This was a Two Part story. I had to add a Part 3.
Sometimes what we want to say won’t come out until it’s coaxed from us. Then we worry if we said the wrong thing. Please enjoy the story.
PART 2 of 3
LAURENCE TOOK HIS HAND and wiped off the park bench. Then he motioned with his hand for Mrs. Cannon to have a seat.
“Thank you, Laurence,” she said and sat down and smiled up at him.
“You welcome, Mrs. Cannon,” he said.
“You have to stop calling me that,” she said. “We’re not in school anymore. It feels strange to hear it coming from you.”
He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, Ann,” he said. She told him that was better. “It’s just…I’ll try to remember that. It’s one of those good habits that shouldn’t be continued in this context, or situation, whichever is the appropriate one that fits what this is.”
“It’s funny that you say that,” she said. He looked on. “You said context or situation. That brings up a question.” He sat up straight. “What is this?” He squinted. “This? This, which we’re doing? What would you call it?”
“I’d call it two people who haven’t seen each other in decades getting together to reacquaint themselves,” he said.
“Reacquaint?” she asked. “That’s what you call it? Reacquaint?”
He moved his shoulders up and down. First it was the left and then the right. That is what he did when he was nervous. There was a better word to use than reacquaint. It was not coming to him. “I guess to describe this particular situation that we’re in, at this moment, would be to say that we’re catching up.”
She reminded him that the last time she saw him he was probably eleven. She was sure that she was around forty-seven. So they did not have much to catch up on.
“I guess then I’d describe this as a gracious woman who agreed to go to lunch with me,” he said. She reminded him that she went to lunch with him because he was about to embarrass her by staying on his knee until she said yes. “I’ll admit there was some coercion in my asking you to lunch. But, the ice cream after lunch was consenting.” He held back a smile. “And, you going home and coming back out to meet me for an early dinner was an act of goodwill.” She repeated goodwill. “Then the walk, of course, was you enjoying my company enough to not want our time together to end.”
She shook her head and looked at him. “Or, maybe it’s what I do after I eat dinner, like I told you I did,” she said.
“That’s true,” he said. “You…you did say that. But, do you normally walk for two hours? You didn’t say two hours.”
“You’re right, Laurence,” she said. “I didn’t say two hours. My normal walk is one hour.” He told her he felt honored that she extended her walk to be with him. “Laurence,” she paused, “one of us needs to cut through this,” she moved her hands through the air, “mist or fog that we find ourselves in.” She pursed her lips. “Since I’m the oldest, seventy-four to be exact, it should be me.” He looked at her, nodding.
“You’ve spent most of the day with me,” she said. “You’re aware of that, right?” He told her he was. “Just because I’m older I’m not uninformed.” He looked concerned and worried. “What are you looking for? Or should I ask what are you expecting from me?” He asked what she meant. “I don’t want to be presumptuous. But I can’t help feeling that a thirty-eight year old, healthy man, single, I assume,” he nodded, “would want to spend his day with a seventy-four year old woman. So what are you up to?”
Laurence panicked. She caught him off guard. Normally people were not that blunt. But she was. “Look, Mrs…Ann, I’m not up to anything. I’ve always had a crush on you. I’ve always thought about you. Not in an obsession, over-the-top kind of way. I just thought about you from time to time.” She quietly watched him. Even though the temperature was a cool sixty-two degrees and it was eight o’clock at night he could feel perspiration on his forehead. “And when I saw you in the store I thought I’d ask you to lunch. So that’s what I did.”
“Mmm,” she said. “You know it’s not uncommon for boys to have crushes on their teachers.” He said he knew that. “And, am I safe to assume that this crush that you had on me is over?”
“Not…all the way,” he said, hesitantly.
“It’s not?” she asked. He inhaled and held his breath. “Do you know some people would view you as a sick perverted human being?” His eyes grew wide. “That would only be if your intentions were less than admirable. Are your intentions admirable?” He held his hands up and asked in what way. “What are you asking me for Laurence? What is it that I can do for you? I feel it’s best if we get to the root of things. Before our assumptions run afoul. So tell me. What do you want? Don’t pause and think about it. Just come right out with it.”
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