TIME LESS part 1


Intro to TIME LESS

He kissed me again passionately and smiled in a way that touched my soul. Looking into the eyes of my soul mate, I  still cannot believe how we got to this moment, but I  never wanted it to end.   The journey was strange and scary and exciting all rolled into one. It all seems so long ago and yet, somehow still feels like it was yesterday. I have to share my story with you. If I had not lived through it myself, I  would not believe a word of it as truth, but I swear to the universe, it happened.  

TIME LESS PART 1(first draft)

6:35 am Saturday Morning

"Ok, I'll see you when you get here, Your Uncle Tyler and I are heading into town to pick up a few things. It has been a long time since we have seen you Celestina. We can't wait." Aunt Rebekah says before hanging up the phone. Walking around the apartment gathering last minute items to pack, I stopped at the window. It was a gorgeous September day. I couldn't wait to get on the road.

I clicked end call on my cell and tossed my phone in my purse. I'm getting ready to head out to the country for 4 weeks. I just finished my 3rd year in college and it was rough.I took a few extra classes during the summer so I could start in the Winter session in November. I needed to get away from this city and relax. After stuffing my bag to capacity I lugged it down the stairs and tossed it in the trunk of my not so new VW convertible. I put the top down and as an afterthought, ran back upstairs to get my breakout bag. You never know. I want to be prepared in case there is every a zombie apocalypse or we go dark.  I know what you're thinking, too much Walking Dead. But I would still rather be prepared than the one without anything. #Zombiebate   I was on the cross country team in high school and swim team in college so I was in shape and had endurance. #doublethreat 

It's early in the morning, 7 AM to be exact and I have a 16 hour trip ahead of me. I should be pulling up in Aunt Rebekah's driveway right before midnight.  I had driven there before,  but it had been a long while ago and I was accompanied by friends last time. Schooled out, partied out, studied out, stressed out ... I wanted out of this grind just for a little while.  Oh and don't worry, I wasn't running away from a relationship or scandal. I am a pretty normal, happy kind of girl.

I am going to veg out, eat home cooked meals, get some fresh country air and maybe even put on a few pounds. I grinned like a fool as I pulled away from my dorm. Traffic was light. Most people were still sleeping off Friday night's partying. I turned up the radio and sung along as I headed towards the interstate. Around noon I stopped for gas, a quick bite and to stretch at a rest stop area. There were plenty of road weary travelers passing through this rest stop.  I sat outside in the shady park, turned my face to the sky and enjoyed the sunlight on my skin. The birds above me were chirping happily as they flitted from branch to branch. A pair of  squirrels were running from tree to tree and being fed by the children next to a huge RV.  Yep, it was a perfect day. 

Getting back in my car. I considered putting the top up but figured I'd wait until early evening since the weather was gorgeous.  The asphalt miles disappeared behind me as I got closer to my destination. Afternoon was turning to evening and it looked like there may be a bit of rain up ahead. After a few more miles I turned into a gas station and put the top up. I did not want to chance getting stuck in the rain in the dark trying to pull it up last minute. I treated myself to a Dove ice cream bar from the attached convenience store before restarting my journey and got some beef jerky for protein and a coconut water. I also checked in with my aunt and uncle to let them know my progress.

Soon the roads were just two lanes and thick forest were on either side of me. A bright full moon had replaced the sun and the darkness was almost tangible. I had silently wished I would have started my trip earlier so I would not be passing through here in the dark. It always gave me the willies. There was also very little traffic at this time of night.

I was only about 10 minutes away from my aunt and uncle's when my right front tire ran over something in the road and blew out with a loud bang. I let loose a loud scream as I temporarily lost control of the car and over corrected.  Somehow, I managed to avoid plowing into any trees when I ran off the road.  My heart was pounding and my ears were ringing from the tire exploding. I sat in the car, visibly shaken. A lone tear escaped and rolled down my cheek. I angrily dashed it away.  After a couple of minutes of deep breaths I steadied myself, grabbed my cellphone, unhooked my seat belt and got out of the car.

11:43 pm  Saturday
I made my way around the car checking with the cellphone's flashlight app to see what damage was done.  Well, the tire was definitely flat. I tried calling my aunt and uncle but was not getting any signal. I decided I was close enough to hoof it the rest of the way. No sense in worrying them. Besides my cross country training prepared me for moments like this. I grabbed my break out bag and started walking. A few times I thought I heard something in the woods but I did not see anything and just chalked it up to nerves.

