Last night I was up for about 2 hours tossing and turning. My mind was wondering here, there and everywhere. Then somehow, out of the blue, I remembered my summer with Kyle.
I was 17 at the time and working on the ranch in Wyoming. It was my second year working in the kitchen and Kyle's first. Kyle had gotten to job through his older brother Gabe, who had been working on the ranch for about 7 years. Kyle and I were the same age, which was nice because I was used to be the youngest, which had its perks at times.
I remember meeting Kyle and thinking we has a cute boy. He was very quiet around me at first. He only ever really talked to Gabe and Josh, but that all changed the night we all stayed late in the kitchen and experimented with some new recipes. I was craving cheesecake, so I decided to try to make it. I was talking with everyone and we were laughing. By this time, it had been a few days since I arrived, and Kyle had started to talk to me a bit more. I was walking from the bakery to the kitchen when all of a sudden someone came up behind me and tickled me. I was shocked when I turned around and it was Kyle. That was the beginning, but it gets better.
That same night, one of Gerry's colleagues (Gerry Spence, the owner and creator of TLC) had passed away a few years back. His colleague had a daughter and always wanted her to meet Gerry. She had just arrived that night or the night before, I can't quite recall. Well, she came into the kitchen to hang out and get away from all the lawyers. I can't remember this girls name, but she was different that's for sure. We were all talking when she came up with the craziest idea. She wanted to have a prong fight. Prongs are those long, sharp utensils some people use to turn over big hunks for meat on the grill. Yeah, those things, and she wanted to have a sword fight with them. The next thing I knew Kyle was all for it and they were out on the lawn in the dark stabbing at each other. I was shocked and couldn't even watch, I had to stay in the kitchen while the boys went out and watched.
Now I didn't know Kyle very well at this point. I had only meet him a few days prior, but I was slightly concerned as to his decision, and kinda jealous of the girl. I just couldn't comprehend why he wanted to participate in the prong fight and why with her? After the fight, they both came in and Kyle was a bruised, bloody mess. She had really gone at him, and she barely had a scrape. He said he was not about to actually poke her, but she, on the other hand, and no problem jabbing him as hard as possible. Things settled down after that and Gabe and Josh went to bed. The girl was up for more crazy antics, and as much as I was afraid of what was to come, I didn't like the idea of leaving Kyle alone with her. At this point, I thought Kyle liked this girl, so I don't know why I stuck around anyway. We wondered around, threw out some ideas for what to do next, then finally decided to sit in the walk in cooler until we couldn't anymore. The cooler was packed with food and pretty cold. We didn't last very long and after we made our way out, I was so tired I decided to go to bed. Kyle and the girl planned on staying up and I went to bed thinking that by the end of the night those two were going to kiss.
I woke up the next day wondering if the craziness from the night before was just a dream, but when I walked into the kitchen, the boys were talking about Kyle's battle wounds and I knew it was not a dream. I found out later that Kyle and the girl had stayed up til 4 am sitting on the roof of one of the houses talking. There was no kissing. I was surprised and relieved at the same time.
A day or so later the girl went back home to the state of Washington and it was just me and the boys again. We talked about how bizarre the girl was and they told me that night of the prong fight they thought the girl had a thing for me. I thought they were joking, but apparently they had picked up on some things that I had missed. I still don't know what they are talking about, but I'm not gonna lie I was kinda relieved because at least she didn't like Kyle.
After than night, the days started to blur together, but there are 2 very significant things that happened that summer I will never forget, both involving Kyle. The first, and my favorite memory, is of The Night I Knew. There is an old milk barn on the ranch that has been turned into a rec room. There are some couches, a old TV that I don't think even works,a little separate room with exercise equipment, a fridge always full of beer and my mini stock of Smirnoff Ice that the boys would get for me, and a pool table. At night, the boys and I would always go hang out there to relax and play some pool. I became a pretty good pool player during those summers. Gabe taught me well.
On this particular night, I was pretty tired and decided to deck out quietly while the boys were out back taking a leak. I was halfway across the lawn when I heard a voice behind me say, "Where ya going, Mary?" I turned around and there was Kyle standing in the light of the doorway wearing his navy blue button down shirt that had a giant white pistol on it. I couldn't believe he had noticed I had left, which shouldn't have shocked me seeing as I was the only girl working on the ranch besides our boss Kay, and the only girl in the rec room. I was also shocked that he cared I was leaving. I told him I was going to bed and he said I should stay longer. I invited him to come back to my little hut. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew I was falling for him, and that he liked me back. We walked over to my hut and laid in bed all night talking about anything and everything. We just laid there side by side with only the sides of our arms and legs touching. I remember after laying there for hours, I just wanted Kyle to kiss me. It didn't quite happen that way though. If I recall correctly, he told me to kiss him or dared me to, but in the end we kissed, and it was short and sweet and perfect.
