Home > The Notebook (The Notebook #1)(10)

The Notebook (The Notebook #1)(10)
Nicholas Sparks

A dog barked in the distance, and Noah realized he had been standing with the door open a long time. He closed it quickly and went into the kitchen.

“How’s it going?” he asked, seeing she was nearly finished.

“Good. I’m almost done here. Anything else for dinner?”

“I have some homemade bread that I was planning on. From a neighbour,” he added as he put the pail in the sink. He began to rinse the crabs, holding them under the tap, then letting them scurry around the sink while he rinsed the next one. Allie picked up her cup and came over to watch him.

“Aren’t you afraid they’ll pinch you?”

“No. Just grab ‘em like this,” he said, demonstrating.

She smiled. “I forget you’ve done this your whole life.”

She leaned against the counter, standing close to him, and emptied her cup. When the crabs were ready he put them in the pot on the stove. He washed his hands, turning to speak to her as he did so.

“You want to sit on the porch for a few minutes? I’d like to let them marinate for a half-hour.”

“Sure,” she said.

He wiped his hands, and together they went to the back porch. Noah flicked on the light as they went outside, and he sat in the older rocker, offering the newer one to her. When he saw her cup was empty, he went inside for a moment and emerged with a refill and a beer for himself. He held out the cup and she took it, sipping again before she put it on the table beside the chairs.

“You were sitting out here when I came, weren’t you?”

“Yeah. I sit out here every night. It’s a habit now.”

“I can see why,” she said as she looked around. “So, what is it you do these days?”

“Actually, I don’t do anything but work on the house right now.

It satisfies my creative urges.”

“How can you… I mean…"

“Morris Goldman. My old boss from up north. He offered me a part of the business just as I enlisted, and died before I got home. When I got back to the states, his lawyers gave me a cheque big enough to buy this place and fix it up.”

She laughed under her breath. “You always told me you’d find a way to do it.”

They both sat quietly for a moment, thinking back again. Allie took another sip of tea.

“Do you remember sneaking over here the night you first told me about this place?”

He nodded, and she went on: “I got home a little late that evening, and my parents were furious when I finally came in. I can still picture my daddy standing in the living room smoking a cigarette, my mother on the sofa staring straight ahead. I swear, they looked as if a family member had died. That was the first time my parents knew I was serious about you, and my mother had a long talk with me later that night. She said to me, ‘I’m sure you think that I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I do. It’s just that sometimes our future is dictated by what we are, as opposed to what we want.’ I remember being really hurt when she said that.”

“You told me about it the next day. It hurt my feelings, too. I liked your parents and I had no idea they didn’t like me.”

“It wasn’t that they didn’t like you. They didn’t think you deserved me.”

“There’s not much difference.”

“I know that I always did. Maybe that’s why my mother and I always seem to have a distance between us when we talk.”

“How do you feel about it now?”

“The same as I did back then. That it’s wrong, that it isn’t fair. It was a terrible thing for a girl to learn, that status is more important than feelings.”

Noah said nothing.

“I’ve thought about you ever since that summer,” she said.

“You have?”

“Why wouldn’t you think so?” She seemed genuinely surprised.

“You never answered my letters.”

“You wrote?”

“Dozens of letters. I wrote to you for two years without receiving a single reply.”

She slowly shook her head before lowering her eyes. “I didn’t know…” she said finally, quietly, and he knew it must have been her mother checking the mail, removing the letters without her knowledge. It was what he had always suspected, and he watched as Allie came to the same realization.

“It was wrong of her to do that, Noah, and I’m sorry she did. But try to understand. Once I left, she probably thought it would be easier for me to just let it go. She never understood how much you meant to me, and, to be honest. I don’t even know if she ever loved my father the way I loved you. In her mind, she was just trying to protect my feelings, and she probably thought the best way to do that was to hide the letters you sent.”

“That wasn’t her decision to make,” he said quietly.

“I know.”

“Would it have made a difference even if you’d got them?”

“Of course. I always wondered what you were up to.”

“No, I mean with us. Do you think we would have made it’?”

It took a moment for her to answer. “I don’t know, Noah. I really don’t, and you don’t either. We’re not the same people we were then. We’ve changed. Both of us.”

She paused. He didn’t respond, and in the silence she looked towards the creek. She went on. “But yes, Noah, I think we would have. At least, I’d like to think we would have.”

He nodded, looked down, then turned away. “What’s Lon like?”

She hesitated, not expecting the question. Bringing up Lon’s name brought slight feelings of guilt to the surface, and for a moment she didn’t know how to answer. She reached for her cup, took another sip of tea, then spoke quietly.

“Lon’s handsome, charming and successful. He’s kind to me, he makes me laugh, and I know he loves me in his own way.” She collected her thoughts. “But there’s always going to be something missing in our relationship.”

She surprised herself with her answer but knew it was true nonetheless. And she also knew by looking at him that Noah had suspected the answer in advance when he asked, “Why?”

She shrugged and her voice was barely above a whisper. “I guess I still look for the kind of love we had that summer.”

Noah thought about what she had said, thought about the relationships he’d had since he’d last seen her.

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