Coming Down From the Mountain

by davenothere

Copyright© 2014 by davenothere

Romantic Story: Charles fines the love of his life then loose her. Follow along as he deals with the lose and fines that he wasn't the only one hurting.

Tags: Ma/Fa   Romantic   Heterosexual   Tear Jerker  

A little about myself, my name is Charles, I grew up like most boys did in a little town in the 60's and 70's. In the summers I would play outside all day, only coming home to eat and sleep. I was in Cub Scouts then Boy Scouts, went fishing and hunting. When I turn fifteen like most boys I started to work so I could get my first car. The only real work around us was the farms that were all around the town. Like most kids in town I couldn't wait to move away and make it big but also like most kids in town it didn't happen the way we had planned.

I joined the Army a week after I got out of high school because my dad's plans for me was to start working in the plant that he had worked in his whole life like his dad. My mom didn't like it but after talking to my dad he was ok with it and said he would make my mom understand. So I left a week after the Fourth of July, which was Monday July 9, 1979.

I didn't become a Ranger or Special Forces. I was a MP (military police). I figured that was something I could use once I got out. I went to basic and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at Fort McClellan, Alabama and from there to my first duty assignment, Camp Casey, Korea. That year could be a story of its self.

After that I was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana and that is where I met Amy. I had only been in the company about three hours when I first saw her. Don't get me wrong, I have seen a lot of good looking females both in and out of the Army but to me none more than Amy. She was nice and always saying hi to everyone with a smile. It didn't take long to see that most of the Sergeants (Sgt) and some officers were chasing after her along with every other guy in the company.

After about two months the company had a PT test. I didn't drink and as anyone who has ever been to Camp Casey will tell you there is not much else to do there but drink or go to the gym. The same went for Fort Polk, so I was in really good shape. I wasn't one of those guys that you see trying to get freakishly larger but I was built. When we had our weigh in I would have to be taped to show the army I wasn't over weight.

So after acing the PT test my Platoon Sgt asked if I would help out with remedial PT for the ones that failed. So I told him I would (not like you have much choice in the army).

The next morning after getting off working midnights they broke up the platoon into those needing remedial PT and those not, I was surprised to see Amy there. I had seen her in the gym about twice a week working out so I thought that she must be there to help out.

The squad leader that was in charge was a real asshole and should have been in the class not leading it. I found out later that he had caught the Platoon Sgt and Platoon Leader together. Not that I could blame the Platoon Sgt, our Lt was good looking but as everyone knows that's a big no-no in the military.

It didn't take long to realize that the Sgt was more into belittling then helping. When I said something to him, he locked my heels (made me stand at attention) while he informed me he was in charge and my supervisor. Lucky for me the new company First Sgt saw what was happening and took the Sgt to his office and left me in charge. After that I didn't have it easy till it was found out about the Platoon Sgt and the Lt and that the Sgt was blackmailing them.

Three days a week I would have them do regular military PT but on Tuesday's and Wednesday's we would go to the gym. I wasn't having them lift heavy weights, just the opposite. I would have them do low weights with more reps, you see it is endurance that is needed in the military. Three weeks later they retook their PT test and all but one passed. I didn't feel sorry when they put him out of the military a few months later because I knew he was trying to get out anyway.

After Amy passed her PT test, if I was in the gym when she came in she would come over and we would work out together and that was about three times a week. While we were working out we talked a lot about the military, where we were stationed and home.

I found out that she was from a real small town in Wyoming, had no brothers or sisters like me but she had a lot of cousin. She once said that one of the reason she joined the army was so she didn't end up like all of her cousins. Pregnant and married to someone that would run off as soon as they got a chance to get out of the area.

About a month later the company was having a party and I was sitting with some people when someone sat down next to me. It was a girl that has been hitting on me since I got to the company. (I'll call her Penny because I don't really remember her name) Now she wasn't bad looking but everyone refereed to her as the company's welcoming party.

Any new guy that came in to the company she would go out with for about a week or two or till the next new guy showed up. If that is the way she wanted to be, good for her but that was not what I was looking for. I was trying to get with Amy.

