The interior of Elsie’s Diner, the eatery that currently occupies the restaurant portion of Binghamton’s historic bus terminal. After an uncommonly diligent restoration of the terminal’s art deco facade had restored the building’s appearance to its original glory, someone approved putting a couple of holes through it to mount an ugly electric sign for this diner. But I’ve eaten here–the food is good and the people are nice so I forgive them. Kinda Photo taken earlier this evening.
On Monday morning, Claire called her advisor to tell him she’d
miss the entire week of classes. Which, in the big scheme of things, wasn’t
that much of an issue – she needed to process the data she’d collected in Dr.
Beaton’s clinic by the end of the semester, but that was still six weeks away.
And there was no power on earth that would part her from
As she had made the necessary arrangements – sitting in
bed, the Fraser plaid wrapped around her shoulders, sipping the strong black
coffee Jamie had brewed for her – she watched him pack away clothes and books
for the trip.
They didn’t know how long he would stay – only that they’d
use the car trip to figure it out.
To figure *everything* out.
So quickly they had come back to each other – so quickly
everything in their separate lives had to be merged.
But there was no fear that it wouldn’t be figured out –
just confidence that it *would*.
On Monday afternoon, with their suitcases and a basket of
food safely tucked away in the bed of Jamie’s battered pickup, she had kissed
Ian and Jenny goodbye. Jamie made his farewells with Murtagh – the older man
clasping his godson in a long embrace – and then they were rumbling down the
gravel driveway, pausing at the gate to wave at the Murrays and Frasers still
standing on the front porch of the big house.
And then Claire had flipped on the car radio, and they glided
through the trees, Jamie’s right hand resting on her thigh, both of them
quietly humming along to The Eagles:
Cause I got a peaceful easy feeling // And I know you won’t
let me down…
They made it to the quiet, hazy mountains of Shenandoah
National Park by dusk. Jamie parked the truck at one of the many scenic
overlooks, and Claire slid over on the bench seat, resting her head on his
shoulder, watching the last tendrils of sun sink below the horizon.
“I don’t know how we’ll make it work, Claire – but we
will. I promise you.”
His thumb traced a mole at the top of her right arm,
darting beneath her shirtsleeve for a caress.
“I know we will. We are neither of us whole, alone.”
He kissed the crown of her head. She wrapped her arms
around his middle, hooking her thumbs in the loops of his jeans.
One mile over we’ll be there and we’ll see you // Ten
true summers we’ll be there and laughing too…
“I don’t want to be half a person again, Claire,” he
whispered, so softly. “I couldn’t bear it.”
“Hush,” she soothed, leaning up and quieting him with a
kiss. “You won’t have to. We’ll get to Boston, figure out how long you’ll stay.
I only have a little over a year left – that’s not terrible. Not when it took
us so long to find each other again. And then we’ll go back to Lallybroch – for
He brought her closer – a long, deep kiss.
“And we have to plan our church wedding,” he breathed
against her lips. “I can’t wait to marry you again.”
Even in the half-dark, her smile was dazzling.
They slept in the cool, fresh air that night, soothed to
sleep by the rustling trees, nestled under a pile of blankets in the back of
Sometime in the darkness, Jamie woke Claire and made love
to her, slowly and tenderly, not speaking. She watched stars winking through
the lattice of black branches overhead, and fell asleep again with his
comforting weight still warm on top of her. Praying this wasn’t all a dream.
Overjoyed with the dawn to find that they were still
Celebrating with a wake-up kiss.
They passed through Maryland that morning, stopping for a
steaming, mouth-watering bucket of crab by the side of the road. Jamie
delighted in licking the Old Bay seasoning from her fingers.
Then through Harrisburg and Scranton, Pennsylvania. Forests.
They listened to country western, and hymns, and rock,
and whatever they could find on the radio.
Talked about Boston – and Boone – and what they would
name their children.
Somewhere near Binghamton, New York that song came on.
And Jamie wordlessly pulled over on the interstate, turned on his flashers, and
Shaking hands and unyielding belt buckles and a burst
seam in Jamie’s jeans were no match for their sudden, desperate hunger to
Outside in the cold distance a wildcat did prowl // Two
riders were approaching // And the wind begins to howl…
Gasping for breath when it was over – quick, but not so
quick that Jamie didn’t see to her needs – Claire insisted they find a place to
stay for the night.
The Bonnie Motor Inn was run by a fellow veteran – he gave
Jamie a 20% discount on a room that was small, and clean, and theirs.
They shared a bucket of fried chicken at the small diner
down the block – then a long, restorative shower. And sleep, after giggling
over Johnny Carson, ridiculously entwined on the twin mattress.
They made it to Boston by late afternoon on Wednesday, Jamie
faithfully following Claire’s directions through a leafy residential
neighborhood that didn’t quite match his mental image of where she would live.
But then they pulled into a driveway – and Jamie saw Dr.
Joe Abernathy sweating over his lawnmower – and Claire threw open the door,
racing across the garden to tackle him in a bear hug.
Jamie couldn’t hear them until he cut the engine –
“…still can’t believe it, Joe. I swear I must be living in
some kind of fairy tale – ”
- and saluted the man who had helped Claire save his
Joe wiped his sweaty brow on his sleeve, straightened,
and returned the salute.
“Bout time you two wised up,” he smiled. “Come on – let’s
see what Gail’s got cooking for dinner.”
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad
station in Binghamton, New York. There’s no passenger service in Binghamton anymore, but the building is currently used as professional office space. Fujichrome Provia 100F color slide by Joe Geronimo, November 2009.
The National Science Foundation is a forerunner in women’s
equality. As of August 2017, women
occupy 47.68 percent of the STEM related positions in the foundation. Join us in celebrating equality with the stories of these five NSF scientists.
Patricia Knezek, Ph.D.,Senior Advisor, Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate
Dr. Knezek obtained
her bachelor’s degree in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin, her
Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Massachusetts, and she was a
postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan.
Knezek joined the
National Science Foundation (NSF) in March 2013; prior to that she had been
with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) as a staff scientist
where she worked with the WIYN Consortium, Inc. (WIYN) as WIYN’s
Instrumentation Project Manager, Deputy Director, and then Director. She
has also held positions at the Space Telescope Science Institute, The Johns
Hopkins University, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Dr. Knezek is
committed to increasing participation of women and underrepresented minorities
in science and has been an advocate for diversity throughout her career.