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Taking It All In Stride

Sharon sits quietly in her living room, no TV, no CD, or anything. She is listening carefully for his car to pull up in her driveway. She hasn’t been this nervous waiting on a date to come pick her up since Chuck Vickers, a senior came to take her, a sophomore on her first date.

She assumes it is a date. Two friends, one male and one female going to an evening meal in the city. When Frank finally asked her to have dinner with him, he suggested they drive to Evansville.

“Something special,” he said, “you pick it out because you know Evansville better.”

Sharon stands and paces to the foyer. She checks out through a small window hearing a car slow down. It turns into a neighbor’s driveway. On her way back to the living room to wait impatiently, again, she passes a mirror.  She chose a dark collard, buttoned down top with sleeves and an A-line black skirt – simple and appropriate for the art district at Haynie’s Corner.  Then, she thinks she is too old to be acting like this.

She glances at a clock on the wall, he’s not late. She finds the TV remote and turns the TV on. The news is on but she does not focus on the words or the screen. It’s just noise to deafen the unnerving silence which keeps screaming, “you’re going to be stood up.”

“Surely he would call or text or something if he changed his mind. He’s not a cruel man,” Sharon mumbles to herself as she stops herself from biting a fingernail.

Did she hear a car pull into the driveway? She searches frantically for the remote.  It’s still in her hand. The TV goes black. She hears someone reach the porch.  She resists the urge to run to the door. Her heart beats rapidly. The doorbell rings. She begins to count to ten but stops at seven. Fifteen steps to the front door, she stops at the mirror and takes one last look. The doorbell rings, again and then, three quick raps on the door.

Sharon sighs, then opens the door. He’s not late. He’s actually early. She smiles. He smiles.

“Are you ready?” Frank Richards stands wondering if he should have brought flowers like in the movies.

“Won’t you come in? I am not quite ready, yet,” Sharon is not sure why this fib pops out of her mouth.

“You look ready to me. You look fantastic,” Frank fears he may have been too enthusiastic.

“Thank you. OK, I’ll take your word for it and chance it just the way I am.”

Sharon starts to be escorted out the door, but suddenly remembers her purse. She stops at the threshold and dashes back into the house. Frank waits patiently. She quickly returns with a small palm sized black purse with a long strap dangling from her shoulder. Once she catches up and locks the door, her keys disappear into the purse and Frank escorts Sharon to the car.

The twenty minute ride to Evansville is dotted with trivial chat, slow and awkward at first, but eventually becoming more natural.

“I almost forgot,” Frank removes one hand from the steering wheel and opens a console between them.

Sharon anxiously watches as Frank takes too much time in her estimation with his eyes off the road to finally find a CD. She offers to help remove it from its case, so he can give more attention to the expressway traffic.

“Do you remember this song?” Frank pokes the CD into the dashboard and punches a button a few times searching for the right song.

Sharon listens intently as the song wafts out from the dashboard. She does know the song but cannot recall what makes this particular song significant.

“”All You Need Is Love,’ of course I remember it,” Sharon states slowly stalling, struggling to secure its significance.

“Don’t you remember,” Frank’s voice reveals excitement, “we were dancing and you started singing it out loud. I was so embarrassed at first.”

Sharon’s memory of the moment flashes a blurred vision of it in her mind.  Like a scene from a movie of that era, the full memory comes into clearer focus.

“Yes, I do recall,” Sharon’s blue eyes brighten giving her face a youthful glow almost as if she becomes the girl in the memory.

“Someone around us started to sing it with you. Then, another joined and then another. Before long nearly everyone began to sing the chorus – “all we need is love.”

Right on cue, the CD plays the chorus. Frank and Sharon laugh when they realize the coincidental action. Sharon sings it with the CD on the second chant. Frank joins the third.

“‘All we need is love, love. Love is all we need,'” Both rejuvenated septuagenarians sing without inhibition.

“The song was an old song that year, our senior year,” Frank suggests, jesting about the words “old song.”

“It was probably a whole year old, maybe,” Sharon confirms.

“A year for me back then seemed so very long.”

“True, but now it’s like a minute.”

Frank stares out ahead, but only half-way focusing on the highway, “Funny how that happens.”

“That’s because we have more minutes behind us than ahead of us,” Then, Sharon is pricked at the heart by her own truth.

Love is all we need. Love is all we need. Love is all we need,”  the song fades and ends.

