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  • In the quiet silent seconds I turned off the light switch
    And I came down to meet you in the half light the moon left, while a
    Cluster of night jars sang some songs out of tune
    A mantle of bright light shone down from a room

    Come down in time, I still hear her say
    So clear in my ear like it was today
    "Come down in time" was the message she gave
    Come down in time and I'll meet you half way

    There are women, women and, some hold you tight
    While some leave you counting the stars in the night

    - By Bernie Taupin, from Elton John’s “Come Down In Time”
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Everywhere I see Robin
    Every time I'm with you, so you see
    I could never really leave her, she's everything
    For she comes out in the springtime
    Bringing roses with her words
    Have you heard her when I speak
    Robin, robin, pretty bird
    And you're not her

    - By Jimmy Seals and Darrel Crofts
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It was one of those times in life where everything felt like a strange dream. I wasn’t even quite sure how I’d wound up there. Everything had happened so quickly. We’d just hosted the world literature conference in our house, to put the finishing touches on the book we’d spent the last two years collaborating on. That was an utterly mind-blowing experience that I hadn’t even asked for, but which had so taken over my life for those couple of weeks leading up to it and the weekend of the conference itself, I had completely forgotten about applying to go to Lesley College. That following week, I learned I’d been accepted, and I had to leave for Ippswich, Massachussetts that Friday morning. I was a mess – still riding an emotional high from the conference, having just blown off another job, and then I was off to a strange, new world, just like that.

    One of my housemates, Jerry, had told me about the program of study – he’d gone through a similar program at Goddard College, and thought I would love it. It was designed where you created your own curriculum, working with advisors who would help guide you in the creation. You spent a week at this secluded retreat house out at the end of this peninsula up in Massachussetts, just you and about 25 other students and about a dozen advisors. There were dormitory style rooms, and evening social gatherings, all a very intellectual, collegial atmosphere. I was feeling like a fish out of water, but they all seemed to accept me like I was meant to be there. It was through discussions at these evening gatherings that I figured out what my course of study would be, then I was assigned an advisor who helped me to flesh it out, guided me to what areas I could conduct my research in, and by the end of the week, I had my curriculum all laid out.
  • I met Robin the first day there. It was bitterly cold, and a storm had just dropped about a foot of snow on the entire peninsula. She was pretty and wholesome and smart as a whip, and I thought, the picture of perfection in a woman. She seemed to be drawn to me, and we quickly became pals as we shared a long walk around the frozen peninsula together, holding hands by the time we got back to the college hall. She disclosed up front that she had a boyfriend, but that she was thinking of breaking it off. He sounded like a real jerk, and I did my best throughout the week to try to convince her that she’d be so much better off with a nice guy like me. As we grew closer throughout the week, my hopes kept growing that we were becoming more than just friends. I made it clear that my intentions were to be more than just friends with her. We became inseparable, which just added to the whole dreamlike quality of the week.

    There was a slightly older lady there, Madeleine, who seemed to have designs on me. She was a real knockout in her own right, but was way out of my league, in terms of sophistication and worldly wisdom. I knew as soon as I met her that I was out of my depth with her. She could eat me alive – but she was so beautiful! However, I preferred the seeming innocence of what I thought was developing between Robin and myself.

    It all came to a head that Saturday night, when there was a big gala in the main hall. There was an art exhibit, with paintings surrounding the hall, and everyone was walking around the hall, gazing at the pieces, making comments, socializing, being all artsy and shit. I was so out of my element there, but doing my best to act like I fit in, like I belonged. I seemed to be pulling it off, too. “If these people only knew”, I thought. But they did know, and still accepted me as one of them. It was really mind-blowing, to me.

    Then, I found myself gawking at this one piece – it was a stunning nude portrait, and just as I realized who the subject was, she was there at my shoulder, in her strapless gown, leaning into me, as she whispered breathily into my ear, “So, Pete - do you see anything you like, my dear?”

    I nearly fell over, as I looked at her, looked back at the portrait, and stuttered, “Y-y--ye-yes, yes I do. It’s, uh, I mean, you’re, er, the portrait is, you are beautiful. Who painted it?”
  • “I did. It’s a self-portrait. Don’t you just love the coloring? Why don’t you come up to my room later and see for yourself?” she grinned, as she winked at me. I just looked at her, with what I hoped wasn’t too much of a “deer in the headlights” look, and said, “Oh, I-I-I would really la-love to, but I already have p-p-plans for later.” I meant it, too. I would have really loved to have gone up to her room – there was not even the shred of a doubt about where it would lead – but, Robin had wanted to talk later, and I was really hoping that this was going to be the discussion where she’d tell me she had decided to drop the mean boyfriend, and be my girl. I was certain that was the way she was leaning, and though I had just been propositioned by this gorgeous older lady, a sure thing, the hopes of maybe something happening with Robin made me decide to stick to Plan A. “You’re turning me down for that little goody-two-shoes? What a mistake! Oh well, it’s your loss. We could have made some magic together, you and I”, she huffed, as she turned and strode away.

    I kicked myself for years over that decision. Back in my room, Robin came by later, where she had a tearful story about how she really liked me a lot, and really felt like we’d become more than just friends that week, but she had to try to make things work with her boyfriend, and didn’t want to start a long-distance relationship at that time in her life. She had prayed about it, and this was the answer that came. But, she hoped we could keep the friendship going, because she really liked me. In that moment, I really hated God.

    Damn! You couldn’t have told me this, like, earlier in the day? Do you know what I just walked away from? (I didn’t say that to her, but I certainly thought it). We snuggled on my bed for hours, as I felt like a complete idiot. I really wanted to be across the way, with Madeleine.
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