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Old 12-21-2006, 03:21 AM   #1
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Learning to Fly, Part 10

In which Edge gets wet, Roo talks to Adam about God and Larry has some bad news.

Learning to Fly
Part 10

Morning, and the song of the bellbirds praising the rising sun. Warm, warm sleeping bag. Someone snoring softly, in counterpoint to the birdsong. Cool sea breeze stroking my face with soft invisible fingers. Warm weight of Bono’s arm across my body, slow rise and fall of his breathing felt through the soft sleeping bags. Opening eyes to the gentle dawn light.

I carefully disengaged Bono’s arm, wriggled out of my sleeping bag. Down to the stream, water icy on sleep-warmed skin. Walking to the edge of the sea, idly picking up shells, sea urchins, sand dollars, brain happily vacant in the quiet before the day began.

Bono was awake when I got back, sitting up, stretching and yawning. ‘Morning darlin’. What you got there? Is it edible?’

I emptied the fruits of my beachcombing into Bono’s lap.

‘OK, shells for breakfast, I can go with that,’ he said, running his fingers through his hair, making it stick out in all directions.

I went to rekindle the fire, get some water on for tea. Bent over to pick up the water bottle. Felt a stinging slap on my bum as Bono lobbed a sand dollar.

‘Oh, you are in so much trouble for that,’ I growled at him.

Bono grinned. ‘Yeah, yeah, bring it on.’

‘Tough guy, huh?’ I grabbed his feet and tickled them mercilessly.

‘Aaah, no, no, not the feet …’

‘Say sorry.’

‘Sorry … but it was too good a target to miss …’

‘Oh, you are going to die …’

‘Will you shut the fuck up and let me sleep?’ came a muffled yell from Larry’s direction.

‘Mornin’ Lars, and a fine morning it is, too,’ Bono called out cheerfully, grabbing my hands while I was distracted. ‘Hah, gotcha,’ he said.

‘You are a hopless case,’ I told him.

Bono pulled me forward. ‘But irresistable all the same,’ he purred.

‘Don’t you be so sure,’ I said. ‘Look at you, all covered in sand, hair on end, and you need a shave, again …’

Bono rubbed his bristly chin over my shoulder.

‘Ag, gettoff. And you’re all stinky and need a shower …’

This was not entirely true, but caused Bono to stick an arm in the air and sniff his armpit.

‘Oh, gross!’ I dissolved in laughter.

Adam and Edge were awake now. Edge emerged from his sleeping bag like a benign mole wearing a beanie. ‘I seem to have sand in places sand should never go,’ he observed.

‘Well, I slept like a log,’ yawned Adam, stretching blissfully.

‘’Cept logs don’t fart all night,’ grumped Larry.

‘Roo says we stink,’ announced Bono, ignoring my protests.

‘Must have slept downwind from Adam,’ muttered Larry. ‘Anyway, no showers, right?

‘Wrong, Larry, there’s a wonderful shower right close by,’ I said.

‘Now why am I thinking “freezing cold” here?’ said Larry.

‘Think of it as invigorating,’ I said. ‘Grab some towels and I’ll show you.’

With some reluctance, the guys allowed me to lead them up the stream to a clearing. A small waterfall tumbled into a clear pool, sunlight dappling the water.
‘Cool place!’ said Adam with a grin, shedding his clothes with no hesitation.

‘Uh, I’ll leave you to it then,’ I said, trying to sidle off.

‘Aren’t you joining us?’ teased Bono.

‘Um, well, I’ll go and start breakfast,’ I said quickly, making my escape. As I left I heard Larry say something sharp, followed by laughter from Bono, then a lot of splashing and yelling.

I smiled and shook my head, hoping they wouldn’t drown each other.

By the time the four invigorated men got back I had made tea and breakfast was well under way. Edge came over to help and I handed him a pan of eggs to stir.

‘Oh, no!’ said Adam. ‘Roo, please, don’t let Edge near the cooking!’

‘Shit,’ said Larry. ‘I was dead hungry, too.’ He sat down, a picture of dejection.

‘What’s the problem?’ I asked, surprised. ‘Surely Edge can handle this?’

‘Roo, Edge is a genius at most things but believe me, he could burn water,’ explained Bono.

‘Lay off, you lot,’ from Edge, concentrating hard on the task. ‘I’ll get it right this time.’

I had to admit that the eggs were,well, different. Also crunchy, due to sand and burnt bits.

‘I don’t know how the sand got in there,’ said Edge, genuinely puzzled. ‘I think I need some more practice with this.’

‘Just don’t practice on us then,’ said Adam through a mouthful of crunchy egg.

Edge looked quite hurt at the rejection of his cooking.

‘Want to come for a gallop along the beach, maybe give the horses a swim?’ I asked him. ‘We’ll leave this lot to do the washing up.’