Frank pokes a button and the CD pops out as the time machine-like music brings the two passengers back from 1968 to now. Frank turns off the Lloyd onto the exit to Division.  Sharon gives Frank directions until they reach the restaurant. She wonders if it had been less stressful if she had driven – maybe next time, if there is a next time.

They chat about fellow high school friends. Too many of them have passed away. A couple of the male friends died in Viet Nam. A few others moved away to other cities like Evansville after high school for work or went away to college and never returned. These chats start while they wait to be seated and continue until their drinks arrive.

“Is your floral shop nearby?” Frank asks Sharon after the two order and sip on their drinks.

“It was on Main Street. It’s no longer my floral shop, you know.”

“Yeah, I know, but I don’t know downtown Evansville very well. Where’s Main?”

“We passed Main on the way here.  The Ford Center is on Main where it ends at Martin Luther King.  My shop was … is a couple of blocks down from MLK towards the Ohio.”

“Where did you live?”

“Just above my shop. Sold that apartment, too.”

The meal comes shortly there after and right on time as the conversation pretty well comes to a stand still. During the meal, neither say much about themselves now. They both comment on the comfortable atmosphere of the restaurant and how good the meal and service are.

Finally, Sharon ventures a personal question, “Whatever happened to the boy who wanted to be a singer?”

Frank puts down his fork, “He found out his voice was mediocre.”

“If I remember correctly,” Sharon begins but then shakes her head and waves it off.

But the words are out there with no place to go and causing irritation to curious minds. Frank starts to pick up his fork again, but then agitates trying to guess what Sharon was going to say next.

“What do you remember?” Frank cannot stand not knowing.

All the scenarios in Frank’s mind seem to have a negative air. He knows how she feels about church. She probably doesn’t respect ministers or realize how important they are.

“Huh? What do I remember about what?”

“You said, ‘if I remember correctly.'”

“It’s not important.”

Frank tries to believe her, but his curiosity won’t let it go.  He points his fork, not at the meal but at Sharon and the words unspoken.

“I began to believe I would be more successful preaching about love than singing or writing about it.”

Sharon detects a defensive tone in his voice, “Thank you.”

“Thank you? What do you mean by that?”

“Thank you for sharing that with me.”

Frank returns to consuming his meal. Sharon notices, though, that he seems to be using his fork and knife as weapons attacking and prodding his meat and vegetables.

“Look, Frank, I’m sorry I upset you. I’m sure you made a good decision for the right reasons. I was just curious.”

Frank stabs around his plate a few more times and then suddenly stops and sighs.

“I think it was more like making a decision based on good reasons. I guess I haven’t yet admitted I’m sure it was a right decision.”

“Frank, I’m sure you did the right thing. I just remember that you were a pretty good singer and how much you loved to sing. I just wondered if you ever pursued that.”

Frank and Sharon exchange glances but neither knows what to say next. Frank returns to his eating. Then, Sharon does the same. No more is said about the subject or any other subject until the waiter returns to see if they are ready for dessert.

Frank glances over at Sharon and politely asks her if she wants some dessert. She doesn’t, at least not this moment. She had other plans for dessert, but given the current atmosphere between them, those plans may need to be postponed. She decides to find out.

“Could you come back in a moment with that question, please?” Sharon asks the waiter who nods politely and walks away.

“I had hoped you might come to my house for dessert, Frank. That is if you want to.”

Frank thinks about it a moment, checks his cell for the time, and decides to try it. He hopes his momentary tantrum didn’t spoil the evening. Maybe he can make up for it.

After making sure Sharon has finished her meal, Frank calls the waiter over and asks for the check.

“I would like to apologize for snapping at you,” Frank reaches out and takes Sharon’s hand after settling up with the waiter.

“It’s my fault. I’m terrible about ‘what if.’ It generally only brings discomfort and can never change anything.”

“Is there something you’d like to change?”

“I think we’ll save that discussion for the ride home.”

The couple are in stride as they shuffle their way out to the car. Outside, a nice warm summer breeze greets them. It is evening but still light out. Sharon comments on how nice the weather is.

Frank opens the door for Sharon. She surprisingly still finds this gesture nice. She wonders how he’d feel if she opened the door for him.

“To answer your question about what I would change, I’d change nothing about this evening so far,” Sharon declares as Frank slides in behind the wheel.

“Good. Me, either.”

“I hope you can still say that after you’ve tried my dessert.”

Categories: Writing example

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Douglas Knight

I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at douglasknight85@gmail.com.

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