Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Girl with the Auburn Hair

Love Note 2Image by Linds :) via Flickr
For years it never really crossed his mind. Life had moved on and so had he. First, junior high, then high school, and college after that. Only when he tried and failed at love did the memory surface and then with the peculiar sadness that accompanies the losses of childhood. Her note had read, "I like you, do you like me?" There were spaces where he might check yes or no and despite feeling he was making a big mistake, he checked "no." He'd had a crush on another girl since first grade and even though it was one-way, he still cared and didn't want to lie.

It was the first time a girl had even so much as hinted that she liked him. Interestingly, just days before, she'd tackled him and rubbed his face in the dirt while playing a game of "girls against boys." He, in turn, once free, had slugged her. The ways of the heart are inscrutable. Maybe she liked him for standing up for himself. He never found out because, of course, he had checked "no," and then school was over and life moved on.

In his second year of college, one warm spring Saturday evening, he was invited to a student gathering
-- more than a party, less than a convention. A vocal ensemble performed, someone spoke, and there was time for socializing. During the music portion, he thought he recognized one of the singers. It had been a long time but she looked like a grown up version of someone he'd known, once upon a time.

Curiosity overcoming his natural shyness, he approached her afterward and asked i
f she had been the girl who surreptitiously passed him that third grade note. She admitted it was and said she'd recognized him as well. Far prettier than he remembered, she was tall and slender, with auburn hair that fell just short of the collar of her blouse. Their conversation was brief and he was left feeling he had been right, checking "no" was a mistake, but how could he have known? Back to the Future was still in Spielberg's imagination and there was no Doc Brown to remind him the past is not set, so he said something nondescript like, "It's been great seeing you," and turned to leave.

Getting into his car, however, what is clear to you and me, finally hit him like a ton of bricks. As he had never quite forgotten her, neither had she forgotten him. This is crazy, he thought, reaching into the glove box and taking a piece of paper, he quickly scribbled, "Is it too late?" with a blank for "yes" and one for "no."

Back inside, he walked over to where she stood, chatting with friends, and silently slipped the note into her hand. She looked down and read, smiled at the memory, then at him. "Do you have a pen?" she asked. He pulled one from his pocket and watched while she firmly checked "no" and added the words, "We're going for pizza. Would you like to come?" with the familiar blanks.

And this time, he checked, "Yes."

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