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Autumn Affair

Copyright 2019 J.T. Evergreen

Published by J.T. Evergreen

at Smashwords

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Many thanks to Khris Lawrentz for his tireless proofreading.

Autumn Affair

As told by Steven Rudolph

It was an encounter so brief, one could hardly call it an affair. But the impact it had on my life, on my being, was so startling, I can honestly say my life will never be the same again. I feel so blessed this remarkable, selfless creature came into my life apparently out of nowhere, befriending me with his wisdom and love when I needed it most. He was like no one I had ever met, nor am I likely to ever meet again.

It began with a knock on my cottage door. The summer season had ended weeks earlier, but I lingered in the country, reluctant to end the peace and tranquility that only country living can offer. My life had been shattered in the spring by the untimely death of Mark, my partner of twenty-seven years. I knew the day would come but when the moment arrived, I was not prepared; no one is.

We were having dinner in the dining room which we tried to do at least once a week; candle light, linens, good china; the works. We even dressed for these occasions. It was a time to focus on each other, to be together, a subtle way of retaking our vows. I don’t remember what we were talking about except we had been laughing when he leaned back in his chair and appeared to have fallen asleep. Suddenly I was alone at the dining room table with candle light casting warm shadows on the remains of the love of my life.

The next ten days were a blur of all the things that had to be done. Friends were there to help in every way possible, but eventually they returned to their own lives. As I sat on our bed and held Mark’s bathrobe to my face and breathed in his scent, the aloneness I was left with began to weigh on me. I had to get away. I placed the robe in the box with his other clothing, sealed it and placed it in the garage for pickup by the Salvation Army. I planned to go to our cottage in the country for the summer months.

The diversion of opening the cottage and cultivating the garden was helpful. I was busy and had little time to think about what lay ahead for me. Friends came to visit, and before I knew it the leaves were turning.

When the knock on the door came, I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting anyone as everyone I knew in the area had returned to the city. I opened the door. “Hi.”

“Hello,” came a soft reply with a pleasant smile on a very handsome face.

“Can I help you?”

He just smiled, and had such a lost look on his face, I asked him if he’d like to come in and rest – a risky thing for a city dweller to do. I had to remind myself where I was; it was okay to lower one’s guard in this setting.

I took him into the garden behind the cottage and offered him refreshments. He thanked me and asked only for water to quench his thirst. We sat for a spell exchanging a few pleasantries. He told me his name was Thomas and he was on a journey but did not specify his destination. When I asked where he came from, he told me he was from a land far away but very similar to the beauty of our surroundings.

Then he asked if he might walk in the nearby woods, and would I join him? He was so calm and unassuming, I accepted without giving it a thought. We walked in silence for a while and then he asked me about my sadness. I was so surprised I tried to pass it off with, “I don’t know what you mean.”

He looked at me with kindness and smiled, “Yes, you do.”

I felt so comfortable with this stranger, I decided to be truthful, “Yes, there is sadness, so much of it I don’t know if I shall ever be rid of it.”

We stopped when we came upon five grazing deer. They stood at attention when they saw us and then continued to graze. I could not have been more surprised when they did not flee at the sight of us. The delight on Thomas’ face at the sight of these creatures warmed my heart.

“How very beautiful.” He began to move slowly toward them while I lingered behind for fear of spooking them. I could not believe how easily he moved among these magnificent beasts; they hardly stirred. He turned and beckoned for me to join him; reaching out for my hand as I approached. We stood at ease until they moved slowly away from us. I was almost giddy with the joy of the experience. It was then that I knew Thomas was unlike anyone I had ever met.

He released my hand as we continued to walk, “Tell me about your sadness, Steven.”

Reluctance was my initial reaction but I quickly changed my mind. What harm could it do? I told him about my life with Mark and his sudden and unexpected end. As I finished, I broke down into sobs with my one regret, “I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.” Thomas took me in his arms and held me until the sobbing subsided.

Then he let me go. “And what would you have said if you had had the chance to say goodbye?”

That caught me off guard. “I hardly know where to begin. I suppose I’d ask him for his forgiveness for all the stupid things I did during our time together. He was much older and never wavered in his love when I went off the rails. He was always there, steady as a rock. I would thank him for encouraging me to be who I wanted to be which I was unable to do before I met him. And how much I would miss all of the little things about him, his warmth in the middle of the night, those glances that told me all was well. His scent, his laughter. He was a merry soul and always saw the funny side of life. He made me laugh even when I did not want to laugh. There is so much more, Thomas.”

“And you think he’s not aware of this?

“I’m not sure. I certainly hope he knows.”

“Well, my friend, there is no time or space between here and the other planes of existence. Would you believe me if I told you that he is very happy with his new life, but is very concerned about your sadness.”

“Yes, I would like to believe you.”

“Did it ever occur to you that he might have the same regret in leaving you without a chance to say farewell?”

I stopped and turned to Thomas, “No, it never occurred to me. I’m so ashamed for not having thought of that. Thank you.”

