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.
Amy went home after that. She was still in a state of shock. She wasn't a cryer but she felt that this whole possibility was pushing her near to a good and sustained cry. Of course she realized what Ryan meant in saying those things. "But, ' she told herself, people don't come back like that." That statement was followed by one more, and it was a question to herself: "Do they?"
She didn't try to find him and ask him about what he'd said. She just knew that she had to go home and think.
The things that he'd said never left her mind for a minute. She simply called off the rest of her day, easy enough to do on that particular day of the week, and packed up and went home.
She fixed herself a cup of tea at home and, restless now, walked around the house for a bit. As she moved, she mentioned his name, slowly and softly speaking the word: "Jed", over and over, and then she did cry, long and loud. It was like a releasing again for her but the confusion that now was apparent with it was a real complication. She had tried and tried to let her Jed go but now with this Ryan thing; was he back? Those thoughts raced across her mind, as she tried to get a hold on herself and stop her weeping.
She was so wound up with that Ryan Summers had said that she could hardly think straight. She finally decided, once the tea was finished, and she'd had her cry, that she'd sit and think this out. It was her way. In the process of thinking it out, she'd often enough speak her mind to Jed and let his spirit kind of help hers along.
She tackled the problem from the point of view of how Ryan Summers might know about those details of life between her and her Jed.
The more she thought about it, the more she realized that there was simply no way that a casual stranger —-though at this point Ryan Summers seemed like less and less of a casual stranger to her —-could or would know those kinds of details about her life with Jed: the 'discussion/argument' in the car about which road to take to get to the cape the fastest way. In that instance, they'd taken Jed's way, though she always thought that her way was better and shorter, and that's precisely what Ryan Summers had said to her that day.
Or there was also the intimate fact that for that first night for them, on the honeymoon, she'd worn a pair of pink panties only to bed. She knew how much Jed had liked that and it was a treat that she'd given him that night, and so many nights there after. This too Ryan Summers had known.
The final detail about those sleep shorts of Jed's, which, 'yes' she still had, with the Sesame Street logo on them and the image of Oscar the grouch in his garbage can, set her mind reeling, again, as she thought of those things anew.
She'd gotten that much hashed out with herself. It certainly was true that something strange was going on but it wasn't that there was any way that someone would have access to that information, no way at all!
She went on then and needed to consider something else, some other kind of explanation. Yet, she came up with nothing. She knew, after a short while that she was skirting the real issue and finally, drinking wine by now, was determined to face it squarely.
She was sitting in their living room. It was dark early that day. The moon was already up and beams were shining in the window but she had no other light on in the room. She spoke softly but it was with words that captured her entire heart: "Jed, honey, have you, have you really, indeed come back to me? Is that what this means?" She cried again then with the very thought that this might, might just be happening.
She spoke into the silence of the night but just the mention of his name was enough to make the speaking and her feeling there in the dark both lovely and comforting.
"Honey," she went on, "This is too much for me to take in. I've always thought about, hoped for meeting you on another plane another dimension, I don' t know, of God, somewhere and somehow. But is this even possible?"
She was shocked then because the very air around her seemed to be crackling with energy and was telling her that it was indeed possible. Her breath caught in her throat at the insistence of the positive message about what Ryan Summers had said.
She stopped then and wiped tears away from her eyes, overwhelmed by the intensity of it. She needed to decide what to do next. She knew that.
One of her first instincts was to contact Rita and hash it out girlfriend to girlfriend. Rita had often enough been there for her in time of need, and she had, any number of times, performed the same kind of service for Rita.
As though reading her thinking, the phone rang.
"Hey, girl," Rita said. "Anything new?"
"Oh, Rita," Amy said with the distress obvious in her voice, "I have to talk to you. Something has happened that has me just at sixes and sevens!"
"What?" Rita asked, her voice full of concern. "Let's get together," Rita said at last.
"Yes," Amy said, "If you don't mind, I'll come over there. Talking here might not give me the kind of clarity that I need for this ... this thing, I mean to process it."