Edge stopped frowning. ‘Yeah, that would be neat,’ he said.

‘Good idea,’ said Bono. ‘Am I invited too?’

‘No,’ replied Edge stingingly. ‘You’ll slow us down.’

It was Bono’s turn to frown. ‘I won’t. I can keep up with you.’

Bono and Edge both turned to me, expecting me to cast the deciding vote.
‘Um, well, let’s not fight over this, children,’ I said. ‘Of course you can come with us, Bono. Echo gets really fired up on the beach, you’ll probably end up way in front.’

Bono looked a bit uncertain at this, then noticed Edge grinning at him. ‘Right, let’s go for it then,’ he said.

*****

I fastened a spare stirrup leather around Echo’s neck.

‘What’s that for?’ asked Bono.

‘It’s a feck strap.’

‘Feck strap?’

‘For those “oh, feck!” moments.’

‘Ah, right.’

‘Just in case, you know?’ I smiled at him reassuringly. Bono did not look reassured.

‘How do I manage to get myself into these situations?’ he muttered.

‘’Cause you can’t keep your big gob shut?’ suggested Edge.

When the horses felt the sand under their hooves, their energy levels went up a few notches. Echo began jogging sideways, making dramatic snorting noises. Bono was clearly alarmed at this display from the usually steady grey mare. I moved Shadow up beside Echo.

‘Um, a little help here, Roo …’ said Bono nervously.

‘You’re doing fine. Try to relax. If you’re tense, Echo will feel it, she’ll wind up more. Silly old tart.’

‘Well, thanks,’ laughed Bono. Echo calmed down a bit.

‘I meant the horse,’ I muttered. Bono winked at me.

Edge brought Jack up beside Shadow, looking calm and at ease in the saddle, as always. ‘When we get going, be ready - it’s likely to be a quick take-off,’ I advised. ‘Once were underway it’s easy, it’s starting off that can be tricky.’

Edge nodded, eager to be away. A quick check on Bono, who looked a bit grim but ready. I moved Shadow into a trot, the three horses keeping pace. I could see Echo winding up again, better to get going, so ‘OK,let’s go,’ I said.

Shadow, knowing the ‘go’ word, was off in a nanosecond. Jack put in a little buck, then we were battering along, grey, black and bay necks stretching forward side-by-side. This was much, much faster than our previous rides together. Edge was wearing a wide grin, eyes narrowed against flying sand and water. Bono had survived the take-off and didn’t need the feck strap. He looked just fine, very dramatic, flying along on his tall grey horse.

Shadow stopped my woolgathering by springing over some standing water, making me wish for a feck strap of my own. We let the horses run until they got tired.

‘That was something else,’ said Edge, a little breathlessly. ‘I looked down and the ground was just flying by - how fast were we going, Roo?’

‘Top speed, possibly 30 miles an hour,’ I said. ‘It seems faster than, say, on a bike, I don’t really know why.’

‘It’s different because you’re sitting on a living creature, seeing all these great muscles moving, feeling the hoofbeats …’ Bono mused. He looked really pleased, he’d faced down a fear and I felt proud for him.

‘I’d like to let the horses have a paddle, but we’ll have to take the saddles off.’ I said.

It was Edge’s turn to look concerned as we dismounted and removed the saddles.
‘Worried about the family jewels, Edge?’ teased Bono.

‘Got to protect the assets y’know,’ grinned Edge. ‘How do we get back on without saddles?’

‘Watch this,’ I said, tapping Jack behind his foreleg. ‘Jack down.’ Jack obedientely lay down and waited for Edge to get on. ‘Up, Jack.’ The horse heaved upright, carrying Edge with him.

‘Awesome!’ said Bono.

‘Echo, down.’ Echo lay down grudgingly and fixed Bono with a ‘hurry up please’ stare.

‘I taught them to do that because I often ride alone and if I need to get off, or fall of, it makes life a bit easier.’ I explained to Bono.

We walked the horses into the sea. Shadow ran his nose throught he water, snorting disgustingly. Echo pawed at the waves, sending sheets of spray over us all.

Edge laughed, still contemplating the horses’ party trick. ‘That’s so cool. How does this horse understand “Jack, down”?’ At which Jack obligingly buckled at the knees, sending Edge headfirst into the sea.

‘Oh, no! Jack, up, up!’ I called, horrified.

Edge emerged, streaming water, hat amazingly still on his head. Gales of laughter from Bono when he saw Edge was unhurt. Edge coughed out seawater.

‘Bastard,’ he gasped. ‘See how you like it - Echo, down!’

‘Shit!’ from Bono as he grabbed the feck-strap. ‘Echo, up!’

