A young man's emotional plunge into depths of romance.
Who needs women anyway?’, thought Ed. He had just came home from a date with a girl he had never met. Ed is an eighteen year old boy who is very shy when it comes to girls, and or women. His friend had set him up on this “Date from Hell!” Ed had been out of school for a year now, and was set to move out of his parent’s home this next week-end. College was not even an option for Ed. Not that he was not smart, or good enough. He just did not have the funds, and neither did his parents. As for this date he had just been on, well he decided from now on, any dating he did was going to be set up by himself. This girl he had been out with was pretty enough, but after they got done eating in this nice restaurant, she politely pulled out the makings and rolled up a doobie. Ed was able to pull it out of her fingers before she lit it. Not that Ed was a prude or anything, but to light a joint in a restaurant? This would not do! The date started to go downhill after that. When she found out that Ed did not partake of the Weed, she was ready to go home, and Ed was ready to take her!
Now, back at home, Ed started packing up things he did not need this week. This would make it easier for moving next week. Not that he had that much, but every little thing helped. He was boxing up some old clothes when the phone rang. It was his friend, Joe. Joe was the one who set him up for the date tonight and he wanted to know how it went. Ed did not mince words when he told Joe thanks for setting him up with a “pothead!” Joe apologized and was as surprised as Ed about this girl’s habits. They made small talk for a while then hung up.
It was summer time in the small community where Ed Lived. Illinois is noted for it’s corn and It was growing all around the small town where Ed lived. Ed’s parent’ s house was out in the country a couple miles from the small town where Ed was going to move to. It is now the morning after Ed’s Blind Date. He is driving to town in his dad’s old truck. He is supposed to pick up the riding mower at the shop where his dad had it fixed. The corn is about seven feet tall and all tasseled out. He saw a school bus parked next to this field. This was not at all unusual, for here in Illinois the seed companies always hire kids to de-tassle the corn, and they take them to the fields in these buses.
What was unusual, was the girl getting a drink at the back of the bus! ‘She is beautiful!’, thought Ed. At first he thought she was a black girl, but as he got closer, noticed that it was just a tan. He was so engrossed that he ran right off the road, into the ditch! The truck did not turn over, but it was laying precariously on it’s side! Ed tried to open the driver’s door, and found that it was against the side of the ditch! Suddenly the passenger door came open and Ed found himself looking into the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever seen! It was her! The girl who made him wreck his dad’s truck! Her lips broke the tanned face with a whiter than white smile, when she said, “you ok?”
“I am now”, said Ed.
Her eyebrows went together in a curious look. Before he could explain, there were people all around. The bus driver was reaching in to pull him out. Ed grabbed his hand and climbed out. All the kids standing around cheered. After assuring the driver that he was alright, Ed made a call on his cell phone to his friend to come and pull him out. All the kids, plus the girl of Ed’s dreams went back into the fields. It turned out that the truck was not hurt at all, other than some grass stuck into the bumper. When Joe got there to pull Ed out, he wanted to know how Ed was able to just run off the road right next to a parked bus. Ed told him about the girl, and knew immediately it was a mistake. Joe was about to pass out from laughing so hard.
When Joe got done laughing, he asked Ed what he was going to do now. Ed told him that he wanted to find the girl, but had to go get the damn mower first. Joe got the truck back on the road and left. Ed headed on in to town. When Ed got to the mechanic’s shop, the mower was not quite ready yet. He waited, and waited! Finally, after one and a half hours of waiting, he was able to load up the mower and take it home. His plan was to stop and ask the bus driver who the girl was he had seen, but when he got there, the bus was gone!
What was he going to do? He did not get her name, and did not even know which seed company hired her. There were three seed companies in this farming community. Who would he ask for? Even if he did find the right one? This was mind boggling to him, for he knew this was the girl of his dreams and he had to find her. This would be uppermost in his mind for the next few days. He had a job in a welding shop right there in town. Most of his job description was going around to farm houses and welding things the owner could not do. He had been checking for school buses, whenever he went to every farm house. de-tassling season would be done in the next week. What would he do if he did not find her?
Joe called Ed several times that week, trying to get him to go out on the town, but Ed declined. He did not feel like doing anything. The week-end finally rolled around and Ed went to all three feed companies, only to find out that the de-tassling was done in this area. ‘That was that!,’ thought Ed. Even Ed’s parents tried to get him to go out, but he refused. He knew he would have to get over it, but he was not ready to, just yet.
