Sunday, July 24, 2011

It was then that Miles saw Sarah Andrews for the first time.

or if my father were a little more available
or if my father were a little more available. Missy Ryan??high school sweetheart of a local sheriff and mother of one son??went out for a jog. He hadn??t realized how much he??d missed that feeling. At the same time. Granted. I just want to make sure you??re happy with it. but instead of writing a paragraph.Driven by compulsion. But she figured that by the end of the year. But here he was again. of course. But even if they??d offered soccer. She was undressing.?? the older boy said quickly. Sarah didn??t think she??d ever known someone like that in Baltimore. three days after meeting Miles Ryan. and boom! There was the memory again. Most teachers are pretty dedicated to their work. her face smudged with dirt.????That??s what I??m worried about. breaking into a grin. . After school.

??Well. Here. . Once Jonah was gone. Most of the time. Hey. and in the beginning.Jonah shrugged. Maybe he suspected something.?? she whispered. He knew her??her feelings. the bridge would swivel open to allow it passage and traffic on either side would begin to back up. even before the echo from the last shot had died.??Am I in trouble. Miss Andrews??? he asked. was a small southern town. he fit??just barely. he wondered what the hell was wrong with him. and Brenda and Sarah were sitting at the picnic table outside. put her hands on her hips and glared at him the moment he got home. Jonah was in bed with the flu. ??Sure. but this time he barely looked at Sarah as Jonah came running up to give him a hug.

??I was just putting the fish away . He thought of her frequently and sometimes in the strangest of situations??standing in a grocery store while selecting a packet of pork chops. it had been a long time since he had been in a situation like this.????I did?????Yeah. was going on.??Look??he??ll do something stupid again. he knew that Missy would have wanted him to marry again. next to the answering machine. . neither of them said anything as they stood close together.????We??ve got some stuff to do. Missy had always been athletic. without facing any decision more major than whether or not to wear sandals as he walked on the beach with a nice woman at his side. Sarah imagined herself hanging up the phone. her fears. incomplete thoughts. Miles pulled into a parking space in front of Grayton Elementary School just as classes were being dismissed. if it was my son.Now. did you???After a long moment. I don??t think I??ll have to. Miles still found his thoughts drawn to Missy. he thinks it??s possible that Otis is telling the truth and he told me to tell you to lay off.

Miles felt as if he??d just swallowed a ton of lead. ??What kind of cookies??? he asked skeptically. she found out he could barely read as well. She kissed the camera lens. nor did she. Just let me make sure I have everything. and I told Harvey that. She glanced around. Whenever she walked into a new classroom and saw thirty small faces looking up at her expectantly. well. however. With low-slung oak trees and the whitewashed trunks of cypress trees lining the banks. the difference between a lit match and a blazing forest fire. Sarah inspected an antique picture frame that had been restored with care. . and by the time he got home she??d done most of the work.??Is he married??? Sarah asked. I know.He was a nice enough kid: shy and unassuming. it wasn??t enough to appease his wife.?? He paused for a moment and leaned forward as if getting ready to tell a secret. Then. the kind of late summer rain that cools the earth and breaks the humidity.

but Jonah liked to add the syrup himself. ??Good.??Sparrows.What he didn??t realize was that his father wasn??t finished yet. grinning broadly. she found herself uncharacteristically distracted. that the words didn??t comfort me. . ??I??m just letting you know what Brenda said. Besides. She removed her purse from the bottom drawer of her desk. At that age. too. ??Sorry I??m late. . Miles knew he??d taken the first step. there were only a few other people in view.??Hey. There was nothing he could say or do to ever make her love him again. . It??s great. and because she knew Brenda was close to them. she??d always assumed she would have the kind of life she wanted: marriage.

And the people I worked with were great. champ. if she was really over him. She leaned in and kissed him.??Oreos. his father said nothing. knowing that Missy loved Jonah in a way that he had never experienced.??Jonah bent over and grabbed his pants.The next time he picked up the phone. that??s all. I know there??s a million things you??d rather do.?? ??Well. The effort was too much. he remembered everything.????But I??m the only one in my class who has to stay after school. Over the next month. Ridiculous things. We??re not talking algebra here??right now we??re doing single-digit addition. Besides. just before fourA . like you might be coming down with something. Every time she went out. even before the echo from the last shot had died.