"Okay, love," Rita said, "I'll have a bottle of white for us and if we can't solve the problem, we'll get drunk and ignore it."
Amy laughed with her friend and said: "If I only could! But I don't know!"
"Okay then," Rita went on, "Then get over here!"
"On my way," Amy said and went to Rita's right away.
(The two of them had joined the faculty together and had formed a bond between themselves from the very beginning. They had, over the years, simply helped each other out in numerous ways. It was simply Rita's time to be there for Amy.)
Rita greeted her friend at the door with a hug. She also noted how upset and nervous Amy seemed to be. She had the white wine ready and they went into the living room, where Rita's tabby, Samson, was already lounging on the furniture.
"There he is," Amy said with great affection. "Samson the strong guy!" She riffled Samson's fur and got an appreciative noise from the big lounging cat.
They sat then and Amy took a deep breath and said: "I have to tell you what happened to me today. Ryan Summers came to my table, after you left and talked to me a little bit. He seemed to be really, really nervous about what he had to say. I was somewhere between intrigued and kind of fearful. I simply didn't know what to think."
"What did he want?" Rita asked.
"Well," Amy said, having taken a deep breath, "There were three things that he mentioned and then he left, leaving me to think about it."
"Yes?" Rita said, encouraging.
Amy took another deep breath and began: "You need to know that on the trip to Cape Cod for our honeymoon, Jed and I had a disagreement about the route."
Rita smiled. It was something about her friends Amy and Jed that she knew all along. They loved to challenge each other and a bit of bickering was the order for the day with the two of them.
"We took Jed's route," Amy said. "That seemed to be the end of it."
"Yes?" Rita said, not totally understanding.
"Well, the first thing that Ryan said to me today was that I had been right about the route that we should have taken to the Cape on that honeymoon trip!" Amy said softly.
"Ohhhhhhh!" Rita said, the surprise obvious on her face. "Really?"
"Yes, really!" Amy said. "And that was only the first thing."
"Oh!" Rita said again.
"Then he mentioned the fact that for that first night, as a treat for him, knowing him by then as I did, I wore only a pair of pink panties to bed."
"Did you? Had you?" Rita asked, wide eyed.
"Yes, I had," Amy said. "And..."
"More?" Rita asked, agog now with this news from her friend.
"Yes, just before he left me, 'to think about these things', as he said, he said that he hoped I still had those favorite sleep shorts of his, the Sesame Street ones with Oscar the Grouch on them."
"And?" Rita prompted.
"I not only remembered them; I still have them!" Amy said and just stared at her friend for a moment.
"I ... uh ... I don't know what to say ... to think!" Rita said.
"My thoughts exactly," Amy replied.
She was shaking her head then and went on: "There are only two people in the world who'd know those things: me and Jed. We're the only two."
Then giving Rita a kind of pleading look, Amy asked: "What does it mean?"
They sat in silence for a moment or two and it was Rita who broke the silence.
"The first thing is whether there was or is any sense that someone is fooling with you? Joking?" Rita said.
"I know but it's out of the question," Amy said. "Those items were private between Jed and me. We two only would know those things."
"So, you think that for whatever reason, this communication from Jed ... sorry! From Ryan is sincere?" Rita said.
Amy was struck by the error that Rita had made because within was the idea that was growing with her that her Jed was back, in the person of Ryan Summers.
"Yes, I'm afraid that I do think it was sincere!" Amy said. "It scares the hell out of me and at the same time, makes me feel like the light is shining in my world again. What do I do?"
The last was as much a plea as possible.
"What I think," Rita said softly, "Is that you need to go and see Ryan Summers and give him a chance to talk, to see if he knows anything else or how much he knows. That's what I think."
"Yes," Amy said, leaning forward to kiss Rita's cheek, "You're totally correct about it. It's what I need to do next."
"When?" Rita asked.
"I think as soon as possible," Amy said. "It will haunt me otherwise; it already is haunting me."
