History Lesson—Part 20
I sat in the grass, staring at the road where I last saw Sadie before she turned and left my line of sight. My head throbbed and my gut cramped. I didn’t blame her for walking away from me; I’d done the same to her time after time. Although I never intended to hurt her, my misguided actions wreaked havoc on her heart. God, I was a total idiot.
The resolve to get up and walk home eluded me, so I laid back on the grass and watched the tree branches sway in the wind. I was certain the pounding inside my head would subside soon, but I shut my eyes and breathed deeply to speed up the process. In the darkness behind my closed lids, I relived the moment that Sadie stood up to leave. Her lips trembled and her eyes glistened, a sure sign that tears threatened to unravel her composure. My own eyes watered as I contemplated the emotional anxiety I caused and acknowledged that it probably ended our relationship.
Suddenly, the grey of my sightless world deepened as though a shadow passed overhead. I opened my eyes and saw a girl’s face blocking the sunlight. She stared down at me.
“You okay?” she asked.
I blinked to focus. Her features were familiar. I sat up, squinting to get a better look.
“Hi, Cord.” She bent down and studied my face. “This is an odd place to take a nap. Something wrong?”
“Nah. I’m okay.” I scrambled to my feet. “Just thinking.”
“Yeah?” She picked up my backpack and handed it to me. “Well, you look miserable.”
“Thanks,” I muttered. “Just what I wanted to hear.”
“Something’s going on between you and Sadie.” She latched onto my forearm and pulled. “C’mon, we’re getting coffee.”
“I don’t drink coffee,” I mumbled, resisting the forward motion. “I need to get home.”
“No, you don’t.” She yanked harder on my arm, causing me to stumble along next to her. “You need to figure out how to fix things with her, and I’m going to help. Let’s go.”
Julie kept a tight grip on my arm as we walked along Hammonds Ferry Road. At one point, she linked her arm through mine, then fished her phone out of her pocket and started texting. When I tried to wriggle free, she sighed.
“You aren’t getting out of this, Mr. Minqua,” she growled. “I can’t bear to watch this weird back-and-forth, on-again-off-again relationship thing you two have going on. Not for another minute.” She clutched my arm tighter and dragged me across the road and down Music Lane toward Camp Meade Road.
We walked in silence as we approached the shopping center that housed the coffee shop. I quickened my pace as we neared Mrs. Endicott’s Flower Emporium, turning my back toward the front window as we passed by and praying that Skye wouldn’t notice me with a girl who wasn’t Sadie.
One block later we reached the shop. Although I wasn’t a coffee drinker, I enjoyed the scent of ground beans and freshly brewed coffee that filled the air. Julie steered us to a table near the back. She scrutinized me as I slumped into a chair, then tapped out a message on her phone. The server stopped by our table a few minutes later and took our orders. I opted for a chai tea latte.
“So, what’s the problem between you two, Cord?” Julie’s forehead creased into several thick wrinkles as she drew her brows in a glare. The intensity of her expression startled me, although I knew it stemmed from worrying about her friend instead of loathing me.
“Dragging me here was a waste of time,” I replied, crossing my arms over my chest. “It’s up to Sadie to tell you what she wants you to know. Not me.”
Julie lifted her chin in affirmation, then switched her attention to something behind me. I turned, stunned to see Sadie and Michelle walking to our table. Sadie caught my eye, and I smiled. Her countenance, however, remained impassive.
The two girls stopped at our table and Julie stood. She quickly glanced at me, then focused on Sadie. “Sadie. Cord. This is an intervention. I’m speaking for Michelle, Denise, and myself when I say that something’s got to give. You two are crazy about each other, but your relationship is in tatters. We know it’s upsetting you, Sadie. And, after seeing you today lying on the side of the road this afternoon, I imagine it’s bothering you, too, Cord.”
Sadie peered at me quizzically as the server brought beverages for Julie and me.
“You were on the side of the road?” she asked. Her expression softened momentarily as she pulled a chair over and sat next to me at the table. Michelle ordered for her and Sadie, then took a seat next to Julie.
“I found him there,” Julie replied. “That’s why I set this meeting up now. You two can’t go on like this.”
“Julie did the right thing,” Michelle said. “It hurts us to see you both so miserable.”
I wanted to wrap my fingers and Sadie’s and somehow smooth away our issues. But I kept my hands on the table, fearing that a telepathic connection between us would hinder a resolution.
