The Eavesdropper

Photo by theprodigal untitled13, via Flickr

They don’t know they have an audience.

I had hoped that the trail would be deserted for this, my first foray down it after a months-long hiatus necessitated by heat and high gas prices. Unfortunately, mine is the fourth car to park in the deserted gravel lot. Still, on the walk from the road down to the cliff’s edge, nothing disturbs the stillness aside from bees and singing insects, the whisper of wind.

A sweetness, half floral, half fruit, teases my nose, followed by the sour smell of stagnant water too long bereft of rainfall, and then by the spicy aroma of dead cedar. I descend from burning sun to dappled spotted trail and finally to the full shade of the woods. A perfect day to rest my soul and fill up my senses, alone in the woods.

Until I reach my overlook spot and find it occupied. A pair of lovers nuzzle noses on the washed-out rock ledge that must be a sight to see when all the rain comes pouring down the hill. I hastily set my eyes forward on the trail and go on.

There’s another, smaller outcropping a couple hundred feet farther on, which proves perfect for my purpose, this hot August day, not as hot as those that came before, but still uncomfortable for a 21-week-pregnant mama. Tree-wrapped, secluded, falling away from the trail in steep, jagged steps to an uneven rock face covered with moss, ten feet below, where no one can see me and feel compelled to disrupt my solitude.

The upper branches of oak and maple block the vista, but gleaming white sycamore stretches from the creek bed almost to the gap in the branches at my eye level, unreal in the contrast, whiter than the billowy clouds drifting through blue sky above.

It is silent…until the singing begins. It’s so soft, I can’t place it, although one phrase snags on a cog in my memory. I can’t help listening; I’ve got to know what it is. On verse two, I catch it: Chicago. “I wanna have you near me, I wanna have you hear me sayin’: no one needs you more than I need you.”

Theirs is a new love, untested, raw, but beautiful. When the trials come, it could wither or disintegrate altogether. Or it could emerge from the refining fire burning so brightly at its core that it gives off light everyone can see.

I’m young…not quite thirty-seven. And yet when I see these two people, I think how different our love is now than it was the night Christian danced with me in the darkened aisle of the theater while the movie credits rolled. We’d never do something like that now. It’s hard to imagine the tests, the changes, the refining, that must still be in our future. And impossible to imagine what we will look like on the other side.

Will we ever return to that starry-eyed infatuation that renders lovers blind to everyone around them? Will we be the ones who are more in love at seventy than we were at twenty-five? Will we be the couple who die within two weeks of each other, simply because our lives are so intertwined that when one goes, the tie is broken for both?

I sit on my secluded ledge while a short distance away, beyond the trees and rock ledges, the couple giggles as they try to take a picture of themselves. Their voices fade, and stillness returns. The baby kicks. Kicks again. And I close my eyes to listen to a silence broken only by the song of the insects, the buzzing of bees, and the whisper of the wind in the trees.


Written August 9, 2011, and saved to share on the occasion of our twelfth anniversary (yesterday).