"But what if it's true?" Rita asked, her voice soft and whispery, as if she were afraid to broach the possibility.
"Oh, if that were true!" Amy said, "I never ever expected that kind of happiness in my lifetime again!"
They stood then and Amy hugged her friend: "You are the friend of a lifetime!" she said.
"I'll be here for whatever," Rita said, knowing that there was also a great chance of more hurt for Amy in this.
"Thank you!" Amy said, still hugging her.
She decided next that she needed to talk to Ryan personally. She didn't feel that she could put that conversation off any longer, especially after her talk with Rita. She went to the university web site and got the information that she needed and went to the address that was listed for Dr Ryan Summers.
Uncharacteristically for her, she was wearing jeans and a tee shirt that night. She was too wrapped up in the dilemma to consider seriously what she was wearing just then.
It was an apartment building, a fairly new one. R Summers was listed in a garden apartment, on the lowest floor. She happened to approach the door as someone else was leaving and they let her in. She was then able to go directly to his door and, hesitating for a half a minute or so, knocked on the door.
He answered after her first series of knocks. She took it in, as he stood there and smiled at her.
He was wearing a tee shirt and a pair of workout pants. She was impressed by the broadness of his shoulders and the obvious muscles of his chest.
"Is this a bad time?" she asked softly.
"No, not really," he said, "I was doing my workout is all. Forgive me for being so sweaty and all. But maybe you don't mind that!" This latter was said with a knowing smile on his face.
It had been a joke kind of between her and Jed. She loved him, when he was sweaty from a workout. It was always a turn on for her. At such times he called her 'his Kinky Broad', and Amy reveled in that title.
That very thought swept across her mind just then and she was plunged into a feeling of longing that was so strong that it fairly made her stagger.
"You okay?" he asked but his smile indicated that he knew exactly what was happening to Amy Wickers just then.
She was aware of this too, and was confounded by being caught out being so completely, sexually turned on by this startlingly beautiful, strong looking and sweaty young man.
The thought raced across her mind that there was no use in denying the fact either.
"I promise that I'll behave myself," she said, answering his smile with one of her own.
"I might not hold you to that! Kinky Broad!" he said, beaming at her. The title, the words hit her hard and simply emphasized what was happening just then.
The next thing that happened was a matter, for Amy, of instinct. She didn't pause to think any more; she didn't take time to consider; she just launched herself at him and clung to him, letting the smell of him and the vague sweatiness of him overwhelm her already over-worked senses.
She gave in to the moment then. She was holding him and he had his arms around her. Over and over she said the same thing: "I want it to be but is this real? I want it to be but is this real? I want it to be but is this real?"
"As real as you and I standing here and holding onto each other," he replied. "As real as the grace of whatever God exists whose love has made this happen."
She sighed her acceptance of that and then he kissed her hair and said to her in a voice that was soft but filled with emotion and passion: "Here she is, my Pantygirl!"
(It was a name that was based on her giving him that first night treat of her in bed with him wearing only those panties. She'd done it to please him and he called her his 'Pantygirl' forever after that but only in the dark and in their times of being together and sharing passion.)
She heard what he said and then she cried. The full effect of what she was hoping for and what she was sure that he was trying to tell her about himself, overwhelmed her and she simply gave over to the emotions and cried long and loudly.
He swept her up off of her feet and took her bodily to the living room, settling her down on the couch with him and he cradled her and let her have the overwhelming feeling of the situation. He let her cry.
Finally, cried out, she looked up into his smiling face and said: "It is really you?"
"Yes," he said, "Ask me anything you wish!"
She did. They spent the next forty five minutes to an hour with her asking questions. He had the right answer for each one of the questions. He never faltered.
All the while they were entwined on the couch and he was holding her. Now and again, Amy gave in to her sobs. In each of those situations, he simply kiss away the tears that appeared on her cheeks.
They were in that position, when the day and the stresses of the day finally caught up with her. She simply slept, with her head still on his shoulder.
