Laura dropped her towel on the nearest rock and dove into the river. The day had been so hot and lazy even the bees flew in a dizzying zig zag. She swam with the current as far up river as she could, delighting in the cool strokes of the water on her body. When she was too exhausted to swim further she climbed out, taking the long walk back to her starting point.
She inhaled the heady scent of some hyacinths her aunt Ruby had planted years before. She said she wanted people to remember how precious life was before she herself lost her battle with cancer. Breathing in the beauty of this sacred place she cherished and recalling Ruby gave Laura even more resolve to stop feeling sorry for herself and to get over Danny once and for all. Overhead the sky was a vast expanse of the brightest blue, as if millions forget-me-nots had been spread across the heavens. It was the sort of sky that consumed you completely, mesmerizing you if you gazed into its depth for too long. Danny’s eyes were like that, she thought, an endless blue that swallowed her entirely. Her life and heart had never been the same after that day in Nutty’s barn. After two years he was coming back to retrieve an old sculpture he hadn’t finished, at least that’s what he told Edna. Laura thought about how he must have felt that day in Morrison’s cornfield when she didn’t show. If he was bringing back his sophisticated New York wife to hurt her, he already had. The thought of him making love to another woman was like a knife in her heart. Edna had phoned her that morning to say she’d bumped into him in Jasper at the gas station. Apparently he’d done quite well for himself in New York because he was filling up an impressive looking navy blue Mercedes. But before Edna had the opportunity to plunge the conversation into the murky water of too much detail about Danny’s beautiful wife, Laura slid a lie through her teeth and into Edna’s ear, telling her that there was a knock at the door.
When she hung up the phone her hands were shaking, not unlike the day he begged her to go with him. Now all she could do was fall prostrate on the kitchen floor and weep. When she had finally cried herself dry, she changed into a bathing suit. She felt a need to wash it all away in the one place that contained the residue of their love; the Jasper River. And now that she was here it had been the right decision. Her cool body felt lithe and strong, her heart not as fragile as it was earlier. when she passed a grove of wild Crab Apple trees, she noticed a shoe protruding from behind the rock where she’d laid her towel. Laura suddenly felt vulnerable out here alone and a wave of panic swept over her making her heart race and her breath quicken. It had never occurred to her before that coming out here alone could dangerous. Nothing ever happened in Jasper or the out lying area, nothing except for the odd drunken brawl at the roadhouse. Everyone knew everyone else and that knowing included private business. Just as she was thinking she was being foolish, the shoe disappeared and not long afterward the body attached to it stood in full view. It was Danny. “Well now, imagine running in to you here Laura Jane.”