It was the worst of times.
The best-laid plans o' mice and men....
That was the last day they saw each other.
He went up to that place, looking for her, each of the next few days, expecting to find her, but she didn’t come.
His world, crumbled, not sure what he could do about it, feeling an intense desperation over losing everything that had become so important to him.
He could tell no one; could ask no one. They wouldn’t understand this feeling in a youth.
However, he did have those passwords to get into the ‘cloud’, and to see those photographs with their evocative depictions of living love.
He would have to be satisfied with that for a while, and with those twine rings, until they met again.
Steve went up to the lake each of the following days in expectation of meeting her there, but she wasn't there, and there was no word on what had happened to her, for several days.
During dinner one evening soon after school began, he heard enough to throw him into a deep state of depression.
During a casual dinner conversation at home, he learned that her parents had packed her off to a boarding school, earlier than planned, but that it wasn’t working out for her, and that she was moving around to other schools, not liking what was happening to her.
Her parents (friends of his own parents) had taken her out of school very suddenly, even before school began and without any warning.
His heart almost stopped. He began to choke on his food, having to get up from the table and to excuse himself. They had been seen! Or her parents had checked at the cabin, not finding her there? Unlikely possibilities. Maybe her mother had seen the state of her panties, and then of her daughter’s tender vagina, and had cornered her to confess everything. That was unlikely too. He could think himself into a stew in any number of difficult ways.
What did someone know about them? Would it fly back onto him next, when his part in it was discovered as it was sure to be?
Who’d seen them, and what they’d been doing with each other so often, and with such intensity? Had they been watched so well without him noticing?
That was very unlikely. He was almost always aware of what was happening around them (except for a few minutes), always with one ear cocked to what nature was telling him. There were bears and cougars never very far away. It did not pay to be inattentive for very long.
It was all just in his mind, but she’d been taken away from school to head off any further problems, whatever they had been. Her parents had felt that a school, far out of state, was the best plan, without saying anything of the reason for it.
No one said anything to him or asked his part in this, but of the two of them, he was no less recognizable than she was in their small community, so they can’t have been seen at the lake.
Had she become pregnant? She’d jokingly mentioned it once.
He didn’t know any of it, and worried for a while, but he heard nothing else. He was scaring himself needlessly.
However, he did get one hurriedly penned letter from her, posted the morning following that last day they’d been together in such an intimate and memorable way, so that was a relief.
She said nothing about them having been discovered.
If anyone had been waiting for her to reveal the name of her lover, that note to him would have given the only clue needed, even though it said nothing out of place.
Her note said that she’d learned, just that morning, that she was being sent away to a boarding school that same day, and no one would tell her why.
She gave him the address of the school, letting him know that he could write, but to put her brother’s name on the back of the envelope, or she would not get his letter. Only the older girls were allowed to receive letters from someone who was not immediate family, and even those letters could be checked; to be opened and read, so he should be careful to keep his comments neutral and about family, as though he really were her brother.
Nothing happened as the days went by. He hadn’t been cornered. No one was watching him. No one had been watching them.
However, he got no more letters from her either, so it seemed that someone was watching, and was intercepting her letters at least, if not his, when he tried to write to the school.
He waited for the Christmas holiday, but she didn’t come home then, nor the following Easter.
He went up to the lake all through that following summer, but there was no sign of her ever being there.Their little note on the beach was still there (love, lives here, and their jumbled initials) outlined in pebbles, but not her.
He went up there every summer after that, and occasionally swam, but it wasn’t the same. How could it be? He’d lost the one thing that made sense in his life.
They had been in love. They had made love.
Now, he felt empty, as though he’d lost half of himself.
A week after that, he wrote to that school, but his letters were all returned.
‘No student of that name here.’
He couldn’t ask her parents. He couldn’t ask anyone. He was desolated.
He kept writing to the one address he had, getting the same response each time, so he gave up, but he searched for her. There were thousands of boarding schools out west, but he had limited time and resources.
The weeks passed with him hearing nothing that he could act on, then the months, which fed into years.
He didn’t understand it.
There was this big void in his life, and he missed her. No one could help him.
He often went back up to the lake, each summer for the next three years, but she’d not come home that he was aware of, and he couldn’t ask where she was.
He made sure that little message in the sand, stayed there, just as they’d made it together.
In one of those quirks of fate that disrupt so many lives, they never saw each other again until several more years had gone by. His letters never seemed to get to where they were meant to go.
Many were returned, unopened. He kept them together.
He heard nothing. There was never any reply to tell him where she’d gone or where she was, so his letters hd gone nowhere.
She’d forgotten him! Though he didn’t believe that. He’d known what they’d shared, and what they’d said to each other; their marriage vows as they’d sat together on that beach after tying those rings; their love making. All of that had been real. She must be missing him as much as he was missing her, but there was nothing he could realistically do about it.
He felt hurt, but hid it as best he could. He had to get on with his own life. He would find her again, eventually. He was convinced of that.