"Come on, Pantygirl," he said ultra softly, not disturbing her at all, "Let's get you in bed."
He took her to the master suite and carefully took her clothes off, leaving her only in her panties. It made him smile and he said to himself quietly: "Welcome home, Jed!"
She woke at about 3:30 AM. At first, she was disoriented and didn't rightly know where she was. She looked around in wonder and saw him there. He was smiling at her.
She was a bit sleep groggy and said a soft: "Jed?" Then she realized and said: "Oh, Ryan, it's you."
"You call me 'Jed' if that pleases you!" he said. "I don't have a problem with that, Pantygirl."
She giggled then and said; "You took my clothes off!"
"Someone needed to and I was up to the challenge," he said with a grin.
"Saw how old I am!" she said, with a bit of reluctance and a touch of regret in her voice.
"No, no," he said, "We already went through this discussion!"
She remembered then. It was a talk between her and Jed, when they were first together and he was regretting the fact that he was better than 25 years older than she, and was indeed getting 'old'.
Her response had been: "No, you're my love and my beauty and that's all there is to say about that!" From then on the age question was off of the table.
He said it now into her near ear, in the dark, with only pale nightlight in the room: "You're my love and my beauty and that's all there is to say about that."
"Ohhh, Jed, Ryan!" she sighed, "This is beyond any lovely wish that I could ever have! It is you! It really is!"
"Yes," he said, "You and me, back together again."
He went on then, after kissing her: "I think it means that we were meant to be together and this will maybe keep happening to us until there is some kind of fulfillment or something like that."
"Oh, what a blessing that would be!" she whispered to him.
She snuggled against him. "You feel so nice!" she said. "All muscles and lovely, lovely parts! It's my turn to be the one who adores!"
He smiled. "Like shoe on the other foot kind of thing!"
"Exactly, beautiful man, beautiful boy!" she responded.
They kissed then. It was a sweet 'welcome home/welcome back' kind of kiss.
"What do we do now?" she asked.
"We think about everything and begin to make decisions tomorrow!" he said.
"What about now?" she asked, giggling. "I can feel 'Jed's jewel' poking me."
He chuckled at her use of an old favorite phrase. "Yes, the jewel is here!"
"I want it then!" she said. "Oh, Jed, Ryan ... I'm so confused, but I'm also ready to be loved. Please do that."
Their love making was short and deeply passionate for the two of them. The progression of everything that had happened that day made them ready for the love making.
She felt him loving her and remembered every time they'd made love and was swept away by it.
For him it was done with so much remembrance; it filled him up and enhanced the passion that built between them and into which they simply tumbled.
She put her panties back on and snuggled up to him and finally said, with the acknowledgement that it involved: "Ryan, I love you!"
"I love you to, Amy, love of my life!" he answered.
"We will shock the campus!" she said.
"That's because every man on campus has wanted to get into your pants and I'm the one who's done it!" he boasted. She giggled and kissed his shoulder.
Then they slept.
Ryan was the first up the next morning and went to fetch coffee for the two of them. Neither of them was used to eating first thing in the morning and he knew that but the coffee was needed.
She was grinning at him, when he entered the bedroom with the tray of coffee.
"Morning, sweetheart!" he said.
"Morning, man that I love!" she replied. Then she giggled.
"Yes?" he said.
"The entire campus will be astir and agog at an old broad like me grabbing the latest and hottest faculty member!" she said, as though crowing.
"They'll think that I was enticed by the Kinky Broad from the history department!" he said.
"Yep! That's who I am!" she said, still crowing.
"Coffee?" he asked.
"Oh, please!" she said, "I'll do anything for a cup of coffee!"
"Now, lady, don't say things that you don't mean!" he challenged.
"Try me!" she said. "Come over here."
He brought her the cup of coffee and she took a long sip. Then she reached into his pj bottoms and pulled out his growing erection and applied her hot mouth to it.
"Woah!" he said. "You've done that before!"
"You bet, soldier!" she said, "Enjoy!"