The water is rather busy today, sending the small white paddleboat moving through the water. It’s not at all cool like Tonya predicted, but sunny and clear. Alex rows the small boat, slapping the oars into the water. They have no real direction in sight; just the idea of being out and enjoying the city is direction enough. It’s a good day for the couple, celebrating their year anniversary. Life is abundant in the oasis of coffee drinkers, poets, readers, writers, and tourists. Yachts and boats of all sizes can be seen taking advantage of Earth’s most valuable treasures. The elements combine with the senses to these two of how lucky they are to have one another. Tonya sits back in the boat watching him row, observing how his chest muscles contract as his arms turn. The red polo shirt he has on covers his torso, but she can still see his body structure. The sun shines down on his legs, exposed because of his shorts, making them glisten. Thoughts of this being unreal enter her mind, wondering also what he’s thinking about. Turning to look in the distance, Alex observes her new direction, and focuses on her long, elegant neck. The soft breeze lifts her hair briefly off her right shoulder, but rests back on the collar of the white shirt she’s wearing. Closing her eyes and smelling the fresh air, Alex admires her long lashes, and those beautiful long legs that emerge from her tan shorts. It amazes him how beautiful she is, moving his eyes from the edge of her shorts where her legs and the edge meet, down to her feet, exposed by her sandals. Looking back into her face, he notices her looking at him. “Can I help you sir?” she asks in a sweet seductive voice. “Trust me, you already have.” The two smile, still amazed that their love still feels brand new.
About Rajah Smart, M.A. ED
Rajah Smart is the author of three books. His novels All in Love is Fair (fiction, 2006), Sinners have a Soul Too (non fiction, 2008), and Clarity of Absence (fiction, 2009) were self-published by Authorhouse. The success of the previous novels has allowed him to continue to grow and prosper with a dedicated audience, also raising attention of successful retail chains such as Barnes and Noble, which houses his latest book in the store. Rajah was born, and raised in Flint, Michigan. He completed a bachelors degree at Western Michigan University in Education (English and Communications) and a masters degree with the University of Phoenix (Administration and Supervision) while teaching and completing his first novel, “All in Love is Fair.” Rajah has been a teacher for eight years, a trainer, community activist, as well as a current consultant for the State of Michigan. Currently Mr. Smart is completing his masters in Mental Health Counseling, and working on several projects.
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The morning is new and things have caused Alex to awake with a smile on his face. Possibilities are anew, especially after the conversation he had with Tonya the previous day. Pulling back the wrinkled, but still crisp sheets, Alex looks upon the sun that shines into the window through the slightly drawn blind, and realizes the gift of life. Allowing his feet to touch the rug, he has arisen, using the bed to push himself out of the bed and on to the creaky wood floor. Thoughts echo within his mind, thinking about what the day has in store for him, especially since he’s allowing his heart to open up once more for the one person who has always been there in his time of need.
Water droplets tap the window on this stormy but calming night. The quilt of the night has made sure its presence is felt, with the crickets sounding off in their nighttime melody. A lone raccoon tramples slowly through the yard, seeking nourishment, and enjoying Mother Nature’s symphony of life in motion. Looking towards the light, the raccoon sees a flickering light from the huge bay window, turns away and continues on his journey. The flickering light within the window signifies the fire that has been burning from the afternoon into the night. As the light from the flickering fire reflects off the window, the two people inside celebrate a renewed feeling of life. The life they lead together has arrived at this point, the point where they can move forward after loss, failed love, pain, and depression. Together, they focus on what can be done now to better their lives together. Sitting in the corner of the couch, Tonya stares at Alex while they talk about their dreams for the future. Alex holds her left bare foot, which is rested on his lap, in his hand…massaging and rubbing softly. Tonya shares with him her thoughts about the future while he listens deeply to her every word.
As the night has cast its shadow upon the landscape, the two longtime friends, family and companions sit within the cozy room, lit by firelight and the small lamp on the oak table by the window. Alex watches Tonya, as she reads a book of some sort. He believes it’s one of those cheesy love novels that she always reads. With her legs on the table, Alex studies them from her feet covered in black ankle socks, all the way up her long luxurious legs that glisten from the flickering firelight. The day has been making him realizing how much she means to him, and how much he has depended on her throughout his life. She has waited patiently for him to recover or heal from the pain of losing his wife and her best friend. As he continues to looks up her small frame, he meets her eyes that are looking back at him in amazement.
Alex removes his hand from her face and takes a seat on the couch watching Tonya read. The fire pops, as the light fades into the darkness. He begins to think about how things used to be when they were in school together. They say that high school is the time that you develop your crush; well Tonya was his crush, even though they were like family. He can recall though the time he finally noticed her and wanted to be with her. Alex picks up his small journal off the table and begins to write.
