Once again, I apologize for the wait. Being a mom and a wife with a full-time is exhausting and sometimes I'm even too tired to think. There will be at least one more chapter after this, possibly two. It all depends on whether or not my mind wanders off into Spashley land again. We can only hope :)
Thank you, as always, Steph and Smurfy : )
I own the story only.
"Four, repeat steps one through three."
3 months ago
The melody was stuck in my head for days, some random notes that just happened to flow well together. I sat down at my piano; the lid was closed over the keys. I had not touched it since before I left for the tour, yet it didn't have one speck of dust on it. Spencer kept it clean. Silently hoping I would find my way back to it someday. And here I sat, staring at the beautiful instrument, made almost entirely of hard rock maple and nearly flawless after fifty years and three owners: my grandmother, my dad and me. I sat here with the simple melody playing over and over in my head. I slowly lifted the lid and heard the familiar creak of the aged hinges and I remembered sitting with my grandma and dad as they played. My fingers ran over the keys, not pressing, just feeling. I closed my eyes and let the melody take over. My fingers finding the keys and playing the melody out loud. My eyes still closed, I smiled. It was time to start writing again.
The next day I worked on adding lyrics to the melody. I was joined by Alexander; he surprised me by taking a seat on the bench next to me. His little eyes just watched as my fingers ran over the keys, he was observing. He did that a lot. His mind was like a sponge, soaking in every bit of knowledge he could. By the second day, I was almost finished. I played it over and over, trying out different keys, changing a few words. Alexander came and sat down with me again. Never saying a word, just watching. By the third day, I had it. I was once again surprisedwhen little Alexander clapped his hands behind me. I turned around and he wore a smile I had never seen on his face before. It was a very happy day.
In the week after, I had practiced the song a few times. Never knowing if I ever intended on anyone else hearing it. I was in the kitchen with Alyssa when I heard someone playing with my piano. As I entered the room I saw him. Alexander sat there, his little fingers pressing down on each key. When he would reach the end, he started over again. Then he would stop, get down off the bench and go back to his puzzles. This happened for 4 days straight. The same time every day. Then on the fifth day, he did his usual, pressing every key, starting over again and then…He started playing a familiar melody, the one I had played for days, the one I had just written. I ran into the room, unsure it could be real. But there he sat at my piano, playing my song. I cannot explain what it felt like in that moment. I never thought for even a second that Alexander would ever play a musical instrument. When Ashton and Alyssa showed very little interest, it broke my heart to think none of my kids would share my love of music. I leaned against the door way and I smiled through happy tears. I was joined by Ashton, who smiled as well. He knew he was seeing something special.
For the next few weeks we played together. First I would play a song and then he repeated it. I didn't have to teach him anything, he learned on his own, by ear.
Spencer worked until 6 o'clock every day and as much as I know she would have been so happy to see all of this happening. I wanted it to be a surprise. We had just finished playing the song I had written, like we did every day, and Alexander was giddy about playing it for her.
"We have to wait, okay buddy?"
"For how long?"
"Until the perfect moment comes along."
"When will the perfect moment come, come along? Next week, next year, twenty, twenty years from now?"
Alexander had always been a very quiet boy, but I had noticed lately he was beginning to talk more. This happened mostly during piano time.
"Hopefully we won't have to wait twenty years," I laughed.
"I would rather not wait at all," he said seriously.
"How about we practice more, so that when the perfect time comes, we'll give Mom the best performance ever."
He nodded his head. "I think, I think that is a wonderful idea."
We were at the Carlin residence. Dinner had just been served. I stood in the family room staring at the small piano in the corner. Alexander and I had practiced nearly every single day and every single day he would ask me if the perfect time had come yet. I noticed him eye the piano the moment we walked in the door. He did that every time we visited lately. Luckily, he was all about routine. Piano time was from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. every week day.
After dinner I walked out to the back porch. Gram wanted to have a chat. Lately that meant, Gram wanted to yell at me.
"Sit down!" She ordered from behind her large mug of coffee.
I did what I was told.
"You and Spencer seem different tonight. You talk to her finally?"
"We went on a date last night." I smiled remembering how she held me.
"Is that so? Did you tell her you were sorry and that you've been a fool and an idiot?"
"How are the wedding plans going?"
"Very good. It's going to be a beautiful ceremony. Exactly what the bride deserves."
"Well, I'm glad you finally got your head out of your ass. Come here."
I walked over and she stood, pulling me into a hug.
"I never thought you two couldn't get through this. I never lost hope."
"It's been a crazy couple of years Gram."
