WHEN DARK CLOSES IN
Chapter VII – Ferry Crossing
1966, Puget Sound, WA.
They stood at the rail watching as the Space Needle loomed larger, closer, beckoning them back to Seattle’s metropolis. Their day excursion was coming to a close like the near perfect last three months of summer. The ferry’s wake from waves rolling in, then out, and in again to sea was hypnotic, soothing as she snuggled in his embrace. The choppy water sent cold sprays into their face as the wind smacked the sea with each assault. Seagulls squawked and flew between the quay and ferry announcing its scheduled return.
The official draft notice came that week allowing him two weeks to put things in order. He turned in his resignation at work, withdrew his fall enrollment from the engineering institute, had started packing up things in his apartment, said goodbyes to friends and family, and would report to Fort Lewis the following week. The remaining days went too fast with precious little time together.
They purchased some things from a store early that morning, then headed for the ferry crossings, pulled into a line with other cars being loaded and drove over to Port Angeles. They found a quiet shore, picnicked on the sand with smoked salmon, cheese and crackers, and bottle of wine, and browsed through quaint shops along the piers. Now, as the familiar and predictable came into view, they thought how soon it too, would end.
She would not be returning to Notre Dame for her sophomore year, but have her baby, work in town, live at home, and wait for his tour to end. Wait for the day when he would return to find her, and their child here. She had not told him that he would be a father. She was three months into her pregnancy. Larger, lose tee shirts and shorts helped hide the small swell of her abdomen. It was more difficult hiding the increasing nausea she had daily now. She did not want him going into a war feeling anxious, worrying about her, making himself vulnerable. She would try to not dwell on tomorrow, only today, this moment, looking into the setting sun over Puget Sound. But, the uncertain, unknown gnawed at her like dark shadows. She wanted only sunrises, with promising bright skies, and sunsets with restful nights.
Scott was the first to break the silence. “Are you feeling OK? Still having that nausea thing?”
“A little. I think it’s just… the choppiness of the water, crossing over today that made me a little queasy. But, I had the most wonderful time. It was one of the happiest days we’ve ever spent together. I wish we could make it last indefinitely.”
“There will be plenty more, Jen. I promise. When I’m back. You’re not getting away from me that easily, you know?”
She looked up, searching his eyes. “I don’t intend to. I will be here, Scott.” There is that little bit of extra that holds us together, more than a single day, or single moment in time.
“Good. Because, when I come back, after Vietnam, we’re going back out to Port Angeles again, to the same shore, same spot where we had our picnic, and carved our names in the sand. And do it all over again.”
And we will add another name in the sand, with ours.
“Do you think it’s presumptuous for of us to believe things can return to normal one day, after the war?” she asked.
“I don’t know, Jen. But, the one thing that will never change is that I love you. I always have. I always will. I think I knew it back when we were in high school.”
She laughed. “Every time you showed up at my front door, my dad would say, ‘That boy is back.’
“And, before him and your mom, I will get down on one knee and propose, so he can see that ‘that boy’ is serious about his daughter and wants to marry her.”
“I think sometimes you misunderstood my father. A lot of his bull crap was just his way of testing you. I think down deep somewhere he actually likes you. My mom, too.”
“Really? You could have fooled me. For a lumberjack I half expected him to pull out an ax or something from behind his back when I came over to see you. Your mom kind of looked at me with that little half-smile like the proper British folks do when they’re thinking something, but don’t want to really say it, so give you that kind of look. You’re the little bit of sweetness in between them.” He cupped her head in his hands and kissed her, not wanting to stop.
When their lips separated, she asked, “Do you want kids of your own…someday, Scott?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“Well, I just thought I would ask how you felt about them. I wanted to be certain we think alike on those kinds of things, you know, since you plan on asking me to marry you.” She smiled at him.
The skyline came into focus, moving from out of a heavy haze into a clear night, dusk settling like the noisy seagulls on wharves looking for food scraps.
“You bet.” Taking her hand, he added, ” Come on. Let’s go find my car.” Passengers started for the stairwells down to the vehicle holding decks to retrieve their cars. Scott drove off the ramp and they merged out into Seattle’s crowded, congestive traffic.
To be continued
Joyce E. Johnson