A young woman contemplates a life that may have been.
| "Isn't it pretty to think so?" Sandy said in a loud whisper, as if Troy himself would somehow answer. She slid her soft fingers over the coarse stone where his name was etched. She came here often. Usually, there were other people nearby or at least off in the distance. Today, realizing there was no one else in sight, a sweet smile sprinkled across her freckled face.
To be alone with Troy for even a few precious minutes was something she could barely imagine now. As she reflected more on that notion, she felt a deep pang in her heart. A feeling that had become all too familiar. It was the kind of pain that seemed to swim through you slowly, like a river just down from the hillside, spreading across the flat land after a heavy rain. It flowed wide, not missing any part of her.
She closed her eyes and let the warm sun soak into her skin. She remembered the day she had met Troy. It had been the day after her 16th birthday at a 4th of July picnic in her small town. She could still see his deep blue eyes looking back at her as she leaned to pick up the old rusty key that had fallen from her pocket. He reached it before her and their eyes met as he placed it in her palm. She could swear that her heart beat differently for those few minutes.
He had smiled and she felt herself blush as she thanked him. He was laughing and staring at her lips. She had forgotten that she had just finished eating cotton candy and the dye had stained them a dark shade of blue, giving her a ghastly look. She found herself licking her lips and laughing too as she remembered. Just at that moment, the first fireworks of the evening went off, startling both of them. He leaned back against the flagpole and asked her if she wanted to stop and watch them with him. She looked over to see her friends on the other side of the field talking, having not even noticed she had lagged behind.
Her glance returned to Troy considering his handsomeness. His skin was tan from being outdoors and his hair had streaks of gold. His body was perfect, tall and solid with such a boy-next-door look that she had only read about in her romance novels. She nodded and he moved to make room for her against the pole. The magic of that moment with the colorful fireworks bursting into the night sky, was as etched into her mind now, as his name was into this granite stone in front of her.
They had spent that summer together swimming every day in the lake, sharing long conversations into the wee hours of the morning in the front seat of his old red truck. Those days of getting to know one another seemed so precious now. He told her of his dreams to become a pilot. She could almost feel the sensation of soaring sky-high from how excited got as he told her. His eyes got so big and he would start to talk fast.
She shared that she wanted to work as a veterinarian in town with old Doc Johnson. Doc Johnson had taken her under his wing when she was just a young girl. She spent many days filled with joy petting all the cats and dogs in his waiting room which happened to be next door to her family's shoe store. She would wander over every day and would sit and wait until they had all gone home to be sure they were okay. When there was one that wasn't Doc Johnson would come out and let her know what had happened and from those times, a deep compassion for animals had grown inside of her.
Time passed and they grew very close. One mid-summer afternoon they went to the golf course at the end of her street and found a deserted spot on one of the greens. No one was around. It had been over 100 degrees that day and the sky was bluer than she ever recalled it being before. They laid back on the cushion of the neatly manicured grass staring up at the billowing white clouds floating above.
"I want to marry you one day Sandy. I know it may seem crazy because we are still young, but I just know it inside. " Troy's eyes sparkled like sapphires in the sun's rays. Sandy wiggled closer to him and pressed her lips to his, knowing he would understand that she felt the same.
That night, in the dark of her room, Sandy let her mind wander and her sweet dreams run ahead of her. She imagined marrying Troy and could even see herself in a lovely, white ruffled dress meeting his admiring glance across the altar. She could feel the immense joy they both held as they celebrated their love. It was like a movie projector fast forwarding images in her mind. She saw a home that was modest but filled with warmth and a beautiful little girl playing in the yard. There were pink tulips dancing in the sun's rays and a moppy haired dog trailing the little girl's feet.
Dreams...oh they were something. They were buried now.
She felt a gentle rain trickling down as she opened her eyes. It was always hard to think about that day that all their dreams came to a crashing halt. She had been in a back room at Doc Johnson's office trimming a little poodle's nails. She looked up as the door opened and she would never forget the look on his face.
Her heart sank before any words could be spoken. Doc looked at her with tears in his eyes as he took the poodle from her. She was trembling as her mind raced with all the possibilities that could bring them together in a moment like this.
He put one of his strong arms on hers and whispered "I am so sorry Sandy. It's Troy. There was a terrible accident over on Grove and..." his voice trailed for a moment before the final blow..."he didn't make it."
Nothing could prepare her for those words. All the losses she had known before seemed like pebbles of dust compared to the heavy ball pounding against her heart. And just like that...those dreams were forever silenced. Thinking of the life they would have shared always left her with a deep intense longing for what might have been and yet ...with a feeling so beautiful that she had to smile. It would have been a perfect life.
The rain felt cool on her flushed skin as it came down harder. She let her fingers run across Troy's name once more before she stood and brushed the grass from her pretty skirt. She looked up as she always did before she left.. into the now graying sky.
There in the distance was a faint hint of a rainbow...fading into the mist.
"Yes Troy, isn't it pretty to think so?"