An Old Friend

I heard a familiar song drifting out of someone's window; the soft tune playing on the cool wind. I glanced in the direction of the music. A car was parked on the side of the road. Passenger side window rolled down. I couldn't see the driver but I recognized the car.

It was midsummer, but late in the evening; the sun hung low. I cautiously approached the car, not having heard the song in years and curious. When I reached the window, all worry faded. The young man in the drivers seat wasn't a stranger. No wonder I recognized it.

"Hey," he said, his grin showing his perfect teeth.

I leaned forward, resting my arms against the door and looking in through the open window.

"Hey," I said, then I nodded at the radio. "Nice song."

He shrugged. "I thought it would be a fun way to get your attention."

David was a friend I’d known my entire life. We’d grown up next door to each other, gone to high school together. But I hadn't seen him in nearly three years, since he left for college in Australia.

Pulling away from the car, I waved him out. "Well get over here and let me hug you. God, it's been ages."

David climbed out of the and scooped me into his strong arms. My heart fluttered when he grabbed me, but I pushed the feeling away. He'd been a good friend three years ago, nothing more; he’d made that clear when he left. Still something felt different. I smiled at him for a moment, but then it soon faded.

"What are you doing here?" I asked. "You weren't due back for another year, if ever."

"Get in."

I frowned. "Why?"

"C'mon Tess, you always trusted me in high school." He rounded the car and stared at me from the other side.

I rolled my eyes, but smiled just the same. "Yeah, well I was a lot dumber then."

He nodded. "Now get in."

Having no where else to go, and curious by his random arrival, I conceded and climbed into the passenger seat. David shifted the car and drove down the lake front road.

"So will you tell me why you're back early?"

He smiled, but shook his head. "Why are you so surprised to see me? Did you really think I'd never come home?"

I shrugged. "Rickie said you love Australia."

His smile faltered. "You still talk to Rickie?"

"Not since last fall." Rickie was David's old hockey teammate and my ex-boyfriend.

"You guys always were a weird couple."

"That's probably why we didn't date very long." I stared at David for a moment, noticing how he'd changed, or how he hadn't. His hair was just as long as when I saw him off at the airport, his eyes just as bright. He looked stronger now, and felt it when we hugged. A light scruff lined his chin, different when he used to be clean shaven. I reached out and ran my finger along his cheek, unable to stop myself.

"Hey," he said, catching my hand and pulling it away from his face, never taking his eyes from the road.

"Sorry," I pulled away, "I couldn't help it. You could never grow a full beard before."

He laughed. "I never could."

"My how things can change."

He glanced at me and grinned. "Some things don't."

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

David didn’t answer me. I glanced out the window, watching us whip down the road, along the lake. The sun was setting, casting bright colours across the dark water as the air cooled to a comfortable summer evening temperature. I was dressed in no more than a light sundress having just come from my summer job at the beach stand. With only flip flops, I hoped he didn’t have anything too drastic planned. His car turned up the main street, heading towards the center of town.

“C’mon David, you know I hate being kept in the dark.”

Again he glanced at me for a moment then looked back at the road. “Be patient for once, Tess, it’s good for you.”

I crossed my arms, and leaned back in the seat, clamping my lips shut and not humouring him any further by asking more questions.

Again his car turned, now climbing up the large hill at the far end of the small town, one that overlooked the lake. At the top was a small park, usually closed at this time of day. He had something planned, though I wasn’t sure what.

The parking lot was empty, which was no surprise, but open. The lights were still on and in the distance I could see four small torches stuck into the grass.

Shaking my head I looked at him as he shifted the car into park. “What is going on?”

“I had it left open for us,” he said, climbing out of the car.

I followed. “Why?”

He took my hand and led me across the grass. Where the dull torches burned, there was blanket down and a packed basket.

Pulling my hand from his grasp, I laughed. “You planned a picnic?” Then I frowned. He made it clear three years ago he didn’t want me, was I supposed to just give in now that he was back?

David stepped closer to me and took me into his arms. I stiffened but didn’t pull back. Gazing down at me, he lowered his lips to mine. I leaned into him too shocked by his actions to do anything but respond.

When he broke our kiss I stepped back from him. So many questions ran through my head. If he wanted me, why did he leave? Why did he run from our first kiss? What did this mean? Was he here to stay? I closed my eyes, trying to steady my breathing. As if reading my mind, David stroked my cheek with his thumb and I gazed up at him.

“You kissed me as I had to walk through security. When I didn’t speak, you ran.” David laughed. “I always expected you to come visit me.”

I shook my head. “You didn’t want me.”

Again he laughed. “That’s not true. It’s just that your timing sucked.”

I dropped my gaze from his and smiled. Looking around him at the picnic he’d set up and the darkening night, I said, “Well how about now.”

David took my hand. “Now is good.”

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