He was early. He was always early, but he couldn’t seem to help it.
Sitting on the bench’s backrest, his sneakered feet planted where his butt should be, he balanced the umbrella on his shoulder and gazed out across the lake to the mountains beyond. There, it was clear. Here, a light drizzle fell.
It wouldn’t have mattered what the weather was–thunderstorm, hurricane, raining toads and frogs–he’d still be here, getting a dent in his ass from the skinny edge of the board propping up his ass and smiling like a fool.
Not long now. The sun was only minutes from slipping out of sight. Another year of waiting over. Three-hundred-and sixty-four days of loneliness soon to be a memory.
Once each year, all he’d gotten was twenty-four hours in the arms of his lover before Dauid vanished until the next time.
John had been coming to this spot for a decade, ever since stumbling across the rift in time that drew back one day and one night to reveal the medieval Scots village of Lochloran.
The sun sank behind the mountains, and he got to his feet, excitement coursing through him. Not long now.
He stuck out his hand; the light rain had stopped. He closed the umbrella and put it on the bench. Picking up his backpack from where he’d lain it against a tree, he slung it over his shoulders.
Facing the woods, he thought about how long a year was when you were looking forward to something. He’d thought of Dauid again and again, his heart nearly breaking with longing.
This year would be different. John wasn’t coming back. Dirt, disease, strong smells, and good gawd! no running water or internet, but he’d made up his mind. He was going to stay in 1623 with the man he loved.
The alarm on his cellphone rang to tell him the sun had set. He turned it off, abruptly realizing this would be the last time it worked. Smiling ruefully, he tossed it in a bush.
The light faded, and Dauid appeared out of nowhere. He wore a roughly made shirt and trousers–no kilts in his time–and his thick dark hair sprang up in all directions. He was smiling, and John thought he’d never seen anyone so beautiful.
John hurried to him, and they embraced. He heard dogs barking in the village, children laughing, and someone playing a flute. The smell of cooking meat made his mouth water.
“We are celebrating your return,” Dauid said, the soft burr in his voice sending shivers down John’s back. “Hurry! There’s always so little time, and I would be alone with you as soon as possible.”
“There’s all the time in the world.” John pulled him close and kissed him, then whispered in his ear, “I’m staying.”
Dauid’s eyes lit up. “Truly?” When John nodded, Dauid picked him up and swung him in a circle, then led him along the path that would take them to Lochloran.
They were almost there when John remembered the umbrella he’d left on the bench. A shame he’d left it behind. They had nothing that sleek and easy to carry in 1623. Oh well. Whoever found it in 2016 would likely make good use of it. It always seemed to be raining, whether he was in his time or Dauid’s.
They rounded a thick copse of trees, and the village lay before him, torches lit against the growing darkness, the streaming light reflecting off the water of the loch. People saw them coming and ran to greet him.
He was home.
Genre: fantasy, inspired by Brigadoon
Word count: 597
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