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Authors: Barbara Kaylor

The Memory (17 page)

BOOK: The Memory
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Her gaze remained out the window for a few more minutes.  She was about to turn when she saw Rick and Peggy crossing the road.  They were coming to the house.  Geneva met them on the porch.  Her swollen eyes told them everything.  They hugged her.  She asked about Elliot first thing.

“He’s going to be fine,” Rick replied.  “Uh—he wants to return to Orlando right away.  We’re leaving this afternoon.”

“That soon?”  Geneva slumped.  “I shouldn’t be surprised.  His home and memories are in Orlando.”

“We’re so sorry, Geneva,” Peggy said with tears in her eyes.  “Jewel sends her love and prayers.  She admires the way you’re holding up under all this.  It can’t be easy for you.  We all heard what you told Elliot when he was out cold on the ground.”

Rick put his arm around Geneva’s shoulders and drew her close.  “We’re not going to let Elliot forget you, Geneva.”

Geneva felt a fresh batch of tears sting beneath her eyelids.  “Thank you both, but, I knew this day might come.  I didn’t want it to, but I knew Elliot’s memories would return one day.  I’m thankful he’s safe and healthy now.  Whatever the Lord wants, will be.  That’s the only way I can see things right now.” 

“Your strength is amazing,” Peggy said.  “I’m not sure I could be as accepting if it was happening to me.”

“Elliot and I talked about this many times,” Geneva explained.  “It was a reality we lived with.  That’s why we didn’t commit to each other or make any plans for the future.  We knew our time together was fragile.  I’ll be okay.  I had Elliot for a few weeks.  We made a lot of memories during that time that I won’t ever forget.  He made me very happy.”

After they left, Geneva retreated to her room and balled like a baby until she could cry no more.  By then, the Starlings had left the campground and were well on their way back to Orlando.  The lake project had been put on hold for the time being. 

The next two days were hard to get through for Geneva.  Thankfully, the group of women registered that weekend was small and consisted of grandmotherly types.  They were quick to pick up on Geneva’s sadness and spent the entire retreat, pampering her.  Their good old-fashioned TLC boosted Geneva’s spirits.  By Sunday afternoon, she felt better.  In return for the ladies’ kindness, Geneva offered them each a free weekend anytime they wanted to come back. 

Monday morning, she started her spring cleaning, pushing Elliot Starling as far from her mind as possible.  She couldn’t think of him anymore without seeing Olivia in his arms.  When the next retreat came, she hid her woes behind a bubbly attitude.  The weekend turned out to be a fun, uplifting time.  The group was made up of single women her age.  Their life stories were similar to hers.  Geneva learned from them and drew from their strengths.

Slowly, God was healing her broken heart by using her own ministry to help her.  Geneva felt blessed despite missing Elliot more than she’d ever imagined she would.  In truth, she really didn’t want to move on without him in her life, but she had no choice.  Most of her days were spent in some state of silent prayer.  Words weren’t necessary.  She visualized herself crawling into God’s lap and crying in his arms while he held her.  It gave her the simplest form of comfort and peace. 

As each day passed, Geneva came closer and closer to her old self.  But, even though her grandfather urged her, she refused to go out or get involved with anyone to ease her loneliness.  No one could replace Elliot Starling in her heart.

 

Chapter 20

 

Storm clouds gathered over the ocean off Summer Island.  Geneva watched the sky darken from the porch of her rented beach shack.  The volatile weather was long from bothering her.  It would pass quickly then the sky would clear, and she would take a brisk walk along the shoreline.   That had been the pattern three days in a row.  She’d been on the island four days, trying to put her time with Elliot Starling into perspective so she could move on.

Her grandfather had been right, suggesting she take a vacation. Rescheduling upcoming retreats had been difficult, but it was worth the trouble. The change of scenery did her soul good.  Geneva found the sea air invigorating and stimulating, and the seclusion provided the tranquility and solitude she desperately needed.  Her mind napped most of the time.  She’d brought enough food, supplies, and reading material for two weeks.  With no agenda, she was free to do whatever she wanted.  The freedom was soul cleansing and liberating. 

Geneva stretched her legs out and propped her bare feet on a small plastic table in front of her matching chair.  Lightning flashed and flickered over the water several times, scorching the salty air.  When the storm moved closer, she’d go inside.  No risk taker, she did enjoy the beauty of thunderstorms and loved to gaze on them with wonderment.

