THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACK

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 08

 
 

"That’ll be 75 cents, mister."

Will pulled his eyes away from the hill as the wiry man’s voice filtered through his faraway thoughts. Reaching clumsily into his jacket pocket, Will counted through the few coins that fell into his palm, grimacing when he saw that all he’d have left was a nickel after he’d paid the cab fare. Shoving the change into the cabbies waiting hand, Will struggled to get out of the back door, instantly forming droplets of perspiration with the spent energy that he’d used to perform the normally simple task.

Before Will had even stood his full height, the cab had begun pulling away. Will mumbled as his eyes followed it disdainfully, "Thanks for nuthin’ you mutt." screwing up his handsome features as a waft of dust blasted him in the face.

Will’s intent and hopeful eyes scanned across the hilltops that spread out before him, looking for ’her’ hill. He must have been mad to be doing this. He was mad, and sorry, and lonely...and desperate. He tried to define his own meaning of the word, coming up with every nuance but the real one, the one that was important.

Desperate...desperate to see her face just one more time. Desperate to hold her, kiss her, tell her what he wanted to say. Desperate to say sorry for everything that he had done and what he was going to do. Desperate to see the love that shone in her eyes...for him, only him. Desperate to prove that he wasn’t the coward that the whole world deemed him to be. Will was just simply desperate, but he didn’t really know what for.

And that’s why he was standing at the bottom of Tarler Hill.

*********

The mild breeze whipped around Dee’s solitary form. She drew her knees up to her chest with one hand while the other gently removed the errant lock of spirally hair from her eyes that stared out forelornly across the vast expanse that spread out before her, listening to the silence.

In all the times that she had sat up on top of the hill and looked out over towards the horizon, Dee had never done it in quite the same frame of mind that she was doing now. It was the first time she had felt the gnawing pangs of loneliness, of emptiness...of longing.

Meeting Will had forced Dee to take a long, hard look at her life and what she had wanted from it, what she had expected and more so, what she was going to do. Will had released her soul but now her soul sought a new home. A home with him maybe?

As much as Dee craved to be with Will, another part of her balked at what he was offering her. Or rather, the lack of what he was offering. Only one thing shone out from all the doubts, the terror...and the excitement. Freedom.

Will was offering her freedom, or so she believed...what she wanted to believe. But in truth, he hadn’t offered her anything. So why did she still feel his pull? Why had he unsettled her in a way that no other had? Where was he when she needed him most? Even if it only was to answer some of the questions that tore at her heart.

Dee felt the rise of tears as the question churned over and over. Why, why, why? Until she had to let it go,

"WHY WILL, WHY!?"

Her tortured voice carried across the vast emptiness in front of her. The wind catching it and carrying it on further, echoing like a whisper rippling through the trees, uncaring if anyone heard, uncaring if anyone saw the tears that streamed down her face.

"Don’t do this to yourself."

Dee’s heart stopped in her chest just for an instant but soon began again, pounding harder and louder than she had ever heard before. Swallowing painfully, she turned slightly, just enough to show him that she’d heard him. Lord, he looked so different, so...normal. Black jeans that hugged his long legs, turned up a little at the hem, revealing shiny, but well worn winkle picker style boots. Her misty eyes travelled up his torso to a plain white T shirt, but even that couldn’t disguise obvious power in the muscles that rippled beneath its softness.

Dee’s eyes drifted briefly to the arm that was held close to his chest by a large triangle of material that was tied up behind his neck. Her eyes travelled higher, hiding her surprise at the clean shaven, strong jawline, exposing the dimple for all to see. It was several moments before Dee could raise her eyes to meet his.

Blue met black. Intent met wary. Love met love, there was no denying that emotion, it was there, for the whole world to see, except the two people who steadfastly refused to acknowledge it.

Will watched her closely. More than anything he wanted to kneel down beside her, talk to her and set things right, but his hopes were crushed when her eyes turned away, her words bitter.

"What do you care?"

He wanted to move, but his feet felt like they were encased in concrete. Maybe this was God’s way of punishing him...them. If Will couldn’t use his physical presence then he would have to it all with words. "I care, more than you’ll ever know. "

Dee spun around on the spot, dragging her skirt around with her, keeping her slender legs hidden from his traitorous eyes. She wrapped her arms around her knees as she studied him like a curiosity. she barely hid the sneer in her voice,

"You...care..for me?"

She saw the spark flare, "Yes, dammit, I care. I care enough to get out of your life before ruining it more than I already have."

Dee smiled grimly as she continued to study him. "Oh, you do...Then would you care to tell me why your here, and why you find it necessary to torture me me even more than you already have. Why you came into my life in the first place, and why I should give a damn what you think?"

At last Will moved his feet and made what felt like a gigantic step towards her, until she held a shaky hand up to halt his approach. Will’s heart fell.

"No...no. Please, don’t come any nearer."

Will needed to sit. He had been on his feet for too long, his side was aching even more than his heart at that moment. He didn’t think that would ever be possible, this woman had got to him, but the ache went deeper than that. It was living with the knowledge that this was the end for them.

The end before the beginning. And she was aware of it too.

Dee warily watched him drop unsteadily to his knees. Momentary guilt nearly brought her to his aid until she saw the look in his eye. She dropped back to her original position and waited.

Will needed to gather his wits before approaching Dee again. He looked over the brow of the hill, out towards the valley where he had nearly lost his life. Where she had saved his life. Will owed her big time. He owed her the truth.