"Ya know, sweet pea, when love isn't madness, it is not love."
"That's pretty deep, Gram."
"I thought so too. Spencer used the quote last week when we were talking about the two of you. She still loves you."
"I still love her."
"You shouldn't wait to tell her that. Not til tomorrow, or even this weekend. You should never wait to tell someone you love them. Tell them every chance you get."
"No. Just some advice from a very wise, very old woman."
"Of course, dear. Now what're you waiting for?"
"Okay boys, this is it! It's time, Alex."
"It's the perfect moment?" He asked with wide eyes.
"Yep, it's show time, buddy. Are you ready for this?"
He nodded his head vigorously.
"Okay, Ashton, you're up. Do your thing!"
As Alexander and I walked into the living room where the piano was, Ashton approached Spencer.
"Mother?" I turned to see Ashton headed my way. He kneeled down on one knee and grabbed my hand, kissing the top of it. I eyed him suspiciously. He did things like this a lot. He was Ashley's son, after all.
"Your presence is requested in the living room."
What was he up to now? Better yet, what was Ashley up to? I hadn't seen her in a while.
I stood from my chair as he stood up and pulled me into the room. My heart nearly jumped from my chest the moment I turned the corner to see Alexander sitting at the piano, his fingers slowly starting to move over the keys.
He was playing You Are My Sunshine. My son, Alexander, was playing a song on the piano. I clutched my chest, my mouth wide open. I could not believe it. One glance over at Ashley and I lost it. She was watching me, a few tears in her eyes as well. He finished the song and before he could turn around I was hugging him, praising him.
"Oh baby, you were amazing. When did you start playing the piano?"
"Just something I, I picked up a few months ago. I like to play."
I was as proud as a mother could possibly be. I always knew he was special, he proved that time and time again.
"I have one more song to play. Mom is going to, Mom is going to help."
Ashley walked towards us and in that moment, I wanted to kiss her so bad.
"There is something that we've wanted to play for you for some time now. I hope you like it." She leaned in and kissed my cheek, letting her lips linger there. They were warm and soft and my heart stopped again. I missed the simple touches from my wife. The way she held my hand just to hold it. The way she would come up behind me and kiss my shoulder to say hello. The way her hand would always find my lower back when we were standing next to each other. It was all the little things I noticed, when they stopped happening.
Everyone had made their way into the room as Alexander started to play. Ashley left my side and leaned up against the piano; the sight of them at the piano together brought me an overwhelming sense of joy.
He played so beautifully and reminded me so much of her. Then her voice filled the air and like always, I was in awe. I hadn't forgotten how amazing she sounded but it had been so long since I heard her voice over anything but the iPod or CD player.
From across the room,
I held your gaze,
Lost in your eyes,
I just couldn't look away,
Mesmerized by your smile,
I couldn't get you out of my head,
Feeling things I'd never felt,
Saying things I'd never said,
It's always been you,
I remember how you love me,
And on the dark nights,
You pull me through,
Just the simplest touch of your hand,
And with a few kind words spoken,
You awakened my lifeless soul,
And fixed all that was broken,
My heart beat with a purpose,
Filled with hope and love,
Wanting and needing only you,
The only one I dreamt or thought of,
It's always been you,
I remember how you love me,
And on the dark nights,
You pull me through,
After all of these years,
Through the good and bad,
I don't regret a single day,
Each day I was lucky to have,
The time and miles we spent apart,
When endless roads were all I could see,
I would lay down and close my eyes,
And it would be just you and me,
It's always been you,
I remember how you love me,
And on the dark nights,
You pull me through.
And in times when I doubted our love,
I'd go back to the start,
To the only home I've ever known,
In your arms and in your heart,
She never took her eyes off me the entire song. I felt that familiar tug at my heart that I always felt when she sang to me. Add in the excitement of seeing my son play the piano, and I was a mess.
Everyone started clapping all around me and she smiled and looked down at her feet. I walked over and lifted her head with my hands.
"I love you, Ashley."
And before she could respond my lips were on hers. A soft and simple kiss, but the first kiss I had shared with my wife in months. I didn't want to pull away. She lifted her hands to her face, holding them over mine, almost as if she were trying to keep me there. I pulled away slowly, my eyes transfixed on hers, those deep, brown eyes that had looked so sad over the last year, were full of life once again.
I felt a tug on my shirt and looked down to see Alexander smiling up at me.
"Did I do good?"
"You did amazing, honey. I am so proud of you."
I wrapped him up in my arms and kissed the top of his head.