Right when I got to the beginning of the driveway I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Adrenaline raced through my system and I sprinted across the street and down the long driveway. As soon as I got close to the house, the motion lights came on flooding the yard with light. However I did not stop running. I hurtled up on the porch totally skipping the 4 stairs and crashed unceremoniously into the screen door. I could see my aunt and uncle sitting in the living room watching the end of the nightly news. They both turned their head at the sound, my uncle's hand going to the side of his rocker where I knew he kept a shotgun.

"Hey Auntie." I said, my face flushed. I managed a look back but the well-lit yard was eerily still and uninhabited. No one was chasing me. I had managed to freak myself out like I did back when I was 12, over nothing. My aunt got up and undid the latch and opened the door for me.

"I didn't hear your car come up in the yard" she said hugging me and kissing my cheek. I hugged her back.

"I had a flat just up the road and walked the rest of the way" I answered

"Why on earth didn't you call us? Anything could have happened to you with all these woods out here." she said, worry in her tone

"I tried, no signal" I said holding up my phone

Aunt Rebekah shook her head and mumbled something about technology not being worth two cents. I shuffled past my aunt to give my uncle a hug as he placed the gun back where it was.

"Uncle Tyler, have you lost weight?" I remembered I couldn't get my arms around him last time I visited.
He smiled,  obviously proud of himself " Oh just a few jelly donuts less than last time and hitting the weights a few times a week. Got a nice set out back. I'll show you tomorrow " a hearty chuckle following his words.  

"You look good.  I'll take you up on that  " I said. "Maybe we  can go for a run too." 

"Looks like you got in one already, gal. Were you trying to run through my screen door?" Uncle Tyler said and made a show of checking the hinge before closing the front door. We all laughed as I explained "I over shot the porch. That's all. I guess my legs are quite a bit longer than I  thought or your porch is smaller." 

"Gal, now if that porch shrunk, I have some swamp land to sell ya" Uncle Tyler exaggerated a country accent. Uncle Tyler was born in Mississippi but by the time he was three he was living in Washington DC.  When he married my aunt they moved to this humble little town in North Carolina. So the only thing he retained from old Miss was calling me gal sometimes. 

"Let me look at you Celestina!" My aunt puttered around me like I was a kid again. "You are all skin and bones. I bet you didn't even have a decent dinner. Come on in this kitchen so I can fix you some food." She walked in the kitchen without a backwards glance. Guess that meant I was to follow her. So I did and asked where I could wash my hands. 

"Use the half bath right through that door. Mmm hmm that's the one." She said stirring a pot on the stove. I could smell the delicious aroma as soon as she lifted the top. Brunswick stew and I know she made some sweet cornbread to go with it. I hurried up and cleaned up. My mouth was watering. Yes the weight will cometh.

By 2 am after a hearty bowl of stew and cornbread and some catching up with my aunt and uncle, my stomach was full, I was freshly showered and ready to go headlong into sleep. I'm happy I am in the room that looks out over the front yard. There is a huge pecan tree with branches that reach almost to the window.  I spent many summers climbing its branches and eating pecans. I was looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and catching up with my aunt and uncle. No classes to rush off to. No papers due. I feel great. I laugh at my silly scare and drift off to sleep.

3:45 am Sunday
I'm awake. I am not sure what woke me. Its pitch black in my room.  I look over at the old alarm clock. 3:45 am

"Ugh, why am I awake?" I groan and pull the covers over my head and squeeze my eyes shut determined to go back to sleep. I am just dozing off again when the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Is someone in the room with me?  I snatched the covers down and grab my phone, stabbing at the flashlight app and shining the light all around the room.

"Hello?" I whisper into the darkness. Only silence and crickets respond.
"What is wrong with me?" I ask myself. Slightly disgusted, but even more tired, I turn off the light, put my cell phone back on the night stand and the next thing I know, it is morning.

9:00 am Sunday
I wake up to the smell of bacon and coffee saying, hello sunshine, to my nostrils! I get out of bed and stretch, smiling. Last night's crazy already a fading memory.

I went downstairs, ate a hearty breakfast of eggs, grits, bacon and homemade biscuits. Afterwards, I  helped Aunt Rebekah with the dishes and then worked out with Uncle Tyler.  After a good sweat I decided to go for a run. The fresh air felt good on my skin. Running makes me feel free and I can think clear thoughts. Besides, my car was still sitting down the road with a flat. At breakfast, Uncle Tyler said he would get it taken care of for me,he knew a guy, besides, he said he wanted an excuse to get out of the house.

