Jake and Julie leaned back against the cab of the truck and pondered the sun setting over the distant Rockies. They were on the top of a small rise perhaps 30 miles south east of Limon, over looking one of those draws filled with 200 year old Cottonwood trees that were so common in an area that looked absolutely flat from any distance.
They were also covered with mud and laughing.
Julie asked “Do you still remember the first time you saw me?”
Jake answered “yes, it was in the 8th grade and you had just moved down from Greeley”
“What did you think?” “You remember?”
Jake looked at her and smiled “Yes I do, I remember thinking that is the skinniest prettiest girl I ever saw”
And grunted as her elbow dug into his ribs.
“Hold on! I also just knew I would know you for a long, long time. I wanted to know you from the first time I saw you. How about you do you remember the first time you saw me?”
Julie said “no”, and laughed at his expression, and rolled out of reach of the hands that wanted to tickle her.
“I do remember the first time I looked at you”
“Yeah?” he said
“Yeah” she said, “I thought, well now, that would be him”
They both laughed at the game they had played for nearly a decade now.
They were relaxed.
Earlier in the day both had been consumed with thoughts of where had the laughter gone.
They were young, they were married, they were in love, deeply, they knew what they had, but they didn’t know where the laughter had gone.
She had miscarried three years before, and that had nearly broken their hearts. She had never known such darkness.
There had been a rodeo in Limon and he had gone off a horse after a steer, and the and the steer had gone down bad. His arm had broken in three places, and his shoulder dislocated.
That had put him out of work for two months.
Times had been hard. And somehow, they had gotten serious about what had been fun, and the laughter had gone.
They had tried to talk about it but that didn’t help, they just didn’t know what to do.
Early this afternoon Jake had told her there was some work he had to do on a water tank up here, and would she like to come? And so here they were.
When they had gotten here he was so seriously working on the tank, and saying nothing, she just couldn’t stand it any more. She walked over and kicked him in the shins. Hard.
He had yelped in pain, looked at her hard for a quarter second, then his eyes had flashed in that old humor. Without hesitating he picked up a bucket full of water and dumped it on her head.
“You asshole” she shrieked, “You bitch” he started to say as he was rubbing his shin. He didn’t get it all the way out before she came for him, and he took off hopping on the leg that didn’t hurt.
They had gone for about 10 feet, hit some mud slipped and fell, both of them, her on her stomach and he on his back.
“What did you do that for?” they both had said at the same time, and she picked up a hand full of mud and smeared it in his face.
He then picked up his own handful and plastered her.
Their hands had gotten busy getting each other covered with mud, and their lips touched, and well that had been that for a while.
And they had laughed.
They had laughed before. They had laughed during, and they had laughed when it was over.
There was drying mud in their hair, in their clothes, in their underwear, their socks, they were wet, the sun was setting, and they were still laughing.
“I love you baby” she said, “I love you too Darling, I always will” he said.
She looked slyly at him and said “you should invite me out more often”
He smiled at her and said “that’s one of the reasons I do love you, you really do know what I should do”
They laughed again, they both knew they would be loving each other for a long, long time, and that they would be laughing for at least that long.