I got up and was just walking around for a bit and every once in a while looking for Amy. I guess I was doing this a little too much for Penny. As I was standing by a tree she came over and just flatly said that I had no chance with Amy because all of the girls knew that she was a lesbian.

Back then it was even more taboo then it is now to be labeled a lesbian in the military. Just a rumor of someone being gay or a lesbian seemed enough to get them kicked out.

It took all of a second to tell her, then that's going to be one lucky girl that catches her and walked away back to my barracks. Everyone was getting drunk and I didn't like hanging around most of them when they were. A few were fun to hang around with when they were drinking and I would even go out with them. They liked that a lot as I was the safe way home.

After I got back to my barracks I decided to go to the gym then maybe catch a movie. I was in the gym just stretching out when Amy came in. She didn't say anything but just came over and started to stretch out with me. It was strange because she wasn't talking but did answer when I asked if she needed me to spot for her when I saw her put more weights on than I had ever seen her try.

After working out for about an hour and a half we called it quiets and as we were walking back she finely spoke. She asked me what I was doing tonight. I told her I was thinking of going to see a movie. She said that sounded good and then she asked me if I would mind if she tagged along. I think my heart skipped a few beats.

I guess I was taking too long to answer because I could see she was about to say something when my mouth and brain started working again. I told her I would like that and asked her where she wanted to meet up at. She laughed and said why I don't just pick you up in front of your barracks in an hour. I said ok and then it hit me, she was asking me out. I was just about to say something then she said she would see me in an hour and then added as she was walking away that I better not keep her waiting.

She was giggling as she walked away and that was the start of our life together. I did ask her sometime later about that day and she told me that she was just walking behind us when Penny came up to me and we both said what we did. That was when she realized that I liked her for her and not just what she looked like.

We dated for almost eight months before I asked her to marry me. We were both within a few months of getting out so we waited till we were out to get married. We got married in her home town on July 15, 1982. My parents came and since I had no other family Amy's family made a big deal of them being there.

We stayed in the area and we both got jobs with the county sheriff. It was hard at first because we worked different shifts for the first year but when I made Sgt, Amy quit. Not because I made so much more money as a Sgt, it was because she was pregnant. That was something she wanted after seeing how happy her cousins were with their kids.

Our daughter Emily was born the 1st of March 1984. I didn't mind getting up with her during the night because I missed her because I was at work all day. Life was just great, I was there for her first steps and I went overboard on her first Christmas.

That winter was a bad one, lots of heavy snow and the flu hit the area hard. On January 28th almost haft of the second shift had called in sick again so I had to work my third double in a row. What made it worse, it was my mother in-laws birthday and to top it off it started to snow again. That meant we would be helping the State Police with accidents on the highways.

I called home to tell Amy and she said everyone would understand. I let her know the roads were already getting bad so to be careful. She reminded me again that she grew up learning how to drive in this kind of weather but if it got too bad she would just stay at her parents.

I was right, it was a busy night on the highways. I will never understand why people with four wheel drives think that they can still drive 55 in the snow. Four wheel drive is great for pulling you through mud, up hills and getting you unstuck from snow, but if two wheels are going to slide on snow and ice so do four wheels.

I got home around 1:00 in the morning and I was looking forward to getting some sleep since I had the next three days off. Amy's car was not in the garage but this did not bother me because I was sure her mom made her stay like she had before. Her mother loved having her granddaughter there.

I woke up and it was after 10:00, I listened but I didn't hear Amy or Emily. As I got up I could see why, there was another foot of snow on the ground on top of what was there when I went to bed and it was still snowing.

After getting cleaned up and starting some coffee I call my in-laws to see how they were doing. My mother in-law answered and after wishing her a belated happy birthday and telling her how sorry I was for not making it there I asked to talk to Amy.

You know that silence that happens just when you know you're going to find out something was wrong? That's what happened and then Amy's mom said she didn't stay last night, she had left around 8:00.

I spent the next hour calling everyone we knew looking for her. I call the station and state police to see if her vehicle was reported in an accident. Nothing, I was told there were a lot of vehicles stranded on the highway and they were getting to them as fast as they could and they would call me if they found anything.

I called my in-laws back and Amy's uncle answered. I told him I had not found them and I was going to use my snowmobile to look for her. He told me that his son was out doing that now on the highway. I told him what roads I would be taking and if he talked to his son to have him check the next one.

