Anita sat back; she was tired but she still smiled as she remembered. Today was an anniversary of sorts. Thirty-one years ago today she was reborn. She remembered the woman she had been, fondly. Actually, if she had not been the woman she was then, she would not be the woman she was today.
With a quiet chuckle Anita stood up and approached the bed where the object of her remembrances lay sleeping. She laid a gentle hand on his brow and he stirred for just a moment. But his breathing was deep, he would not wake for some time yet. So she sat back down and once again remembered.
‘John cupped her face in his hand, her beautiful face. She wore no make-up; she didn’t need any. There was no artifice to her. Everything she felt showed on her face. Right now, it showed her dismay at alarming people and something else. John wondered what she was thinking, feeling. He took her elbow and helped her to stand.’
It was at that moment that the woman, who used to be known as Anna, knew her destiny. This man was her future. She once swore that she would never allow another man to get too close to her heart. But John had sneaked in under her radar. And she was glad. John too was having an epiphany. As he helped her to stand, he could feel the weight of her heart in his hands. John knew that his future rested with this woman.
Anita sighed and shook her head. It had all happened so quickly. Without a word the two had gripped hands and decided to leave together. The woman who was Anna had never considered herself spontaneous. But here in the blink of an eye she was running away from a life that she had, with a man that she barely knew. But her heart was full and her conscience was clear. John too was leaving behind nothing that meant anything to him. He was not running away from life, he was running to it and taking with him all that had meaning.
All those years ago John had already been planning his escape. He loved the park, he really did, but he could never escape who he really was. Jonathan Edward Bellamy III was a curse, an albatross that John wore around his neck. So to that end, John had been preparing for his escape for many months. Money had been secreted away, a temporary hideaway had been prepared, and all that was still needed was a push. Anna provided the final reason. So, the two left the park quietly in a canoe that John kept in Smugglers Cove.
Anita’s eyes flew open; she had heard a noise from the bed.
“John? John?” The concern in her voice was evident, but there was no response from the object of her concern. She felt his brow and it was cool, not fevered as it had been for several days. Anita was sure the danger had now passed. She wanted to weep as a release for her pent-up fears. She had been so afraid she was going to lose him: this man she had loved for thirty-one years.
“Woman, you are starting to annoy me!” The voice was gruff but the eyes still twinkled with love and with humour.
“The Doctor said you were to take it . . . “
“The Doctor can take his advice and . . .”
“John! Don’t you dare finish that sentence!”
On one side of the room was a slight, red haired lady with her hands firmly planted on her hips and a scowl on her face. On the other side of the room was a tall, pale man who was still recovering from a recent illness. The battle of wills was about to be waged and there was little doubt as to the victor.
“Okay, okay, you win! I promise to avoid marathons and mountain climbing for at least a month. Just remove the scowl from that beautiful face, please?”
“John. . .” Anita spoke lowly and crossed the room to put her arms around her patient. “I was so very afraid; I can’t lose you.”
John raised his arms and encircled his beloved. “You will never lose me.”
Later that night Anita once again thought through all the years they had been together.
It hadn’t always been easy but the one thing they never lost sight of was each other. That first night in the canoe had been amusing. They were acting like high school students, running away. It was a bit tricky canoeing with a cane and she would not give up her laptop computer, but they managed. They only had to go a few miles by canoe and in some ways, it was quite exciting. Well, except for the almost drowning incident. And of course, they had met Samson. He was her constant companion for many years.
She never regretted what she had done. She did always wonder what everyone thought about the two of them. They slept for the first night in an old rundown cottage that someone had left unlocked. Or perhaps John was just good at breaking and entering, she didn’t ask. It had taken them almost a week of traveling to finally reach their hideaway. John had planned well. There was a vehicle, there was food, and there was a place to sleep. Of course, he had only planned on one person on the run not two, but they made do.
Perhaps the first month was the most difficult. They had to discover each other and had to come to terms with the lives they had left behind. Anita felt that she had not left anything important behind but she thought John had. After all he came from a family with money and position, how you give that up? But John thought about it differently. He hated who he had been and by definition the people who had forced him to be that person. But he had prepared well. They chose new identities and set about planning their life together. But there was always one thing in the back in Anita’s mind: returning to Smugglers Cove.
The money John had saved only lasted a few months but both were prepared to work to support their new lives. Perhaps it was nostalgia, perhaps it was guilt but Anita chose to write children’s stories that were quite successful. John once again took a position in an out of the way park. They had what they needed in life and they had each other. It was a good life.
‘He saw clearly in the sand the imprint of a man’s feet and right beside them a smaller pair: a woman’s. He looked out into darkness, they were here . . . again.’