It’s a beautiful summer day with its clear and flawless blue sky. Alex glances at Tonya in the yard planting flowers, while he reads his book. The breeze blows past both of them, while they enjoy the simplicity of life. As the day fades, and evening takes shape, she glances at Alex with the face of a woman who is tired. Tired of the same things and ready to be treated the way a woman should be treated. Alex is just a simple man with simple thoughts in his eyes. In his mind, this is how she sees him. Life has a way of making you forget your dreams, goals, and those ideas that get us through the weeks. Seems as if life has dealt her a blow or maybe she is just simple now versus what he remembers about her. All she wants is to be happy, secure in life, taken care of emotionally, mentally and physically. Each day since they’ve been back together, he’s tried to read her mind, searching for her desires. She seems happy; yet, a bit unsatisfied. However, either way, he can’t wrap his thoughts around the answer. She doesn’t really know him anymore since his tragedy, but he knows her. They have a special undefined relationship. Their time or tenure will be coming to an end soon in this beautiful setting as soon as she’s done. Alex tries to become one with her mind and her desires; yet, he falls short each time.
The morning is a glow, as the sun shines through the curtains of the window. The beam catches the right eye of Tonya, wakening her from her slumber. The night before has placed a strain on her mind, trying to figure out what was to become of her and Alex. On this day, she wants to move away from thoughts of the two of them being together to just realizing her inner self. For some reason she begins to think about the day her life would change forever to lead her to this point. With the sheets all over the bed, she straightens them and lies back down to focus her mind on that day, a day she hasn’t thought about in years. Alex has always told her that she’s in need of help. His reasoning is based his belief that she’ll never have a successful relationship until she gets help. She begins to think of the night and can smell the scent of the corn bread her mother made that evening. Suddenly she feels like a kid again, experiencing what she felt on that dreaded day.
Alex and Tonya have such a long history together. Much of it had been plagued with pain and loneliness. To understand where they are, they have to understand where they came from. When Alex lost his mother, he became a ward of the state because his father was nowhere to be found. Leaving the confines of the children’s center to be bussed to school, he would run into Tonya often, an awkward 10 year old girl, who lost both of her parents early. Tonya took to Alex as her guardian almost immediately. Both of her parents were killed in a home invasion when she was 4 years old, and she has been in the system since. The gang that invaded her home had the wrong house, and left her alive as she cried under her bed for her parents. It was enough to make her very untrusting of all people. Everyday Tonya rode the bus; she would sit in the back, hiding from many of the children, not knowing she was there. On a bleak Monday morning, he saw her in the back of the bus, alone and withdrawn. Alex took it upon himself to look after her by offering her some of his breakfast bar. Tonya didn’t eat much in the morning because she was scared to eat with the other kids. On this day, she looked tired and weak, and unwilling to speak, but that breakfast bar broke the wall she had up. Hunger has a way of speaking for you as her stomach let out a “grrrrrrrrr.” Forgetting that he was saving the bar for later, he opened it and handed it to Tonya. She still didn’t say much but that didn’t stop him from talking about the comic books he had in his “Trapper Keeper.” No one ever listens to him, so she was perfect for him to talk to. Everyone avoided her, so she was glad someone was talking to her. Being only a few months older than her, Alex looked at her as his little sister from the beginning because he always wanted one. That day, she was locked to his side as they exited the bus. At lunch, she sat with him and after school he waited for her to come out. Seeing him, she rushed to him immediately. On that ride to and from school, they formed a relationship that would offer them protection from others and themselves.
The night has progressed as normal. Walking through the living area to the kitchen, flashes of Mr. Theo talking to her at the table, feeding her his wisdom are there clear as day. Mr. Theo was the only person they knew as a father. He took them in as kids and loved them as his own. At the back window, she can see Alex in his black college pull over, swinging the ax to chop those big logs that sat along the back of the house for years. The old white door opens with a hard tug, and shuts even rougher, shaking the pull down blind, causing it to hit the thin glass. The screen adds it’s small creak, as she walks through. “The backyard hasn’t changed much,” she says to gain his attention. The back lights glare, showing him in clear light.
The flame roars as Alex adds more wood to the fireplace. Tonya sits back in the lounge chair with her tea in hand thinking of how good the crackles from the popping wood. Alex settles into the couch, draping the small blanket across his legs and a portion of it on her feet. The darkness of the night continues to soften the mood of these two prisoners of their own lives. Each sips from their warm cup of tea that sends steam up their faces. Tonya stares at the side of his face, wondering what he’s thinking as he stares into the fireplace. Alex slowly turns to look at Tonya, obviously wanting to say something, but unclear on how to say it. Tonya leans forward and places her cup down gently on the table. “It’s time we talked,” she says to him rather boldly. Alex places his cup down as well and waits for her to begin.
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