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Today's Story by Joseph Anderson

After this, wherever I go is going to be golden, with a breeze.

The Girl in the Field

I met her in the fall. I’d just seen my last sunny day, or so they told me. She seemed normal enough. A bit pale. Hair brilliantly red. Eyes like crystals made of blue. Not a thing looked wrong with her. Our meeting seemed to be one of no importance. Yet somehow I found myself walking through the rain with her. I remember the way her boots sloshed in mud, and I feared that they had stuck. She reached for my arm, and I helped her out.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I’m not that strong.”

Her arm lingered in mine. I felt through it a connection, as if I could know her mind, and that what I felt was what she felt also.

“What is it you do?” she asked lightly.

“Nothing,” I told her.

“No, really. What do you do?”


She still hadn’t let go, nor did I want her to. We were headed back along the street, through the shops, and street lamps. “That’s no help,” she said, “For someone wanting to know you.”

“There isn’t much to know,” I said, “Makes the job pretty easy, I guess.”

“Some girls might say boring,” she said.

“There are worse things to be. What about yourself. What do you do?”

She thought for a moment, “Nothing, I suppose,” she said, “I see now. It makes sense.”

I nodded, “Makes things easy.”

We were about to cross the street when a train came rattling by. It moved fast, sounding like thunder over the track. When it had passed, the bell ringing stopped, and the white and red beams lifted. “You’re in love, aren’t you?” she asked. We were walking again.

“Yeah, I am,” I said.

“I can tell,” she said, “Then why don’t you smile?”

“When was love ever something to smile about?”

“In a perfect world it is.”

I nodded, deciding she must be right.

My mailbox was empty the next day. Though I could see it’s bareness through the slot, some hopeful feeling pressed me to open it. The same feeling that led me to check it every morning. That evening, I found myself standing at the end of the pier with her. The overcast made the waters look absolutely still and forlorn.

“Do you ever imagine things?” she asked me. She gazed at me levelly. Her collar covered her neck and touched the edge of her smooth jaw.

“What would I imagine?” I asked.

She turned her gaze away, and back towards the water, “When I was little, I used to imagine all sorts of things. Books weren’t just stories, they were real. I’d go running out to the field and spin in circles watching all the stories coming to life before my eyes.”

She shook her head, “Sometimes, I miss things being that way.”

“What way?”

“Fresh and new. Exciting and joyful. Those stories really meant something. They made me want something more. Something I knew was always out of reach.”

I nodded.

“Do you ever miss those things?”

I shook my head, “No. Never.”

On the way back, something seemed a little off about her. She stumbled once.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She nodded, “Just tripped,” she said.

A few minutes later, she fell.

I caught her before she hit the ground, and rested her head across my knees. She seemed conscious still, though she wouldn’t respond to a single word I said. Carefully, I gathered her up into my arms, deciding I had to carry her the rest of the way back.

I hadn’t known then that she was slowly dying. No one knew besides her family and closest friends, and the doctors. It was the doctors I found it out from. It was her sickness that made her weak. Her face was turned towards me on the hospital bed, smiling guiltily, “How long have you known for?” I asked.

“Years,” she said.

“How long do you have?”

“I want to live on a beach someday,” she told me one day at the park, “A sandy beach, somewhere in California.” In the cold, I could see her breath.  “After this, wherever I go is going to be golden, with a breeze.”

I looked at her. She was smiling. I felt a suppressed anger rise in me. It scorched through my veins as she swung in the swing next to me. She didn’t look as though her body were slowly shutting down. Then again, neither did I.

The pall-bearers waited in the church hall as if we were waiting for a wedding to commence. I stood apart from them, gazing up at Fra Angelico’s painting of, “The Last Judgment”. The devil biting people in the lowest pit of Hell made me want to laugh. I had to bite my cheek to keep any laughter from escaping me.

I never thought I would be the sort of person to laugh at a funeral.

Dressed in black, I made my way to the end of the pier. Boats were sailing in view, and the sky had opened up, letting the setting sun spray golden light down.

“After this, wherever I go is going to be golden, with a breeze.” Her voice sounded so childish in my memory. As a gust of wind swept the smell of sea-salt into my nostrils, the memory brought everything crashing down along with it. I missed things being the way they had been. Admitting it, I could feel that feeling almost in grasp, till it rose slowly to consume all of me. That feeling: knowing I wanted something more, something I could never have, and I wept

When I had finished, I turned around, and headed back down the pier. People were chatting over dinner and glasses of wine. Music was playing. I went to the tea house with a wooden floor and beige walls. Wide open windows looked out onto the ocean.

A girl with light brown hair served me where I sat on the bar that ran along the window. Teacup in hand, my gaze remained fixed outwards at the sea and the sky. Silently, I thanked whoever it was who had put them there.

I pulled an opened envelope out of my pocket and withdrew the folded papers from inside. It was the letter I had been waiting for. It had come at last. After looking it over yet again, I produced a pen and a pad of paper, and began to write my reply.

“Dear Love,” I wrote, “So good to hear from you. There’s a story I need to tell you. It starts a little while back now. It’s about the girl in the field…”

The door creaked open, and I looked up from my paper. She peeked her head in, and beamed, “Did the funeral go alright?” she asked.

I nodded.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” she said.

I shrugged, “You’re looking better,” I said.

She left the doorway, and sat on the stool next to mine, “I am better,” she said, “But you already knew that.”

I nodded, tapping my pen, and smiled, “Yes, I suppose I did.”

The sun set. The sky grew dark, and my view out the window became an oil painting of light as the rain came again. She stayed and kept me company. “Things go spinning on,” were the final words I wrote, “For me and for you.  For better or worse. Rain or shine. Yet for the girl in the field, the dew fall is forever filled with bliss.”

Joseph Anderson was born and raised among the golden hills of California, and is currently attending college in the cloudy, Pacific Northwest.

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