"So amazing," I whispered in his ear.
"What about Mom? Did she, did she do a good job?"
Alexander looked up at Ashley and I did the same.
"Yes, she did!"
"Can I have some dessert now?" Alexander asked.
I nodded and he ran off.
"I can't believe what just happened," I said, facing her again. The room was suddenly empty. It was just the two of us.
"I wanted to tell you when it first started. But I wanted it to be a surprise."
"How did you teach him?"
"I really didn't. He taught himself. He's so smart, Spence."
"Yeah," I laughed. "He's brilliant. And you…" I shook my head and wiped a few happy tears that had streamed down my face. "You… thank you. That song, you singing again, Alexander playing the piano, I'm just so happy right now."
"You don't have to thank me. That kiss was enough." She smiled at me and there went my heart again.
I wouldn't soon forget everything we had gone through over the past few years, but the woman I fell in love with was standing right in front of me. I had hoped so many times that she would come back to me. I didn't want to get too excited though. We still had a lot to talk about. We had to work on some things.
That night, even though we had always shared the same bed, we slept… together. We held each other. I had missed the feeling of being in my wife's arms. Her warmth, her breath on my neck, the feeling of safety her arms gave being tight around me. More of the little things that were never really little at all. Even though it had been so long, it felt so normal, so natural. I fell asleep fast.
It was Friday morning. I had just left my warm and comfortable bed, not to mention my wife's warm and comfortable arms, to go pick Chris up from the airport. The wedding was less than three days away and we still had a lot of work to do. Miranda and Spencer were going to look at cakes. Couldn't have a wedding without a cake, right? I had to take Chris to get a tux and then we were going to plan a bachelor party. Glen volunteered to help, of course. I was thankful for the help though, I didn't really know that many guys and Chris, like Miranda, didn't really have any family.
"You know what happens if you screw this up, right?" I asked Chris after giving him a big hug.
He didn't say anything, just shook his head.
"I love you too, Ashley."
"So that little show Ashley put on last night, amazing huh?"
"Amazing doesn't quite fit. But something like that." My mind wandered off to the look in her eyes and the kiss on my cheek.
"Spence?! Where'd ya go?"
"Sorry, Miranda." I had been doing it all morning. I was surprised she just noticed.
"It's okay. I know you were thinking about Ash. That makes me all sorts of happy. We both knew she would come around."
"Yeah, just wish it wouldn't have taken so long. I missed her so much."
I grabbed the handle to the car door and was ready to get out when Miranda pulled me back.
"You guys are going to be okay, right?" she asked. She looked worried.
"I think so. We've become closer over the last few days. We actually slept together last night." I smiled, drifting off to thoughts of my wife.
"Spence, you're doing it again."
I laughed. "I'm allowed to think about Ashley, Miranda. She is my wife."
"So you guys… slept together last night?"
"Yes, we SLEPT together last night. It was nice. I slept better than I have in a while."
"So is it safe to say that she is going to be your date to my wedding?"
"Oh my gosh! Can we get in there before the store closes? We have to have a cake. Can't have a wedding without a cake."
"Okay, but I'm letting you pick it out. I have no idea what to get."
"It's your wedding Miranda. It's your cake to pick out."
"Yes, but I'm new to this getting married thing. You've done it twice so you're an expert."
"I will HELP you pick out a cake. It's what I'm here for."
"Fine, but if my guests don't like it, I'm blaming you."
We finally made it into the bakery. After about an hour of looking through books and sampling all of the different choices, we picked out the perfect cake. Of course, Miranda couldn't decide. We picked out the three best choices and then both agreed on one. I'm pretty sure we both left the bakery on a sugar high.
On the way home we talked about a bachelorette party. She just wanted something simple. Dinner and a few drinks and dancing at the club afterwards.
"Speaking of drinks, did you find a bartender?"
"I did. I called about 5 or 6 of them on my lunch hour yesterday. I wrote down all of the options and prices." I opened my purse to find the paper but it wasn't in there. "I think I left the paper on my desk at work. Ash is out that way, I'll have her pick it up."
"After that, I think we are all set. Now we just have to sit back, relax and hope everything goes as planned."
"It will, Miranda. Everything is going to be perfect."
