BY NANCY BOYCE
This story was first published in Canadian Stories magazine – July/August issue as an entry in their Photo Story contest. Copyright is held by the author.
THE HOUSE was quiet as he crept out of bed and looked out the window. He could see the back of her house, the outline of her bedroom window barely visible. Her house was dwarfed by the spruce and fir trees. He was sure the trees were half that height when he was young. He was glad for the break in the trees; it allowed him an unencumbered view.
He had saved enough money for bus tickets for both of them. They would marry at the town’s court house and then stay in a motel for a few weeks until he got work. It would be the kind of motel that had hourly as well as weekly rates, no fancy pool, but he hoped it would have a coffee shop. He could live on toast and tea.
He would get new clients in the new town; he was sure of it. He thought of how his old clients would miss him, how much they depended on him. He showed up faithfully each week in the summer, a few times in the fall, every snowfall in the winter. Summer was the best time of year for business. He could bring in $200 a week if the weather was right and the grass grew fast enough. That’s why he had chosen autumn to leave. It allowed him to save all summer. They’d be established before the weather turned cold. He wouldn’t be able to bring his tools with him, but he had packed his favourite gardening gloves. He had bought a pair for her as well. He was sure she would love them, bright green with flowers on the back and dots on the palms for good grip.
He reviewed his checklist again. Everything was carefully stowed in his backpack; toiletry items, clean underwear, socks, a few t-shirts and an extra pair of jeans. He’d wear his hoody. They could buy winter coats and boots at the Salvation Army when the time came. He had it all worked out. He’d dreamt of this night for as long as he could remember.
He made his bed and put the note to his parents on his pillow. He popped the screen off the window and threw his backpack to the ground. He sat in the open window and reached for the old antennae tower. He was glad that his dad was too cheap to remove the tower.
He knew the path by heart, didn’t even need the full moon. No fences blocked his way. The kids always played freely, not worrying about property lines. He knew, because he watched them from his window.
He stopped outside her window, his heart beating wildly. He rapped gently at her window.
“Dad, he’s here again!”
A few minutes later her dad emerged. He put an arm around him, “C’mon son, I’ll walk you home.”