I was going nuts thinking of what might have happen to Amy and Emily. There were four routes that she could have taken. The most likely was the highway as it would be the one that got plowed first. I took the second most likely route but found nothing, going back home I took the least likely and still nothing.

When I got home and they were still not there and I was freaking out. I called my in-laws again and Amy's cousin had just got back and there was still no sign of her. Between using the snowmobile and my jeep once I got chains on it I spent all day and night looking for them.

The call that I dreaded came in three days later. They had found her car and another car off of the side of the road down about a 40 foot cliff off the highway. Do to the plowing all that night and the next day no one could see where they went off. As they always try to do, they told me that even if someone had seen it happen there would have been nothing anyone could have done for them.

After the funeral I think was the hardest. Everyone came to tell me how sorry they were and how they understood when I would just start crying. I never believed that anyone could but my in-laws.

The second worst call I have ever received came at the end of February. It was the call from Gerber Life. I don't know who cried more during the call me or the lady on the other end. You know how they say it is sometimes easier to talk to someone you don't know. Well, I told this lady the whole story from meeting Amy all the way up to receiving the call from the state police.

A few other things happen that week, Amy's Life Ins paid out, the Mortgage Ins we had paid the house off, I quit work and closed the house up around me. I only came out when I needed food or if someone wanted to try and talk to me.

I guess it was about two months later that Amy's parents and one of her uncle's showed up at the house with another lady that had three kids with her. Amy's dad said that he wanted to talk to me and when I stepped outside he said it was something that needed to be done in private. This was the first time that he had ever pushed to come into the house and it would be the first time I let anyone in since the end of February. The look of shock when they walked in was easy to see.

I had let my hair and facial hair go but the house was Amy's pride and joy. I swear that when I got home from work I could have taken a white glove to anywhere in the house and not have found any dust. They could have done it that day because that was how I checked every room after cleaning it.

They followed me into the kitchen and we sat at the table. Amy's dad started to explain that the lady with them was one of Amy's cousins and that her husband ran off and left her with their three kids. I was listening to the whole story then I remembered the day in the gym when Amy told me why she had joined the army. I didn't even realize that the youngest child, a little girl maybe three or four, somehow climbed up in to my lap.

When I finely realize that she was in my lap I yelled because it scared the shit out of me and my yelling scared her. Once the girl stopped crying Amy's uncle asked if I could let his daughter stay till they could figure out what to do and as I had a four bedroom house and all.

Looking at the little girl that I just scared I thought about Emily and agreed as long as no one went into Emily's room. They agreed to this so Amy's uncle and cousin went to get some clothes they had in the car.

Amy's mom came over to me and thanked me but asked why they couldn't use Emily's room. After telling her that nothing has changed in that room since the day they left. I would clean it and put everything right back in its spot, the toys on the floor to the dirty clothes in the hamper that I washed and put back in. I looked at her, she said she understood.

That night and the next day were hell. As soon as I would clean up one thing there were two more areas that the kids messed up. They were not bad kids, they were just kids. The second night I sat in the floor of Emily's room and cried.

The next morning I called Amy's parents and asked them to come over. Once they got there I told them that I could not handle this. Amy's mom said she understood and they would find other arrangement for Amy's cousin and kids.

I know that what I said next they were not expecting. I told them that they could stay as long as they never went into Emily's room. I was the one that was going to leave for a little while. I told them that they were still on Amy's and my saving account and that is where all our money was. All they had to do was keep up the house and Amy's family could use it as they needed it.

All day I went around the house getting some things packed up like all the pictures and other personal things. I carefully put them in Emily's room so as not to change it. That night I packed a backpack that Amy and I had used to go camping with everything I could think I might need. I had a few clothes, a small tent, a fishing pole and gear and finely my rifle and pistol with ammo for both.

The next morning when I came out of my room Amy's cousin asked where I was going. I told her for a walk and when she asked me when I would be back I saw the tears start to form and when I said I didn't know she ran to me crying. She told me she was so sorry for me because she knew how much she missed Amy and that it must hurt ten times more.

