“Your popsicle is melting.”
The words sounded as if they were coming at me from underwater.
“Your popsicle is melting. You wouldn’t want to let it go to waste when I worked so hard to give it to you, now would you?”
I must have continued to look completely blank, because he rushed to say, “that was a joke.”
Inez was giggling on the bench next to me, and the redness of my face had nothing to do with the summer sun beating down all around us.
“I’m Inez,” she said through her breathless snorts, “And that’s Kelsie. You’ll have to excuse her, she’s very taken with you.”
Taken?? Who said that anymore??? But she wasn’t wrong. Everything had rushed out of my mind when his hand had briefly brushed mine as he handed me the now melting popsicle. I had looked up into the bluest eyes I had ever seen and my heart had starting sprinting a mile a minute. I think I had said thank you? I hoped I had. I must have, because he has smiled the most gorgeous smile back at me, his eyes crinkling a bit at the corners. Inez and I had then somehow ended up on the bench across the street, facing the ice cream stand. Come to think of it, I don’t think I had spoken a single word to Inez since we sat down, so how on earth did she know I was “taken with him?” The nerve she had! Oh God, who said that anymore either?? And where had he come from? I don’t think I could have told you a single thing about the person who had been working the stand yesterday.
“It’s very nice to meet you both. I’m Paul. My family and I just moved here a few weeks ago.” Well, that answered that question.
He paused to glance at me, and then said, “Inez, please tell Kelsie that I am very taken with her too. I’ve gotta get back to the stand.” He winked at me, and turned to walk back toward the stand.
Oh no oh no oh no! He came all the way over here to talk to us! To talk to me? And all I had managed to say was “what”. How was this happening to me? I was being ridiculous. Love at first sight was not something I believed in! Why was I acting like this? Love? Why had I even thought that? We are just teenagers and I’ve just met my first intense crush, that’s all this was.
Later, Inez and I were walking home. She had wisely not brought up the disaster at the ice cream stand, other than to glance at me sideways every so often and stifle a giggle. Occasionally, I would rub at my fingers to try to remove the stickiness left by the melting popsicle, and would then stop. It’s as if I didn’t want to rub away my first memories of his smile. As we neared Inez’s house, I asked if we were on for tomorrow. The scorching summer days were ours for the taking, and I intended to soak them all up with my best friend since first grade.
“I think you should go to the ice cream stand by yourself tomorrow.”
I looked at her, shocked. “Why?”
Her face had a mix of joy and sadness on it. “Because I think you need to go see Paul without me.”
“But… what… I have no idea what you are talking about!”
“Yes, you do. But you can come over for a movie night after and tell me all about it! We might even get to watching a movie.” She winked at me and waved before walking up her driveway. I was still trying to come up with a response as the door closed behind her.
The next day was just as hot, but again, my flushed skin had nothing to do with the record setting temperatures. I took a deep breath and held it so I wouldn’t lose it again when I looked into Paul’s eyes.
“Could I have a popsicle please? I won’t let it melt this time, I promise.”
He grinned as he handed me the popsicle and my knees turned to water.
“I’m glad you made it back,” he said.
“Hey man, what’s up?” I turned to see the person who must have been the usual worker at the stand. Ah, is that what he looked like?
“Business as usual today. I think I’ll grab one for the road since it’s so hot. Have a good shift.”
“Thanks man, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Paul turned to me and said, “My shift is over now. Would you want to sit with me while we eat these? You wouldn’t want to break your first promise to me, now would you?” He still had a beautiful smile on his face, but cast his eyes down and seemed uncertain for a moment, as if he wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, let alone the next 10 minutes as we ate the popsicles.
“I would love to!” I practically squealed. We walked to the bench, and what came to pass was the most magical afternoon of my life.
“And that is how I met your father.” I said, pulling myself out of the memory to look at my daughter’s clear blue eyes.
“And that is why I’m your godmother, Julie. You wouldn’t have existed without me if I’d never made your mother go back to the ice cream stand alone so she would have to actually talk to your father,” said Inez in a very superior voice.
Julie laughed her melodious laugh. It was another scorching summer, 20 years later. We were walking to the very same spot we were speaking of. The air was heavy and humid, sweetened by the scent of honeysuckle floating on the light breeze. The cart was different, upgraded, but the ice cream was still amazing, the memories still clear as day.
“I can’t believe you and dad are actually one of those high-school couples who stayed together. That never happens.”
“I’m not surprised at all,” said Inez. “Have you seen your father?”
“Ew, Aunt Inez, that’s grossssss. He’s my dad!”
I laughed and said, “Well, we did break up before college. We were going to be on different sides of the country. We both moved back home after graduation, however, and the rest is history.”
We were very close to the ice cream stand now, so I stopped to give Julie a hug.
“You’re going to love working here Julie. I just know it. And who knows? Maybe you’ll meet your own forever person here? After all, it’s good luck. Your father brought me here when he proposed.”
“Thanks mom, I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Popsicles for the road?”
“You bet,” said Inez.
We began the walk home and just before we turned the corner, I turned to look at my daughter, such a miraculous result of that ordinary day, 20 years ago. She smiled and waved, and I waved back, my heart so full and the popsicle melting, more sticky stains that I would never want to rub off.