Since it magically vanished....here we go again
(we now join our fantasy already in progress...it's 2/7 ... a cold night in Oklahoma....)
"What are you doing out here may I ask?"
"Checking on Sassy and the others."
"You are gonna catch a cold in just that?" He points at my thin jacket, and hands me the coat. "Come on back inside. It's almost time for cake and ice cream."
"Thanks for the coat." I take it from him and drape it around my shoulders.
He holds out a hand out for me to take and says, "Come on back inside."
I shake my head and look toward the barn door. "I'm okay out here."
He can tell something is wrong and comes to sit next to me on the tack box. "What's the matter?"
I know lying to him is out of the question, so I tell him part of the truth and hope it's enough. "I just feel a little funny. It's all family in there."
Garth puts an arm around my shoulders and gives me a little squeeze. "Everyone here is family as far as I'm concerned." He leans his head over to rest on mine. "So let's go have some cake, and watch me open my gifts."
I realize I haven't wrapped my few offerings and say, "Well if you want to open my gift I'd better go wrap it."
Garth stands and offers both hands to help me up. I put my feet down and stand up and we are face to face, a foot apart, and suddenly I can't breathe. I know what is going to happen and I don't stop it, even though I know I should. He leans forward and I feel his lips brush mine. I close my eyes and get lost in the moment, letting it surround me, warmer than any coat could ever be. I melt into him and time stops around us.
I lean into him and his hand slide up my arms to my shoulder and I let mine do the same. He closes the gap between us, moves his hands down over my back and pulls me close. Our lips part and I try and remember how to breathe again. Somehow air just wasn't important to me for the past few moments. "That's all I need for my birthday." He whispers in my ear.
I put my head on his chest and take a deep breath, loving the even the smell of him. What am I doing? And is it too late to stop?
The questions are moot, because we hear someone start to open the barn door. I start to pull away, but he won't let me. I look away from the door, but he doesn't. His Dad pokes his head in and says, "You need to come back in, son. Everyone is looking for ya." He slides the door shut and we are alone again.
Garth turns my face back to him and kisses me gently. "Come back in with me?"
I don't trust myself to speak, so I nod my head.
Back inside the party is lively and I slink back into the bedroom to get the gifts I'd gotten Garth at the mall. I quickly put them in their gift bags and toss some colorful tissue in the tops of each. I am peeling the backs off the bows when the door opens and Taylor runs in saying, "Mel, come on! It's time to sing to Daddy."
I smile and ask her to help me carry my gifts into the other room. I look at the little Disney store bag on my bed. I'll have to give him the Thumper later. I don't think it would be a good idea to give him that one in front of so many people, who probably have no idea how he helped us out last summer. It would be way too complicated to explain.
Hmmm…. "Way too complicated to explain" really seems to sum the whole thing up pretty well. Taylor grabs my hand and pulls me to the door.
I hand all the gifts to Sandy and she puts them in the small mountain on the coffee table and I walk to a rocking chair and sit down. When Allie comes and sits in my lap, I sneak a glance up through my bangs to see how everyone is reacting to this show of familiarity. Only Sandy seems to be paying any attention.
Raymond comes in from the kitchen carrying a large cake covered in candles. Kelly follows him grinning widely and pulls a blowtorch out from behind his back. He makes a big show out of getting it going and lighting the candles. Garth is pretending to be really upset by it all, but I can tell he's not. We all join in when Raymond starts the birthday song.
Sandy tells the girls to come help her in the kitchen and they all go to help cut the cake and serve it to everyone. I get up and go join them. "Need any help?"
Sandy doesn't look up, "No, thanks anyway. We have it under control."
I get a distinct chill from her direction and I try not to let it show that I've noticed. "Okay, well…if you change your mind I'll be in the other room."
I wander back into the living room and see that someone has taken my seat. So I just go stand by the door to the bathroom and watch the whole thing. Garth is making a big production out of opening the gifts, shaking each one, like kids do at Christmas. Each gift-giver gets a word of thanks or a hug.
Garth picks up one of my gift bags and reads the tag to see whom it's from. He smiles and looks around the room to find me. He sees me finally and smiles and mouths a silent "Thank you". He opens the big bag first and pulls out the shirt. He holds it up and says, "Thank God! No stripes!" Everyone laughs and he reaches for the next bag.
It's a small one and he pulls out a CD. It's No Fences, the anniversary edition. He looks at me puzzled and says, "Umm…thanks. I already have this one I think." Everyone laughs, and I say, "Read the card silly."
He reached into the bag and pulls out the card. He reads, "100, 000, 001 and counting. One step closer to the 2nd Hundred Million." He smiles and laughs and then reaches for the last bag. He takes out the tissue and stops dead. He looks up at me and I see a tear in his eye. He puts the bag down and gets up and walks over to me. He wraps me in a huge hug and kisses my check. "Thank you. You found a way to wrap my heart up in that bag. It means a lot."
He takes my hand and walks back to sit on the hearth once again, making me sit next to him. He picks up the bag and gently takes out the 8 x 10 silver box frame I'd bought in the card store this morning. He runs a finger down the front and smiles. Then he turns it so everyone can see it. Matted in the center of the pictures are four little pictures of his girls, taken in one of those little photo booths in the mall. The girls and I had picked out little heart things in a few stores and put them around the pictures. On three construction paper hearts, each girl had written a message to him. When we had gotten home I'd put it all together. He is still looking at me in awe. "When did you do this?"
I smile and tell him "Well August didn't really drop her hat in the electronics store. We just wanted to get rid of you for a bit so we could take the pictures. And the other stuff, well you were with us when we got them." He shakes his head in wonder and puts an arm around me and gives me another squeeze.
Then he stands up and turns around and puts the picture in a place of honor, dead center on the mantle.
what if the essence of who you are and always have been is enough???
~from the prelude in THE DANCE by Oriah Mountain Dreamer