She settled into a seat at the union, with a mid morning cup of coffee and looked around. Rita Knowel should be coming soon and they'd sit and pass some time. Amy, Amy Wickers, or, as some would have it, Dr Amy Wickers, had time in the mid mornings, and, since this was a Tuesday, she didn't have a heavy class schedule to worry about. She had some work to do in her office, over in the old Ad building but not even that much of it. She was, as usual, super organized and it always helped. She knew where she was going and what she was going to be working on next in her various history courses, very popular courses at the university.
Amy had been there, tenured now, for a couple of decades. She was almost a fixture, as she often enough expressed it.
It's where they'd both gone, once they'd met, courted and were married, her and her Jed.
She let that thought cross her mind and settled with it and just thought of it for a bit.
It was never an easy task but Amy Wickers was never a woman to shy from difficult tasks. It was the story, the history of her getting her education, started a bit late, after she'd been in the work force for a while. But the tug of history, her love of history, had eventually pulled her into higher education. She'd had a bachelor's degree but decided on a track for her that led eventually to her PhD.
In that process, she'd met Jed, her lover, her husband, her knight in shining armor, her man! Those were the constant and usual thoughts that she let cross her mind and dwell there.
Jed Wickers, the light of Amy's life, right from their first meeting and through all the years that they spent together, loving and arguing —- Amy and Jed were opinionated and enjoyed challenging each other on issues, and there were many of those. They tried, when with friends to keep their bickering down to a minimum but the temptation to challenge each other's opinions was always there. Yet, for the two of them it was always also joyful! Never anything less. They'd even had a few initial sessions of 'bickering', if you wish to call it that, on their honeymoon trip up to Cape Cod.
Amy let that thought invade her mind and it caused her to grin.
"The grin becomes you, girl!" a voice said, and Amy, looking up, greeted her friend Rita Knowel, also a member of the history faculty.
"Thinking those thoughts again?" Rita asked softly, as she settled down in her chair, waving to a few people, students and faculty that were there in the union.
"Of course," Amy said. "It never gets old; those thoughts never go out of style with me!"
"I keep trying to decide if you're trapped in a kind of denial that he's dead and gone or if you are just all wrapped up in a love that will probably pass through time itself!" Rita said.
"Oh, the later, of course!" Amy said. "I know it sounds new- ageish but I keep thinking that I'll meet that man again and we'll make the journey again, together."
(Amy Wickers was half serious and half joking about such statements, and they were normally only made with Rita, her good, good friend. She didn't know that she was making a statement about the kind of challenge that was soon to enter her life. But more of that later!)
Amy chuckled: "It's just so pleasant to think of!"
"I know, honey," Rita said, "As long as it doesn't keep you from living!"
"Living!" Amy said vehemently, "Of course, it's what those thoughts are all about. Living with that man was the greatest joy I knew."
Rita laughed: "No one would suspect that, if they heard the two of you picking on each other."
"Oh, that was part of the fun!" Amy said, relishing the thought and letting the feelings sweep over her.
"You're such a romantic!" Rita said.
"Yes, I am!" Amy admitted.
"But it's so strange," Rita went on. "A romantic for one man."
"He was my man and that was enough," Amy said.
Rita put her hand over Amy's and said: "Hey, girl, I'm not trying to make you feel sad."
"I know," Amy said. "There are sad thoughts but I keep going over all of it and it was the greatest fun in the world!"
"I envy you that," Rita said, "I mean having had that kind of experience, and you are a saint in woman's clothing for the way you took care of Jed, when he was sick."
"Thank you," Amy said, "I guess it was always a possibility, since he was so much older than I but he was grand!"
"Okay, girl," Rita said, "Enough of the reminiscences, I've got to go."
She stood up and said: "Oh, look it's that new guy in Philosophy, what's his name? Ryan ... Ryan something or other?"
"I believe it's Ryan Summers," Amy said. "He has Jed's position in Philosophy and I don't think that I'll forgive him for that for a bit yet. But I will try to be polite."
