Part III: Way Too Long…
It had been way too long since he had last seen her.
When he made his way to her house, Gale noticed Annalise outside in her garden, a hose in her hands, but her concentration elsewhere, on a little sparrow that was sitting on the fence above the area of the garden she was watering. As he opened the gate almost noiselessly, he saw that she was so utterly captivated by the bird’s little antics that she did not notice the water being wasted just below her.
Laughing silently to himself, Gale walked up the garden path towards her. Winding his arms around her figure, he took the hose from out of her tiny fingers, successfully startling her.
She was just about to scream, when she realised that it was only her best friend. She smiled at him, the kind of Annalise-exclusive smile that only she was capable of.
Another thing that he had been missing about her…
“Good morning, Gale!” she cried, as she threw her slender arms around his sturdy shoulders. “Sorry, I didn’t hear you come in!”
“Apology accepted,” he told her softly. As she pulled away from him, he could not help the urge to feel her silky blond hair between his fingers. “You look so beautiful to-day!” he added in a whisper.
The way her eyes shone and her cheeks flushed at this remark was a sight he was sure he would never forget. He smirked at her.
“So, how has my little princess been all these three years without her handsome knight?” he asked her good-naturedly.
Her cheeks reddened ever more. “I…I told you… I’ve been fine!” she said, her voice going squeaky. He remembered from all those months, how her voice used to change momentarily like this, depending upon her mood.
At that moment, she was annoyed, which delighted him immensely – her features turned impossibly lovelier.
“Of course you have,” he said more gently this time. “But, I want an honest answer this time – no beating around the bush.”
“Well, that’s all I’ve got to say.” Pouting, she yanked the hose back from his grasp and turned around with her back facing him. She then began to move away as she continued with her task.
A moment of silence ensued, each secretly waiting for the other to begin speaking again. The sound of water flowing from the hose to the ground was the only sound in the still air.
At last, Gale had to give in, for he could not take the silent treatment any longer. He had to know why she had been upset all this time.
As he was not getting anything out of her this way, he had no choice but to resort to more drastic measures to get her attention…
“Annalise, I’ve a reason to believe that you’ve been dating someone since I left!” he cried, purposely hardening his voice to see how she would react.
Her reaction could not have been more expectant: she froze in her tracks a few feet away from him and the hose slipped from her fingers.
Gale suppressed a smile at this little victory, although he did feel guilty about the manner in which he achieved it.
Before he could dwell upon this anymore, Annalise was slowly turning her head towards him, her face looking rather upset. His heart went out to her and he involuntarily stepped towards her. She did not move from her position.
“No,” she told him, her voice small. “I never did. You’d told me to trust my instincts and I always have.”
Gale placed his hands on her shoulders; he thought she would flinch, but she did not.
“Was your instinct warning you about every other boy who approached you?” he asked her, softly.
Annalise nodded her head. “Always.”
“You know…I don’t know why but that answer gladdens my soul,” he told her, truthfully.
This remark had the desired effect: she gave him her unique smile.
’She really did miss me…’
“Well, what do you want to do to-day?” she asked, as he joined her. She resumed her task.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You tell me. What’ve I been missing all these months?”
“Missing?” she asked, her soft voice sounding thoughtful. “Well, there is a new café inaugurating tomorrow. We could go there for free food.”
“Ah, yes, I did see it on my way here,” he said. “The ‘Dolls Café’, right? And the poster said that there would be free inaugural food the entire day tomorrow.”
“That’s right!” she cried, her voice suddenly rising to a delightfully high pitch in excitement. “Perhaps we could go there for breakfast tomorrow – just the two of us – and both our families could go there for Supper!”
As they reached the backyard of the house, Gale moved to close the tap that was sitting on the wall there. Muttering a thank you, Annalise wound up the hose and hung it around the tap.
“Indeed, that sounds good,” he told her. “We could ask our parents.”
She turned two shining ocean-blue eyes towards him. “I’m certain they’ll not object!”
“But, what do we do right now, Ann?”
Her eyes lost their lustre as her face took on a confused expression. “Oh yes…that’s what we began discussing in the first place…”
Gale chuckled at her fickle little mind.
At this, Annalise also laughed aloud. Hearing her own laughter, she realised one thing: I‘ve never laughed this much for way too long…
All of a sudden, she was glad that he was finally home.