Fall 2010 – Samuel is 32  (Rachel Heredon is 29)

Grueling

Sam keeps a grueling schedule, immersing himself in the meditative act of writing his newest article almost from the moment he wakes up. He rarely gets frustrated anymore; once, two years ago, he would have stressed about improper word choice and she would have laughed and teased him into a smile but he doesn’t bother now — she’s gone and the article will still come together.

He grits his teeth and tries to ignore the way the words on the computer screen start to blur. He can remember her without the tears. He might not be able to speak her name or live in the home they had built together or spend long periods of time with their children because there was too much of her in them but he did not have to cry.

DeepBreath

Sam takes a deep breath and tries to concentrate, pointedly ignoring  Sofia’s shrieks and giggles caused by the nanny chasing her around the living room. He doesn’t fault himself when he fails, turning to catch glimpses of red hair and pink clothes streaming by from his angled view.

The nanny follows closely behind Sofia, her red pigtails bouncing, and he can almost believe that she’s still alive; that he could join them in their fun, laugh and finally release this burden. Roughly pushing away from the desk, Sam saves the article and shuts down the computer. It is obviously time to head to work.

PassingBy

The day passes quickly and for that he is grateful. Most of his journalist don’t mind the flow of people walking in and out of the newsroom, viewing it like he intended: a welcome momentary break from the continuous writing process. Sam works them hard, he knows that, but no more that he works himself. Heredon Herald is the main newspaper on the cove and he intends to keep it that way.

Sam starts for a moment when he sees Rachel and initially chooses to ignore her. He passes her on the way upstairs to his office but she places a hand gently, briefly on his arm and he has to stop.

SimpleHi

“Hi Samuel, how have you been?

Her tone is soft and Sam allows himself a small smile at her use of his full name. She’s the only one who does that, to everyone else he’s simple Sam. He reaches out to hug her and stops himself, his smile fading. He reads the tension in her body, the way her body stiffens as he steps closer and he immediately remembers the last time he’d touched her.

It had been quiet in the church; they were the only ones there and her warm hands had fit snuggly inside his numb ones. Her body was a welcome weight against his and a very broken part of him mourned the loss of the body he most wanted to feel.

Desperation had made him act, yet the emotion was absent from the kiss. It was sweet and sad and for a moment he could believe that his life hadn’t fallen apart eight months ago. He’d pulled back to see tears clouding her pretty blue eyes and knew that it was the last time they would enjoy these comforting moments together — the line they had been hovering around was too blurred.

SimpleGoodbye

Sam smiles again in attempt to shake off the past. “Don’t you think it’s just a little cold outside for that summer dress, Rachel?”

He notes the shock on her face and is surprised at how light his tone. He’s getting better at it. Sam forces his smile wider; he can do normal social interactions with her…especially with her.

“I’m fine, keeping busy. The Herald is going to be a serious contender for the Best of the Best award this year and I am determined to have it be the highest ranking business under Mayor Feige’s new system.”

Rachel smiles at his answer. “You always want to be the best. I’m happy that hasn’t changed. And the children, how are they? Nicolas misses having Chance visit for the weekend.”

“I doubt your husband would like it if they resumed.”

The words come out sharp and hang between them, removing any blinders about their past. Sam almost curses. He used to be good at this game: making a point about something without blatantly saying it but now, after two years avoiding most social gathering, he’s lost his edge.

Sighing, he runs a hand through his neatly trimmed hair and offers an apology. “That was unnecessary and rude, Rachel, I’m sorry. I have to go.”

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