With that I walked out of the house and up in to the hills. Now the hills were the Rockies, they just called them hills here for some reason. I never asked why. All summer I didn't go too far from the town. I would sit up in the hills watching the grave yard where Amy and Emily were. Amy's mom came by every Sunday with fresh flowers and sometimes she would have a kid with her or someone else.

I fished all summer, snared a few rabbits and there were plenty of wild berries and plants to eat. I remember the first time Amy and I went camping. I started packing all kinds food as we were going to be out for a week. When Amy saw this she said that we might as well stay home if we're bringing all that food. That's when she told me that her grandfather used to take her camping every year and all they took with them was sugar, flour, salt, pepper and coffee. He taught her how to fish, hunt, trap, what plants she could eat and what ones were used for medicine. That first summer we were married we ended up spending two weeks up in the hills and she taught me everything that she could remember.

As fall started I knew that there was no way I could make it through the winter so reluctantly I started walking south along the Rockies. I spent the winter in the south, where I don't know but as it got warmer I started to move back north.

I was sure I was going have to go into some town and find out where I was till the day I looked down and realized I was home. I didn't go into town, I just stayed up in the hills watching the grave yard. The day I heard the church bells I watched but didn't see Amy's mom in the grave yard but I did see a little girl standing by the graves.

I really couldn't see her that well, I could only tell it was a girl because of the dress. That night I went to the grave yard and put wild flowers on Amy's and Emily's graves. Every night that week I would do the same thing. The next Sunday I watched and what looked like the same little girl came out of the church and walked over to Amy's and Emily's grave.

I saw her turning around and someone walking to her. By the way she looked it could be Amy's mom. I could tell that they are talking and then I saw them looking up into the hills.

It was the second night that week that I started to bring the flowers down roots and all hoping they would grow. Every night I found myself spending more time just lying between their head stones. I think it was Friday night that I almost got caught in the grave yard by the police.

The next Sunday I saw the girl and who I assumed was Amy's mom walking to the graves with flowers. They stop but then the girl turned and ran back to the church as the lady lays flowers down on both graves.

The little girl returned and from her action she was watering the flowers I had planted. The rest of the summer went this way. When it started to get cold and the leaves started to change I made one last visit to their graves. I kissed each head stone telling them I would be back next spring and left.

As I was moving south I ran into the first person I had seen in almost a year and a haft. He called himself Trapper John and boy could he talk. I was one of few words before and I was even of fewer now. After about five minutes John asked if I was mute. I just shook my head no. I spent most of that winter close to John's camp and he taught me a lot, like tanning deer skin to make clothes and for selling too.

At the end of winter he showed me this little place where we could sell the skins we had and get supplies. John called it the Trading Post. When the guy told me what he would pay me for the furs and deer skins I just started to pass them to him till John started to bargain with him.

After getting what we needed I headed north and John headed north east saying he was going to go see the ocean. There was still a little snow on the ground up where I was at when I got home. So I moved closer so I could see the grave yard and could see flowers on their graves.

That night I went to the grave yard and told them I was back. As I turned to leave I saw a note. When I opened it, all it said was "Charles it's time to come home". I took the note and headed back up in to the mountains.

Sunday I watched as a girl and a lady walked to where Amy's and Emily's graves were at and as the girl bent down I saw the lady looking around. It surprised me when the girl started waving, now it wasn't right at me, as matter of fact she turned around in a circle waving but I knew it was for me.

This summer was just like the last, every night I would go down to the grave yard and sit between their head stones. I fished and trapped a little, but this year I keep and tanned the skins to sell. As fall came I again made one last visit to Amy's and Emily's grave to say goodbye but I left the note that they had left but I added "not yet" to it in charcoal.

I met up with John almost at the same spot that I had left him and seeing all the furs that I had we went to the trader. A little about what John called the Trading Post. It was more like our version of the old west's hole in the wall. Everyone there was hiding out from someone or something. You had bikers, military vets and people like me. There was The General, he was a WWI vet. He claims that he and some guys from WWI started the place when they came back and couldn't deal with the real world after what they had seen and done.