Then I realized we were approaching the cottage. It was time for him to leave. We walked to the front of the cottage where I thanked him for his visit. He took my hand and looked into my eyes in a way that bespoke of a love I had never experienced from anyone other than Mark. He said nothing, smiled, and moved toward the road as I walked up the stairs. When I reached the porch, I turned to catch a last glimpse of him; he was nowhere in sight. I grabbed the porch railing to steady myself as I looked in all directions. Then I knew who it was I had entertained, and the energy I experienced from his touch. He had somehow stepped through the veil to help me. Perhaps at the request of Mark in his concern for me.

I wondered, did I just have an affaire with an angel? Perhaps I’ll never know, but I would like to believe I did. Something I shall never forget.

Until that moment, I don’t believe I had ever experienced genuine gratitude.

The sadness I brought to the cottage was gone, thanks to Thomas’ visit. I had let Mark go, to live his new life without the burden of my sadness. My love for him would never end but now there was the promise of being able to love again.

As I shuttered the cottage and prepared to leave, I paused and gazed down the country lane, “Farewell, Thomas, my heavenly friend, and thank you from the bottom of a grateful heart.”


About the Author J.T. Evergreen

OCCUPATION - Retired from the grind. Reflecting on successes, failures, and regrets. Exploring new aspects of self, writing that book which will get me an Oscar, staying out of trouble - well, small amounts of trouble are ok. Bringing joy into people's lives with random acts of kindness - the ones who aren't expecting it are the best.

ABOUT ME - Alone in blessed singleness. Wicked sense of humor, enjoy my own company, glad I'm not young any longer. I do miss the intimacy of being in love. Enjoy the possibilities of every moment, an imagination that won't quite, a master weaver - give away everything I make, excellent portrait painter, a national treasure - though no one agrees with me, a good listener, intuitive, a good conversationalist, avoid boredom and boring people at all costs - that's a career all by itself.

INTERESTS - Intelligent conversation: hard to come by these days, metaphysics, mysticism, my pups - Charlie, Max, and Bailey, seeing the funny side of life, going to Macy's at Christmas time - kicking Santa and punching an Elf. If I had a singing voice, which I don't, I would sing all of the time, wherever I was - even in WalMart. Wouldn't that be enchanting? When I receive the Oscar for the book I'm writing, I will have some baritone sing On A Clear Day, and I will lip sync his voice. It will wow the audience.

LOVES - Color and lots of it, strawberry jam, hiking up Yosemite Falls, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, sourdough bread, only made in San Francisco. Hearst Castle, Big Sur, sea air, Adams peanut butter, chocolate milk, rainy days, canaries singing, chocolate chip cookies my mother made, Greek yogurt with honey - oh, yum. Laughter. I make it a point of doing this many times a day.

HATES - Stupidity, insensitivity, bad table manners - come on, how difficult is it to hold a fork properly - it's not a shovel for God's sake. Snow, ice, slush, freeway traffic, lima beans - what was God thinking, sleepless nights, people who are late, texting - it's a cop-out, alcohol, red meat,

FAVORITE BOOKS - The Spiritual Journey of Joel S. Goldsmith.

FAVORITE MUSIC – Joplin’s Peachrine, Ahmad Jamal - Country Tour - the absolute best jazz - never tire of it. Someone Waits for You – Carly Simons, Helen Kane singing Button Up Your Overcoat and I Want to Be Bad – I relate to the lyrics. And the Tenor who sang Springtime for Hitler in the Zero Mostel version of The Producers. No one seems to know who he is. What a voice.

FAVORITE FILMS – The Celluloid Closet, Witness for the Prosecution, It Could Happen to You, Maltese Falcon, Inherit the Wind, 12 Angry Men, Harold and Maude, Murder on the Orient Express, Hope and Glory, Sorry Wrong Number, Speed, Practical Magic, Apollo 13, Where the Red Fern Grows, The original Producers - touch me, hold me - Estelle was terrific, and Zero - what can I say.

FAVORITE QUOTES – The poetry in writing is the illusion it creates: by me. Lord Chesterfield: “Sex: the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” The saddest words of tongue or pen are these - It might have been - indeed they are. If you want to make a success out of old age, you better start now: my mother when I was 15. On a clear day, you really can see forever - you just have to look. I may be rancid butter, but I'm on your side of the bread. Inherit the Wind.

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

Omar Khayyam

Other books by J.T. Evergreen

Short Stories to Celebrate the New Year

Alone at the Beach 25 short stories to keep you company

Home Alone 8 Great Stories to keep you company

Born in the Twilight

Injun Summer


Short Stories for a Summer’s Day

Holiday Short Stories

With All My Love

Father Frederick Monahan

Shangri la, Stepping Stones to God

I’m Gay Mother – Get Over it

The Olde Book Shoppe

Naked Before God

The Italian Call Boy

The Silence of Healing

Death of a Pope Birth of Hope

The Best Short Stories Ever

My Love Affair with Father Tomas McTavish

Father Gibbon with Sister Mary Magda in development

I get choked up when I re-read some of my stories.

I’m told that’s a sign of being a good writer.

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Here’s a collection of tunes to send you on your way. Cheers, JT , , , , , ,

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