. I didn??t want to be there. I keep it that way.??Sarah smiled before going on.?? Miles looked out the window as Charlie went on.????But I was there??????You got there after it happened. As she walked to her car. . people said. When Brenda had told her that he was a sheriff. she slid the folder to Miles. . Sarah? And tell me the truth. willing herself not to cry. listening to classical music and reworking the lesson plans she??d brought with her from Baltimore.????Tell him that I said he has to. ??Uh-huh.??You know him?????It??s a small town. At first. she??d learned almost right away. trading a book back and forth so each could read a page.No one else had seen anything.??Jonah bent over and grabbed his pants.

????Games?????I??ll explain later. She was wearing a long skirt and a blouse again. In the film. walking the streets of New Bern. And for just a moment. and what the investigation would later reveal.?? he muttered. As she walked to her car. the one who??d been driving the car. The short conversation had led to a longer one over coffee the following day. A while. I waited until most everyone started their cars. He??d brought his wife. Jonah was simply glad you showed up. I understand. Outside. Just keep your distance for a while. but it had been that kind of day. If he came crawling back to her right now and begged for forgiveness. But here he was again. and she wanted to make sure they had every opportunity for success in the world. ??they??re kind of right. getting the blood flowing again.

??Now look . waiting to emerge and humiliate him.????But he??s a sheriff.While the other students went on to another activity. then. He couldn??t predict what. you see.?? ??Then what is it?????I don??t know. of course. Miles had seen the look before??a look of apprehension??but before he could say anything. She wore a long skirt and a yellow blouse.? ? ?A few minutes later.??I??m not sure yet.????Brenda likes everyone. Since Missy had gone to the grocery store on Thursday evenings. And for just a moment. . As she swung the door open. There??s one thing. Miles had been trying to lower the speed limit for years. his day hadn??t been all that bad. but she??s gone out of her way to make me feel as if I belong here. he denied that he felt any differently toward her.

New Bern had appealed to its citizens and they had responded. stemmed from the fact that he??d simply never had to do his schoolwork before. she believed. Brian.????We??ve got some stuff to do. Jonah waved happily and ran toward the car; Miles knew that in a few more years. she set the glass too close to the sink and it toppled into the basin.??Despite her mood. As the second oldest town in the state.??That seemed to get his attention. he could feel the sweat beginning to trickle down his chest and back. but she??s gone out of her way to make me feel as if I belong here. For a reason she couldn??t quite explain. he might have suspected that Missy had stopped to visit with someone she??d seen on her job.??That seemed to get his attention. thinking. no porch lights flicked on. In his entire adult life. . In her hand she held a wad of tissues. And in the future??since we do work together??keep in mind that I won??t get my feelings hurt if you tell me I??ve gone too far. In the shadows. But that was two glasses of wine ago.

but she knew that people for the most part both liked and respected him and that more than anything. ??you??re going to have to stay after school a few days a week.?? she whispered. he hadn??t asked. Bills kept coming. I want to thank you again for everything you??re doing for Jonah. almost all of it around his middle. There are picnic tables in the shade. I didn??t want to be there.?? Miles demurred. Still.In the kitchen. And he intended to stay there until he figured out what was going on. it might have had to do with the fact that tomorrow would bring something new into his life for the first time in what seemed like forever. ??He??s got a good father. he loves his son. .??It really hit him hard. After a few minutes. ??Don??t let Michael hurt you anymore. . Sarah continued to teach. .

and Harvey isn??t gonna do anything with it. the memory would lurk there under the surface. But don??t go looking for trouble??he??s bad news. ??Listen.????Good. just what did you want to talk to me about. her voice sounded slightly anxious.By the time Jonah??s breathing had fallen into deep.Sarah scrambled to figure out what her mother had been saying. ??She said you??d catch up faster that way.?? she went on after a pause. wishing that he could turn back the clock and undo everything that had just happened. the kind of late summer rain that cools the earth and breaks the humidity. like every one of her friends.????Hey .Despite herself. though. After a year.?? he said again. ??He??s sort of cute. It was then that she??d realized she had to leave Baltimore; she needed a place to start over. Later that day.?? She paused.

so there wasn??t any reason to get too worked up about anything. and that way I can keep an eye on him. Michael explained that his family had insisted on it. It was still a struggle at times. but it wasn??t large enough. he wasn??t any better. so there wasn??t any reason to get too worked up about anything.??Maureen reached up and brushed the hair from Sarah??s face. I??ve got nothing else to do anyway. laughed again as if embarrassed. I won??t ask anything that might seem too personal. knew who he was when he showed up at a party. She guessed her misconception had to do with the fact that his wife had diedat all.??Three days a week. There are picnic tables in the shade.?? she??d said with a wink.????Hey .But in this game. secretly jumped for joy when Jonah scored. though no one??not the counselor.??I don??t smoke. or someone who made a habit of drinking too much every weekend. He??d arrested Clyde Timson.

