I wrote this about 10 years ago, shortly after I started my real, adult job. It was a submission for a contest that was being hosted by The Tennessean. Some notable writer (so notable that I can’t remember her name…but I do remember that it was a woman) wrote the first paragraph, and we had to continue the story.
This is the EXACT submission I sent in. I couldn’t find the original Word document, but I did have a hard copy of it. I changed a couple of things when I retyped it. I’ve also decided I want to expand it. This is now on my radar again, and I want to do something bigger with it.
At the time I called this Abby. I have no better title for it at the moment.
It was a hungry morning. There were many mouths to be fed. The kitchen was divided between the people who wanted corn bread and the people who wanted brioche. The people who wanted corn bread were all from somewhere else, just here for the festivities. How strange that a wedding kitchen and a funeral kitchen; a christening kitchen and a bat mitzvah kitchen; a rehearsal dinner kitchen and a New Year’s Eve morning kitchen look and feel so much the same – all expectation and jitters, so much memories and so many wishes.
“Never say never,” I was told as a child. Right in the kitchen. How carelessly I declared the thing I will never do. And now comes the day I must do it – before the eggs are cold, before the coffeepot is empty.
I took a pitcher of milk to the table and sat next to Abby. She was supposed to be the girl of my dreams, the one that got away.
My love for her started before I knew what the word meant. Fate, three cruel bitches who I could hear laughing every time I fell on my ass, brought us together for the first time in high school. We were both in band, and we both ran track and cross-country. But she was a gorgeous blond, a popular senior, and I was just an average sophomore. Apparently I wasn’t the best looking thing around, and high school is fickle. Fate kept beating my self-worth out of me, so I figured I didn’t deserve her.
I left later that year, my feeling paced with my books and CDs. I thought about her from time to time as a I spent a solitary summer in a new town, but those times became fewer as life began at a new school.
And that life came and went. So did college. And then I was working.
I saw Abby again at Market Street on Friday after work. I was in a booth with some guys from work, and she was at the bar. She was as beautiful then as she was the last time I saw her, but the high school innocence was gone, replaced with…I don’t know…maybe it was experience or sophistication or knowledge. Whatever it was, it radiated from her, and the schoolboy crush enveloped me again. I took a long swig from my beer, excused myself from my friends and walked over to the bar.
“Um, ‘scuse me, but I think you know me,” I said, only a hint of nervousness on my voice, a minute fraction of the nervousness that coursed through me and seemed to make my teeth vibrate. I’d never tried to pick up anyone in a bar, and I probably never will again.
Abby turned to me and gave me a quick once over.
“I don’t think so,” she said, turning to start a conversation with the girl on the other side of her.
“I’m sorry,” I said, tapping her lightly on the shoulder. “I really hate to be rude or pushy, but we DO know each other.”
She turned to face me, and I took a startled step back. Her long blonde hair had fallen in her face, and she tucked it behind her ear before propping her head up with one hand. At that moment she looked like the girl I fell in love with almost a decade before.
“So don’t keep me in suspense, then. How do I know you?”
“High school,” I said. “Band, track, cross-country, saxophone, twerpy little sophomore with a crush on a senior. Ring any bells?”
And that’s when I saw the light go on. Her face went from “Oh crap, this creep just won’t leave me alone” to “Oh wow, I think I actually DO know this guy.” Her eyes lit up and the sarcastic smile turned into something genuine.
And that’s how it began. We talked over our drinks, and I ended up asking her to dinner. One dinner led to two, and that led to others. Nine months later we were at my parents’ house in the same kitchen where my mom had told me never to say never, and I was proposing. I was on my knee, telling her I could never love anyone else the way I loved her, looking up at her the same way I looked up at my mother so many years ago when she passed on that timeless wisdom. How was I supposed to know those words and that decision would come back and haunt me less than a year later?
And here we are, in the same kitchen. Breakfast is over and I’m helping with the dishes, staring out the window over the sink. How do you tell someone you promised, pledged to love and cherish, through the good and the bad, until death do you part…how do you tell them you love someone else?
The eggs may be cold, but there’s still coffee in the pot, so I guess I’ll find out soon.
Probably for the rest of the month I’m going to whore myself out with an impassioned plea: click on the ads. PLEASE click on the ads. I don’t care if you exit it out of it immediately or actually look around. This isn’t some professional blog where I believe in the products I’m shilling. These are automatic ads placed by Google. But my experiment this weekend proved to me that I actually AM making a spot of cash whenever the ads are clicked. So I’m going to put this little disclaimer on the bottom of all my posts for the next month or so, and I hope you’ll take an extra 10 seconds after reading my blog to click on an ad. Thanks so much!