He had stories on just about everyone that ever came through the place. Some were funny stories but most of the stories he told were sad ones. Every night he would sit and tell a few and others would share their stories as well. I found out from him that John was a banker and he found out that he was helping to foreclose on his own sister's house. He emptied his account and paid off the loan and just walked away from everything. One year I was sitting back a ways from the group as he told a story that I didn't catch all of about a guy who he had never heard a word from but he saw the great sorrow in his eyes that told a story of their own.

The next summer I found a note at the grave site that said "we will be here when you are ready".

For the next three years nothing changed, I would go home in the spring and spend a lot of nights lying between their graves and meet John every fall and spend the winters down south. The next year I found a note that told me that my parents had passed away. It didn't say how but it didn't need too.

That fall I was waiting at the normal spot that I would meet John at but after waiting for over a week I left and went to the Trading Post. After giving my furs to the trader he asked if I had heard about John, shaking my head no he told me that they heard that he was found in his camp. It seemed he had die in his sleep and they just found out last night. That was the night that The General told his story.

After that I lost track of time or maybe I just didn't want to know. Every summer I got home there was always a note and the girl was always there along with the older lady. As the years passed the girl was growing and the other lady seemed to slow down.

One summer that I was home there was a helicopter flying around one day and the next day too. I had to move from one of my normal trapping spots three valleys over because there were a lot of people there. I was hunting in the valley on the other side of home when I saw a girl waving as a helicopter flew over head. I knew that they could not see her as she was in the trees.

After the helicopter had passed I could hear her crying so I started walking to the girl. When she saw me I don't know if she was more a scared of me or the fact that she was lost.

I had not cut my hair or beard in a long time and I didn't wear normal clothes, what I wore I make from the animals that I killed. I was told I looked like the guys from a movie about mountain men. I had not really talked to anyone since I left those many years ago and even less since John had passed away.

The girl was wearing what I knew was a Girl Scout uniform that was easy to see. Before she could run I told her I only wanted to help her find her way home. I had stopped walking to her and she just looked at me. I told her that there was a town just over the ridge and if she followed me I would show her. I turned and slowly started walking home. At first I didn't hear her move and I was wondering if I was going to have to go into town to tell someone where she was but after a little bit I could hear her following me.

After coming over the top of the ridge and starting down the girl started to move faster, I turn and when I did she almost fell down trying to stop. I told her not to run as she might fall or run over the many drop-off that are hidden up here. After that I started back down the hill. Once we got to a point that there was a well used trail I stopped and moved to the side. I told her if she followed the path down it would take her to the town and help but I warned her again not to run. As I moved off to the side and back up the hill she started down. I followed her most of the way but stayed hidden so as not to scare her.

That night there was a note thanking me for helping to bring the girl home and again telling me that when I was ready to come home they will be there. I left shortly after that because people started coming up into the area, mostly police and guys with guns.

The next summer I was just coming back from fishing when I heard a noise. Living in the woods this long I could tell what noise belong to what animal and where and how far away it was. I knew that this was a person and I was almost to the top of the ridge when I heard it. As I looked over the ridge I saw a girl standing there looking around.

When she said I know you're here somewhere, I just want to thank you for helping me last year and to tell you something. When you're ready come home.

I watch as she went back down the hill towards the town. I did not see her again all summer and no one else came up. I spent the rest of the summer at home and most nights lying between Amy and Emily trying to remember them.

That winter was a hard one, the cold hit even down where I normally went so I think I was a little late getting back home because when I got there, there were two notes. The first one was the same that has been left every year and the second one asking if everything was ok. Sunday I saw what looked like two ladies going to the graves and then one of them kneeled down then stood up fast and waved.

It was about halfway through summer when I came over the ridge and saw a girl sitting on a log. She surprised me because I had not heard her. I must have made a noise because she turned before I could move and slip away. She stood and said "I knew you were back". I looked at her and she looked familiar. She giggled and said "you don't remember me, two years ago I got lost and you helped me home".

I just nodded yes and she said "last year I came up here one time to thank you but didn't know if you heard but I couldn't come back because my mom found out and grounded me". I think it was the first time that I laughed in many years. She said "oh you think it is funny that I come up here to thank you and get in trouble". I shook my head no and sat down right where I was.