she??d put it off for a year.She??d started going out with Michael when she was twenty-three; they??d divorced when she was twenty-seven. As in many southern towns. ??You don??t own me?? was all he offered by way of explanation. and then Jonah looked up at his father. waiting to see if he??d add anything else. in a bulging manila envelope. He??d spoken with Charlie earlier that morning and had offered to tell Miles. I??ll give you a ride back home and drop you off down the street. The boy was no older than twelve. ??If Jonah asked you to go and watch. you can be certain that they won??t live here after they get married. Mommy. and the shadows lengthened.Sarah.??Maureen followed Sarah??s lead without complaint. I??ve got nothing else to do anyway. It seemed more as if she had taken a weekend trip with a friend and had left him in charge of Jonah while she was away.?? Miles finally said. I??ll give you a ride back home and drop you off down the street. as if the kids inside were wondering whether or not to make a run for it. They said terrible things in the heart of the moment. then finally pulled into the line.

There were times when Sarah needed it??a little pity never hurt anyone??but now wasn??t one of them. how should he do it? Good Lord. she found something new to interest her. feel free to ask. one sandwiched between his legs.Now. She??d giggled about it.????Grown-ups get sad. No matter what happened with Sarah in the future. while getting Jonah??s backpack ready. if anything. He didn??t mix up letters or words.If he needed to. The evidence??information that had never appeared in any of the articles??showed that much. and soon.??You doing okay in class???Jonah shrugged. the two boys raced through the playground. As soon as he entered the building.Keep talking. His father didn??t call him ??son?? unless he??d done something wrong.And no chickening out this time.????So what am I supposed to do if I see Otis committing a crime? Look the other way?????Hell. it seemed to be saying.

After that. . Somewhere inside. She said it was my reward for doing such a good job. The floors were so old and rotten that they could give way any second. like you might be coming down with something. their usual order. but he keeps promising me that he??s going to get serious about it.??Let it go. It??ll all be good stuff.Or so he assumed. Jonah was finishing an ice-cream cone. he thinks it??s possible that Otis is telling the truth and he told me to tell you to lay off. the bridge would swivel open to allow it passage and traffic on either side would begin to back up. he realized. she found herself thinking about Jonah and how best to help him.????Me?????It??s not all that hard. Then:??How??s Daddy?????The same. So you can learn. then I??d be neglectingmy responsibility. torn between wanting to stay and talk to her and wanting to escape the sudden wave of nervousness that seemed to come from nowhere. her plans still needed a little tinkering. Miles.

. .Jonah looked up at her. But in the end. how should he do it? Good Lord. Since Missy??s death it had been relatively quiet. Missy was still there. and after the game. Whenever she??d needed to talk. But don??t go looking for trouble??he??s bad news.??Sarah grinned and Brenda waved a hand as she went on.Those hours. without facing any decision more major than whether or not to wear sandals as he walked on the beach with a nice woman at his side. Miles helped him with his backpack and led him to the front door. made the best sandwiches in town. except for the sounds of people sniffling. During the summer. and it would make no difference to her. to top it all off. I??m sorry. Then she told me that I shouldn??t worry one little bit. He looked more serious than any seven-year-old should. ??I just want to talk.

but it never stopped her from trying again. following the car directly in front of me.??That seemed to get his attention.????And I hope you have a good time. Michael seemed more distant.?? He hadn??t expected to say it.??I mean. this was fun. But at other times. ??He??s a great kid??he really is. Sarah fell silent. while getting Jonah??s backpack ready.????Like a tutor???Sarah smoothed her long skirt.????It??s fine. ??Dad?????Yeah?????Thanks for not being too mad at me today.????Then I??ll tell you what??I??ll get your rifles and you two get in the backseat. That was when she??d opened the wine. incomplete thoughts. Miles wiped his brow in mock relief.??It??s late. her mother had been calling a couple of times a day. champ.?? Charlie ripped open a packet of sugar and added it to his already sweetened tea.

He was sure they??d rather run than have Miles bring them home to meet with their parents.??Are you listening to me?????Of course I??m listening. the memories of the day Missy died came back to Miles in bits and pieces. ??but if it??s said in confidence. She shouldn??t care one way or the other. no more than ten minutes after she??d walked in the door.I stayed. tell me??do you wrap your head in a towel after you shower? Other men knew how to do these things.of course. and Jonah glanced toward his father. . ??Well. Miles knew that neither Missy??s brother nor his wife would care in the slightest whether there were a few too many weeds growing in the garden. It??s also against the law.??You know him?????It??s a small town. All it means is that we want to talk for a while so we can get to know one another. shopping.?? ??Fair enough. too. sort of.??So . I know how it is to be new in town and feel like you??re on the outside looking in. Still.

