Home > The Lights on Knockbridge Lane(9)

The Lights on Knockbridge Lane(9)
Author: Roan Parrish

   After a great deal of ladder moving (because no, thank you, Wes, Adam did not want to simply climb onto the roof), thumb hammering, and light adjusting, Adam got all ten strands of lights hung.

   He climbed down the ladder slowly, feeling extremely pleased with himself. Triumphant, even!

   He let out a pleased sigh, slung his arm around Gus’ shoulders, and looked up at what he’d just accomplished.

   And looked.

   And tilted his head and looked some more.

   “Huh,” he said.

   “Hmm,” Wes echoed.

   The ten strands of lights barely outlined the front triangle of the roof, and even though they twinkled merrily in the darkness, the lights looked sparse against the clear sky full of stars.

   “That,” Gus declared, “is not the most lights in the world.”

   Which, frankly, was what they were all thinking.

   “We’ll get more, sweetie,” Adam said, wanting to cling to the sense of triumph he’d felt only seconds before. “This is just a start.”

   Gus nodded seriously.

   “Okay,” she said.

   The okay got him. Gus trusted that if he said something would happen, it would happen. He treasured her trust more even than her love. It was something he would never betray.

   Which just meant he needed to figure out a way to acquire more lights. Lots more. So many more that whenever Gus looked at them, she would stop thinking about Boulder and their house there. She would stop thinking about the friends she’d left behind. And most of all, she’d stop thinking about Mason, her papa who, when Adam’s ultimatum came—be a part of their family or have no say in it—chose a life of freedom over being a father.

   So many more that Gus would gaze at them and think only about how beautiful it was here, and how cozy their little house was. What a great holiday they would have together. And how very, very much Adam loved her.

   Now if he could just figure out how to do that without bankrupting them—or becoming the 301st ladder-related fatality of the year—in the process.



Chapter Five


   Adam hadn’t posted anything on his Instagram account for a month. He hadn’t thought much about it, since he hadn’t done a photo shoot since before they’d left Boulder.

   No, that was a lie. He had thought about it. In the wee hours of the night, when he couldn’t sleep, when he put on the glamorous films from the forties and fifties that his grandmother had loved, and watched the way the light flickered on the living room wall more than he watched the films themselves, he thought about it.

   He thought about what it felt like to see the world through the lens of his camera. How he could write or rewrite the story of any scene just by what he focused on and where he cropped the image.

   How he could document the way a feeling or certain fall of light changed a person’s face entirely.

   He missed it so much it made his chest tight and his stomach hurt.

   But he couldn’t let himself think about it in the light of day, because if he did he’d question every choice he had made.

   Now, he opened his account, ignored the notifications of friends and followers asking where he was, considered looking at Mason’s account and instantly rejected the idea, then uploaded a picture of the tangle of Christmas lights he’d taken before ascending the ladder, and posted a call for help.

   Hello, friends! I’ve been busy moving house with my daughter, but here I am, and I’d love your help. If anyone is in the Garnet Run, Wyoming area and has fairy lights to spare—any type—I could really use them. My daughter and I are working on a Christmas project. I’ll post pics when it’s done!


* * *


   Four days later, life having driven the post completely from his mind, he arrived home from work to what appeared to be a bag of trash in his driveway. Irritated at whatever neighbor had decided to dump their garbage here, he got out of the car, muttering loudly, picked up the trash bag between two fingers, and moved to deposit it on the curb.

   Then he saw the note taped to the side of the bag.

   Hi, Adam. Big fan of your work. My mom had these in her garage and hasn’t used them for years but they still work. Good luck with your Christmas project, and welcome to Wyoming!


   Tears filled Adam’s eyes. The bag had four neatly coiled strands of lights that, to be fair, did look as though they’d spent more than a few years in a garage. Still, they were lights and Gus wanted lights, and Adam couldn’t believe that someone he’d never met had taken the time to drop them off for him.

   “Are you okay?”

   Adam started. Wes stood in the shadows to his left, hands shoved in his pockets. Adam hadn’t even noticed him approach.

   “Hi. Yeah. You scared me.”

   “You were standing outside, clutching a garbage bag, and crying. I got concerned.”

   There was a time in Adam’s life when he would have tried to hide his tears; would’ve protested, I wasn’t crying.

   The world wasn’t kind to the sensitive. Adam had learned that long ago. For years he’d believed that his feelings were too big, too deep, too trip wire reactive.

   It hadn’t helped that his father had fed him poison his whole childhood. Beliefs about boys and tears that were designed to shame him and change him, but had had the curious effect, in adulthood, of making him treasure his tears. Treat them as proof that he was a different man than his father was.

   Adam opened the bag so Wes could look inside.

   “Good. Thought it might be a severed head or something.”

   Adam looked at him in horror.

   “Does that...happen?”

   Wes blinked and shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

   “No. I... Bad joke. Sorry.”


   They stood in silence for a moment and Adam realized it was the first time he’d seen Wes outside in the daylight—well, twilight, and he was lurking in the shadows. Adam said, “Do you want to help me put them up?” at the same time as Wes said, “Guess I better get home.”

   Then they both said “Oh” in unison.

   Before Wes could turn away, though, Gus burst out the front door, River close on her heels.

   “Wes, Wes!” she shouted, and threw herself at him.

   “Oof,” Wes said, but caught her handily.

   He didn’t seem to know what to do with her, though, so he held her in the air for a moment, then set her down on the ground and patted the top of her head, like a friendly monster in an animated film.

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