Nymph of the Wood
Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne
I left a message with our receptionist that I would be gone for the rest of the day. I hurried to my car and then sped off down the road. While I was traveling down the freeway, a car pulled up alongside me and the male driver motioned for me to slow down. I didn't pay him any mind and kept on driving.
He pulled up alongside me again and repeated the same gesture. Once again I kept on driving. The third time he pulled up, he lifted up a State Trooper's hat from off the seat next to him. I hit the brakes like a deer had just jumped across the road. I heard his engine roar to life as he sped away. Evidently he had more pressing business than me to take care of.
A million thoughts ran through my mind. What if Christine had taken a turn for the worst? What if she had stopped breathing? How would I respond if she was awake? What if she didn't want to see me and asked me to leave? What if she was happy to see me?
I parked my car and ran to the hospital; sprinting past the person at the front desk. I didn't wait for the elevator. I took the stairs. As I approached the nurses' desk, I slowed my pace. I had no idea of what would be waiting for me around the corner. I could see that the room was full of medical personnel.
Christine's mother spotted me and motioned to the medical people to let me through. When I finally looked upon my wife, I was shocked. She was awake! She looked great! She looked my way.
I saw a strange look flutter across her face. Then there was a pause. Suddenly her face broke out into a huge smile. It was a smile that I had not witnessed for many years. Her arms came up and she reached for me.
I made my way to her bedside. She pulled me close and hugged me tight. She held me like she would never let me go. I responded in kind and hugged her also. We held our embrace for a very long time.
Finally, Christine whispered in my ear. "I am yours. I will never again let you go. I love you." Tears ran down my cheeks. I could not believe what I was hearing. My throat suddenly became dry. I choked out the words, "I love you too."
The doctor interrupted and said that they had some tests that they needed to run. I stepped back to allow them to continue. All the while, I kept my eyes on my wife. Her eyes never wavered from my face. In the short space that kept us apart, the airwaves were telegraphing messages that I had waited so long to hear.
Eventually, the initial excitement died down and the medical personnel began to drift out of the room. I soon found myself alone with Christine and her mom. Her mom told me that she had been by her side when her eyes had begun to flutter. It was at that point that she had called me on my cell.
Gwen said she would leave us alone and then turned and left the room. I moved to my wife's side and held her hand. She looked at me with those beautiful eyes and said these words.
"While I was pinned in the car, I thought about my life. It all seemed to suddenly be so shallow. I had actually been having those thoughts for several months before the crash. I couldn't move. I was trapped. I yearned to be out in a grassy field, with nothing around me for miles. I was terrorized and so afraid I was going to die."
"The next thing I remember was hearing your voice. It was a distant voice, but I could tell that it was yours. You told me all these wonderful stories about the woods, the rivers, and the lakes. You made them sound so wonderful and free. You made me want to be there with you. It seemed like you never left my side. The only thing I remember was your voice. It became the one thing that I longed for every day."
I could not see clearly because of the tears that had flooded my eyes. Christine reached up and wiped several drops off my cheeks.
Once again she spoke those words, "I will never let you go." Then she continued, "As soon as I am able, I want you to take me out in your boat. I want to bike with you. I want to feel the breeze as it gently blows across my face. I want to kiss you on a moonlit night."
I could scarcely contain myself. I figured that she might be delirious and was just speaking in the moment. But when I looked into her eyes, I saw clarity. She had a gash that was healing nicely above her left eyebrow. Her face still showed some discoloration and swelling. In spite of those things, she looked wonderful to me.
We sat and talked for the next few hours. She would repeat a story and then ask me if she got it right. I was amazed at the detail that she remembered. Attendants came and went, but we continued to talk whenever we were able.
Late in the evening, I was told that she needed to get some sleep. They said I could sleep in the chair, but Christine insisted that I go home and get a good night's sleep. She did ask however, that I return as soon as I could the next morning.
The next few days were some of the best that we had ever spent together. It was like we were infatuated teens. I could not think of anything other than my wife. She hated when I had to leave. She beamed with happiness when I walked into the room. One day I told her that I had to leave early in order to get the house ready for her return.
I moved all of my things out of the house I had been renting. I made some adjustments to our house so that it would be more wheel chair accessible. I cleaned it up as best I could.
The day finally arrived when I could take her home. We were both so very happy. It seemed like it took forever for the doctors to release her. I was beside myself when I was finally told that I could go and get the car. With great anticipation, I picked Christine up by the front door. She was finally mine.
As we drove home, Christine put her hand on top of mine as it rested on the shifter. "I meant what I said," were the words that she spoke. "I am going to become your best friend and partner." I glanced her way and could see that she meant it.
I lovingly took care of her for the next few weeks. It didn't seem like work at all. Instead, it seemed like an honor. I responded to her ever beck and call. I made her special treats and desserts. But best of all, we talked. We talked like we never had talked before.
One day, after she had graduated to a mobile cast, she told me that she wanted to go out in a boat. She said that it had to be a rowboat and we had to pack a picnic lunch. I told her that I would make the arrangements over the next couple of days.
It took some searching, but I finally located a place that rented wooden row boats. From what I could see, it looked like it was a very quaint place. I picked out a small umbrella and a seat cushion for our adventure. Then I set about preparing for our lunch. I picked out a very fine wine. I ordered some bread that I intended to pick up just before our trip. I picked out premium deli cut pieces of meat and cheese. I also picked out a nice tray of fruit and planned on picking up a few pastries when I picked up the bread.
I figured I would pack everything into an old wicker picnic basket that I had bought long ago. I also packed a blanket for lying on the grass. I asked Christine if she would wear a white dress for the occasion.
The big day came for our first adventure together. I wheeled Christine out to the car and got her situated. I stashed the supplies in the car and stopped by the bakery to pick up the bread. Christine commented on how good it smelled as we drove to the lake.
I was a little disappointed to see some clouds in the sky, but I decided that I wasn't going to let that ruin our day. I was very pleased when I finally located the hobby farm where I could rent the boat.
The lake was situated in a small valley. Trees lined the shoreline around most of the lake. A very nice looking Tudor manor was located to the left of the drive. It looked like it would be a very nice place to visit on a future trip.
I stopped by the office and took care of the finances for the boat. I was told that I could pick any of the boats that I wanted. The person at the desk said that business was slow because it was the middle of the week.
As I drove down by the dock, I could see the anticipation grow on Christine's face. Tied up in a row were about a half dozen wooden boats. Each one was painted a bright color. One was all blue. Another was all red. Another boat was green. It made for a very colorful display.
I parked the car and wheeled her down by the boats. I asked Christine which color she would like. "I think I'll choose the blue one," was her reply. I helped her out of the chair and gently guided her onto her seat.
She was magnificent. One of my most cherished dreams was about to come true. Her face had returned to that of the beauty that I had always known. The only blemish was a small scar above her eye. I loved it and told her that she could keep it and not have it corrected, if she wished. As I looked upon her, I saw much more than her beauty. I saw a woman that I loved with all my heart.
Her body was covered by a flowing white dress. It displayed her femininity in such a delicate way. Her feet were adorned by a pair of open toed sandals and they looked very lovely. I had a hard time believing that this occasion was really happening. I waited for some comment about the cloudy weather, or the hardness of the seat, or a slight chill in the air; but nothing came.
The most amazing change in Christine was her face. It was so soft looking. I noticed no set of the jaw because of pressing things that she was planning to do. She was relaxed. When she saw me looking at her, I saw a smile form and her lips puckered. It was time for a kiss.
I loaded our supplies into the boat and shoved off. I slowly began to row around the lake. I watched Christine's face as I rowed. It was very evident that she was enjoying herself. "It's just like you described it when you told me your stories," she commented. "I love it!"
It was hard for me to believe. What incredible change had occurred in this woman's mind? Had she really had an opportunity to look back over her life? Had she really been repelled by what she saw? Was this just a temporary change? Would she eventually revert to the person that I had come to know so well?
While I was rowing the boat, I decided that it didn't really matter. I was determined to enjoy that special time to the max. No matter what might happen in the future, I would have that memory to cherish forever. From what I had learned, memories become our most treasured possessions.
I was surprised when I saw that the shoreline curved and exposed a narrow channel which disappeared amongst some trees. "Let's go explore," my wife exclaimed. I gave a pull on the oar and headed us in that direction. The channel was lined by tall grasses. Lily pads dotted the surface of the water. In some places, yellow flowers were on display. I thought I saw the shadow of a few small bass hiding amongst the pads. My wife commented on how incredibly beautiful it was.
"You did really well in describing the beauty, but it's even more wonderful than words can tell. I can't believe I have been missing out on this for most of my life." Those were such unusual words to hear coming from Christine's mouth.