When young co-ed Joanna Ransome met married professor Jared Fowler, she never expected to become the "other woman." Even more unexpectedly, their love would survive four tumultuous decades until Jared makes a choice that has devastating consequences.
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Jeanne Howard Writes
When the music stopped, Joanna reached across the bed, snapped off the phonograph and the lamp next to it. Going to the window and raising it slightly, she rested her head on her arms and gazed outside across the campus, inhaling the crisp night air. It was so quiet she could hear the acorns drop through the branches of the oaks near her window, landing with tiny snaps on the piles of leaves below. She’d quickly fallen in love with this little college after her first visit. From her window she could see almost every one of the stately old buildings, nothing having changed much since Manning’s founding in the mid-eighteen-hundreds. It had become home, more home in many ways than her real one where as an only child she often felt the absence of someone to talk to, to share with. Here she’d found roommates, friends, Doris and finally this tiny room she called her own. Yet none of it was enough. She felt herself yearning for something more.
Where was her life going? Sometimes she felt the winds of fate simply picked her up and carried her wherever they were blowing. Here she was, a year away from graduating as a teacher, and she wasn’t even sure that’s what she wanted to be.
Worst of all, there was no one special in her life. Many of her friends, Beth included, were engaged and planning weddings after graduation. What was wrong? Why couldn’t she make a plan and stick to it? Set some goals; make more of an effort to meet new people; accept some of the offers instead of turning them down without giving the men a chance? What, or who, was she waiting for?
On Thursday and Friday, they walked the city, giddy as children on a school trip. Each day, they wound up at the Battery, taking the ferry ride over to Staten Island. Now, they could stand on the top deck without the weight of heavy coats, breathe the fresh air and listen to the sounds of seagulls and boat horns as they hung over the rail. Jared stood with his eyes closed, face raised to the breeze. Joanna touched his cheek, pulled his head down for a gentle kiss.
“‘Blindfolded, I could kiss a thousand mouths and know your lips,’” she whispered.
“Walter Benton,” Jared said, his eyes still closed. “‘I knew your eyes by heart after the very first reading.’ He must have known there would be a Joanna when he wrote his poems.”
All too quickly it was Saturday. Another farewell, this one particularly poignant in its finality.
“Who knows if we’ll ever come here together again,” Joanna said sorrowfully. “There’s so little time left.”