On my phone, there was a text from Suzie. 'Mike, tell her yes,' it simply said. Hmm. Okay, so it went against my common sense, but 'Suzie knows best,' right?
It was amusing how things had turned out. The three years we spent together rapidly lost their allure, and we alternated between rowing and not speaking to one other. After that, she'd met Vernon and I'd met Judy, and we'd parted ways.
Judy was a busy estate agent who rented and sold rural homes in the area where we lived at the time. She was divorced but kept her past hidden from me, telling me very little about her ex-husband and their history. Alan and Sarah, her two children, were both in university, but I'd only met them once, at a really awkward dinner.
"Michael, I'm heading out to Rees by to look at a wrecked home that someone wants to sell." "Would you want to come out and look with me?"
So I climbed into Judy's silver convertible as she put on her Ray Bans and drove us down little country roads that alternated between being overhung by green boughs and being surrounded by wide-open fields full of waving crops. Her chiseled profile had always appealed to me. "You might take it easier." That was, of course, a signal for her to step up her game even more. Judy was the same way.
Then, to to my surprise, we arrived at an ancient church. The windows had been smashed out, and all that was left was the shell. Inside, there were burned spots on the stone flags where unknown people had ignited fires. It was chilly and unsettling.
"It's deconsecrated, and the rural church commission looks after it, but they want to sell." Judy's words reverberated off the stone walls.
"Who would purchase a property like this?" says the narrator. I inquired.
"Within reason, they'd be able to dismantle it and recreate whatever they wanted." It's not an issue to get planning authorization." She started taking pictures and taking measurements.
I went outdoors and looked at the aged and collapsed gravestones protruding from nettle beds. The sun shone brightly, and I felt its warm embrace on my face and hands.
"Hello, Mike," I say.
I was taken aback and glanced up in awe. Suzie was there, dressed in green coveralls and wielding a chainsaw. I could see a bottle-green vehicle with gold lettering along the small road behind her. Tree Surgeon S. Dalziel "I've got to admit, I'm amazed." I burst out laughing. "I had no idea you were a tree surgeon!"
Suzie gave a kind smile. "It was Vernon's idea," says the narrator. He assumed that the fresh air and exercise would be beneficial to me. He was absolutely correct. "How are you doing?"
"I'm OK; Judy is still with me."
Judy emerged from the chapel as Suzie handed me her card. I couldn't tell if she recognized Suzie or not, but she marched right by us to her car. "Come on, Michael," I said. "I've got a lot of work to do." Suzie cocked her head, winked, and moved her gaze to a neighboring tree.
She appeared to be older, and she was also extremely slender, in my opinion. And it's possible that's why I called her a few weeks later. She said she was pleased with Vernon and her new life, but she added, "Yes, let's remain in contact," and she meant it.
We stayed in touch while she became pregnant and gave birth to a son named Raymond, and as Judy moved on to another estate agent, Robert. In the meanwhile, I met Celine, a lovely lady with green eyes, a charming smile, and a fantastic sense of humor. Someone who made me feel happy just by being in her company.
Celine then returned to France a month ago to spend time with her folks. I got a postcard in the mail today. In my palms, I flipped it over. It displayed a lion statue on a plinth surrounded by beds of red and golden flowers, reportedly shot at a renowned country estate in her parent's region. For the ninety-ninth time, I read the streaming blue ink.
'I love you, Mike, but I'd like to stay in France.' 'Please consider moving in with me here.' Her signature was a line of x's followed by her name. I re-read Suzie's text and then dialed Celine's phone, giddy with anticipation.