“The assistant and I held Digul down, and Dr. Reese set his leg. It took two tries to get it right. The poor boy was in so much pain. And when that leg popped in place, I thought I would lose it right there.” Marta squeezed his arm, trying to push back the memory.
“That is awful. But guess what? He’ll be better, and pretty soon, nobody will remember the painful parts.” He took Marta’s hand and gently patted it.
“Thanks, that is something I will not soon forget,” Marta replied.
“Maybe tonight, for a little while at least, we can help put it behind you. This is your night to relax and enjoy some long needed talk and fun,” John said.
“Sounds great. Let’s start off with a walk. I need to stretch a bit before dinner. I’m pretty tense.”
They walked around the village in silence for a while. Stars appeared in the eastern sky as darkness enveloped the earth like a heavy curtain being drawn across a window. With the night came the chill. Marta crossed her arms to retain warmth, and rubbed her hands over each arm slowly and rhythmically. As they walked, slower now, Marta kept her eyes on the ground, afraid of tripping. She sneaked glimpses at John from the corners of her eyes and appreciated his strong features. His jaw clenched and working as if in deep thought, giving him a rugged appeal.
“Who was the other guy?” John suddenly asked.
“You know, the one with the doctor.”
“Oh, his name is Benji. His parents are missionaries up north, and he is assisting Dr. Reese until he goes to medical school. He’s kind of worried about going back to the States, though. It’s going to be a new experience for him,” said Marta.
“I guess the prospect of meeting different people can be scary,” John said.
“The funny thing is his concern over girls, and how to meet them,” said Marta.
“He seemed to do okay with you,” John said hesitantly.
So, he did notice, Marta thought. “What do you mean?” she asked.
“I just meant, he seemed to admire you, you know... notice you.”
She looked down to hide her smile, flattered by his concern. “Well, I think he wanted some advice – you know, a woman’s view.”
“Oh, did you give him any?” John asked.
“Just that the best way to show a woman you are interested in her is to be yourself, be courteous, and maybe hint in some way.”
“You mean flirting?” John asked.
They stopped walking and stared across the river not remembering how they had arrived. John turned to Marta. Her hair played about her face, and she let go of her self-embrace to pull back a few tickling wisps. The way she looked at him made him nervous as she saw a new confidence in him. He seemed determined to capture her gaze.
“Do you mean like this?” he asked.
Marta felt his touch then followed his gentle pull toward him. She was caught off guard, but her eyes widened in anticipation and she didn’t resist. She felt herself falling into John’s gaze as she followed his lead with tiny steps. Still facing him, she closed her eyes in expectation as they moved closer to one another until their lips met.Reluctantly, Marta pulled herself away, but stayed in his embrace. She looked up at him and reveled in the silence. Somewhere frogs croaked their love songs, but neither of them seemed to notice.
Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is an author of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals.