The Alphabet Stories: Zest
Story by Liane Carter
Illustration by E.J. Klepinger
Jon paused on the hillside, one booted foot on a rock. He glanced over his shoulder at his friend and smirked.
“What?” Edward said.
Jon shrugged. “I didn’t say anything.”
“No, but I still heard something. What are you thinking?”
Jon brought his right foot back down from the rock, and placed his hand on Edward’s shoulder.
“For the first time in too long, you …”
“Well you’re singing for a start.”
“I am not.”
“You are. I’ve caught you humming and singing twice on this hike. I would dare to say that ….”
Edward waited, then rolled his eyes.
“Well, go on then,” he said. “If you’re going to say it, say it. What?”
“You, my dear friend, have a zest for life again.”
“I do not.”
“If you say so,” Jon said.
Jon upturned his hands.
“Kate told you more than once before she died that she would send you someone who needed help, someone like you. And in helping him, you’d set him and yourself free. You’ve done that with Ben. He’s like a new man. And it’s set you free. It’s okay to be with someone else. You know Kate would be happy about it.”
He glanced up at the sky and smiled.
“She probably orchestrated it all.”
“You’re right, but …”
“So are you.”
“Not that young. And I don’t want to upset Ben.”
“He loves you. He’d be happy for you, for you both.”
“I hope so. It’s been so long since I … and what if she’s not interested?”
“Well, you’ve driven her everywhere.”
Edward furrowed his brow.
“I have not … not everywhere.”
“You would though, wouldn’t you?”
Edward dipped his chin, grinned and nodded.
“I feel alive again. I’ve got so much energy.”
Jon glanced past Edward at how far they had climbed this morning.
“I never thought I’d feel this way again about anyone, Jon,” Edward said. “I don’t even know if she likes me.”
“She does?” Edward said. “Has she said anything in her sessions with you?”
“You know I can’t share if she has. Patient confidentiality.”
“But you’re beaming.”
“Well, it’s just so nice to see my friend so happy again.”
“Bollocks. You know. Tell me.”
“Edward, you’ve told me you two are texting back and forth after you drop her off.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
“Doesn’t it? Would you do that with anyone else?”
“And she’s doing the same with you.”
“Maybe she’s just being polite, answering me.”
“Why don’t you just ask her out?”
“Just like that?”
“It’s still the best way, even though you haven’t done it since the stone age.”
“I thought so.”
“What if she’s not interested?”
“What if she is?” Jon said. “Why don’t you ask Ben?”
“You think she’s spoken to Ben?”
“Well if she hasn’t spoken to her brother about it, she’s probably spoken to Charlotte about it. When you invited us all to your house for pizza on Tuesday, those two were giggling and chatting non-stop. I bet it was about you.”
Edward couldn’t stop the grin from spreading on his face.
“I do. Ask Ben.”
“I can’t believe it. I’m 27. I’ve got butterflies in my stomach.”
“What are you doing?” Jon said.
Edward pulled his phone from his pocket.
“I don’t want to wait. I like this living feeling.”
Jon gave him a thumbs up.
“Ben? It’s Edward. I mean, well, you know it’s me.”
Jon laughed and Edward gave him the finger and turned away to focus on the call.
“Can I ask you something, Ben? Well two things. I … I like your sister. I’d like to ask her out. Do you have any idea if she would be interested? And would you mind if I asked her?”
Jon watched Edward nearly drop the phone.
“Oh. Oh. Right, right. Okay. Thanks.”
He ended the call and turned back to Jon.
“Well?” Jon said.
“Since the first time she saw me.”
“Go on. Call her now. We’ve obviously got cell coverage and you’ll chicken out by the time we get back to the car.”
“You know me too well, my friend.” Edward squeezed Jon’s arm. “Thank you. For being here for me now and through the whole hell of the last few years.”
Edward looked out over the view. It had been quite a climb, and so was his climb through grief. Maybe Kate had chosen Amanda for him. The two women would have been friends for sure if Kate was still here. Through Ben, Edward realized you could still carry pain, make assumptions, yet if you spent time in the present moment, joy found a way back to hug your heart. He fought not to spread his arms and sing. Instead, he called Amanda while he still had the courage.