Echo just heaved a sigh, turned her head and gave Bono a long-suffering look. Jack looked mystified at the proceedings, stretched out his nose and gave Edge a friendly bump in the backside. Down went Edge again, to renewed hilarity from Bono.

‘Just not your day, is it mate?’

‘Bugger off!’ was all poor Edge could manage as he sloshed shorewards.

Bono chuckled most of the way back, earning some very black looks from the soggy guitarist.

*****

Back at the camp, Bono gleefully recounted Edge’s adventures to Larry and Adam. Edge took the ribbing with remarkable good grace, I thought.

I sat quietly, cleaning the salt water off the saddlery, content to listen, knowing everyone was happy.

‘We need to make contact with the outside world,’ said Larry a little later. ‘I’m going to drive up to the ridge where there’s some phone reception.’

Bono and Edge decided to go with Larry. Bono ruffled my hair in passing. ‘See ya in a bit, darlin’.’

‘Later, yeah, take care.’

Adam came over to sit with me, bringing some drinking water. He eyed the pile of salt-encrusted leather.

‘We make a lot of work for you, don’t we?’ he said.

‘No, well, yes a bit,’ I said. ‘I don’t mind though, it’s well worth it.’

‘We do appreciate it, you know,’ said Adam. ‘It’s quite rare for us to have some time when we’re not working and can just chill out and do something different.’

‘Glad you’ve enjoyed it,’ I smiled at Adam. ‘It’s been really good for me, having you guys around. It gets a bit insular, sometimes, living out in the boonies. And you’re all so different to anyone else I’ve met.’

‘Yeah, well, being famous can drive you a bit crazy,’ said Adam, looking out to sea.
‘Maybe a little crazy, sometimes,’ I smiled. ‘There’s Edge, with all his intelligence, who’d have thought he would have taken to horses like he has? And Larry, well, a couple of times I thought he was going to take my head off, yet he’s stood up for me, saved my life too.’

Adam nodded agreement. ‘Larry’s a good man to have on your side,’ he said.

‘And Bono …’ I stopped, unable to put into words my feelings about the man.

‘Yes, there’s always Bono. It’s going to be hard for you, when he leaves, isn’t it?’ asked Adam gently.

I looked down at the leather in my hands. ‘I can’t deny it, Adam. It’s not going to be easy. There are so many facets to Bono, he’s so complex. I don’t quite know how he has managed to get under my skin so quickly, or even what he wants from me, if he wants anything at all … he’s sort of pulled the rug out from under my feet, y’know.’

‘Poor Roo,’ said Adam softly. ‘You love him, don’t you?’

I paused before replying. Did I feel safe discussing this with Adam? He is so down-to-earth, so kind, he sees much and says little. It must be OK.

‘Bono is the first thing I think of when I wake up. The last thing I think of before I sleep. When I see him, my world trembles. When he’s gone, there’s a big empty space. Is that being in love, Adam? It’s been so many years I’ve forgotten how it feels.’

‘Sounds like it to me,’ said Adam. ‘The sweetest thing, the bitterest thing. The most precious thing.’

‘Yes. The sadness for me is that I’ll never have the chance to really know him. The physical side, well, that’s not so important. Although he does love to touch people, doesn’t he?’

Adam smiled. ‘Oh, yes. He certainly seems to like touching you. Does it bother you?’

‘No, it’s sort of a comfort thing, I think. I have to trust him, Adam.’

‘It must be a bit testing at times?’

‘You’re right there,’ I smiled ruefully. ‘If Bono’s God has brought us together as some sort of test of faith, He must be having a good laugh at our expense. Sometimes I think He only keeps me around for a joke.’

‘It sounds as if you don’t like God much,’ observed Adam.

‘Right again,’ I said. ‘Because it seems to me God doesn’t like women much either. Look at the women in the Bible - they get a pretty raw deal by and large.’

‘Except for the Song of Solomon,’ said Adam.

‘Yeah, I don’t know how they managed to get that one past the censors. Sorry, Adam, I’m a hopeless case as far as God’s concerned. I don’t mean to offend you or belittle your faith. I’m envious of it, in fact.’

‘No offense,’ said Adam easily. ‘My faith tends to shake a bit when the wind blows strong. I give in to temptation much too easily, I’m always wandering off the path headfirst into a hole.’

‘Doesn’t everybody? And you find your way back, and get forgiven. Unless you’re a woman, in which case you get stoned to death or turned into a pillar of salt, or something equally foul.’

‘Oh, cynical, Roo!’ Adam laughed, clearly enjoying the debate. ‘You’re not hopeless, you’re a good person, woman or not, and God would welcome you if you gave Him half a chance.’

‘I reckon He’s having so much fun watching me dig myself a bloody great pit, He’d be rather disappointed if I did that.’

Adam shook his head. ‘I felt like that at times, you know. It was very hard to admit I’d fucked up, to ask for help. It’s thanks to my friends and my faith that I’m here at all.’

