Just one year of love is better than a lifetime alone. ~ "One Year of Love" by John Deacon

Disclaimer: Not mine, no money made. Post-"Let It Bleed," so spoiler warnings are in effect.

Just One Year


V. Laike

There were no two ways about it—the garage needed to be cleaned.

It wasn't like the clutter was totally insurmountable after the move to Battle Creek (and for the life of her she couldn't figure out the bit of restlessness that prompted that), but Lisa felt like she had lost something, and no matter how hard she looked, she couldn't seem to find it. Whatever it was (and she really wished she could figure out what it was she needed to lay her hands on), it had to be in the garage. She couldn't find it anywhere in the house.

Standing amid the boxes, she scanned the area, trying to figure out where to start. With a sigh, she stepped up to the shelves on one side of the garage and started pulling down and opening boxes. Boxes of clothes that should probably be sorted through. Christmas ornaments. Halloween decorations. Sports equipment—baseball glove, shin guards, soccer cleats that Ben was fast outgrowing.

On the other side, boxes of old books that could be put in a garage sale. Pushing her hair out of her face, Lisa frowned. A lot of them had Latin titles. At least, she thought it was Latin. It looked like Latin. She briefly wondered why those would be in her garage, and what she should do with them. Take them to a second-hand bookstore, maybe. Donate them to Goodwill. She sat a moment. Between the clothes and the sporting equipment and the books, perhaps a garage sale was in order.

Lawn and garden equipment lined the wall, and there was a tool box sitting on the floor. She remembered taking a bunch of very nice tools and a tool cabinet to a pawn shop before the move . . . her previous move? Before this one? Maybe? . . . but this was just the size of a tackle box. Opening it, she found basic tools required for small home repairs—hammer, screwdriver, nails, picture hangers and wire, pliers, a wrench.

The shelves held motor oil and shop rags and other maintenance supplies, things you'd expect to find in a garage. A canvas coat smelling of sawdust and sweat was folded up on the shelf as well.

Lisa sighed, ready to give up, when her eyes fell upon a beat-up wooden chest tucked away in a corner. The black paint was chipped in places, and she had no recollection of this coming with her in the move. It must have been left behind by the previous owners, but she didn't recall it being in the garage when she and Ben arrived, either. Definitely something for the garage sale. Or maybe the antique shop. She knelt down and opened it.

The hinges squeaked, and she got a whiff of a strong, pungent odor. Gun oil, she thought, but she had no idea how she knew that.

Inside the chest, she found an old dark brown coat. She ghosted her fingers gently over the supple leather. It was worn with age and use. Vintage, definitely. She picked it up and unfolded it. It was large, with broad shoulders. The man who wore this would have to be tall, muscular. She fingered the lapel, the buttons, reached into the pockets and found packets of salt. Holding it to her nose, she breathed in the scent of gun oil and smoke and whiskey and sweat. She closed her eyes. In her mind's eye she saw hazel green eyes. Full lips. A strong jaw, sporting a slight stubble.

Her chest ached, and her stomach knotted with fear and uncertainty, a sadness that what she sought was lost. But stronger than the fear was the ache in her heart—longing for someone and a need to protect the owner of the jacket. And covering it all was a love she couldn't explain.

Smoothing her hand over the jacket one last time, she carefully folded it and returned it to the chest, and closed the lid.

The garage sale would have to wait.