SOMEWHERE DOWN THE ROAD

Joan Stephens


The day had finally arrived; the day he dreaded yet had stoically awaited, knowing full well that the time would come when his love would not be enough to fight the allure of the dreams and desires that had followed her from childhood into adulthood: the everyday dream of a happy life. She came to him to try to explain what she felt and how unhappy she was to cause him any pain. He comforted her, knowing her better than she knew herself, aware of what she needed but also knowing that he would always love her. And so, he sent her back into her own conventional world with its daily routine of work, socializing, and the ever continuous search for the perfect husband and life.

Saddened but grateful, she took her leave of him, even as she thought that she would love him forever but that he could never fulfill her dreams of a normal, happy life.

Watching her depart, he was convinced that he would never survive her loss as long as the bond still resonated with her feelings. He tried to destroy their connection but failed miserably. Muting it to a thin strand much like the thinnest of wires was the most he could accomplish, and he existed in a state of limbo, neither happy nor sad. Numb would be the word that described his fumbling attempt to survive. But against all rhyme or reason, for month after month, he did endure.

*

Looking up from his book, his heart skipped a beat when he saw Catherine hovering like a butterfly in the entryway. Determined not to let her know how her return to her former life had affected him, he rose calmly to his feet and took a step toward her. "Catherine," he greeted her, smiling fully for the first time in months, "what a pleasure to see you. How have you been?" He motioned her in, but she continued to stand in the doorway, staring at him. Her silence and her relentless eyeing of him were making him nervous. "Are you here to visit Olivia or Rebecca? Theyíll be so glad to see you," he almost babbled. Still, there was no movement or answer. "Can I help you?" he offered in desperation.

At last, she moved, and he released a deeply held sigh. Taking a single step into the room, she rested her balled fists on her hips belligerently, daring him to deny her. She glared at him as if he had committed some horrible sin, and she cut him off as he opened his mouth to speak, "It just wonít work, Vincent."

Completely thrown off balance by her remark, he asked, "Wh - what wonít work?"

"Us, thatís what," she countered.

"But . . . I thought that was why you returned to your old life." He was thoroughly confused now.

"It was," she agreed with a disparaging wave of her hand. Then she chuckled knowingly, "But Iíve learned a few things since then."

"Learned . . . a few . . . things?"

"Yes!" She stepped into his chamber, stopping in front of him, and poked him, none to gently, in the chest. One-by-one, she enumerated the things she had learned, "One: I donít fit in that life style anymore. It bored me even more than it did before. Two," she poked him twice, "I didnít like most of the people I met. Oh, there were a few worthwhile people but not enough to make up for all the others."

By now his chest was beginning to rebel at the injury her fingernail was inflicting, and he had to restrain himself to keep from growling at her to stop.

"Three," three healthy jabs of a rigid finger, "the perfect husband material was deplorable."

Now that really hurt, and he wished he had put on his quilted vest this morning instead of the flannel shirt he wore.

Before he could stop her, she continued, "And four," four stabs of the unbending digit, "I missed the tunnels, the people, Father and . . . you."

"Enough, Catherine," he did growl as he grabbed her unrepentant finger. "If I remember correctly, you left me." Oh, how he was tempted to kiss that soft but unyielding dainty finger.

Standing unbowed before him, she continued to glare at him. "But you didnít stop me; you let me go."

Ah ha, here was his crime; he had let her go. "I only wanted your happiness, Catherine."

Suddenly all confidence seemed to drain out of her, and she looked up at him from the corner of her eyes to check his reaction. Seeing the uncertain but hopeful expression on his face, she wound her arms around his waist, and laying her head on his chest, she said, "Thereís nothing for it, Vincent, but to admit that I love you and canít live without you, and whatever that means in my life, Iíll gladly take and be happy about it." She leaned away from him careful to keep him imprisoned in her arms. "Iím afraid youíre stuck with me."

It took a moment for his numbed brain to process all she had said. Then he realized what she had said: that she loved him and couldnít live without him, that the world above held no attraction for her. He gazed down at her spellbound.

In a small voice she asked, "Have I ruined everything?" A single tear wound its way from her eye. "Is there no place for me now in your heart?"

He lowered his head and kissed the tear from her cheek, "Ah, Catherine, you have never left my heart."

With a happy squeal, she captured his face in her hands and pulled his lips to hers. Stunned but unable to resist, he returned the kiss. Winding her arms around his neck, she gripped him tightly as the words tumbled from her mouth, "What we have is worth everything."

Happy and relieved, he shook his head slightly, ridding himself of all the sad and lonely memories of the past few months, and said, "Everything!"

Fini

And somewhere down the road
Our roads are gonna cross again
It doesnít really matter when
But somewhere down the road
I know that heart of yours will come to see
That you belong with me

Barry Manilow