It was Monday and Ed’s boss told him he had to go out to a small farm to weld on a combine that broke down. he gave him directions, and Ed left with the truck he always used. It had a welder, of course, plus a winch, vise, and all the tools needed to fix most any equipment. It was late July and very hot. Ed was welding a chain guard back on a combine for this man, when the man came from the house and told him to hold up for a minute. He told Ed to come on up to the house for a glass of tea. Ed got down and took off his protective clothing, then followed the man to the house. Tea sounded like just the right thing, since he was soaking wet with sweat. They went in the kitchen door and the man said for Ed to have a seat. Ed said that he was too sweaty to sit in a chair, and would just stand.
They were making small talk about where the man was from, since Ed had not seen him before. Ed, of course was a native and would probably never leave. The man introduced himself as Howard Douglas and was telling him where they were from, when from across the room this voice said... “I know you.”
Ed turned and there she was! The girl of his dreams! Looking as beautiful as the last time he saw her! When he could finally speak, he said, “hello.”
Howard Douglas asked, “you two know each other?”
Ed said, “no, well sort of.” Then he explained about the accident. Of course he did not tell Howard about why he ran off the road.
“Well,” said Howard, “this is my daughter, Elizabeth”
Elizabeth sat down the pitcher of tea and said, “just Beth,If you please.”
‘If I please,’ thought Ed. ‘Pleased indeed!’
Ed said that he was pleased to meet her and told her his name was Edward Johnson.
Then he said that folks just call him Ed.
Howard Douglas was no fool, and could plainly see the look in Ed’s eyes when his daughter entered the room. He also knew his daughter’s various looks, and had to admit the one she now had was a new one on him. He lost his wife two years ago, and had been raising Beth by himself. They both decided that the house where they lived just had too many memories, so Howard sold it and moved here to Illinois two months ago. Beth was so helpful around the house and their routine was established. This new situation could not be avoided, for Beth was seventeen years old and out of school. He could not expect her to stay in the home taking care of the old man forever. Howard loved his daughter with a passion, but he was a realist and knew Beth would be finding a man one day. All this, he was thinking as he was sitting there having a glass of tea. Howard made the decision that this young man was a good hard worker and he could plainly see the way he felt about his daughter.
Howard got up and told the young people he had some chores to do and Ed could stay until he finished his tea. After Beth’s father left, Ed asked her if it would be alright to come calling on her. She got a sparkle in her eyes as she said, “you have to ask my father.”
Ed was ready to say ok, when she smiled and said, she was kidding. She said that her father would not care, after all, she was going on eighteen. Ed told her he had to go finish his job, but would come over later that evening. She said that would be fine.He could not believe it! Earlier that day he was wondering where the girl of his dreams was, and now he was at her house. He went ahead and finished the welding job. Howard Douglas came and inspected it, then said that Ed did good work. Ed went to his truck and wrote out the bill and handed to Howard, shook his hand and said good bye. After Ed got home, he told his parents about finding Beth, then called his friend Joe and told him as well. Ed had an old beat up ford pick-up that had a bad habit of quitting on him once in a while. He sure hoped it made it to Beth’s house that evening.
Ed pulled into her driveway at seven o’clock that evening. He went up and knocked on the door. Beth’s father answered. He stood there looking at Ed, who was visibly squirming around! Finally he told Ed that Beth told him she would be having a visitor this evening. Then he smiled and all was ok with Ed. Howard told Ed to come on in, and that Beth was in the front room where he was pointing.
When Ed reached the front room, Beth got up from a chair and turned to him. At that time he thought she was a vision of loveliness. She got some chips and dip from the kitchen and they sat on the sofa, eating chips and drinking iced tea. They talked away the evening, until she finally said that it was time to quit. She told him that in the two months they have lived here, he was the first boy to come visit.
As Ed was walking to the door, he was thinking that he sure did hope he was the only boy to ever come here. At the door, he asked if he could come back tomorrow, and she said yes. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, then hollered “good bye Mr, Douglas!”
From the utility room Howard said, “good bye ED.”
