Home > The Notebook (The Notebook #1)(11)

The Notebook (The Notebook #1)(11)
Nicholas Sparks

“How about you’?” she asked. “Did you ever think about us?”

“All the time. I still do.”

“Are you seeing anyone’?”

“No,” he answered, shaking his head. He finished his beer. “I’m going to go and start the water. Can I get you anything’?”

She shook her head, and Noah went to the kitchen and put the crabs in the steamer and the bread in the oven. He found some flour and cornflour for the vegetables, coated them, and put some fat into the frying pan. After turning the heat on low, he set a timer and pulled another beer from the icebox before heading back to the porch. And while he was doing those things, he thought about Allie and the love that was missing from both their lives.

Allie, too, was thinking. About Noah, about herself, about a lot of things. For a moment she wished that she weren’t engaged, but then quickly cursed herself. It wasn’t Noah she loved; she loved what they once had been. Besides, it was normal to feel this way. Her first real love, the only man she’d ever been with-how could she expect to forget him?

Yet was it normal for her insides to twitch whenever he came near? Was it normal to confess things she could never tell anyone else? Was it normal to come here three weeks before her wedding day?

“No, it’s not,” she finally whispered to herself as she looked to the evening sky, “there’s nothing normal about any of this.”

Noah came out at that moment and she smiled at him, glad he’d come back so she didn’t have to think about it any more.

“It’s going to take a few minutes,” he said as he sat down.

“That’s fine. I’m not that hungry yet.”

He looked at her then, and she saw the softness in his eyes. “I’m glad you came, Allie,” he said.

“Me too. I almost didn’t, though.”

“Why did you come?”

I was compelled, she wanted to say, but didn’t.

“Just to see you, to find out what you’ve been up to. To see how you are.”

He wondered if that was all, but didn’t question further. Instead he changed the subject. “By the way. I’ve been meaning to ask, do you still paint?”

She shook her head. “Not any more.”

He was stunned. “Why not? You have so much talent.”

“It’s a long story.”

“I’ve got all night,” he answered.

“Did you really think I was talented?” she asked quietly.

“C’mon,” he said, reaching out for her hand. “I want to show you something.”

She got up and followed him through the door to the living room. He stopped in front of the fireplace and pointed to the painting that hung above the mantelpiece. She gasped, surprised she hadn’t noticed it earlier, more surprised it was here at all.

“You kept it’?”

“Of course I kept it. It’s wonderful.”

She gave him a sceptical look, and he explained. “It makes me feel alive when I look at it. Sometimes I have to get up and touch it. It’s just so real-the shapes, the shadows, the colours. It’s incredible, Allie. You mean to tell me no one has ever told you that before?”

“My professor did,” she said, “but I guess I didn’t believe him.” He knew there was more. Allie looked away before continuing “I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child. I guess that once I got a little older I began to think I was good at it. I enjoyed it too. I remember working on this painting that summer, adding to it every day, changing it as our relationship changed. I don’t even remember how it started or what I wanted it to be, but somehow it evolved into this.

“I remember being unable to stop painting after I went home that summer. I think it was my way of avoiding the pain I was going through. Anyway. I ended up majoring in art in college because it was something I had to do; I remember spending hours in the studio all by myself and enjoyed every minute. I loved the freedom I felt when I created, the way it made me feel to make something beautiful. Just before I graduated, my professor, who happened to also be the critic for the paper, told me I had a lot of talent. He told me I should try my luck as an artist. But I didn’t listen to him.”

She stopped for a moment, gathering her thoughts.

‘My parents didn’t think it was proper for someone like me to paint for a living. I just stopped after a while. I haven’t touched a brush in years.” She stared at the painting. “I’m not sure if I can paint any more. It’s been a long time.”

“You can still do it. Allie. I know you can. You have a talent that comes from inside you, from your heart, not from your fingers. What you have can’t ever go away. It’s what other people only dream about. You’re an artist, Allie.”

The words were spoken with such sincerity that she knew he wasn’t saying it just to be nice. He truly believed in her ability, and for some reason that meant more to her than she expected. She turned to face him. She reached over and touched his hand, hesitantly, gently, amazed that after all these years had somehow known exactly what she’d needed to hear. When their eyes locked, she once again realized how special he was.

And for just a fleeting moment, a tiny wisp of time that hung in the air like fireflies in summer skies, she wondered if she was in love with him again.

THE TIMER WENT off in the kitchen, and Noah turned away, strangely affected by what had just happened between them. Her eyes had spoken to him and whispered something he longed to hear; yet he couldn’t stop the voice inside his head, her voice that had told him of her love for another man. He silently cursed the timer as he walked to the kitchen and removed the bread from the oven. He saw that the frying pan was ready. He added the vegetables and heard them begin to crackle. Then he got some butter out of the icebox, spread some on the bread and melted a hit more for the crabs.

Allie had followed him into the kitchen and cleared her throat.

“Can I get the table ready?”

Noah used the bread knife as a pointer. “Sure, plates are over there. Utensils and napkins there. Make sure you get plenty- crabs can be messy.” He couldn’t look at her as he spoke. He didn’t want to be mistaken about what had just happened between them.

Allie too, was wondering about the moment and feeling warm as she thought of it. The words he’d spoken replayed in her head as she found everything she needed for the table settings. Noah handed her the bread and their fingers touched briefly.

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