I sighed. ‘You fought your demons and won, found your safe harbour. It must be wonderful to have something, someone to turn to for help.’

‘Sometimes it’s the only way,’ said Adam. ‘Sometimes you truly can’t make it on your own.’

‘But I am on my own, Adam. I’m not going to burden my friends with my troubles and I have no faith. I must rely on myself.’

‘You can burden me any time,’ said Adam with a wry smile. ‘I’m an expert on the matter.’

I was touched at this genuine offer of support. ‘Thank you Adam. I’ll be sure to ring you up at 3 in the morning so you can listen to all my woes.’

Adam laughed. ‘You do that,’ he said.

I could hear the Landrover returning, voices drifting on the wind down the path. ‘And thanks for letting me talk about Bono. It makes it easier, telling someone,’ I said.

‘Glad to do it,’ said Adam. ‘Don’t let anything spoil your time with Bono - enjoy it while you can. We have to take what we can sometimes, I think.’

‘Too true,’ I agreed. ‘Seize the day, right?’

Larry arrived and sat down in front of us. ‘Change of plan, people,’ he said. ‘We’ve had to bring our flight forward. We’re leaving next week.’ Looking at me steadily as he spoke. I realised that Larry had an idea what this would mean to me. He took my hand, gave it a squeeze.

‘Go find him, Roo. Seize the day,’ said Adam gently.

I got up, legs feeling numb. Met Edge on the path, who stopped, placing his hands on my shoulders. Emerald eyes, kind and sad, he knew too, I realised, they all knew and understood, and their kindness nearly tore me apart.

‘He’s gone up to the waterfall,’ Edge told me. ‘He asked me to tell you where he is.’

‘Thanks, Edge,’ I managed.

I found Bono standing by the pool, hands in pockets, gazing into the water. He didn’t speak, just held out his hand to me. I went over and stood by him, thought ‘this is a moment for the two of us. I’m taking it’. Put my arm round Bono’s waist, tight. Bono kissed the top of my head.

‘I’ve been talking to Adam about God,’ I told Bono. ‘I guess I said something to offend Him, ’cause He sure as hell is punishing me.’

‘Then He must be punishing us both,’ said Bono sadly. ‘Y’know, I really don’t want to leave.’

‘But you have to.’

‘I have to.’

‘You have a few more days here …’

‘There’s so much more I want to do …’

‘You can always come back.’ Knew as the words left my mouth that when the real world got hold of him again the chances of Bono ever returning were microscopic.

Bono said nothing. He drew me round so that my back was against his chest, rested his chin on my shoulder. We listened to the endless music of the waterfall, our own silence surrounding us.
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Old 12-21-2006, 04:53 AM   #2
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AHhh!!! My favourite bit!!!!!!! *loves*
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:04 AM   #3
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Aww thank you Effanbee for posting - I was wasting away hoping for a new chapter. So you've given me another hit, thank you thank you, thank you.

And what a hit it was!
Beautiful. Your descriptions just have me enthralled - I was a completely captive audience, I was putty in your hands.

It was just beautiful - you really captured some great moments with an understated grace - humour, beauty, theology, melancholy, the prospects of love - unrequited or other, tied up in a wonderful package.

And now they are leaving sooner than anticipated? Aww... my heart breaks again.
All I can say is that you better not hide the sequel away....

If it's censorship that bothers you (I will refrain from comment here) then perhaps you will email it?


Wonderful... wonderful job. Thank you! Please post more before I turn myself inside out with anticipation....
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Old 12-21-2006, 02:08 PM   #4
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*dies*


Effanbee you're awesome!! I forget reality for a minute or two while I'm reading. You have a awesome knack for the most beautiful descriptions that draw you into the heart of the story and emotion....I'm always left with my heart pounding!!!

I can't wait for the next part!!!
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:01 PM   #5
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I am resorting to those most primitive in my list of vocalisations:

Moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooore.


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Old 12-21-2006, 09:32 PM   #6
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Hi Gluey! It's good to forget reality for a while isn't it? Remember where we were a month ago? That was sort of unreal ... my photos are sitting on the Mac to remind me. Sigh.

BDO - tonight, tonight! Only two or three parts to go now, so the final one should be up on Xmas eve (NZ time). Then I'll be keying in the sequel over Christmas and making the final decision on whether to post it or not ...
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Old 12-21-2006, 11:05 PM   #7
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this is really really great I love it! got some great laughs too..awww im addicted to these stories!
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Old 12-22-2006, 03:40 AM   #8
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Oooh... thank you thank you. I should show more strength and patience... control.
But really.... perhaps, I have none?


Ooh, I see you have posted 11... I must go and see.



I want Bono to be bad.... damn his self control.
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