She looked at me and said "I know you can talk because you did before. Why don't you now". I looked at her and asked her what her name was. She smiled and said "Paula what's yours". It actually took a second to remember and I told her. She laughed and asked what did you forget your own name. When I lowered my head she said I'm sorry. She then asked how long had I been living in the mountains. I told her I didn't know and that I didn't even know what year it was.

She didn't tell me what year it was but she did talk about when she got lost. She was out hiking with the Girl Scouts when she went looking for something. Then she got lost and only being 14 and alone in the woods for the first time she was scared. Then she giggled and said I had scared her even more at first but then she remembered something and then it was ok.

I didn't asked a question the whole time she was talking, one because I haven't talked to anyone in a few years and second seeing her there just smiling and not scared like before just made me feel good.

When she stood up and said she needed to get back to town before she gets in trouble again. I stood up and told her that I was glad she was safe. She smiled and said I'll try to get back up next week but if I didn't see you again thanks for being there for me. After Paula left there was something that kept bugging me about her but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

She did make it back up the mountain one more time just after fall started and we again talked. Well she talked and I mostly listen. But before she left I told her I was going to be leaving soon because of the weather so she should not come back up the mountain. She asked if I was planning to come back again next year. I told her yes I would be coming back every summer as long as I could. After I said that she had a small frown but I didn't say anything.

Three days later after saying my goodbyes to Amy and Emily I left for the winter.

I had only been home for three days and it was Monday, but I only knew this because I watch as two ladies walked to the graves and one of them waved the day before. When I walked over the ridge to check the grave yard I saw Paula sitting in the same spot that I did last year. I did not even recognize her till she spoke. Now if my memory was correct she was 14 when I found her and helped her home and that would make her 16 or 17.

I again sat down where I was and listen to her talk about last year, school, and her friends. Finely she looked at me and said tell me what you did all winter long.

I sat there looking at her for a bit, the last person I said more than yes to was her and that was last year. So I figured I would start there and after I said that she stood up and slowly walked over to where I was and sat down in front of me and said I really want to know what you did.

So I told her everything but going to the grave yard and saying goodbye to Amy and Emily. When I was done she smiled and said that wasn't so bad was it. I laughed and said no. I also saw it would soon be getting dark. I told her this and she said yes, that she needed to be getting home.

Two days later I was just looking at the grave yard in the morning when I saw Paula coming up the path that I had led her down three years ago and as I watched her something just felt so familiar. It was like I had watched her walk a hundred times before.

I moved to where I was the other day and sat down to wait, as she was walking up the path she saw me and said good I don't have to wait half a day for you to show up. I looked at her as she sat down in front of me she said that she had waited Monday for over five hours for me to show up. We talked all day, mostly she did but she asked me a lot of question and I answered them.

Over the rest of the summer I saw Paula every Monday and Thursday. Some days we would talk and others I would show her around the mountains. She would even bring up a picnic basket once a week and would leave me the leftovers. Mostly bread and jams. When school started up she could only come up on Saturdays.

Winter was coming and the weather was getting colder and I told her I was going to have to leave soon, she asked if I was sure and I told her yes. She asked if I could wait till after next Saturday because she had a dance Friday and she wanted to tell me all about it. I had already stayed a week longer then I should have but I didn't tell her this. So I told her that I would. That next week I got everything ready to leave on Sunday.

Paula was there early Saturday morning and she told me all about the dance. I knew that she didn't have a boyfriend to take her because she told me that the person she liked didn't know it. She stayed all day, we ate the lunch that she brought and she made me take the two jars of jams that she brought. When I could tell that it was getting time for her to be heading home I told her so.

As she was getting up she said I hope you come back next year. I told her me too. That night I said my goodbye to Amy and Emily. I almost didn't make it over one of the passes because of leaving late and the snow came early. When I made it to the Trading Post, The General said he was wondering if I had tried to stay up north or got stuck in the snow. One thing I have learned about The General was he really did care about most of us.

When I looked at him and said it was close, the snow in the pass was already deep. He had a shocked look then laughed and said that was the most I have ever heard you say at one time. Then he yelled round of drinks on me.

