Steven Manchester: Another excerpt from TWELVE MONTHS

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Twelve MonthsOn Sunday morning, we decided to spend the second half of our getaway in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. My wife insisted, “We have to visit the gingerbread houses in Oak Bluffs first.” Known by the locals as “the Cottage Colony,” this cliquey community is famous for its storybook gingerbread cottages, three hundred thirty in all, encircling Trinity Park. With rocking chairs on the front porches and candle-lit Japanese lanterns glowing at night, names such as Time Remembered, Rose Crest and Alice’s Wonderland made Bella coo. Many of the gothic resort cottages – adorned with their ornamental scroll work, decorative shingling, porch aprons, arched double doors and candy cane colors of pink, blue and green – contained miniature gardens behind white picket fences.

“They look like doll houses,” I said.

She nodded. “They’re wonderful.”

Rising out of the center was the Tabernacle, an open-air cathedral with dominant wrought iron arches, colored windows and an octagonal cupola. The Trinity United Methodist Church was just next door. It had a classic New England spire that had been hit three times by lightning. With blown-glass windows and a stamped-tin interior, I remembered visiting it as a kid. “It’s still my favorite,” I told Bella.

Beyond the summer cottages that rented for more than it would have cost us to put both Madison and Pudge through college, the Annual Oak Bluffs Harbor Festival beckoned.

It was a junk-food junkie’s paradise. The air was thick with the distinct aromas of cotton candy and fried dough. While a live band played on the dock and young children competed in a chalk art contest on the cement walkway, we ate as we walked along and looked at the boats. I’d given my belly a rest, so we shared a pulled pork sandwich from a local Bar-B-Q smokehouse, and then an expensive lobster roll overflowing with claw meat. I’m dying, I figured, but I’m not dead yet. At the end of the dock, a heavy-set woman dressed like a rag doll yelled out, “Strawberry shortcakes! Get your strawberry shortcakes here!”

We stopped and I turned to Bella. “Oh, good…fruit!” I said, excitedly.

She laughed, and we bought one and split it. It was made with fresh strawberries, a real shortcake and sweet whipped cream. Two bites in, I almost told Raggedy Ann that I loved her.

As we strolled further down the pier, I stopped and gave Bella a hug. I was starting to understand that it wasn’t so much about doing anything; about feeling or even thinking anything. It was about being; being who I was, and being with the woman who owned my heart. I looked into her eyes and kissed her again.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said. “It’s just that I love you.”

We hugged for a while, swaying together on the dock, while the crowd milled around us. Sometimes all we have to do is breathe, I thought. The rest is out of our hands.

Manchester Author PhotoSteve Manchester is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of his works, including national bestseller Twelve Months. Steve’s latest book was released on June 18. You can learn more at our website.

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On June 25, 2013
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