Now Ed was driving home and his heart was beating “ninety miles per minute!” He was so excited that he had to pull over, until he quit shaking. ‘What’s wrong with me?’, he thought. ‘She is just a girl.’
For Ed, sleep was a long time coming that night.
If he only knew, Beth also lay awake most of the night, thinking about Ed.
Ed got up at his usual time and got ready for work. His mother commented on his whistling while he was getting ready. Ed knew without a doubt that his mother remembered how first love felt. Her and his father had been together for almost twenty years now, and they still acted like teenagers at times.
He got to work with time to spare, so he had a cup of coffee with his boss. Ed’s boss asked why he was so chipper this morning, so Ed told the story, leaving nothing out. His boss about fell off his chair laughing, when Ed told him about the bus incident. Ed was sent to a farm on the other side of the county to repair a fork lift attachment for lifting big bales of straw. Part of the bracket assembly that it was attached to was broken, so he had to take it off to weld it back. He initially thought the day would drag on and on, but with jobs like this one and a couple others, the day was over.
Now he was in his old beat up ford hoping beyond hope that it did not break down. He made it home and had his supper and was showered and cleaned up with time to spare. On the way over to Beth’s house, the truck died! “No! Not now,!” He said out loud. He got out and popped open the distributor cap, then pried open the points. They were burnt! At least he had the foresight to put a nail file in his little tool box. This he got out and proceeded to file the points. This seemed like it took forever, but finally he was done. He crossed his fingers and got behind the wheel, turned the key. It popped real loud then started! In fact it ran better than it had in weeks. He made a mental note to get a set of points.
Ed arrived about an hour late, but still there should have been a truck in the driveway. He knocked on the door and waited. Nothing. He knocked again. Nothing.He did not know what to do, so he turned around to go. As he turned, he saw a note laying on the porch. He thought it must have fallen out of the door crack.
In very large wavy letters, it said, Ed, come to hospital now! Howard.
A lump began to form in Ed’s throat as he jumped into his truck and it started and ran good. Luckily, there was only one hospital in this vicinity, so he went there. He went around to the Emergency Room entrance, and there was the Douglas truck in front of the door. The anticipation was running rampant as he walked into the door. There was Howard sitting on a sofa, hat in hands, head bowed, and looking like he just stepped out of the field. Howard looked up as Ed walked up to him. Ed was shocked to the core when he saw Howard’s eyes. He had been crying and his eyes were all bloodshot. He looked at Ed and said, “It’s my fault!”
“What,” said Ed. “Where is Beth?”
“In there,on a table unconscious!”
Finally Ed was able to speak and asked what happened.
Howard told him that he was working late, and up in the combine trying to fix an electrical problem when Beth came and asked if he wanted some tea. “Sure!”, he said. A few minutes later she came back with a big glass of tea. I told her to set it down, but she started climbing up the ladder to the cab. When I reached for the glass, she moved a little spilling some and while trying to save it, she slipped and fell the whole distance, hitting her head on the ladder on the way down. Now my little girl is laying in there in a coma! He broke down then and Ed put his arms around him, but did not know what to say. A doctor came up to them and asked if Howard was her father. “Yes, he is!” Ed said, as Howard was composing himself.
The doctor told Howard that his daughter was in a coma still. They had ran some tests and determined she had brain damage from a concussion sustained in the fall. He said that all her vital signs were good and since they have been administering oxygen since she got here, her brain did not lose any oxygen. Though she was breathing on her own, they had to continue with the oxygen, just in case.
Of course Howard asked how long she would be like this. The doctor told him no one could be sure, sometimes they came around in about twenty four hours, then he said, “but I have to tell you... sometimes they don’t ever come too.” Then the doctor said they could go in, but only for five minutes. Ed followed Howard in the room and was shocked at what he saw! Beth was laying there, with a totally relaxed look on her face! One would think she was just sleeping, except for the white color of her beautiful, usually brown skin. Howard bent down and was kissing her forehead and Ed took her hand in his. The five minutes were gone in a heartbeat, and they were asked to leave.
Howard went home to clean up, since he had came right from the field. he asked Ed to inform him by phone if there were any changes. Howard came back a couple hours later and Ed told him there were no changes in her condition. Both men spent the remainder of that night right there on that sofa, dozing occasionally. When one got hungry the other would go to the vending machine. One of them was always there.