"I'll be right back," I said to Chris as I shut the door. I had to stop and pick up something Spencer had forgotten in her classroom. Ahhhh, college life. I hadn't been on campus in so long. Nothing had changed though. It had the same smell; the students walking around had that same stressed/rushed look about them. It took me a while to find Spencer's room. It had moved to a different building since last time I was here. I walked to her desk and sat down. I found the paper right away but didn't want to leave just yet. Happy to be in a place that she loved so much. Her desk was filled with pictures of the kids and one of us on our wedding day. After a few minutes I finally got up to leave but I was distracted by a book at the front of her desk. Poetry of E.E. Cummings. I sat back down and picked up the old and torn book. I ran my fingers over indented words on the cover as I did so many times before. I hadn't even noticed it was gone from my office at home. I wondered how long ago she had taken it. Curious, I opened the book and looked for the poem.
12 years ago
I opened my book to look for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the first story we were discussing. There was a page marked that I didn't remember marking. It was Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond by E. E. Cummings. The same poem that I had quoted in the note that Spencer caught Madi and I passing to each other over a month ago. There was a little post-it note that had marked the page. It had something written on the back of it.
What you mean to me…Stanza 5
It was in Spencer's handwriting. I looked down at the poem.
"I don't know what it is about you that closes and opens, only something in me understands; the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses"
I couldn't breathe. My eyes started to water. It was hard to swallow.
This poem was always special to me. And when I thought of Spencer I always thought of this poem.
What E.E. Cummings was saying was that he couldn't explain his feelings for his love. It was something he couldn't put into words. Because there weren't any. When he looked into his lover's eyes he could just feel how real and deep the love was. I guess that is the way that Spencer felt.
I looked up at Spencer who was suddenly right beside my desk. She was handing out papers. She smiled at me but her eyes were telling me so much more. I smiled back and my eyes told her the same thing. "I love you."
Just like back then, the page the poem was on was marked. This time it was marked by a picture. A picture of her and I. The same picture that was in my office.
"I want to take a picture of this moment. So that if I ever need to, for some odd reason, I can always look back and remember how happy you make me."
I sat back in the chair and held the picture tight in my grip. Spencer never gave up on me, she never stopped loving me, she held on to this picture and this poem, all to remember how much I loved her, how much I made her happy. It made me think about how lonely she must have felt, how scared, how tired and sad. I put her through so much. I pushed her away, and she never left.
I dropped Chris off at Glen's, where Spencer had left Miranda, and drove home as fast as I could. I had to see her, to talk to her. She was in the kitchen pouring herself a glass of iced tea when I walked in.
"Hey, did you get the list?" I didn't answer her. I just moved towards her and grabbed the glass out of her hand and set it down on the counter.
"Ashley, are you okay?"
My hands held hers and brought them up to my lips. I kissed each one and then let them go so I could hold her beautiful face.
"I love you, Spencer."
Leaning in, I softly pressed my lips to hers. I waited for a response and when I didn't get one, I started to pull away, but she pulled me back to her. Her hands held my hips as her lips reconnected with mine. Slow and gentle at first, almost as if we were rediscovering each other. Then the kisses got needy and hungry and when our tongues met, we both let go. We let go of everything that had kept us apart for so long and gave into the passion. I moved us towards the table and placed her on top of it. She sat on something, it was the book.
"Ash?" She held the book up.
"I found it on your desk."
She opened the book to the page and pulled the picture out.
"I'm sorry, Spencer. I'm sorry that you needed these things around you to remind you how happy I used to make you. I'm sorry I stopped making you happy." I looked down, ashamed of myself.
"Hey, look at me," she said, her voice always so comforting. I raised my head slowly and looked into her eyes.
"Relationships are tested every day. Love, commitment, loyalty, trust, all of it. It hasn't been easy, honestly. But I'm here, and you're here. And all of those things that had been tested are still here. You lost your way, Ashley. You didn't lose me. Ever. And you never will. I dealt with hard times, I put up with the distance, and I stuck around, because I love you. You're my wife and my best friend and I don't need any picture or book or poem to remind me of how happy you made me. I'm reminded of it every second of the day. When I look down at this ring on my hand, when I look at our children, when I hear a certain song, or watch a romantic movie, when I see a piano, or feel the rain on my face, when I look up at the stars and the moon, or feel the sand between my toes."
She pulled me into her and wrapped her arms around my shaking body.
"Everywhere, everything, reminds me of you, and us, and all of the happiness you have given me."
Our faces were inches apart, tears falling from our eyes.
"I love you and I always will. I've missed you, I need you and god do I want you."
Her lips touched my cheek, kissing it, and slowly moved towards my ear.
"Take me upstairs, to our room, to our bed. Let me show you how much."
Okay, don't kill me for the end. Feel free to leave a review though :)
The song belongs to me. Please do not steal it :) :)
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