“Hurting you was the last thing I wanted to do, Sadie.”
She turned to face me. Her eyes focused on mine; their green and gray irises radiated emotion that was simultaneously intense and fragile. I paused, inhaling to keep my passion for her from clouding my thoughts.
“I didn’t want to turn away from you, but I thought it was for the best,” I said. “I was wrong, and I regret what I did. More than anything.”
Holding the mug with both hands to keep my fingers from reaching for hers, I sipped my tea and waited for her response. Sadie watched me in silence, her reaction masked behind hazel eyes.
“I’d like another chance to make things right,” I continued. “Can we try again?”
My fingers tapped an anxious tattoo against the side of my mug. Julie and Michelle nodded their heads, their eyes wide with support for her affirmation. Background noise—steamy sighs from the espresso machine, conversational murmurs at other tables, and the hum of overhead fans—echoed in my head as I waited for Sadie to reply.
As she spoke my name, Sadie reached over and enveloped me in an embrace. I returned her hug and immediately felt a rush of heat hit me at full force. My eyes throbbed and my head pounded with a persistent deep-pitched thump, thump, thump that reverberated through my skull and drowned out the ambient sounds around me. Then I sensed Sadie’s voice within me. It floated above the bass tones and saturated my brain with a soothing softness.
“I don’t care what Cord is. I’m willing to try again. There’s just something about him. I feel like we’re destined to be together.”
I lifted my head away from her shoulder until my lips were near her ear. “I feel it too, Sadie. About you,” I whispered.
She loosened her hold on me and drew back until our noses were several inches apart. “Walk me home?” she asked.
~ ~ ~
To avoid the cemetery on Benton Avenue, we followed the sidewalk on Camp Meade Road until we reached School Lane. I took Sadie’s hand firmly in mine and our thoughts instantly connected.
“I wish I knew more about Cord’s grandfather. I wonder if he would know why we have this connection?”
The sound of her voice in my soul filled me with a closeness I’d never experienced with another person, not even my grandfather. I rubbed my thumb across the top of her hand and thought about the answer.
“He might know. He’s telepathic with everyone. Said he was engineered to be that way.”
She looked up at me, her brows drawn.
“Yeah. Created in a laboratory.”
“A test-tube baby?”
I hesitated, trying to clear my mind. Since neither of us was proficient at cloaking our thoughts, the resulting telepathic conversation was uncensored. As the answer slipped into my mind, I realized how difficult it would be for Sadie and me to keep secrets from one another.
“He called it an incubation habitat.”
“I didn’t think they did those kinds of experiments back in the fifties. I bet that’s when he was born, right?”
“I don’t know when he was born. I’m not even sure when I was born.”
“What do you mean?”
I released her hand, worried about disclosing too much information too quickly. The longer we touched, the more she learned about me. And I didn’t know if I was ready to disclose everything so quickly.
“What’s wrong Cord?” Sadie asked, stopping.
“I want to tell you everything about me. But I’m—” I faltered and took a breath. “Our connection… it’s a lot for me to take in all at once.” I didn’t want to admit that I was afraid the truth about me would scare her away.
She nodded and continued walking. “We can take it slow. That would be better for me, too.”
“I’ll tell you about my grandfather. I’m a lot like him. We have a good rapport, even though I don’t see him very often.” I playfully jabbed my elbow into her side. “I told him about you.”
“You did?” She grinned.
“Yep. When Skye and I went to visit him. He knows a lot about relationships and gave me some advice.”
“Like what?” she asked.
“That I shouldn’t shut you out, but let you help me discover who I am.”
“I can do that.”
“I want you to,” I replied. “There’s so much I haven’t figured out about myself.”
Against my better judgment, I put my arm around Sadie’s shoulders, which restored our telepathic link. She moved nearer to my side and adjusted her stride to synchronize our steps. I looked down and my gaze rested on the top of her head. Her chestnut hair gleamed in the afternoon sunlight, alive with streaks of amber and gold. My chest heaved, overwhelmed with affection, and I pulled her closer.
“I love her so much that I can hardly breathe.” The thought jumped into my head before I could stop it. And I knew she heard it because of her response.
“I know the feeling.”
—To be continued.
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Part 4||Part 5||Part 6|
|Part 7||Part 8||Part 9||Part 10||Part 11||Part 12|
|Part 13||Part 14||Part 15||Part 16||Part 17||Part 18|