Home > Nights in Rodanthe(3)

Nights in Rodanthe(3)
Author: Nicholas Sparks

In the gentle hue of the soft-lit kitchen, Adrienne glanced at her watch. At her request, Dan had taken Max and Greg to the movies, so she could spend the evening with Amanda. Like Adrienne, both of her sons were worried about Amanda’s kids. Not only had they made extra efforts to stay active in the boys’ lives, but nearly all of their recent conversations with Adrienne had begun or ended with the same question: What do we do?

Today, when Dan had asked the same question again, Adrienne had reassured him that she’d talk to Amanda. Though Dan had been skeptical—hadn’t they tried that all along?—tonight, she knew, would be different.

Adrienne had few illusions about what her children thought of her. Yes, they loved her and respected her as a mother, but she knew they would never really know her. In the eyes of her children, she was kind but predictable, sweet and stable, a friendly soul from another era who’d made her way through life with her naive view of the world intact. She looked the part, of course—veins beginning to show on the tops of her hands, a figure more like a square than an hourglass, and glasses grown thicker over the years—but when she saw them staring at her with expressions meant to humor her, she sometimes had to stifle a laugh.

Part of their error, she knew, stemmed from their desire to see her in a certain way, a preformed image they found acceptable for a woman her age. It was easier—and frankly, more comfortable—to think their mom was more sedate than daring, more of a plodder than someone with experiences that would surprise them. And in keeping with the kind, predictable, sweet, and stable mother that she was, she’d had no desire to change their minds.

Knowing that Amanda would be arriving any minute, Adrienne went to the refrigerator and set a bottle of pinot grigio on the table. The house had cooled since the afternoon, so she turned up the thermostat on her way to the bedroom.

Once the room she’d shared with Jack, it was hers now, redecorated twice since the divorce. Adrienne made her way to the four-poster bed she’d wanted ever since she was young. Wedged against the wall beneath the bed was a small stationery box, and Adrienne set it on the pillow beside her.

Inside were those things she had saved: the note he’d left at the Inn, a snapshot of him that had been taken at the clinic, and the letter she’d received a few weeks before Christmas. Beneath those items were two bundled stacks, missives written between them, that sandwiched a conch they’d once found at the beach.

Adrienne set the note off to the side and pulled an envelope from one of the stacks, remembering how she’d felt when she’d first read it, then slid out the page. It had thinned and brittled, and though the ink had faded in the years since he’d first written it, his words were still clear.

Dear Adrienne,

I’ve never been good at writing letters, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m not able to make myself clear.

I arrived this morning on a donkey, believe it or not, and found out where I’d be spending my days for a while. I wish I could tell you that it was better than I imagined it would be, but in all honesty, I can’t. The clinic is short of just about everything—medicine, equipment, and the necessary beds—but I spoke to the director and I think I’ll be able to rectify at least part of the problem. Though they have a generator to provide electricity, there aren’t any phones, so I won’t be able to call until I head into Esmeraldas. It’s a couple of days’ ride from here, and the next supply run isn’t for a few weeks. I’m sorry about that, but I think we both suspected it might be this way.

I haven’t seen Mark yet. He’s been at an outreach clinic in the mountains and won’t be back until later this evening. I’ll let you know how that goes, but I’m not expecting much at first. Like you said, I think we need to spend some time getting to know each other before we can work on the problems between us.

I can’t even begin to count how many patients I saw today. Over a hundred, I’d guess. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen patients in this way with these types of problems, but the nurse was helpful, even when I seemed lost. I think she was thankful that I was there at all.

I’ve been thinking about you constantly since I left, wondering why the journey I’m on seemed to have led through you. I know my journey’s not over yet, and that life is a winding path, but I can only hope it somehow circles back to the place I belong.

That’s how I think of it now. I belong with you. While I was driving, and again when the plane was in the air, I imagined that when I arrived in Quito, I’d see you in the crowds waiting for me. I knew that would be impossible, but for some reason, it made leaving you just a little easier. It was almost as if part of you had come with me.

I want to believe that’s true. No, change that—I know it’s true. Before we met, I was as lost as a person could be, and yet you saw something in me that somehow gave me direction again. We both know the reason I went to Rodanthe, but I can’t stop thinking that greater forces were at work. I went there to close a chapter in my life, hoping it would help me find my way. But it was you, I think, that I had been looking for all along. And it’s you who is with me now.

We both know I have to be here for a while. I’m not sure when I’ll be back, and even though it hasn’t been long, I realize that I miss you more than I’ve ever missed anyone. Part of me yearns to jump on a plane and come to see you now, but if this is as real as I think it is, I’m sure we can make it. And I will be back, I promise you. In the short time we spent together, we had what most people can only dream about, and I’m counting the days until I can see you again. Never forget how much I love you.

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