Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Friendship Affair

The Friendship Affair by Linzé Brandon, blog serial
Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?

Dropping the backpack, Stephanie stepped over rocks right up to the edge as far as she dared. Then looked down.
She had to sit. Her mind was incapable of comprehending what she saw.
“Amazing, isn't it?”
Gasping she slipped from the rock holding her hand to her heart.
He had steadied her before she reached the ground.
He sat next to her.
“Sorry, didn't mean to scare you.”
She looked back at the waterfall dropping into the whirlpool below.
“Is this thing for real?”
She had to shout to make herself heard, even though he was sitting with his shoulder touching hers.
He grinned and nodded.
The water was deafening and yet she felt as if she could just sit there. Sit and listen to the forces of nature. Sit and watch the destruction taking place right before her eyes.
She looked up. The tree canopy was dense, and she could hardly make out the cloudy sky between the foliage.
“Where does the water come from and go?”
He got up and helped her to her feet.
He collected her backpack and started back into the direction of the cottage. At least, that was where she thought they were going. Her mobile was in the pack.
“There is an underground river that runs the length of the city.,” he replied once they were away from the noise. “This is the only place where it runs above ground. It is dangerous, and you shouldn't come here alone.”
She frowned at him. “You were alone. Doesn't make it less dangerous to you.”
He stopped and turned around. “You are right, but I grew up here. I know there is a gorge, not visible because of the plants, not far from where you sat, that drops straight down into the water below. If you stepped into that, you would have died.”
She paled. “You are right. I am sorry.”
She looked over her shoulder. From this angle, she could see a rusted metal grid between the rocks on the opposite side.
She pointed at it. “What about that?”
He sighed. “It wears away. Replacing it has become too dangerous and costly.”
“Shouldn't there be warning signs or something?”
He looked grim. “There were. People still ignored them.”
“How many?” she whispered sensing that this place haunted him somehow.
He abruptly turned and started walking again.
Since he didn't use the path she had, she rushed after him.
When they reached the cottage, they had exited the trees not far from she had entered, he kept on walking.
“Please wait.”
He stopped but didn't turn around.
“I am sorry,” she whispered.
She came closer and touched his arm. “Because this place is very personal to you.” She pointed in the direction of the waterfall. “And something happened there to make the memories painful.”
He nodded. “You're right. Three teenage boys ignored the signs and fell into the gorge. Two of the guys working with my dad saw what happened and went after them. They all drowned. The bodies were never found.”
“And they blamed your father?”
He took a deep breath. “Yeah. There was nothing anyone could have done, but the families of the boys blamed my dad because their children did something stupid and died. It was the last time he ever came here.”
She held her tongue and followed him back to her car.
He handed her the pack and watched her put it in the trunk.
“Don't go there again, please.”
She reached up and cupped his cheek. “I won't. You have my word.”
She stepped closer and hugged him as hard as she could. He only hesitated a moment before his arms enclosed her smaller frame.

He stepped back. “You're shivering. Please go home and take a warm shower before you get sick.”
She stepped closer once more and put her hand on his chest. His heart was still racing.
“Come with me.”
He closed his eyes for a long moment. When he looked at her, there was a heat there that had nothing to do with fear. “Are you sure?”

She smiled and stood on tiptoe to give him a soft kiss. “Yes. I am sure.”

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