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Do feelings change over time or do they lay dormant and wait to be awakened?  

Part 1 of 2

Laurence walked into the hardware store and stood near the doorway.  Where was that list?  He put his hands in his pockets.  He remembered.  He had left it on the table.  What was on it?  He squinted trying to remember.  Duct tape, flashlights for two cars, one of those chargers that jump-starts your car if the battery dies, he tapped his foot.  If there was more he would have to come back again.

He took a cart from the cart area and headed down the first aisle.  Halfway down the aisle a woman standing on her tiptoes was reaching for a tube of something from the top shelf.  Her fingers were inches from it.  She needed to be a couple of inches taller to reach it.

“Need some help?” he asked.  The woman came down from her tiptoes and looked his way.  He almost took a step back.  Instantly he was ecstatic.  It was her.  No one else could look like that.  Green eyes, blonde hair that was no longer blonde, a warm face that had aged but still just as warm, beautiful, different than decades ago but still beautiful, it was Mrs. Cannon.  She was looking at him with that look.  The one she had given him and others 31 years ago.  This was Mrs. Cannon.

“Are you okay?” she asked with a look of concern.

He swallowed and tried to think of the right words to say.  “You won’t remember me,” he said, nervous.  “But, you’re Mrs. Cannon.”  She smiled.  That smile.  It had not changed.  Thirty-one years later and it was still there.  “You must be asking yourself, ‘Who is this person?’”  He took a breath.  “I’m Laurence Williams.  You were my sixth grade teacher.”

She squinted.  “I…believe I remember you, Laurence,” she said.  “Of course, you look different today.  You’re all grown up.  So, you live in this area?”

“I do now,” he said.  “I just moved here.  I’ve been in Kansas for the last five years.  I moved back to Michigan last year.  I’m surprised I’ve never run into you.  You look the same.  I knew who you were immediately.  You look great.”  He felt foolish for saying that.  Who would say that?  This was a seventy-something-year-old-woman.  Say she is attractive or something.  You look great sounds like you are talking to a silly schoolgirl.

“Thank you,” she said and smiled.  “I try to take care of myself.  You get to my age and you better.”  They both laughed a little.  “I just moved back myself.  After teaching I moved to the Washington D.C. area.  But I missed this area and came back.”

He listened.  There was a pause in the conversation.  He could not think of what to say.  For years he had dreamed of this moment.  He thought if he ever saw her he knew what he would say.  Now it was gone.  A blank mind had taken over his carefully chosen words.  He smiled at her as if waiting for her to finish a joke.  She quietly looked at him.  Too much dead air, he thought.

“It was good seeing you,” she said.  “I hope things are well.  I’m sure I’ll see you around town.  It’s not that big.”  He said that it wasn’t.  “Well, I better get going.  I’ll see you around town.”

He smiled and nodded.  “I’m sure we will,” he said.  “Oh, sorry, let me help you with that.”  He reached up to the top shelf and grabbed a tube of home glue and handed it to her.

“Thank you, Laurence,” she said.  “I was too short to reach it.”  She put the glue in her basket.  “I’ve got a few repairs to make.”  She looked at him.  “It was nice seeing you again, Laurence.”

“You too, Mrs. Cannon,” he said and watched her walk down the aisle.  His feet wanted to go after her.  Common sense told him to let it go.  He was being foolish.  Leave her with a positive impression of you.  He stood there.  The hell with common sense, he thought.

“Mrs. Cannon,” he said, pushing his cart toward her.  She turned around.  “Mrs. Cannon, I know this is awkward.”  She looked confused.  “Can I take you to lunch?”  He stood there.  Heart pounding.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Hoping.

She silently watched him.  Her mouth opened slightly and closed.  A smile came and went.  He was not sure what she was thinking.

“I’m not an ax murderer,” he said.  Her head recoiled slightly.  “I’m an engineer.  I just wanted to…to take you to lunch.  Please say yes.  It would be my pleasure.  You did so much for me.  Don’t make me beg.”  She squinted.  “It’s not beneath me.”  He dropped to a knee and clasped his fingers and looked up at her.  “Please?”

 

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