After a few more long minutes, Geneva entered the little cottage.  She refilled her glass of raspberry iced tea and plopped on the sofa by the window.  Thunder shook the one-bedroom structure.  The lightning had moved overhead, and she flinched each time it smacked, but she had no fear.  She’d survived a broken heart.  This was a piece of cake.

The notion nudged Elliot into her thoughts.  In three days, he would be married to Olivia Swanson.  Geneva hoped they’d be happy, although the kind of marriage they were committing to didn’t seem conducive to happiness.  According to Rick, Elliot and Olivia wanted an open marriage where each could live independently from the other if desired.  They’d share their money and skills in order to advance their own personal kingdoms whatever that meant.  Love, apparently, was not an important factor. They viewed love as a weakness which interfered with their aspirations. 

Rick and Peggy had kept Geneva updated on Elliot after he returned to Orlando.  From them, she learned Elliot never remembered being in Holly Park.  His only memory of Geneva was from the past.  He had no recollection of being with her recently. Nor did he speak of her as if he’d ever had feelings for her, which baffled Geneva. She’d thought their love was stronger than that.

As soon as Elliot had returned to Orlando, he had picked up where he’d left off which meant he didn’t attend church services, and he didn’t visit the family, either.  They were all heartbroken, and like Geneva, mystified by the turn of events.  They’d been sure God had allowed the first amnesia to change Elliot’s ways.

For weeks, Geneva held out hope Elliot would remember his love for her the way he had the first time. She had prayed something would click in his heart, and he would rush back to her.  It would have been a perfect, storybook-happy ending, but it wasn’t to be, so she gave up on the fantasy.  At least she’d had the few weeks with him.  She could live with that the rest of her life. 

Enough of Elliot!
Geneva scolded herself.  She was here for rest and renewal, not rehashing old worries and pain.  As soon as the storm passed, she dressed and strolled into the nearby village to shop and have dinner. 

 

“Why are you just sitting there, staring?”  Olivia lashed out at Elliot when they reached the restaurant parking lot.  “You’ve been acting peculiar since we hit that dog!”


We
didn’t hit the dog, Olivia,” Elliot blared, exasperated.  “
I
hit the dog!” 

The animal had darted out between two parked cars onto the narrow street right in front of Elliot.  He’d hit the brakes just in time, but still knocked the dog down.  Despite Olivia’s objections, Elliot drove the dog to a nearby vet and dropped it off.  The vet ensured him they would try to locate the owner, but the dog wore no collar and was in distress, which probably meant he was a stray.   Elliot took the vet’s card and promised to call the next day then left.  He hadn’t been right since.  A well of odd memories sprang from the incident, leaving him discombobulated.

“You didn’t kill him so what’s the big deal?” Olivia charged.  “He was just some stray, running loose.  Good grief! Why are you so upset?  You don’t even like dogs!”  Olivia powdered the shine on her nose for the umpteenth time since they’d left the apartment.

“What are you talking about,” Elliot quipped.  “Of course I like dogs.” 
Don’t I?

Olivia swiveled her head at him.  “Since when?”

“Since—” Elliot paused as a little brown mutt materialized in his memory.  “Since Russell.”

“Russell? Who’s Russell?” Olivia’s brittle voice flicked away the image in Elliot’s head like a bug. 

“I’m not sure.” Elliot mumbled, trying to hold on to the memory.    

“Let’s go inside,” Olivia demanded.  “Claire and Malcolm are probably wondering where we are.”

Elliot grimaced. He didn’t like their company.  They were shallow, arrogant, and frustratingly petty.

“What was that look for?” Olivia snapped.  “Claire and Malcolm are our best friends.”

Elliot shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I’m not feeling well all of a sudden.”  He massaged his temple where a throb had appeared.

“Pull yourself together, Elliot!” Olivia snarled.  “We’re not backing out of dinner.  I bought this new outfit for the occasion, and we’re going inside. I’m starving.  I’ve worked all day, and I deserve dinner out.”

Elliot forced himself to get out of the car and escort Olivia into the posh restaurant.  Claire and Malcolm were already at the table and fussed about their tardiness.  Elliot apologized.

“Just as long as you’re not late for the wedding,” Malcolm joked. 

