And We Dance

In 1985, my first girlfriend Cara died down at Bascombe Park in the old gazebo.  Then, almost thirty years later, I walked down there again. And there Cara was, smiling at me as if nothing had happened.

The haunted gazebo

adapted from an original image by brep

We were sixteen when we first met at a dance that they threw at the community center downtown. It was like something clicked inside my head when I first saw her. That was it. It was love. And everyone knew it, too. We were one of those couples. Near the end of high school we were still together, still in love in a way that only people that young can be.

It was the night before our school formal, with graduation looming, Cara had been accepted into Harvard, I got into MIT and we were both going to move to Boston. There’d been a party, and we slipped out. We fled to Bascombe Park and to our favourite place, the old gazebo. That’s where it all ended. And where it all began again years later. Continue reading

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The Girl On The Other Side

Black Oak Tree

Photo: Jason Sturner

Assignment: A fantasy romance

The word “fantasy” has connotations when it comes to popular stories; elves, armour, capes, quests, maps, and places and names that are hard to pronounce. But, luckily it’s a pretty open-ended term, too. So, I decided to do a sort of W.P Kinsella meets Frank Capra style fantasy tale.

As for the romance part, I figure the engine of all romance stories hinges on the theme of choices; “which road should I take? What happens if I choose to embrace love? What happens if I don’t?” So, that theme made me think about another one that is equally compelling to me; meeting a version of oneself that chose a different road where love is concerned, and the things that they might want to say about the results.

***

On a quiet Sunday, I took a walk into the scruffy woods at the end of my street. I had inherited the house from my Dad who passed on a few years ago; a little post-war bungalow I’d grown up in. He’d loved my mother quietly and unassumingly. But, it was an intense love. They loved me too, their only child whom they had very late after a number of adventures together as a couple.

And when Mom passed away just after I finished school, I think he felt a level of loneliness and a sense of bereavement that he never really got over. Despite this sense of loss, I think he also felt a sense of gratitude for having experienced the kind of love that I think he knew that not everyone gets to have. I think he wanted that for me, too, although he never came out and said it. But, I’ve never really been the kind of guy to get a lot of female attention, or one to seek it. I prefer my books, the garden in the backyard, and walks in between the trees alone. For me, they’ve always been the safer bets. I’d leave the romance to Catherine and Heathcliffe, and maybe to the memory of my parents, too.

But, that decision was about to become way more complicated.

Continue reading