Turning his gaze to the window before him, he saw the backyard bathed in the crisp and lucid glow of softly falling south-eastern light. He realized (as if the information was transmitted via the light of the sun) that it was Saturday morning and there was no reason for him to be up. He did not recall even touching the clock before going to sleep last night, let alone setting the alarm. But here he was at 6:16 Saturday morning, blinking at the window with the clock in his hands.
A sudden movement beyond the window caught Gordon’s eye. Somebody was emerging from the hedgerow. Or stumbling from the shrubbery. He had no idea what the tangled wall of vegetation abutting the lot next door was called. Whatever it was, there was some person unknown coming through it with no small amount of violence and possibly more determination.
The struggles of the figure in the bush and the steady shaking of the green which resulted were surprising not only because they were unexpected, but also due to the fact that there was a narrow opening in the green mass (large enough for an average size adult to shuffle through sideways as Gordon and Darby proved almost daily) not far from the mysterious flailing figure.
Who was that in there, anyway? It was impossible to say amid the flurry of leaf and limb. Even so something familiar began to suggest itself in the form, finally showing signs of fatigue in the hedge, or shrubbery.
Gordon’s brow slid into a furrow. As he watched, the party in the shrubbery withdrew and the wall of green grew still. Suddenly, he remembered Turtle Rock and Ginny’s journals laid atop it the night before. He glanced at the rock: there was the bag from the grocery, vaguely aglow in the morning light, just where it had been left. Apparently, Rebecca had not come by last night as he assumed she would. He couldn’t believe it was her out there now attacking the hedgerow.
The Bushes shook anew. Gordon looked and nearly gaped to see a bedraggled and clearly irritated Rebecca shuffling sideways through the narrow gap in the hedge. If he had been capable of telepathy at the time, Gordon would have known that Rebecca was primarily annoyed with herself for mistaking that small bare spot on the opposite side of the hedge for the obvious gap that Ginny had so clearly described. And that her hands and arms smarted fiercely from multiple cuts and abrasions suffered while trying to force herself through that bare spot. “I really do hope,” she thought, “that those damn books are there!”
Stepping from the shrubbery, she found herself staring across the yard, through a window, and directly into Gordon’s wide, unblinking eyes. “Oh god,” she thought, recalling the violence she had just inflicted upon the hedge. “I was bustling in the hedgerow!” Her brain instantly selected Stairway To Heaven from her internal jukebox. “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now!” Robert Plant wailed in her head. She offered Gordon a dim smile across the yard. “He probably thinks I’m the freaking May Queen!” she thought.
In his room, Gordon saw the smile and tried to return it a moment or so before giving up and simply pointing in the direction of Turtle Rock. The rock was plainly visible and he was sure that Ginny would have provided Rebecca more than accurate directions. A second thought, however, and the recollection of the violence in the hedge he wasn’t sure of anything. At least, he hoped, she would know that he was trying to be helpful.
Rebecca, though she could see something of the appeal that Gordon had for Ginny in his dark eyes and slender, lean muscled build, had always been uncomfortable in his presence. Turning in the direction he indicated, she saw the rock – what appeared to be a plastic bag glinting atop – some feet distant. Maybe if she had exchanged more than desultory greetings with him. Or if she’d spoken at all that painful night when Ginny packed up her stuff (except for these journals, apparently) and left him standing at the door.
Stepping toward the rock, she mused upon the obvious as if for the first time: I’m stealing Ginny away from him. He loves her, ostensibly. Of course I feel uncomfortable in his presence! She wondered some times at her own lack of awareness. Since she was small she had been one to focus on details (and abstract details more often than not) at the expense of the bigger picture. She had never faulted herself for this, as she knew that this mode of perception had definite advantages – though, admittedly, they were not always as evident as the disadvantages.
Gordon watched Rebecca making her way to the rock, her blonde curls a bit wild, but not unbecoming, upon her head. He gasped then, and gazed on in helpless horror as she tripped over some unseen obstacle and plummeted to the ground in a painfully slow motion display of Newton’s first law of motion. Wincing, he saw her denim clad knees and bare hands hit the earth with skin tearing, bone jarring impact. “Ouch!” he thought, and was half-way down the hall to the back door before he realized he was only partially dressed, and that part the top. Running back to his room, he snatched a pair of khaki shorts from an overstuffed drawer, jumped into them and was tumbling down the steps mere seconds later.
Are you ok!? he nearly cried out, realizing only when he ceased his headlong rush that she was gone. So, too, the journals. Turtle Rock hunched there before him, a mute and empty rebuttal to his unasked question. The hedge, or shrubbery, moved not at all in the still and golden air of this fine July morning.
Richard Cody, '05