Running is a great way to take in the sights on my own terms. Little had changed in the quiet country town of Blaine, North Carolina. Before long, I found a nice trail that circled the small lake. It seemed much smaller now that I was all grown up. After running it twice, I stopped and sat down on the bank to rest and just enjoy the beauty and serenity of the lake. A gently moving breeze sang through the tree leaves and rippled across the water.  Birds called happily and a family of ducks drifted on the slow current. There was a dock at the other side that didn't look as safe as it used to be. I smiled to myself as I remembered my first jump off the dock. I was scared and all of the other children were running past me jumping in. Calling me to join them from the water.

"Come on Celeste! Tina, you can do it!  Just jump. You're  missing all the fun!" Laughter and water splashing did little to sway me.  I stayed on the dock alone. The next thing I know, Billy gets out of the water and comes over to me. I knew his name but we had never spoken directly. His fiery red hair was plastered to his head and he had freckles... so many freckles, his green eyes looked like marbles. He grabbed my hand and walked me to the edge. 
"We go on three ok? Don't  worry, I won't  let you go!"Billy said

Behind me a branch snapped, yanking me from my thoughts.  My heart in my throat, I whirled around just in time to see a deer making its way through the trees. It stopped with one paw lifted. It had a beautiful set of antlers and it looked at me with green eyes. I thought that was interesting but figured it was probably just reflecting off the foliage. I held as still as I could in the awkward half twisted position I was in. After a few moments, determining I was not going to pursue, the deer continued on and came out further along the bank for a drink of water. I snapped a pic with my phone, grateful I had it with me.

Making myself comfortable again, I stretched my legs and picked up a few stones to toss in the water. I stared at the rippling waters and a sense of peace covered me. My mind wandered back to when I was 12. I was here for the summer. My brother and I were with some of the local kids and we were laughing and swimming.  I had a huge crush on Billy Franklin. Even now, remembering his smile brought a smile to my lips. His laughter was infectious.  We took turns on the tire swing and I remembered the butterflies I would get in my stomach when our hands accidentally brushed the first time. How, at the end of the summer we shared our first kiss. I wondered what happened to him. Drawing my knees up, I hugged them to my chest. The deer wandered around on the far side of the lake rooting around and alternating between drinking water and stopping to stare at me. A gentle breeze blew wrapping me up in the warmth of the south. It felt almost personal. In this solitary moment, I felt like I was home.

I sat there for a while and finally decided to brush myself off and head back to the house. I wondered if Uncle Tyler may need help with my car and I don't want him to think I am ungrateful. I jogged at a pretty steady pace back up the trail and out onto the main road. There were a few cars that honked as they passed and the drivers threw up their hands in a friendly greeting. You gotta love southern hospitality. Making it back to the yard, my little bug was parked out front with the tire changed, not a spare, but an actual tire.  I jumped the 4 stairs and this time did not ram into the screen door.

"Uncle Tyler and Aunt Rebekah, I'm back"  I yelled since I did not see them in the living room "Thanks for fixing my tire" I said as I made my way upstairs. I passed their room on the way to mine  and turned back to knock but heard giggles. I paused with my hand in the air and listened again. Gasping and taking a step back from the door it was obvious they were having a private moment.
"Ok wow, I guess they expected me to be gone longer." I dropped my hand and hurried down the hall to my room.

Once in my room, I checked my Facebook and posted the picture of the deer on Twitter and Tumblr #countryliving  I remembered that my bags were still in the car, so I headed back downstairs to get them from the trunk. 2 trips up and down the stairs later and I was sweaty and a little tired.  I decided to soak in the claw foot tub in the adjoining bathroom.  I stepped into the steaming hot water. Sliding down into the water, the bubbles hid my nakedness like a Calgon commercial. I washed myself and then lay back against the cool porcelain. Man it was heavenly.

What happened next, I can only describe as possibly a dream
I must have fallen asleep because all of a sudden I was 12 again and taking that leap with Billy into the lake. We hit the water together and we are sinking down. He is still holding my hand just like he said he would. I open my eyes and he is there smiling giving me the thumbs up and he lets go. He swims up to the surface, I float away, down to the bottom, my hand outstretched. I open my mouth to scream for help forgetting I am underwater. Water rushes in my mouth and nose. I see him swimming towards me but he is not fast enough. He is losing me. All I can see is his startling green eyes. Then everything goes black.

to be continued...

©Venis Nytes
started writing end of Sept 2015


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