Another bolt of lightning flashes the sky as the storekeeper goes to turn off the radio. It has been saying the same thing all night, “floods warnings for twin falls, highway 30.” He was tired of hearing about the disaster all around him. As he turns back around he sees headlights of a red mini van that had just pulled into to parking spot right next to the door. A woman emerges from the driver’s door, using a newspaper to shield her hair from the pouring rain. She slides open the back door and out comes a little boy, she picks him up and races to the door. “Evenin”, says the storekeeper with a grin on his face. “It’s a little wet out there isn’t it.” “Tell me about it”, she says with a polite smile. She is young, no older than mid twenties, notices the storekeeper, with beautiful sun kissed blond hair reaching her shoulders, partially pulled back into a barrette. “Is it okay if we stay here and wait out the storm?” she asked. “Of course, it’s dangerous out there, radio has been talking about floods all over the road.” She unzips her raincoat and the one on the boy and takes them up to the counter. “Sir would there happen to be a place to hang these up at?” Up close the storekeeper notices her light brown eyes and soft complexion, she is absolutely gorgeous. “Sir?” she says again with an easy grin on her face. Releasing himself from his thoughts the storekeeper grabs the jackets from her somewhat embarrassed takes them to the back room. She turns around and grabs the little boys hand and leads him to a table with chairs. As she does she sees another vehicle pull up to the store and occupy the parking space next to hers. A man jumps out of the truck he runs up to the door. As he walks in, she is speechless there stood the man she had spent her childhood with. The boy she taught how to play hop scotch, the one who taught her how to catch a frog, the one who shared the same memories as her. She studies his six foot build. His dark brown eyes that she remembers so many times being lost in, with dark hair to match. He is even more handsome than she remembers him. He no longer has the innocent little boy look, but the handsome defined look of a man. “Ben?” she says the name with unbelief, “is that you?” The man turns to look at her, surprise and joy filled his face as he walks over to her. “Jordan? Oh my goodness, no way, is it really you?” “Yes it’s me, Ben it’s been forever, I mean look at you, you’re a man now.” “You’re not that cute little boy, I used to play with.” “Hey what’s that suppose to mean?” he says with a joking smile. “What makes you think that’s a bad thing?” she says as her cheeks grow hot. “How are you?” he says growing serious. “I’m doing okay, I’m hanging in there.” She says trying to fight the tears stinging her eyes. “I left as soon as I heard about the accident, I’m so sorry Jay.” She couldn’t fight them now, the emotions were all too strong. As a tear rolls down her cheek she looks up at him, “It’s been a long time since I have heard you call me that.” He gives her a slight smile and then embraces her in a hug, “your dad loved you Jay, even though things weren’t perfect, he was still proud of you” he says softly in her ear. She pulls back and looks in his eyes, she notices he was crying too. “Ben, I need to introduce you to someone.” Ben knew what was coming, although he doesn’t know the whole story, he knew what she was about to say. She picks up the little boy who had been quietly sitting at the table, “Ben this is my son Aiden”. “Can you say hi Aiden?” “Hi” he says quietly. “Ben is a friend of mine from back when I was your age; can you tell Ben how old you are?” “Twee” he says holding up three fingers.” “That’s a new one we have been working on she says with a laugh. Just then the door swings open again and a middle aged man comes storming in. “I am so sick of this stupid stuff. Why can’t anything go right for once?” He says under his breath just loud enough for the two to hear. “Hello sir, anything I can do for you?” said the storekeeper tying to lighten the mood a little. “If you could get me to Sacramento by the first of the month that would be great.” He says real sarcastic. “I wish I could get this stupid divorce settled with, and get that old hag off my back.” “This stupid whether is going to make me miss the hearing and cause me to be married to her longer.” He grabs a handkerchief out of his pocket and dries off his weathered face and dark gray head. “I’m sorry to hear that” replied the storekeeper. “I can’t really do much for you but offer you a cup of coffee.” “That’d be great.” He answers as he takes a seat in a booth at the other end of the room. “Well” Ben says turning back to Jordan and Aiden. “It’s nice to meet you Aiden”. They all turn to look out the window as they hear yet another car pull into the lot. The car swerves in and instead of occupying the next available parking space; the car pulls onto the walk way right in front of the door. “What in the world” Ben remarks under his breath letting out a small laugh. They then see an elderly woman emerge from the vehicle, wearing a plastic rain bonnet, and an oversized poncho. Ben goes and meets her at the door helping her inside the store. “Well thank you kind sir” she says giving him a look over. “I love being old.” She says with a laugh. “I get more handsome men flocking over me than I ever did when I was young.” “So what’s your name young man?” “Ben Evans”. “So Ben Evans what brings you to twin falls, Idaho” “I’m just passing through, I’m on my way to a funeral in Portland actually”. “Ah, Portland I just left there a few weeks ago, the mountains are gorgeous up there, you should defiantly go sight seeing while your there.” “My next destination is Las Vegas, I’m going to ride the stratosphere, and go do some gambling.” She says excitedly. “I’m getting old you know and my life clocks ticking, I’m going to see the world and spend my money while I can.” “Well, good luck with that.” He says with a smile walking back to his seat next to Jordan. “Hey, storekeeper man.” The middle age man says while sipping his coffee. “Would you mind turning on the radio, and letting us hear what’s going on out there?” “Sure thing” the storekeeper replies as he clicks the radio back on. “Highway 30 is now completely flooded on the way out of Twin