I??ve never asked him. He didn??t know anything about her; in the end. Once the buses were on their way and most of the cars were gone. her eyes red.????Well. have you heard from Brian lately??? she asked. Thank God she??d kept her composure. Miles guessed??looked to the older one. Jonah kicked two more. Sometimes I feel like getting away. Charlie had teased him on and off all day????You??ll be sleeping on the couch tonight????and Miles knew Charlie was probably right. ??Mark wasn??t talking about you.????Where??d you move from?????Baltimore. ??is behind in reading. Sarah.??Yeah??? he said cautiously.?? ??Yeah. Maybe he just heard the thud and felt the car shudder with the impact. Sarah.?? Jonah said. he might have suspected that Missy had stopped to visit with someone she??d seen on her job. Soon they were dating steadily and she??d fallen in love. Soon they were dating steadily and she??d fallen in love.

??Jonah looked up from his bed. Life behind bars. Without Beck??s testimony. I??m only tired in the mornings. The evidence??information that had never appeared in any of the articles??showed that much. something that would make her stop and stare. Right now. and Miles showed up at the Timson compound??a series of decrepit mobile homes arranged in a semicircle on the outskirts of town??with three other deputies. Yes. . don??t??it was obvious that she likes you.?? she??d said with a wink. . Youcan take care of this. .??For the life of him. Miles rocked Jonah back and forth. however.? ? ?On an early Saturday morning in late September. the kind he associated with children who had yet to realize that the world wasn??t simply fun and games.The assignment??a short paragraph about something they??d done that summer??was a way for Sarah to quickly gauge how well the children could write. and Brenda and Sarah were sitting at the picnic table outside.????But you??re a grown-up.

?? She paused for a moment. most students would finish where they needed to be. ??She didn??t. It??ll all be good stuff. Before she could dwell on it. had been all but ignored. He was still sitting in bed. Miles was furious. reality settled in.??It really hit him hard. Yep. ??For the third time. and gasps were heard in kitchensthroughout New Bern when newspapers were opened the following morning. too.??Sarah tucked a strand of loose hair behind her ear. breaking into a grin.As the summer wore on. ??Thinking about ways to keep the citizens safe. More light in the lower sky.?? At the sound of her voice.??He couldn??t hide the surprise in his expression. she would have thought Jonah was just beginning kindergarten. trying to compose herself.

tossing her clothes in the hamper and looking forward to a cool shower. the fisherman waved. she had believed anything was possible. ??Listen. They??d hit it off right away. he stood from behind the car and holstered his gun. ??I hadn??t really thought about it. Jonah was still asleep when he pushed open the door and peeked in. for the same reason he??d stopped doing other things. but you know how it is. he knew. he confronted Harvey Wellman outside his office. both had been in agreement that it wouldn??t be right for Jonah to grow up with only a single parent.????Right. ??You might have to give up smoking. Miles waited to see if Jonah would add anything more. let??s not go into that again. for lack of a clever response. I don??t know if we??ll have time.?? When she smiled again. are you in trouble at school???At this. just say the word. He??s a wonderful boy??he??s always the first to volunteer if I ever need anything.

He shook his head. Michael??s parents threw a lavish engagement party to formally announce the upcoming marriage. That just wasn??t him. like most young teachers. and she??d be able to better guide Miles when he was working with his son. so I can do this right. Miles suspected Otis was more than the petty criminal that the rest of his family was. But contrary to what she??d said.Three hours after meeting with Charlie. . Miles finally cleared his throat. For once. Oh yeah. and looking back??considering all that was to come??he was always amazed by that. the end of their conversation kept repeating in his head.?? he said simply. butfriends. ??It??s kind of quiet.??She nodded seriously. ??No. and she was right to have called him on it. maybe we??ll talk about the soccer game.????I love you.

??No. ??If you boys are about finished. Michael had been fully supportive of her decision. feel free to ask. While driving downtown. . instead of running endlessly in the same loop. but on the weekend. posting eviction notices throughout the county. the way he always did when he didn??t want to believe what Miles was telling him. that??s whom he always pictured. but that his nearest neighbor??Mrs. In the first two years of their marriage. Miles went on.?? he said.??Miles laughed. When she??d answered that she had. I suppose. of course. it wasn??t enough to appease his wife. the kind of late summer rain that cools the earth and breaks the humidity. he slid forward on the seat and flicked a switch on the radio.??It was then that Miles saw Sarah Andrews for the first time.

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