They arrived in Maine ahead of schedule. Two and half hours, highways all the way. Brad bragged how he had shaved a whole thirty minutes off. Clean. No question about it. His superior driving abilities had bought them an extra half hour of paradise. No congratulations necessary. But if Sarah wanted...
They had met three months earlier. An innocent flirtation at the gym; the culmination of another three months spent staring, stealing glances, aborted attempts at communication. Neither party was convinced they had the guts to break the ice--nor did they believe enough in the other party to simply sit back and wait. Had it not been for a Coach Howser they may have never crossed paths.
Sunday morning. Early August. Coach Howser, dressed from head to toe in grey sweats, lay on the bench press, huffing and puffing himself toward another set. At seventy-three he cut a decent, if not slightly ridiculous figure. Marathon thin, a towel tucked into the collar of his sweater (grey), and wearing a white headband he straddled the line between local eccentric and local madman which, in Dawes, made him something of a local celebrity. Most people knew his name. He'd either coached them or taught their gym class. And if not them, then certainly their parents.
At 8:37am on August 3rd, age finally caught up to old Coach Howser and the totality of the 198 pounds he was attempting to bench press come down on him in a heap. His legs shot into the air the way a cartoon's might when an anvil fell on it. Wile E. Coyote. Or perhaps Daffy Duck. Unable to scream, he managed a dry, husky yelp. In retrospect, he was likely trying to yell "Help," but could not on account of the weight bearing down on his chest.
Both Brad and Sarah rushed over and removed the old ball coach from the death trap. After much checking and concern, it was determined that Coach Howser was not dead, but certainly should not continue working out. At least not that day.
When he turned belligerent from shame and fear, Brad and Sarah left him in the hands of the gym staff and struck up a conversation.
Three months later, Brad had his arm around Sarah as they stared at the beautiful Maine home they had rented for the weekend. It had truly been a world wind romance.
"Can't check in till eleven," Sarah said, checking her phone for the fifteenth time to make sure she hadn't misread anything. Despite their going away together they were still in that awkward phase of the relationship where neither was comfortable looking like a fool in front of the other. This led to both of them constantly checking and double checking the messages they sent one another, triple checking their outfits before meeting up, and always always making sure they had nothing in their teeth.
"It's a beautiful day. Want to hike around? Go exploring?"
[Town Name], Maine was a quaint little town up north. While it had mountains and rivers and every other natural attraction a tourist would look for in a lovely New England town, it had for a number of reasons never caught on as a major tourist destination.
For one thing the mountains were not quite as skiable as [other mountains] or [other mountains]. The jagged cliffs and thick mountain forests made for difficult paths. The rivers and stream, while full of fish, were not easily accessible. Because of this there were no quaint little shopping centers, or hidden gem restaurants nestled between darling little antique shops and ice cream parlors. All this combined to make it a rather empty, quiet town.
[Town Name] was also quite haunted.
Sarah and Brad had been hiking for an hour. At least, that's what their phones said, but neither could accept this fact. Despite all the aforementioned trips to the gym, their legs and backs burned from the effort of the trip. Sweat soiled their sweaters and, after a mere hour of hiking together in this Maine paradise, neither party could continue to convince themself that they were still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship.
Panting, Brad removed his scarf and hat. He had already draped his winter jacket over his shoulder and, if he continued to heat up, he was considering removing his shirt altogether.
"Can't believe it's only been an hour."
"I think it's wrong." Sarah held up her phone to the sky. The sun beat down, hotter than it had any right to be in October this far north. "Maybe the reception is off. Because of the mountains." With both hands she raised the phone into the sky and started walking around the way her many many many many distant ancestors may have when trying to navigate by the stars
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