Winter seemed extra long this year and before heading to the pass I stopped to sell the furs that I had and pick up some supplies. The General came over and he said I see you're back to your old self. I just nodded. He put his hand on my shoulder and said it was nice knowing you and walked away. Now I had heard him say this to a few people and they never showed back up. Most of them were found a few years later in one of their camps or I should say what was left of them, others were never heard from again.

I heard some of the old guys talking about a late snow coming and they were staying a few extra days but I wasn't. The weather was already getting to hot for me so I headed out. I had just made it over the pass when the snow started but I made it so I started my way north.

When I got home it was almost dark so I put my gear down and made my way to the grave yard. Again there were two notes the first was the same as always but the second one said I can't wait for you to come home so I can see you. Paula.

Now it had been a long day with me pushing to get home. As I got back to my gear I held the two notes thinking about the one Paula had left and I just didn't understand it. It was real late before I was in bed and fell asleep.

I woke to the sound of the church bells and quickly moved over to see a lady running to the graves and an older lady following. Before the older lady even got to the grave I saw the one that had ran to the grave start waving. She didn't turn around like the little girl had before waving to the hills all around the church, she was waving in my direction only. As I watched I saw her hug the older lady then run to the parking area.

I watch the older lady go to the graves and sit down. Even with the weak scope I had I could tell she was talking to Amy's grave. She sat there a long time and I all most missed the first sounds of someone coming up the trail. I got up and moved so I could see both the grave yard and the trail the best I could.

It was easy to see the white coming up the path and I knew it was Paula. She must have been the person at the graves and I'm sure the other was Amy's mom. It took me a minute or two to move to the spot I would sit at last year. I was sitting there about five minutes before I saw the white dress through the woods but when I saw her I thought that I was seeing a ghost. It looked like Amy running through the woods.

I was so in shock when I heard Paula yell I knew you would be back. The problem was it was coming from someone that looked like Amy. She sat right in front of me and took my hands but I guess it was then she saw my face or what you could see of it. She took my hands and kissed them just like Amy use to do. She started to tell me how worried she was because the day after I had left they got a heavy snow and she knew that I only stayed that extra week because she had asked me too.

After she said this it was the first time that I saw her take a breath. She asked me if I was ok and I shook my head no. I asked Amy and she shook her head no then said Paula. We just sat there looking at each other for a bit with her holding my hands.

Finely she said let's take a walk. As she got up she let go of one of my hands and helped me up. As she started to walk up to the ridge she still held my hand. We walked for most of the day not saying much. I wasn't paying much attention as to where we were going or where we were at because I just let her lead me where she wanted to go. I just watched her smiling the whole time.

When she stopped and turned around facing me she said this is where you found me. I looked around and saw that we were in the valley that I found her in. When I looked back to her she leaned in and gave me a kiss on my cheek and said thank you.

What I saw in her eyes I had not seen in many years but I was sure I knew what it was. Love, but before I could say anything she spun around giggling and pulled me up to the ridge. When we got to the top she told me that she only had one more week of school then we can spend the summer together.

We didn't say another word till we got to the main trail leading back down to the town. When she turned and looked at me I could see she was a little worried when she asked if I was going to be here next Saturday. When I nodded yes, the smile that she had all day returned and for the first time all day she let go of my hand and started down the trail.

As I sat down at my camp I realized I had not eaten all day. So as I started to fix something to eat I started to think everything over. I was sure that the girl that I have watch all these years putting flowers on Amy's and Emily's graves was Paula. She must be one of her cousin's daughters. Did she really look like Amy or has it really been that long that I forgot what Amy looked like and was just hoping it was her. No I was not hoping it was Amy, I was glad that it was Paula. I had missed her all last winter, our walks and talks that we had. But the kiss and the look that she had confused me. It took a bit to remember how old she was. She was 17 if I was correct and would be turning 18 June 5th.

Then I wondered if it was really love that I saw or was it the fact that she knew I stayed late last year and she was worried that I might not have made it south. Add that to the fact that we were standing in almost the same spot that I found her four years ago. That had to be it, I had seen myself at the trading post right before I left. What beautiful young girl would be in love with someone that looked like me? Plus I had to be almost forty or more. I must be more like a father to her as I know she hasn't had one. Then there is the way I live that has to be exciting to some people and I know she loves the woods with as many walks we took in them last year.

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