Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

The Road Ahead

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Summary: A hectic morning makes Patricia late to work, and a pair of visitors at City Hall make her even later.

 Patricia checked the time on her phone as she walked up the front steps of City Hall. The morning had been a disaster, between dressing and feeding Isabel and then getting herself dressed, then an argument with Michael in which Jill had taken his side… she was determined not to be grumpy. She had a long day of endless meetings ahead of her if she wanted to take half of the next week off for Christmas. She was aware of people waiting on the benches by the entrance but she didn’t pay them any attention until one of them spoke her name.

“Mayor Hood-Colby?”

“Yes?” She slowed but didn’t stop. The women were bundled up against the cold, their aged faces peering out from a swarm of scarves and knit caps. One was white, one black, and their arms were linked. One woman got her cane planted on the ground and used it to ease herself up. Her partner helped her, and then the standing woman returned the favor. “How can I help you?”

“Madam Mayor,” the woman with the cane said, “my name is Dylan Swan. This is my partner, Shannon Linn. We were hoping we could speak with you.”

Patricia couldn’t turn them away after they’d obviously made a huge effort to get there. “Of course. Come inside, though. You must be frozen.” She held the door open for them. There was a waiting area with a circle of four plush armchairs facing a center table. Patricia ushered them toward the chairs and only sat once they were settled.

“What can I help you ladies with?”

“Well,” Shannon said, “fifty years ago, Dylan delivered me some groceries. I was working the lighthouse at the time, so we were way out in the boonies. She got stuck there during a storm, and we got to talking and… well…” She sighed and looked at Dylan. “I decided to never let her go.”

Patricia smiled. “Fifty years ago? You were the last lighthouse keeper.”

Shannon nodded. “Sadly that’s so. It got decommissioned a few years later. Lannie and I moved closer to town, but even December Harbor seemed far too hectic for me. We live out in the outskirts. The quiet suits us fine.”

The idea of their town being too hectic was something Patricia couldn’t imagine, but during tourist season… “That’s amazing. And it’s amazing you’ve been together all this time.”

Dylan said, “It’s only amazing if you don’t know her. For me, fifty years, easiest thing in the world.”

Patricia blinked back her tears. “That’s so great.”

“What’s great is sitting back and watching how everything has changed. When Dylan and I moved in together, we had to call ourselves roommates. We were safe in our home, but we had to be careful that the shades were drawn, that we didn’t hold hands when we went outside, that I didn’t kiss he when she was gardening… now I’m sitting here with the openly gay mayor of our town, and it feels like… I don’t know. It feels like the future.”

Dylan patted her hand. “We were together from the start, from the day I got caught in a storm and kissed her for the first time. But we didn’t commit to each other until just before Christmas of that year. When I said I’d never be with anyone else, I never dreamed I’d get fifty whole years. I also never thought I’d ever have the option to marry this woman.”

Shannon said, “We understand it’s a very busy time of year for you, and you’re just a very busy person in general, and we’ll absolutely understand if you can’t do it. But we wanted to ask if you would perform our wedding ceremony.”

“We’re not precious about the date,” Dylan added. “Whenever would work for your schedule. And if it can’t be done then we’ll be just as happy to have it performed by a justice of the peace. We just want to make sure it’s done while we still can. Shannon…”

Shannon patted Dylan’s arm. “Shush. I don’t want her to say yes just because she feels guilty.” She looked at Patricia. “Asking you for this favor is only a small part of why we’re here. The main reason is because we admire you. We respect what you’ve done for the island, and the family you’ve made here. Your beautiful wife and your children… we mostly just wanted to meet you and say how proud we are of what you’ve accomplished.”

Patricia remembered the fight that morning, how she had angrily accused Jill of ganging up on her. The anger was temporary, and she knew they would apologize and make up for the harsh words in the morning. Guilt settled over her, but she pushed it aside.

“I would be honored to perform your ceremony. I think you’ve waited long enough. So if you would like to do it today, I could take some time during lunch.”

“Oh! We couldn’t ask you to–”

“It would be an honor. I promise.” She smiled. “No one told me that being mayor meant I would get to hear great stories like this, or that I could participate in such a tremendous occasion. If you can be back here at eleven-thirty, we can find the perfect place.”

Dylan stood up. “Thank you so much, Madam Mayor.”

“It’s my pleasure. I can’t wait.” She hugged them both. “I’ll see you both at lunch.”

“Thank you,” Shannon said.

Patricia watched the women leave before she looked at her phone. Five minutes late now. Her assistant was probably pacing in front of her office door waiting to begin the day, but she didn’t care. She dialed Jill and stepped into the ladies room as it rang.

Jill’s voice was hesitant when she answered. “Hello?”

“I’m sorry.”

Jill chuckled. “Well. That’s one way to start a conversation. I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have contradicted you in front of Michael. We should have talked about it in private.”

Patricia said, “You’re right. We should have. But that isn’t why I called you.” She didn’t know why she had called, didn’t know exactly what she wanted to say. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. “I want to tell you something. It’s very important, and it’s something you really need to know.”

“Okay…”

Patricia smiled. “But I’m not going to tell you until fifty years from now.”

Jill was quiet for a moment, then she laughed under her breath. “Fifty years, huh? I guess I can be patient.”

“Yeah. And by that time we’ll both be trying to find things to talk about. When we’re puttering around the nursing home, getting on each other’s nerves…”

“Wondering why Michael doesn’t come by more often with the grandkids.”

“Or Isabel. She could be a grandma by then, too.”

Jill whistled. “Seems like a long way away.”

“Fifty years,” Patricia said. “Blink of an eye. As long as you’re there with me.”

“Is everything okay, hon? All this talk about fifty years…”

“Everything’s fine. I’ll tell you everything when I get home. I love you.”

Patricia smiled. “I love you, too. I should probably get to work before I get in trouble.”

“In trouble? What can they do to you? You rule the town with an iron fist. You are their dictator.”

Patricia laughed. “Jill…”

“Hm?”

“Nothing. Never mind. Fifty years, remember?”

“I remember. And I’ll hold you to that.”

“Okay. I’ll see you tonight.”

“Can’t wait. Bye, Trish.”

“Bye, Jilly-bean.” She hung up the phone and looked at her reflection in the mirror. Fifty years would be 2064. Their fifty-sixth wedding anniversary. They hadn’t even had a decade together and they’d created a family and she’d found her true calling. She couldn’t imagine where they would go in the next five decades, but she was more than ready to find out. She wet her fingers in the faucet and patted her eyes so they wouldn’t appear puffy when she finally went upstairs. She sighed, smoothed her hands over her jacket, and left the bathroom to begin her day.

NOTE: If the names Dylan Swan and Shannon Linn sound familiar, there’s a good reason for that. You can read about their… eventful… first meeting here.

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