Elliot smiled, but his stomach lurched. 
I can’t marry Olivia.  I don’t love her.  I love—
the thought blurred into oblivion.  Beads of sweat dotted his forehead as he strained to recover the lost memory. 

“You look awful!” Claire blurted.

Olivia rolled her eyes, unsympathetically.  “What’s wrong now, Elliot?”

“I’m fine,” he lied.  Something was splitting him in half.  Hitting the dog had not only triggered a chain of disconnected memories, but emotions as well.  Snatches of scenes and images flickered on and off in his head.  The more they clicked in his forefront, the more he disliked the company he was in. 

Sitting through the meal became torturous, but not knowing what was happening to him was worse.  His behavior angered Olivia. She chastised him as soon as they got in the car to leave.

“Well, that was certainly embarrassing!  You humiliated me!”

“I’m sorry, Olivia, but I told you I didn’t feel well. You insisted we go on with our plans.”

“You owe an apology to Claire and Malcolm.  Call them as soon as we get home and promise to take them out again.  The next time you can remember your manners and stay focused on your company.”

Elliot turned to her with annoyance. “Don’t give me orders, Olivia!”  Her bossy attitude had pushed all his buttons. 

The icy glare she slung him dared him to scold her again.  He ignored it.

“You’ve been on my case since I hit that dog,” he complained between clenched teeth.  “It’s giving me a headache.  Can’t you be more understanding or at least sympathetic?”

“Take me home, Elliot! I don’t like this mood you’re in.”  Olivia faced the front, avoiding Elliot’s bold gaze.

He sighed, warily.  Being mean-spirited didn’t seem right to him. 

“I’m sorry, Olivia,” he apologized as he started the car and steered out of the parking lot. 

Olivia didn’t utter a word all the way to her apartment.  Elliot walked her to her door.  She turned to him with a sour look after entering.

“Rehearsal is tomorrow night.  Don’t be late!”  She slammed the door in his face.

Elliot was frozen in another world for a few moments.  A world of soft-spoken words and pleasant, easy-going feelings.  A smiling face flashed in front of him much like the brown mutt had, but it was too fleeting to grasp.  A shiver ran up Elliot’s spine. 

What’s happening?

That night, visions flashed erratically in his dreams.  He woke up in a cold sweat, trembling.  Unable to sleep, Elliot got up and strolled to the kitchen for a bottle of water then hung out in his den.  It was too early in the morning to call Rick.  His older brother would probably know what was happening to him.  He and Peggy had told him all kinds of farfetched tales weeks ago about a place he’d visited that he couldn’t remember.  Holly Park.  Geneva Passion, a girl he once knew, lived there.  Could it be her smiling face he was seeing?

Elliot dropped his head in his hands.  He rubbed at the pain, swelling inside his skull until it numbed.  A frightening thought came out of nowhere.  In two days he was going to marry a woman he didn’t love. 

Love doesn’t matter, remember! It’s all about expanding your financial portfolio and living in wealth and luxury with someone who shares your beliefs.

Elliot cringed. 
That’s rubbish,
he thought.  He wanted love.  Love felt good.  Love wasn’t a weakness.  It was strong and powerful.  It could move mountains and face calamities.  It transcended time and space.

How do I know all that?

He was starting to scare himself.  Had he been in love before?  Is that why he felt the way he did?  Warm all over.  His heart was being pulled in a strange direction.  At the end of the road was a smiling face he couldn’t make out.  Trying to piece it all together tired him.  Elliot stretched out on the sofa and fell into a deep sleep.  A pair of glistening, green eyes watched him from a swirling cloud of long, velvety curls.  Elliot fought to make out the owner of both striking eyes and shiny hair.  He moved his dreaming glance to the bright, wholesome smile in the center of the vision.

“Elliot, Elliot,” a woman’s soft, tender voice whispered in his ear. “I love you, Elliot.”

“Geneva,”
Elliot mumbled in his sleep.  He woke with a start, his heart pounding madly. 

“Geneva,” he blurted out loud.  “Geneva Passion!”  Suddenly, it all came back to him.  Or had it all been a dream? He needed confirmation.  He glanced at the clock on the wall then grabbed his cell phone and punched in a number. 

“What’s up, Elliot?”  Rick answered with a groggy voice.  “It’s early.”

“Come over here, brother,” Elliot pleaded.  “I need your help.”

BOOK: The Memory
13.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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