Creme de Menthe
Like an emerald, the Crème de Menthe glimmered under the thick cream. He swirled the drink ever so slightly and the layers mixed together like clouds dissolving in the wind.
Holding up the glass as if to make a toast, he announced, "Well, I suppose it's time to draw the curtain on THIS Summer."
He sounded matter-of-fact. One strand of his hair caught a final ray of sunlight and the liquid in his glass became a smoky dragon's eye, glowing from within. Glistening briefly, it winked out as the sun slid down behind the hill, casting shadows across the lawn.
Smiling, I settled back into the cushions of the porch swing, my feet resting on the arm of his chair. I gazed affectionately at his chiseled features and reddish blonde hair. He kept his hair cropped quite short, no doubt aware of how it accentuated his classic bone structure. His blue eyes were like flaming pools of ice and against the sunset backdrop I saw his profile; a Viking Warrior made of marble and fire.
I raised my own glass and proclaimed in a sing-song voice, "Final bows, heart-felt applause, encore, more applause, roses for the lady, that would be me, you know!" I laughed, then continued, "Drop the curtain, bring up the house lights and let the Fall begin!"
We had toured together all summer. Traveling from town to town as part of an improvisational theatre troupe performing fairy stories for children, we fell naturally into spending most of our time together, on and off the stage. He and I played the villains and delighted in the excited shrieks and wide eyes of the crowds of children. Almost as much as we came to delight in each other. Hilarious frenetic days flowed into sweet and sultry nights.
Playing in parks, churches and community halls, we covered most of New England and the Eastern seaboard and were back where we had started, in Vermont. The summer season was finished and Autumn was right around the corner, although the leaves had not yet turned.
Squeezing my foot gently, he abruptly stood up. Strolling over to the porch railing, he took another sip of the fragrant liqueur.
"I think I'll go to Europe." He said, casually. "Where will YOU go?"
My breath caught in my throat with a strangling sensation, pulse pounding in my ears, heart racing wildly. I looked at my feet on the arm of the chair. My toenails, painted blood red, looked strangely vivid in the dusk. Where will I go? We had never talked about it, really. I had just assumed we would continue on...together.
"Ummmm, Oregon, I guess. I uh, let's see, I have a friend in a commune out there. They raise sheep and do a lot of spinning in the winter. For craft fairs, you know. I'm a pretty good spinner." I babbled on lamely. "And who knows? Maybe there is some community theater in Portland."
Sheep? Spinning? Portland? Oh Gawd! I wanted to crawl under a rock.
"So, ummm, what will you do in Europe, then?" I asked.
Tipping the last of the Crème de Menthe into his mouth, he set the glass down and smiled, "I expect I'll go to Hamburg to see my son and his mom, my wife."
The next day, alone, I headed West.
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