Nursey looked around and considered. There was a really good chance, an excellent chance, that he was being pranked, or punked, or…. Something else that started with a p that he couldn’t think of right then.
He’d been told to go to the location, the field. Well, not told. He’d been requested. Asked nicely. Or at least, casually. There weren’t a lot of details.
He looked around the field again, but it didn’t give any additional information. He was alone, except for whatever it was that was growing in the field. And maybe whatever else lived in the field.
He shivered and convinced himself that he’d just felt the wind. Not a mouse, or a spider. Or a snake.
There was a stone. A large stone. A boulder maybe. In the middle of the field, there was a boulder. He climbed on top of it (making sure there weren’t any living things already in residence) and sat down. He’d been there awhile and sitting seemed better than standing.
The boulder was big enough to hold him. To hold him and someone else. But there wasn’t anyone else.
He was alone.
Played. That was the other word. He’d probably been played. Played a fool.
He could leave. He should leave. He’d driven himself out and he could just get back in the car and go. Pretend he’d never even gone to the field. There was nothing keeping him there.
Except the possibility. The maybe. The shadow of a hope.
Because he’d been invited. Requested. Asked.
There wasn’t even any fucking cell service, so he couldn’t verify if he was in the right field. Maybe he was in the wrong field. Maybe that’s why he was alone. Maybe he had the day wrong. Maybe he had the country wrong. Was he on the correct continent?
The breeze toyed around his head, curling around his ears, ruffling at the neckline of his sweater.
The leaves of whatever it was that was growing there undulated in shimmering waves, bowing under the weight of the air.
It was a nice field. Probably. He didn’t have a lot of field experience.
He was more of a building guy. Rooftops and balconies. A floor, maybe walls.
Did a boulder count as a floor? Was he on the rooftop of the field?
Was he trying to distract himself from the fact he was in the middle of nowhere, alone, with no way to be sure he was in the correct nowhere or if he’d remain alone forever?
Would he be alone forever?
Sure, he could find people to wheel. Never a problem finding someone to wheel. But someone to keep around? Someone who accepted him fully and could give as good as got and handle Nursey at his most and help him at his lowest.
Someone worth driving into the middle of nowhere for.
How many of those does a person meet in one life?
Nursey pushed himself to his feet on the boulder. Maybe he could see further that way. He looked around again.
Still nothing to see. The field disappeared over hills in two directions, blending into yet more fields, and the others were screened by trees.
How long should he wait? Since he was probably being pranked.
He hadn’t even verified the message. Confirmed it was from who he thought it was from. Who it seemed to be from. Who he hoped it was from.
Maybe it wasn’t even meant for him.
Maybe he wasn’t even meant for him.
Maybe no one was meant for him.
He chewed on the edge of his thumbnail. He’d been meaning to stop that habit. He mostly didn’t do it anymore. Mostly. He kept his nails filed and trimmed and buffed and polished. A clear coat usually, but still. Kept them nice. Nice nails were less likely to be chewed. Chewn? Chewed. Lotion to soften his hands, files and buffs for his nails. He didn’t pick at the skin or rough spots. He tried to keep his hands nice.
They were good for holding. He was sure of it. They’d fit nicely. Perfectly. Soft and gentle and tender. Fit right into place between the rough calloused fingers of another hand.
Were his hands too soft? Was that a problem?
Was it the poet who was invited? Or the hockey player?
The lover or the fighter?
Had he dressed appropriately?
The answer to that was obviously no. He’d had to climb very slowly to get onto the smooth faced rock. Boulder. His pants and shoes weren’t made for fields. Not like these. Not unkempt and wild places. They were made for city parks and sidewalks. For leaf piles and sitting scrunched together in a too small space while watching Netflix on a shared laptop screen.
The sun was approaching the horizon.
He’d give it until the gloaming. He didn’t want to try to cross the field in the dark. Even with his cell phone’s flashlight mode.
Nursey pulled the sleeves of his sweater down around his hands. It stopped him from chewing on his thumbnail. From digging into his skin. From allowing his worry to get off track.
Worry about no one coming. Worry about being in the wrong clothes. At the wrong place. The wrong time. The wrong him.
Don’t think about the possibility of an accident. An incident. An occident.
No, wait. Not that last one.
There were heartaches that would hurt, but he could survive.
And there were things he didn’t think about. Because if he thought about them, they’d become possible. And they couldn’t be possible. He wouldn’t let them.
So, he stood on a rock in a field in Maine and watched the wind play in the leaves of grass as the sun sank lower. And he did not think about any reasons why he was alone. Except that maybe he was on the wrong rock, in the wrong field, in the wrong Maine, on the wrong day. Or maybe that he’d never been invited at all.
The sun was nearly to the horizon when someone finally climbed onto the rock beside him.
“You look amazing. Outstanding.” Dex’s voice was quiet. Nearly soft enough to be carried away by the wind. He punctuated the words with a stiff swallow and by holding out a bundle of long flowers that he was holding.
Nursey took the flowers. “Was starting to think you weren’t going to show.”
“Ayuh. Sorry ‘bout that. Got held up at work.”
Nursey nodded and looked at him from the corner of his eyes. The flowers seemed like a good sign. Probably. Maybe. The compliment, too. But-.
“Why’d you ask me to meet you in the middle of a field?”
“Didn’t want other people around, in case this doesn’t go how I hope. Less pressure, I figured. And a quiet place to be alone if necessary.” His throat worked as he swallowed again and his eyes slid over toward Nursey and then away again quickly. “But mostly, because I wanted to show you that.”
Nursey looked where Dex had tilted his head to indicate and watched as the setting sun set the fields and woods on fire. Everything lit with golds and reds, burning in waves in the breeze that tugged on the hems of his pants.
“That’s mad chill.”
Slowly, hesitantly, he lowered his hand from the bundle of flowers. Let it hang by his side. Let their fingers brush. Soft against calloused. Took Dex’s hand in his.
Something in Dex eased. A tightness beyond what Nursey’d realized was there, until he seemed to fit in this world of gentle movements and quiet strength. Nature.
And a tiny smile appeared at the corner of his mouth.
“Ayuh. Thought you’d like that.”