A little story about how The First can linger:
“I really never expected to see you again. I heard that you have a fine family and that you have done well for yourself in your ventures.” She paused. “And I have my own as well.”
She fingered the seed kernels at the tip of a tall, dry stalk of grass. She studied it unseeingly as she softly crushed the seeds to dust. She didn’t look at him yet, but shifted her gaze to the hills that lay before them and the sky that kissed their crests. The clouds billowed and shifted in the stiff breeze that raced across the endless prairie grass. Somehow the sky seemed larger this afternoon.
He touched her elbow hesitantly, momentarily, but the contact seared through her arm and cascaded through the rest of her body leaving every nerve tingling for just a moment before ebbing into an alert state of quiet intensity. She still refused to look at him while she forced the wildly scurrying emotions back into their place. Now she would have to miss him again. Silly, young love feelings. There was no place for them anymore, but time did not erase their potency when they were unexpectedly revived.
“Why did you come back?” She uttered the question evenly.
“I had to see you again.” He spoke the words simply, but every syllable held the full force of long obscured feeling.
She turned to face him then and clasped her hands loosely together in front of her. The waning sunlight laced within her wheat colored hair and caught and displayed the intricacies of her hazel eyes. Her pale brows furrowed slightly as though pointing to the smattering of freckles on her nose. He smiled at those freckles. They were still there after all of the years. He could still see her as a young girl even though the lines of life had worn their way into her features.
“Lucy, I never meant to hurt you.”
“I know,” she interjected quickly. “I have never faulted you for pursuing the opportunities that took you away. It was the right thing for you. My life has been well. But I don’t understand why you are here now.”
“I am here because since the moment I left, your face blows through my mind daily. I had to see you again before I join the war.”
Silence whispered between them as they stood beholding each other and the years that had separated them.
Lucy released her hands and reached up to hold his face gently between them. She looked into his clear eyes and saw the familiar boy inside of the man. She pressed her lips to his grizzled cheek and remembered the smoothness of the past and breathed in his essence one last time. His arms reached around to cradle her and she savored the fleeting moment. Then she pulled out of his embrace and held his hands.
“So take this with you on your path and I will carry it on mine. Godspeed you on your journey.”
She extracted her hands from his and gave him the slightest of smiles and a world of tender words in her eyes before running as a girl down the grassy slope towards her home where her life awaited.
He watched her run through the tall grass as he had so many times before when they were in their teens, and like the so many thousands of times he had seen it replayed in his mind since then. He let it imprint fresh to keep. His smile was bittersweet as he turned to walk his own path.