10- Into The Woods
“Thera,” my dad said in an unreadable tone. “Who is this, and why is he here?”
“Um...I, um...This is Graham and hah the funny thing is-”
“Would you like anything to drink Graham? Seems like Thera’s not spitting this out anytime soon, it may take a while,” my mom interrupted.
Graham smiled and shook his head. “No ma’am, I’ll be just fine.”
“Well let’s take this to the living room for just a moment then, shall we?” Though what my dad said was actually a question, I wouldn’t dare to say or do anything other than comply. We reached the living room and all took seats. “Thera, spill.”
I took a deep breath. The truth couldn’t hurt me, right? I squeezed my eyes tight together and opened them back up again seeing three pairs staring back at me. I told my parents all of it. How Amanda introduced the idea and told me I had to anyway whether I liked it or not, and how I only planned on staying a week. I told them that today was the third day for dates, and that the second one wasn’t even worth calling a date. As I finished, I sat back and looked towards my parents in slight fear.
Nothing could have prepared me for their reactions. They looked at each other, did one of those silent communication things, and broke out into laughter. Laughter!
“Amanda forced you into dating? I knew she was a good kind of troublemaker.” I sat stupefied as my parents didn’t chastise, didn’t reprimand, didn’t yell, but laughed and cracked up and sat swatting their hands at each other.
“Why didn’t you tell us sooner? Where’s day one and two?” My mouth hung open as I looked at the aliens that had taken over the bodies of my parents. I barely noticed Graham leaning closer until his breath brushed against my ear.
“Not the reaction you expected, I guess? Is this why you haven’t told them before now?” I couldn’t form words to reply to him, so I just stood up and started to walk backwards out of the room.
“Well, I’m gonna go...” My sentence lingered in the air as my parents were still trying to catch their breaths, getting out only a few sounds here and there that pieced together to say ‘have fun.’
Once settled in Graham’s truck, I turned to look at him. “That’s not the way I imagined that.” I said.
“It’s alright, your parents seem pretty nice and carefree,” he replied.
“That’s the thing! They’re not usually like that. It was totally unexpected.” It didn’t feel stretched sitting and talking with Graham while he sat driving and relaxed. It actually was kind of...nice.
Once we reached his house, he kept driving into the backyard where a medium sized wooden barn sat. Through some openings, animals could be seen. There the two horses stood, side by side. I gasped quietly.
“They’re beautiful,” I said.
“Just like you,” Graham replied cheekily. “Would you like to go for a ride?”
I nodded my head eagerly. Walking up to the horses I slowed down and stuck out my hand so they could see and sniff it before I pet them. The all black one was more hesitant, but the one with white on its face nudged its nose right under my hand.
“The one that’s acting friendly towards you, her name’s Atlanta.” Graham said as he walked up behind me and began opening the gate to go inside the stall. “The other guy’s name, the black one, is Cobalt. Usually it’s reversed with Attie being more shy.”
“Which do I get?” I questioned.
“You can take Atlanta. Cobalt and I have a better connection, I’m guessing it’s a guy thing.”
“Sounds good.” After Graham taught me how to saddle up a horse, we mounted and took off toward the corral. An open gate in the back allowed us to exit and Graham led the way into a thick patch of trees nearby.
“I hope you’re not afraid to go into the woods,” said Graham as he pulled ahead to try and fit through a thinner part of the path.
“Into the woods,
It’s time to go,
It may be all
In vain, I know.
Into the woods-
But even so,
I have to take the journey.
Into the woods,
The path is straight,
You know it well,
But who can tell-
Into the woods to lift the spell-
Into the woods to visit Mother-
Into the woods to sell the cow!” By this point in my full on singing I had started I noticed that both horses had stopped and Graham was just looking at me peculiarly. “Oh.”
“Well you have a great voice, I guess it’ll be extra hard for my plans now,” he said. I tried to shove away any minor embarrassment. He didn’t seem to mind my singing.
“What plans?” I asked. He adjusted something hanging off of his back. It was a guitar. How had I missed that? “Can you sing?”
The horses picked up a slow pace to continue on. “I’ve been told I can, but I just wanted to play something for you. I thought it might be a ’lil different.”
“I can honestly say that none of the others have sung for me.”
“Well, okay. Here’s the stop, just ahead.” As soon as we emerged into the clearing I could feel myself subconsciously stop breathing. It was literally breath taking. The clearing in the woods was an open field covered in flowers of all colors. Set up close to us was a picnic blanket and basket. Graham dismounted Cobalt like an expert, but when I tried to get off Atlanta I ended up falling. I braced myself for impact, but felt the fall wasn’t as long as it should have been.
I looked up to see I was caught by Graham. “Dang boy! You got some strong arms!” He chuckled as I pulled myself up and went to plop down on the blanket. The rest of the evening was spent with conversation, laughs and eating the food he had packed. Before the time came for us to leave, Graham pulled over his guitar.
“Well, here goes nothing,” he said with a small smile. He then started to play. Music, gorgeous music, welled through the entire open area bouncing off the line of trees and coming back. He was incredible, this boy made such beautiful sounds that you would never expect. He started to sing halfway through and it would be a lie to say it was any less marvelous than the guitar playing. When he finished I still sat in awe.
“Say something,” he mumbled. “Was it really that bad?” Oops...How long had I sat quiet for?
“No, no! You’re phenomenal!” For the first time, I saw a light blush creep into his cheeks.
“I’m not that good,” he said quietly.
“Yeah,” I told him. “You are.”
We headed back to the barn to put up the horses and Graham then drove me home. He walked me to the front door and before we could say goodbye the door was flung open. My dad stood there, looking down at Graham menacingly.
“Mighty nice of you to walk my daughter to the door. Say goodbye now.” Dad’s carefree voice had turned into a gruff sound.
“Give us a minute?” I asked, just to see how he’d react. Dad nodded and didn’t move an inch.
“I’ve got time.” I just laughed and pulled Graham into a hug.
“See ya soon Graham,” I called as my dad was pushing to close the door behind me too fast.
“Later Thera,” I could hear.
Dad drug me into the living room and shoved me down on the couch.
“So how was your date? What happened? Where’d you go?” Dad’s whole demeanor changed into that of a teenage girl as he looked at me, chin in hands and bright eyes.
Gosh I love my family.