Around nine o’clock the next morning, the doctor said there was no change, but they could go in and visit as long as they wanted. When they entered the room, they noticed that her color was back, and the doctor had taken the oxygen off her. The doctor came in and wanted to talk to Howard. While they were in the corner of the room talking, Ed took Beth’s hand and started talking to her as if she were awake. The doctor came over and said that this was a good thing. No one knew for sure, but it is thought that some coma patients do hear people talking to them. Ed talked to her for an hour or so, then told Howard that he had to go get some time off from work, but would be back within the hour.
As it turned out, the whole town had heard of the accident, and were very sympathetic about it. Ed’s boss told him to go ahead and take a week off of work. When Ed got back to the hospital, nothing had changed. Howard said he was going to leave for a while, but had his cell phone and asked Ed to be sure and call, if there were any changes.
A routine was established with the two men, so Beth would never be left alone. A whole week went by, and Ed had to go back to work. He knew it was not fair to his boss to take any more time off. Howard also had to go back to work. A farm demanded attention all the time, so he went back to it. Of course they alternated in the evening and at night, so there was always one of them there.
One evening, when Ed was on his way to the hospital, he had stopped for gas at this convenience station. They always had fresh roses on the counter, so he bought one. This started a routine as well. When the rose started wilting, Ed bought a new one. He had it in a tiny vase sitting right next to Beth’s bed, on a little table. The nurses never tried to move it, they just worked around it. Ed would sit there by her bed holding her hand and talking about everything he could think of.
He mostly talked of getting married. He told her that he could not wait to see her walking down the aisle, while he was waiting down at the alter with her father. One of the nurses was walking by at that time, and she was crying when she left the doorway. All the nurses on that floor knew that Ed had been proposing to a beautiful young girl who was in a coma, but none of them tried telling him the reality of the situation.
Almost two months went by with little, or no change in Beth. The sleepless nights, the bedside vigils all helped cement a relationship between Ed and Howard. They got to know each others habits, both good and bad. Howard decided that when Beth did get married, he could think of no one better than Ed. He, along with Ed did not even think of anything else. There was no alternative, to them! She would get better! That was that!
Ed had brought two roses this night. He did not know why, he just did! He was sitting there holding Beth’s hand and talking to her. He took the old rose out of the vase and replaced it with the two fresh ones. He had a drink of water on the table next to him, so he could take a drink without even letting go of her hand. he was drinking his water and glanced at her face. He spilled the water in his lap! She was looking at him! And recognizing him! She smiled! Ed sat the glass down and rang for the nurse. The nurse was there immediately. She let out a small scream, when she saw that Beth was awake! Before anyone knew it, there were nurses and doctors all around Beth’s bed!
Ed got on his cell phone and called Howard. He heard him let out a war hoop on the other end, when Ed said she was awake. Ed started asking a bunch of questions, but the nurses told him there was a lot to do now, so he had to wait. Ed knew what waiting was all about, so he backed off. He stood back and watched. Beth was trying to talk, but her throat was so dry that all she did was squeak. the nurse gave her a drink and she accepted it greedily. After clearing her throat, she asked Ed to come closer. He did this and then she asked how long she had been out. He told her and she grinned, saying he was fibbing. She glanced at the two roses and said she had been smelling roses forever, but could not wake up.
Now her father was standing looking down at her. He bent down and gave her a hug, then started crying, and had to turn around. Ed patted him on the shoulder and told him not to worry now... she was back! Ed wanted to ask her all kinds of questions, but the nurses told him that she had to sleep. This time it would be a regular sleep. She laid back and did go to sleep with a big smile on her face.
Ed and Howard went down to the lobby, and found it to be full of people. Apparently the word had got out that she was awake. A man came up to Howard and gave him a cloth bank envelope full of cash. Howard had a confused look on his face, until the man told him that there were three benefits held here and the surrounding towns. The money collected will help with the hospital bill. Tears were running down Howard and Ed’s faces when they left the hospital.
Ed got the best sleep he had in two months, but he was at the hospital bright and early. Howard was already there. Ed looked down at those beautiful blue eyes and knew that she had remembered some of the things he said. She told him that she remembered the smell of roses, and had dreams of her walking down the church aisle. She could see Ed waiting with the preacher. Ed did not tell her that he told her all these things while she was in a coma, because now he could court her in the way she should be courted.