falls. We will keep you posted on any new weather updates. Till then here is Blake Shelton with goodbye time” “well there you have it” said the middle aged man, we are going to be here all night.” Jordan and Ben then turned to each other, there eyes full of emotion. “Do you know what song this is?” she asks him. “It’s our song” he said as a smile played across his lips. They sat there listening to each word that was sung, remembering how it felt when they had to say goodbye to each other. “I feel like I’m fifteen again.” he says as the song ends. “I know, I can’t believe it has been eight years already.” “I remember when you told me you had to move to Kansas, because of your dad’s job, I think that was the worst day of my life.” She says letting out a sigh. “I remember you called me and told me to meet you at our spot by the lake.” “Yeah I remember, it was that old picnic table right by the lake and it had that old willow tree that hung over it.” He says remembering that day. “I remember I was crying when I told you.” “Yeah”, she says, “I was crying too”. “We sat there for hours just talking and crying, and making promises to each other that neither one of us were able to keep.” “Then you held me in your arms and sang “Goodbye Time” to me until it got dark, and three weeks later you were gone.” “I did keep one of my promises though.” He says looking her in the eyes. “Which one?” she asks wanting to cry with the memory. “The one when I said I would come back and never leave again.” “What do you mean?” “I mean that I’m moving back to Portland where I belong.” “I’m finished with college now I have no reason why I shouldn’t.” “Are you serious Ben, your really coming back?” she says as the tears finally roll down her cheeks.” “Yes” he says wiping them off with his thumb. “I shouldn’t be crying.” She says embarrassed. “It is just all so much, I feel like today has just been a dream.” “Me too” he says quietly. “Jordan, I want you to know I never stopped loving you, or caring for you.” “For the last eight years all I have wanted was to come back to you, and now I finally can.” She looks down letting the tears fall; she knows that if he knew what she has done, if he knows the truth about her past then he wouldn’t love her. “Ben you don’t want me, I have made so many mistakes in my life, you deserve better.” She says crying harder now. He wraps his arms around her and holds her close. “Jordan nothing could make me stop loving you.” “I want to get to know Aiden and you all over again.” “Ben” she says defeated, “If only you knew.” He puts his hands on her shoulders and pulls her back so he can look her in the eyes. “Jordan, I don’t care, I know who you are.” They both get startled by the sound of the radio announcer. “Roads on highway 30 are beginning to clear up, and they are predicting that the rain is over for the night.” They both then look around coming back to reality, realizing where they were. They didn’t even notice the rain had quit. Jordan looks around, “Oh man where did Aiden go.” Jordan gets up and begins searching around the store. “Aiden, where are you buddy.” Ben then gets up and joins the search. “Oh mam, your son is in the back with Mrs. Olsen.”, says the storekeeper from behind the counter. “Oh thanks.” She says with a puzzled look. “She and Ben walk to the back of the store and there in a booth is Aiden and the old women coloring a picture. Ben and Jordan take a seat across from them. “Did you find a friend Aiden?” Jordan says with a smile. “Actually I think I’m the one who found the friend.” Mrs. Olsen says with a smile. “He is a darling little boy; he came walking up to me with this coloring book in his hand, so I figured we would do some coloring.” “Well thank you for watching him, I got a little preoccupied.” “The pleasure was mine really; I figured you kids needed a minute.” “You know it was right before world war two when I met my husband. I was sixteen years old he was seventeen, and he was the most handsome boy I had ever seen. I remember I was with him when he heard about Pearl Harbor being attacked, and he told me he wanted to join the army. Of course I tried to talk him out of it, I told him he was to young, but he joined anyway. And then he was gone, and I was so heartbroken, everyone tried to tell me that he would never come back, but in my heart I knew he would. I waited for three and a half years for him, I remember that everyone thought I was crazy, but I loved him, and he loved me. I will never forget the day when I heard a knock at my door, and it was William.” She says getting choked up. “He came back to me just like he said he would.” “We got married shortly after and we spent fifty-two long wonderful years together before he passed away.” “We were able to raise three beautiful children and spend years of making memories together.” “I don’t want to imagine what my life would have been like if we would have parted ways.” “I think you kids understand why I am telling you this.” Ben reaches for Jordan’s hand under the table and they turn to look at each other. “You kids love each other so much; don’t let anything stop you from being happy.” “Thank you, your story really opened my eyes to some things.” Jordan said wiping a tear from her eye. “The roads are clear now so I think we are all going to go.” They all get up from the booth and Jordan picks up Aiden. “It was a pleasure meeting you Mrs. Olsen.” Jordan says giving her a hug. “Live life Jordan, you only get one chance.” She says with a smile. “And goodbye to you Aiden, It was a pleasure observing your artistic abilities.” She lets out a laugh, and then turns to Ben. “It was nice meeting you too Ben.” “It was nice meeting you.” He says then taking a hold of Jordan’s hand again he helps her and Aiden get into their van. “I’ll take the lead” he says in case there are any bad spots on the road. “Okay” she says buckling her seat belt. He starts to turn away when he hears her say, “Hey” he turns back around “Hey” “I love you” she says with a smile. “I love you too” he says with a grin. She laughs and rolls up her window. Ben then turns back around and gets in his tuck, beaming with joy. He pulls out of the parking lot and heads down the road in the direction of Portland. In the direction of the life he has always dreamed about.
May 13, 2008