Letting my tears spill, I pulled my knees up to my chest and rested my forehead on them. With a shuddering sigh, I cried. Again.
“I miss you,” I told her, even though she wasn’t there. “I miss you so much, it hurts. It doesn’t feel right to be here without you. Why did you want me back here? I can’t be here without you…”
The wind picked up again, carrying the sound of hammering up from the lodge once more. Up on the mountain I had the perfect view of camp. Though the cabins were hidden in the thick trees, I could see the green, the outdoor fireplace and log benches, and the main lodge. They resembled doll-house furniture from up where I was.
I saw a man chopping wood, his ginger hair almost the same color as the faded metal roof on the top of the main lodge. That was Graham. Moving the cut logs over to the fireplace in a wheelbarrow was a tall, thick man with a limp. That was Owen. I smiled sadly. He and Sue kept busy to keep their minds off of their pain. That much I knew. It was an admirable quality. One I could completely relate to, as I’d been doing that for years.
But there was also movement down near the thick, overgrown foliage surrounding the fireplace. Someone was whacking away at low hanging branches and brush that’d woven its way around the stones, partially blocking the hearth. He stepped into the sunlight to wipe his brow, and I noticed his shirt was off.
I gasped a little. It was Jamie.
Mother of Oprah Winfrey, he’d always been so lovely to look at. I remembered when he’d taken off his shirt to swim when we were eighteen and seeing the way his body had changed, becoming ridged and cut in places where he’d been skinny before. It lit a fire in my belly that hadn’t existed. Prior to then, our lust had been innocent. Make-out sessions between two teenagers learning as they went, fumbling around in a darkened car at night. But that summer, it changed. Oh, my how it changed.
I watched as Jamie hacked at a low-lying branch, heavy with leaves and pinecones. It broke off from the tree, and he tossed it aside like the Hulk. An odd sense of pride filled my gut. There was a time when Jamie was the go-to guy in our circle of friends. Whenever someone needed help cutting and hauling out a dead tree from their backyard, whenever someone moved to a new place and needed a guy to lift a couch. Whenever someone’s wife bought a new fridge that needed transporting from the driveway to the kitchen… they called Jamie.
And it wasn’t just because he was strong—though, he was. His arms were corded with muscle and his chest was defined enough to make sweat sting my skin, even all these years later. It was because Jamie was nice. Or, had been. He volunteered for the Big Brothers program, and took his students to sing at old folks’ homes at Christmas time. He volunteered for jobs nobody else felt like doing, and he never complained when he was the only guy who showed up.