Kyle went back to his own cabin before the sun came up, but every night after that we would spend the nights together. Kyle made me laugh and smile and I loved being around him. I really liked Kyle and we became very close. Unfortunately, about a month later that all came to an abrupt halt.
My second significant memory involving Kyle is The Accident. One day, after dinner was over and the kitchen was cleaned up, Kyle and I went into town. I really wanted to go to the little town store and get some colored pencils so I could draw. The mountains and landscape surrounding the ranch was so beautiful I wanted to try and draw it. Kyle had a 1960 Ford truck that was a lime green color and had the biggest steering wheel I have ever seen. On they way back to the ranch, Kyle and I were joking around and laughing. Kyle was not staying perfectly in between the lines of the road, which wasn't a big deal until a car was heading in our direction. I told Kyle to stay between the lines because he was making me nervous, but we were still having fun. He decided to be Mr. Funny and swayed his car over the line more to pretend like he was going to hit the car that was headed our way, but still far down the road. We laughed and he let go of the wheel so I leaned over to grab the wheel to veer it back to our side of the road. Little did I know how sensitive his steering wheel was. One pull of the steering wheel and we were spinning out of control. I was thrown all over the cab of the truck. I remember feeling the truck hit the guardrail, the back wheels lifted up and we slammed down on the pavement. I was in shock. I could not believe that happened and I was shrieking and crying. Kyle got out of the truck and told me to calm down, kissed me, and grabbed my hand to help me to get out on his side of the truck. He asked me if I was okay, and I said yes because the shock of the accident was still masking the pain. The car that was headed our way pulled over and helped us. There was a family in the car. They all climbed out if the van and asked if we were okay. They handed me some paper towels and a water bottle and told me my forehead was bleeding. I wiped my forehead and looked at the paper towel to see it soaked in blood. That's when the pain set in. My head hurt, my knee hurt, my hand had a big gash on it, a scar still can be seen, and my right shoulder was killing me.
Some lawyers recognized Kyle's car and were headed back to the ranch, they told Kay and Gabe they we were in an accident and they were there about 45 minutes later, but it seemed like forever. By the time they had arrived, so had the ambulance. I was sitting inside the ambulance while the EMT took my vitals. They were concerned I had a concussion from the blow my head took to the windshield. My head had cracked almost the entire glass and pieces of glass where stuck in my forehead and pieces of my hair was stuck in the shattered glass. My shoulder had smashed the passengers side window out and left a huge dent in the door.
When I saw Kay and began to cry again and told her I was sorry. I called my mother and told her everything was fine but I was in an accident and off to the hospital I went. Kyle and I rode together and I was strapped down to a body board wearing a neck brace. I kept falling asleep, but the EMT would wake me up. An hour and a half later we made it to the Lander Valley Hospital where I had to have an MRI and a CAT scan. My back was killing me, but only from the pain of being strapped down to the board. Everything was fine. The doctors gave me some pain killers and hours later around 3 am Kay, Gabe and I were driving back to Dubois. Kyle had a broken rib and he stayed with his parents in Lander for about a week.
I missed Kyle while he was at home and I felt horrible about his truck. It was destroyed. I mostly felt horrible for the fact that no one really knew what happened. We told people that the accident was caused because the truck just started to spin out of control, but nothing more than that.
I couldn't wait for Kyle to come back to the ranch, but when he did, everything was different. He would barely look at me or talk to me, and we did not spend the nights together talking about everything under the sun. The accident had not only damaged our bodies, but also our relationship. I still don't know to this day what made Kyle so distant, but it broke my heart. I remember hanging out in the rec room with Gabe and Josh a few days after Kyle had come back and the three of us were drinking. I was upset about the accident and feeling like everything was my fault. I just needed to know why Kyle had had a change of heart. I marched over to his cabin where he was just starting to fall asleep and wanted to know why he hated me. I was crying while I sat on his bed in his dark cabin and told him I was sorry and how I wish things could be the way they were before the accident. He told me it was okay and that he was not mad at me. I'm not sure if I believe that to this day, but I also don't believe he was telling me the whole truth.
A few weeks later he went back home to get ready for school, and a few days after that I headed back to Buffalo. I wrote Kyle a letter and sent him a few things that included a cow tail taffy stick, $300 and a few other things I can't recall. I even called his house, but he was at work so I didn't get to talk to him. I haven't spoken to Kyle since that summer, but I think about him a lot. The last I knew, Kyle was working in the kitchen of a very nice hotel in Idaho. I don't know what he is doing now, but I hope he is doing well. I hope he has fond memories of that summer we spent together. The scars on my hand and head from the accident will always be there to remind me of that summer, no matter how faded the scars have become over the years. I still have a scar on my left knuckle from the day we laid around in your cabin and you accidentily closed your pocket knife on me. Kyle, you will always hold a special place in my heart. I miss you Kyle and I hope I will get to see you one day. Maybe we can talk about what happened and I can get some closure. Take care, where ever you are out there.