Reaching across, Will took her fingers in his. He felt her try to pull away, but he wouldn’t release her. His eyes beseeched her to allow him this closeness. Dee sensed the urgency of the moment, the time for understanding had arrived. The time to say goodbye was finally here. She thought she’d be clever and beat him to it.

"I know why you came..."

Will’s heart pumped faster at her final acceptance, but he had to ask her, he had to know, "But you’re glad I came though aren’t you...aren’t you...You’re glad I came...?" Everything stood still as Will’s eyes searched hers. Everything seemed to hinge on her reply.

Dee studied Will intently. She had not seen him this close, this clean. She liked what she saw, but even so, she missed the rugged, raw, hunk of a man that had touched her like no other. Dee liked the feel of the masculine stubble upon his jaw, the smell of oil that she would always associate with him. And those eyes, Lord, she would never, ever forget those blue eyes.

And it was those eyes that held her captivated when she answered him quietly with a tender smile, "Yes...I’m glad you came."

Will’s heart soared. Shifting his body so that he could sit beside her, he gently placed his one good arm along her shoulders and together they watched the sun begin to set. Two souls, united for a while, even if it was just a short time. A time to sit and ponder their lives, their dreams, their future’s. Did they have a future?

Voices whispered along with the breeze, hushed, revered, melancholy words flowed from the solitary couple as they learned about one another, listened to one another, and fell in love with one another, and then made a promise.

A promise for a future...Their future, in another time, another place. When each have more to offer than dreams. When Will could offer her a life on the right side of the tracks. One day.

********

"It’s time to go, I have a train to catch." Will pushed himself uneasily to his feet, wincing at the unaccustomed stiffness. They had been sitting in the same spot for hours, a time that Will would never forget.

Dee silently rose with him, and Will pulled her into his embrace, kissing the top of her head as her words reverberated against his tender chest, "I know, I know. I don’t want you to go, but I know you have to."

Will cursed his broken arm as he struggled to pull her as close as he dared, but it wasn’t close enough, but Dee seemed to understand, and she wrapped her arms around his waist and they stood and hugged, nothing more, but it meant everything. The love flowed freely from one to the other as their heartbeats began to beat in perfect time. Time stopped for a while until Dee heard his whisper against her hair. "Kiss me."

Elation rocked Dee to her soul, this was what she wanted, this was what she was waiting for. Moving away from Will’s body just enough to raise her face to his, it was barely a second before their lips met and fused together, drinking the very essence that existed within their hearts. The kiss was long, sweet, and full of promise. The promise of things to come...but not today.

They were both shaking when the kiss ended mutually. Will reached up to gently caress her cheek before breaking apart from her warmth and turning away. Dee silently watched him stride painfully down the hill, he hadn’t said goodbye, but somehow it comforted her. Goodbye was such a final word, and one day, she knew they would be together again, it was their destiny.

"I love you..." The three words fell from her lips, carried off by the breeze, Dee was sure they never reached his ears until Will reached the bottom. He stopped and turned. Dee didn’t have to hear him say the words, his love was there, written in his eyes, for the whole world and her to see.

A strange mixture of emotions washed over them both. One of loss, one of elation and surprisingly, one of trust. Raising her arm, Dee waved. Will grinned in return, and raising his one good hand to his face, he kissed his fingertips and waved back to her, mentally photographing the image before him. Her long dark hair billowing in the breeze, her skirt whipping around her shapely thighs. Her smile. Will would never forget her smile.

Dee watched Will walk out of sight, sighing aloud as the last fraction of his shadow disappeared. Her shoulders drooped along with her cataclysmic assortment of emotions. She already missed him.

Turning, Dee sat back down and stared out across the valley again. But this time, it felt good, she was content. Not happy, but content. She closed her eyes and let the wind fill her senses, until she heard it, the feint distant hum of an engine. Dee laughed out loud, as long as she could hear that sound, she’d know that Will was still with her, he would always be with her.

************

"You’ve been a long time little one." I looked up from the intricate tapestry piece that I had been working on for the last three years. I didn’t initially notice her face when she first walked through the door. It was dark, she had been gone for a large chunk of the day, I guessed she had been up to Tarler Hill again, I couldn’t see what the fascination with the place was, and it was the last place I expected her to go to today, especially today. She startled me with her chirpy response.

"Yes, I know...I’ve been talking to Will."

It was then I took a closer look at her face, noticing the glow, the swollen lips, the smile. I felt my heart quicken its pace. Oh lord, don’t tell me she’s been and done something stupid. I surprised myself for glancing over her body looking for signs of their love making. Could one tell just by looking? I shook the daft notion off and managed to speak without betraying my inner panic.

"Oh...Oh, I thought he had gone, I thought you weren’t going to see him again, sweetheart."

She flopped down onto the couch, but I noticed she still grinned like a Cheshire cat. "We decided that we needed to to resolve some things, things that were important to us, mom."

I felt the dread wash over me. "What...things?"

Dee turned coy on me as she soaked up my terror for all it was worth, "Oh, things like our future, our dreams, you know, that sort of thing."

My heart stopped, "Future...?"

Dee nodded matter of factly, "Uh huh, future. You know, like marriage, babies, learning to fly. Aaand he’s going to teach me to ride....Mother!"

I didn’t hear her cry my name, I didn’t get past the word marriage before slipping into a dead feint.

Dee tapped her mothers face before sitting back on her heels exasperated, "Jeez! She couldn’t even wait for me to tell her about going to college in San Francisco...!"

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