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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Net of Years

Spring stretched and flexed itself that night, reaching out its long fingers through every bud and blade of grass in Central Park. Its breath was sweet with the scents of magnolias and cherry blossoms. Its sighs were the song of young frogs and the first crickets.
 
A gentle, loving hand - disguised by powerful muscles and thick fur - reached out from the edge of a black cloak. It twined about a hand composed of great strength and staunch courage - one deceptively concealed behind a dainty, feminine fa├žade.
 
“It’s been an ideal night for a walk, hasn’t it, Vincent?”
 
“Yes. I’m so very glad that you suggested it, Catherine.”
 
As they returned to the drainage tunnel, Vincent’s head turned toward the small grove of white pines on the edge of the woods.
 
“That’s new.” He gestured that direction. “There never used to be a bench there.”
 
“It’s a lovely location for a bench, though, nestled in there among the trees. I think it must overlook the little stream and the footbridge. Let’s go take a closer look, shall we?”
 
He smiled as he turned their path back up the softly rising hill. “I am always agreeable to any suggestion of yours, Catherine.”
 
They paused in front of the bench just as the moon slipped from behind a cloud. A sliver of moonlight illuminated the small silver plaque mounted to the top rail on the back of the bench.
 
“Catherine!” Vincent’s jaw gaped slightly as he first caught sight of it. “Catherine, how…?”
 
“The park has this program…something they started several years ago. You can adopt a bench. They’re willing to place it almost anywhere you like, and they let you inscribe it however you choose. Then the park will maintain the bench, just as it is, forever and ever. Isn’t that lovely, Vincent?”
 
“And so you…?”
 
Catherine nodded, a sly, knowing smile playing on her face as she led him to the bench. She sat down, and after a gentle tug, he joined her.
 
“I knew you were up to something - something that was making you feel very pleased with yourself - but I never would have imagined this.” He angled himself so that he could better see the plaque. One clawed thumb pad traced over the engraved letters. “It’s wonderful. Thank you. A place of our own, hidden here within a little grove of pines.”
 
“A new vantage point, now that we go to the apartment so seldom.”
 
Further discussion was postponed as he now caressed her bottom lip with his thumb, as if reading a message that was written there only for him, in a tongue only he, of all the men of the world, could understand. He bent his lips to hers to speak his thanks wordlessly.
 
A while later, they walked back down the gentle hill toward the drainage tunnel and home. They paused and looked back at the bench once more.
 
“The children will be able to enjoy that bench nearly as much as their parents, Catherine.
 
“It’s a wonderful gift. Thank you again.”
 
“No, Vincent. Thank you. Every moment since that night, I’m reminded what a gift life is. What a gift this happy life is!”
 
Behind them, sparks of moonlight glinted off the silver plaque:
For V.
True Love Stories Never Have Endings.
Happy 10th Anniversary.
Ever yours, C.
  
~

“True love stories never have endings.”  ~Richard Bach