Twenty years go by quickly and there are moments when you think back and relive some of the good times you shared. Now and then there has been contact, but vague and brief.
Then, one day, you meet and those old feelings resurface. But there is also fear. Apprehension. Questions. He has friends. You have friends. Do you want to see this person? What could he possibly want? Is a reconciliation possible? Do you really want to rekindle that lost love? And if so, at what cost?
Patrick and Ben were more than friends before they went their separate ways. In the years that followed, Patrick stayed true to himself and Ben married. Patrick searched for happiness. Ben seemingly had it all. Now Patrick and Ben, currently divorced, meet at a fair, and suddenly Patrick is thrust into Ben’s life once again. He has no idea what he is getting himself into because, as much as Patrick desires Ben and vice versa, there are skeletons in both cupboards and both must make sacrifices in order to be together.
“I can’t see,” Darrin complained again.
“Here.” I squatted down and Darrin climbed onto my shoulders. I nearly lost my hat in the process. I held his legs tightly to my chest as he sat down and I got back to my feet.
“Yeah!” Darrin screamed wildly.
“Try not to move too much.” My plea landed on deaf ears. He was higher than everyone and having a great time, being able to see the stage. He clapped along and, unable to resist the exuberance, I joined him.
Halfway through the second song, I caught Ben watching, smiling. He finished squeezing his way back to us and yelled at me.
“The girls will meet us in a few minutes. I couldn’t be mad when we were late already.”
Ben called up to Darrin when the song ended. “Okay, time to get down and eat.”
“Daaddd,” Darrin complained. “I‟m not hungry now.”
“Yes, you are,” Ben replied while helping him off me. We walked away from the noise to the food stands.
“Can Patrick come to my birthday party? He can give rides to my friends. No one would believe I had a giant!”
“Darrin!” Ben shouted. I turned my head away to suppress a laugh.
“That. Was. Not. Nice. Patrick is. Not. A giant.” He suppressed a laugh in spite of what he was saying. I couldn’t look. “Apologize. Right now.”
“I’m sorry,” Darrin mumbled. “Sorry, for what?” Ben was barely able to keep from laughing aloud.
“Sorry for calling you a giant.”
“That’s okay, Darrin.”
“But you are, like, so big!”
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled again. Then he looked at his dad. “Can he still come to my birthday party?”
“Ask him.” Ben turned away quickly before adding, “...but no giant rides.” I could see his shoulders shaking.
“Will you come to my birthday party?” Darrin asked.
“If I’m not working, sure.”
“Wow, twice in a row,” Ben said sarcastically. “I should have introduced you two a while ago.”
We browsed one of the nearby stalls while waiting for Annie and Kathy. There was a photographer, but I politely declined when Ben asked about a new picture.
“When I get back into shape, maybe.”
“Stop. You look good.” He grinned.
I shook my head and smiled back.
He ended up taking one with Darrin instead.
Once the girls found us, we ate dinner, during which Darrin told Annie I was coming to his birthday party; Annie exchanged a private look with Kathy as if to say, “Stranger things have happened.”
Outside the main gates, I shook the girls’ hands one at a time, it was a goofy move but they giggled when my large hand enclosed each of theirs. Darrin hugged my leg and I patted him on the back while he made me promise to come to his party again. Last was Ben. The familiar hurt came back, the pain from the knowledge he’d go back to his life and I hadn’t resolved a damned thing.
He shook my hand and pulled me in for a hug without saying a word. Emotions welled up thru my eyes so I turned away immediately and put some distance between us.
“I’ll e-mail the details for the party,” he called loudly.
I raised my arm in acknowledgment, waving while walking away.
The tears in my eyes, were mine alone.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***
Patrick and Ben grew up together, falling in love when they were in their teens, but time and distance pull them apart and Ben ended up getting married. Now, twenty years after, Ben is divorced, with two kids and Patrick is finally ready to face him again. Will they be able to recapture some of that love that evaded them before?
This was a very solid debut book by Geoffrey Bauerfeind. I really liked the storyline, although I would've liked to read Ben's POV or some flashbacks. Both Patrick and Ben were very likable, and I really liked their interaction with Ben's children, especially Darrin, and their friends.
This is a second chance story and it was very realistically done, although I really wanted to slap some sense into both of them to get it right already! It was a lovely journey, though, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Very recommendable!
Rating: 4 Stars!!!
Author’s Guest Post
Have you seen The Force Awakens yet? What are you waiting for? I’ve seen it four times already. Don’t worry I won’t spoil it for you. We can talk about it later, just be prepared. I am well versed in the ways of the Force.
Anyway, my name is Jake. I’m your average Joe living out in the suburbs of Chicago. I also happen to be a fictional character in the story To Move Forward. I work hard, but like to relax and watch movies (sci-fi of course) or hang out with friends. I’m fiercely protective of my friends.
Now I know what you are thinking: what is a guy like me writing this for? Well, when one of your very best friends is in a story, what would you do? Come on now, you know you would run out and tell everyone.
Patrick, is a good buddy of mine. He tends to be shy and awkward around people he doesn’t know well, like you. With his friends, like me, he is funny and wears his heart on his sleeve. For as long as I have known him, he has had bad luck with relationships. Everything seems to be going well for a while, then it all goes bad. He would be horrified that I am saying this (but I think he would agree) he is his own worst enemy. We have talked enough about why.
We all have memories of our first love. If it was wonderful, we remember it fondly. If it wasn’t, we painfully move on. Good or bad it became the past. Not so much with Patrick. He has been holding on to some of his memories for so long, they have become part of him and color his experiences even (cough) twenty-some years later.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a product of my experiences too. We all are. I have had my chances in the past as I suspect you have. It is human to imagine our own “What if…” scenarios, the “could-a-would-a-should-as.” It is a rare thing to get a redo. To Move Forward is about a second chance. It is Patrick’s “What if…”
Well, that is enough for now. I am heading out to check if they got in new stock of action figures for my collection. I really want Kylo Ren.
Hey, don’t judge, I have seen some of your Facebook pages. ;-P
Later - Jake
Although this is his debut story, Geoff has been writing on and off since he was a teenager, albeit for himself. When he finally took the plunge in 2012 and put his first story on the internet, he was surprised and overwhelmed by the positive and encouraging response. Geoff was born, raised, and lives in the Midwest and has spent most of his life driving between Chicago and Milwaukee. Currently, he lives in a little house, in a little town, outside another little town, with three cats, a dog, and his very supportive “Husbear.”