Regret For the Green Grass
August 10, 2011 § 4 Comments
The car was moving at a crawl. The map was not helping and John was getting very aggravated.
“I just don’t see any Windsong Extension.” Marianne was trailing her finger down the lines of red, roads and streets in farm country. It wasn’t a bad day to be lost. There was so much green, it was like she had escaped toIreland, not the state of her youth. Escaped? She thought in her head. Yes, escaped. And now she was having a conversation with herself.
“Well for chrissakes. Give me that.” He pulled the car over to the side of the road and ripped the map out of her hands. She kept looking where the map had been and then quietly folded her hands in her lap. Lately she had been floating on a sea of his aggression. Without a life preserver, she was treading water in the marriage. Turning her head, she felt her face slip into that familiar expression of serene nothing. Then she saw the field. A gasp escaped her lips before she even realized it. John looked at Marianne in alarm, “What? What is it?”
She recovered quickly and said, “Oh I thought I was going to sneeze. It went away.” He crinkled his eyebrows at her, annoyed at the distraction. The field. She recognized the field. She knew she did. “I’m going to stretch my legs.” She opened the door without waiting for his response. The shutting of the door would have covered any response (if there was one) and she quickly walked forward, into the field. Sneaking a look back, he was now fiddling with his cell phone, trying to get reception. Probably trying to call Richard, she thought. They were on their way to a family party.
The field was well tended and felt like she was walking in slippers on a rug. The grass happily crowd-surfed her to the next group of blades. She cut to the right and approached the fence, surrounding the walkway planted into the hill. Caressing the wood, warm from the sun, she could almost see the snow and hear the children riding down the sledding hill. The slope seemed softer in warm weather and the buzzing of bees was constant. She remembered a giant tree close by that had been a home for bees for years. She imagined the golden summer of long ago, when she almost drowned and Brady saved her. He was stung by one of those bees and she pasted a baking soda poultice on the raised bump.
“Bees die if they lose their stingers in you, you know.” He gestured to the bee on the floor, which would never sting again. She had nodded and looked up, a slow smile on her face,
“Nothing.” She quickly responded, wiping the smile off her face, “Should we swim?”
Marianne was surprised he hadn’t sensed her growing crush. Or maybe he did. And he didn’t want to pursue it. Or admit it. Or didn’t like her that way. She was 12, and her adolescent thighs were heavy and she lacked the motivation for make-up or hairspray.
The inevitable crash came from behind her as John closed his car door.
“Marianne! Let’s go.”
For a minute, she considered running from her husband. The throb of life on this familiar hill was torturous in its fervor. Possibility was alive on when she walked back with Brady from the small creek just beyond the woods at the bottom of the hill. How he had known how to save her? After she spit up the water, he immediately took her in his arms, crying silent tears. She had felt his skin even through her tank top, heard the whistling breath of his scared cry. She had only thought to bring her hand to his face in the speedy moments before he helped her up and turned away. Had she wasted an opportunity?
“Hey.” John ambled up to her and surprised her with a happy face, “Richard said we just missed the turn back there. Guess they built it after you moved. This is really beautiful, huh?” She turned to him and saw the man she married; kind, vivacious, and playful.
That was the magic of the hill. They walked back to the car, hopeful they hadn’t missed the cake.