even before they left to go outside, I plunged right in and introduced myself. Met the mother and a woman who was with them, then shook HER hand. Angels sang.

I suppose I said all the right things, I scarcely remember. Her eyes, so similiar, so full of peace and sincerity. I almost took her into my arms, almost said, "I love you, my dear." Only God knows how I made it through without confessing how I felt about her.

Then as that minister grabbed at her, and I saw her fear, the recoil in every part of her body, it was all I could do not to seize the man and shake him loose from her. It must have been my legal training, the ability to think on one's feet, to shelter feelings behind a smooth, expressionless face, which allowed me to greet the man and pretend I'd was taken by his sermon.

What joy it brought me that Laurie's mother asked me over for supper. Everything slid into place. Then the walk, an added bonus. To be so near her, to have that opportunity to talk. Both mother and daughter were an amiable, relaxing to be with. It was all perfect, but then, of course, Fate would not have allowed it to be anything but.



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