Rita grinned and said: "You're such a sweetheart!"
"I know!" Amy said, laughing.
"Oh," Rita said then, "He looks like he's coming over here."
"Save me!" Amy said with a grin.
"Nope! You're on your own, lady!" Rita gave Amy a cheek kiss and then left, nodding to Ryan Summers, as the went out of the union snack bar.
(At this particular time in her life, Amy Wickers was a very pretty 60 year old. She tended to keep her hair, streaked with gray now, in a bun at the back of her head. It kept it out of the way. She normally dressed herself in skirts and sweaters. She only rarely was seen outside of her home, the lovely home that she and Jed had built, in slacks. Some would say that she was 'severe' but others, who were looking closely and noticing would also see that Amy Wickers was lovely and at a time in her life, when women outshine younger women with their dazzling mature beauty and that's what Amy was: a mature beauty.)
And now she was 'caught' because just then Ryan Summers, Dr Ryan Summers, from Philosophy was standing next to her table with his coffee in hand and an apple-fritter and asking if he might join her.
Amy smiled her most gracious smile and said that she'd be pleased if he joined her. She shoved aside all of the thoughts about this man having replaced her Jed in the Philosophy department. She wasn't going to 'go there' and let herself get bogged down in such thoughts. She just wasn't.
She extended her hand and said: "Dr Summers, it's so nice to see you. How are you settling in?"
"Fine, thank you, Dr Wickers," he said, smiling, as he sat down.
"I guess it had better be Amy," she said.
"Good -- lovely! And it's Ryan!" he answered.
A TOTAL SHOCK:
One of the first things that Amy noticed, when Ryan had sat down and they went to a first name basis, was that he seemed to be really nervous.
Yet there was something in his nervous demeanor that clicked in her mind and pulled up some old and cherished memories about her and Jed, when they were first introduced and had begun to get to know each other.
"Ryan," she ventured, "Is something wrong?"
"Oh," he said, "I have to tell you something and I know how it's going to seem and yet I need to say it. I guess I need to ask for forgiveness in advance for what I'm about to say."
"Now you have me between intrigued and frightened," she said with a soft chuckle. "But go ahead; it's obviously bothering you. Go a head and talk to me."
He took a drink of his coffee and idly took a bite of the fritter and then, with almost a sigh, that intrigued her even more, finally spoke: "On the way to Cape Cod, when we went there, you were right, when you said that your way would have been shorter and better. I know that I insisted that we go my way but your way would have been better."
It was as if the world crashed down on her. She just stared, and tried to take in what he'd said.
One thing was totally clear to her: "It was a detail of their honeymoon trip, her and Jed's, that only they, the two of them would know."
"What?" she asked, her voice laden with the shock that was so apparent to her.
"I'm sorry, if I'm scaring you," he said softly. "But I have to say a few things, you see."
She didn't respond just then, only an unconscious nod of her head. She was too deeply in shock to make any more of a response.
He gave her a compassionate look and then spoke again and the hole in front of Amy Wicker deepened immediately.
"That night, that first night, when we were tired from traveling so far, you wore only a pair of pink panties to bed!" he said.
The lightning had struck again, for once more it was a detail that only she and Jed would have known.
"I don't understand!" she said with soft vehemence.
"I know," he said, "And I apologize again but I needed to tell you those things and there are many more such details. I realize how much of a shock it is for me to have told you that and I'm going to leave you to think about them."
He stood then and she simply continued to stare at him. He smiled and said: "Thank you for listening to me!"
Then before he left he said: "I hope you still have my sleep shorts, the Sesame Street ones with Oscar the grouch on them! I liked those!"
Amy was completely done it at that point. She'd been given the third piece of information that only she and Jed would have had.
The question sprang to her lips but he was gone, simply weaving his way among the tables in the union snack bar and walking out. Amy Wickers sat there as though the sky had just opened and dropped down on her head, and, to tell the truth, it had.
.... There is more of this story ...