Have fun! Lila is coming home before starting a job overseas and in Smalltown, USA you have to make your own fun.
I had just graduated from college on the west coast and taken a job in Europe starting in the Fall. This was my one last hurrah and what better way to close a chapter of my life than to go home? At the end of May, I said goodbye to my sorority sisters, packed up very few things and sold the rest on those re-sale sites online. This made enough money for a plane ticket and extra savings. You know that feeling you get when you go home? The air feels lighter, smells a little sweeter? No? Ok, maybe it was just me.
Momma was sitting on the porch waiting for me and she nearly smothered me in a tearful embrace! “Oh, sister, you are stunning! You lost weight didn’t you? Those clothes!” You see, when I went off to college, I didn’t wear boots anymore, I wore pumps, Loubouton knockoffs if you will but they still looked good. I didn’t wear flannel shirts or flowy sundresses I wore silk and maxi skirts. Daddy died my sophomore year at school and it was a huge procession, he was the sheriff in town and everyone loved him. Thank God I wasn’t here because the week I was, I got smothered with father figures, pastors, uncles, mommas, and old friends. No, this wasn’t about remembering days of the past, this was about closing the chapter on this town and doing things I never had the nerve to do.
Momma cooked supper and invited my old cheerleading friends over and the first thing they said was “Oh my gawd, you are SO skinny Minnie!” I’d ditched my car and started commuting by foot, bike, or transit and lived on a latte for each meal diet. This fried food was heavenly though and I truly could stand to add a little meat to my bones. Of course a few friends turned into the whole block and there he was…. Cade Taylor. My god he was still as stunning of a specimen now as he was in high school!
“Is that you, Lila!?” I tried not to revert back to the chubby, shy, somewhat awkward teenager in a cheer uniform so I grinned and did a twirl “As I live and breathe I’m back.” His arms were so big, so solid, and strong! My god I thought he’d crushed my ribcage before he let go. The brush of his hand on my side boob was nice and precisely why I put on this little yellow sundress. All night I couldn’t help but stare, even if his fiancé was staring right back at me. She moved into town from a neighboring city. Finally, I excused myself because I wanted to see the lake and it was just momma complaining about me not being married or giving her grandbabies yet, so I pedaled my daddy’s old bike down the road and found my old swimming dock. By this time the fireflies were dancing across the dusk sky and this lake, this muddy, cold lake felt amazing.
“Lila?” came a soft voice “You ran off so quikly” it was him again.
“Hey, Cade Taylor, what are you doing down here?” He sat his broad self down and the dock dipped and bobbed a little bit and I couldn't help but chuckle "I hate feeling like I'm letting momma down. Bobby is going through that divorce and the girls don't get to see her much anymore."
“Do you remember when Bobby split his head open that one summer?” Bobby was Lila's start quarterback, Marine Corps Sgt, red blooded American Hero that just couldn't handle being stateside.
I burst out laughing “And you kept saying not to bleed in the water because the bullsharks would come!”
We both laughed for a good minute despite the tug at my heart thinking about him, missing him.
I couldn’t help but snort as he threw a rock in an attempt to skip it and all it did was go "PLOP." Cade looked at me with that boyish side grin. His sandy blonde hair and brown eyes were enough to make you swoon. “You never answered me, Cade Taylor, what are you doing down here?”
He just smiled and shook his head. “I had to.”
With that we sat quietly with our feet in the water until the last of the light was gone and the moon was the only shimmering light off the water.
His voice was soft again. “Why did you come back?”
I looked at him, even though I couldn’t make out his features and knew he couldn’t see my smile, “I needed to close the chapter on this town. To know that I can move on and be ok without it.”
His hand touched mine “Not for good though, right?” and I could tell this was another willow tree moment. In high school, we snuck off much like this during Holly Ann’s 16th birthday bash and he kissed me in a way that made me weak in the knees and made him have to turn to the side.
“Not for good, just long enough.” I said with a smile because I could feel his breath on my skin. It sent goosebumps all over my body and I was excited. I felt like I was that teenager again, sneaking off to do something naughty.