Before Me

by MarMar1

A "Gunsmoke" story inspired by a poem

January 2006

Disclaimer: "Gunsmoke" does not belong to me, but to a faceless conglomerate, Viacom, (as far as I know). This is not a product for financial gain. My only claim on "Gunsmoke" is my lifelong dedication as a fan, my love for the stories, the characters, and those whose talent brought them to life.

Author's Note: This "Gunsmoke" story takes place sometime after season 19. It presumes that season 20 did not occur, or, if it did, that Kitty's long absence can be explained by an extended trip or some other wonderful fantasy. It further presumes that the "Gunsmoke" TV movies are not part of this universe and reality. Other than that, there is no specific time. It could take place one year or twenty after season 19. I offer my thanks to those who embodied the characters of "Gunsmoke" and to poet Adelaide Love. My thanks go also to an incredible teacher, Miss Dot Lee, to whom I dedicate my story.

Feedback is most welcome and encouraged

Before Me by MarMar1

A "Gunsmoke" story inspired by a poem

January 2006

Matt walked easily down the empty trail. Though this was a place he had never been, it seemed oddly familiar. It filled him an uncustomary feeling of peace. The prairie grass lush and green, stretching out from either side of the trail; Matt absently wondered how Buck would like it.

Ahead, the grass seemed an even richer green and he saw a copse of large shade trees. He supposed the richer green was from a spring or a stream running down that way. Though the sun was high and bright, the air was comfortable with an occasional breeze. Still, Matt felt drawn to the shade of the trees.

As he neared the beckoning area, his heart swelled as he saw her, sitting on a log beside the water. She was unmistakable; her lustrous red hair cascaded down her back, shining and flirting with the breeze. Even without the telltale color he would have known her. The curves of her shape, the tilt of her head, were visions etched into his memory. How long had it been? It seemed at once to have been forever and just yesterday since he had seen her. Eagerly, his long stride quickened, his back and leg unhampered by the pain which had for so long been his companion.

Kitty let her bare feet play in the cool water, the skirt of her simple dress pulled up to rest across her knees. She felt her loose hair move with the softly stirring air as she leaned back her head. Closing her eyes, she breathed in the gentleness of this place. Dapples of sunlight sparkled on her face, highlighting the slight touches of color she wore on her eyes, mouth, and cheeks. Her full lips curved with the hint of a smile as she sensed his presence. Drying her feet on the soft grass, she let them slide into her slipper shoes.

He had walked quietly, wanting to watch her as he approached, and was surprised when she looked up. As he entered the shade in which she was sheltered, Kitty stood, turning toward him. Matt watched as her skirts unfolded, falling to cover her slender legs. He could no longer rein his desire to hold her once again and was relieved to see her coming to him with the same longing. With a few more steps, he was rewarded as she pressed herself to him and he enclosed her in his powerful arms.

Silently they stood, each resting in the sensation of completeness, too long absent; delighting in the feel of the other as their bodies molded into each other. Matt's sense of peace blossomed and he knew he was home. They stood, purely touching, until their joy grew so great they had to move. Stepping back, their fingers entwined as the rich blues of their eyes met and they swam in each others gaze. Matt was sure he would burst with the pleasure of being, at last, with her again.

"I hadn't expected to find you along here," Matt gave voice to his wonder. "I thought I would have to look farther on for you." He did not need to say how grateful he was that he did not have to wait, to look farther.

"I've been waiting for you." Kitty's love for him shone in her eyes. "I wanted to walk the rest of the way with you, together." Her hand rested on his upper arm and she smiled the smile he love the most. The one which told of all they shared and would share. The one that was at once assured and questioning.

"So long?" he asked. "All alone?" He felt no real worry, but was amazed as he considered her action.

Kitty gave a soft, understanding chuckle. "Oh, not always alone. Others have come by and we've passed the time. Not so long ago Festus came by, he and Ruth."

Matt simply nodded when Kitty tilted her head and raised an eyebrow in question.

"Of course, he offered me a ride on Ruth, but I don't think he expected me to take him up on it. He said he would go on ahead and find Doc."

"It'll sure be good to see ol' Doc," Matt said. As they talked, they turned away from the shaded spring and walked, continuing up the trail.

Matt's head was down for a moment before he spoke. "You've always waited, all those years." Matt's voice gave life to his gratitude and understanding of her sacrifices, her choices.

"Yes," Kitty acknowledged with neither pride nor accusation. Their shadows lengthened as the warm sun lowered slowly in the sky behind them.

Matt spoke, not feeling the guilt he expected, but with only the need to say aloud what they both had always known, "I never wanted to make you wait. I never wanted anything more than you, to be with you."

Kitty's voice was smooth and warm, "You did what you had to do, Matt, and you did it as no one else could have." She hugged onto his arm, her hand in the crook of his elbow. She briefly rested her head against the comforting strength of his muscles. They continued on, their silence calm, yet expectant, underscored by all the sounds of creation around them. Matt tempered his step as Kitty rolled her hips to lengthen her own, the habit long practiced to accommodate their differences.

"Sam will be there," Matt knew how Kitty would delight in that. His large hand gently covered the slender fingers of her hand where it rested on his arm.

Kitty smiled her wonderful, all out smile. "And our mothers; and you dad." She looked up at Matt and their joy played between them.

Matt reached behind her and pulled her close to him as Kitty's arm found purchase 'round his back. As the sun behind them filled the heavens with the splendor of color, they walked arm in arm to their destination ahead, beginning the eternity their hearts had promised so many years ago.

This poem, taught to me by an awesome 5th grade teacher, Miss Lee, inspired this story.

WALK SLOWLY

IF YOU SHOULD GO BEFORE ME, dear, walk slowly

Down the ways of death, well-worn and wide,

For I would want to overtake you quickly

And seek the journey's ending by your side.

I would be so forlorn not to descry you

Down some shining highroad when I came;

Walk slowly, dear, and often look behind you

And pause to hear if someone calls your name.

By: ADELAIDE LOVE