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Suspense Romance Contemporary

She walked into the room and there it was, in the time it takes a hummingbird to flap its wings, the memory was waiting for the right time to resurface, but he knew her in an instant. It was 15 years ago, a few weeks before his senior year, he and his friends were at a summer dance, it was the last one before school began. Josh didn’t have the courage to approach her, to ask her to dance or even her name. But when his best friend asked her to dance, and she accepted, he lost his dibs, as he and his friends often called when one of them spotted a girl they were interested in. Luke and Marie danced three songs together, the time seemed like it would never end for Josh. When the band decided to take a break, his friend walked over to the benches where they’d all been sitting.

“You were gone a long time,” Josh said hoping to get some information on the girl.

“I was going to leave after the first song, but it seemed like she wanted to keep going,” Luke shrugged.

“Does she have a name?” Josh asked, but hoped they hadn’t got too personal because that would leave Luke open to call dibs.

“Yeah, but I really couldn’t hear her, the music was too loud,” he laughed, as if it didn’t matter.

“She must be new in town,” Josh said wondering if his friend would give him some kind of indication if he was planning on staking a claim. In their world, once you told your friends to “lay off” then it would be disloyal to everyone if you tried to hit on a girl your friend was interested in and meeting her first was imperative to your defense.

“I guess. I think it’s her family that bought the old Peterson house,” his friend had no idea he was feeding him information and Josh was savoring it all.

The two friends sat in the festively lit hall, there were posters of palm trees and oceans depicting summer all around them. “Dibbs,” Luke said walking back towards the mystery girl, not even knowing that his best friend was already half in love.

Josh watched them dance. He looked at her and felt something he’d never felt before, it’s what his mom said when she’d met his dad. She said, I just knew, the first time I looked at him, I said, that’s the boy I’m going to marry.

Josh found out later the mystery girl’s name was Marie. She and Luke’s relationship didn’t last long; it petered out before school started three weeks later. Josh tried to find out more about her, but wanted to give Luke time to forget about her. It seemed that Luke was dismayed when Marie did not want to continue their relationship. By the time his friend fancied another girl, Marie was nowhere to be found. According to Luke, she went to boarding school in another state, Josh decided it wasn’t meant to be.

*****

She was wearing a soft pink skirt with a loose beige blouse; the skirt swung gently as she walked across the room and gave the illusion to any observer that she was gliding. Her stride was so soft and gentle, she reminded him of a swan he once saw in a movie that floated across a pond. Josh thought that if she were wearing combat boots, she would give anyone the same illusion. She was probably the most centered and peaceful person he’d had the fortune of sharing the same space with, which had only been a few times. Now he was feeling like a stalker, he couldn’t stop watching her, was it obvious to everyone? He forced himself to look away, talk to others in the room. Josh had only just arrived to the party to appease a friend, Keven who’d been asking him to accompany him. Kevin thought Josh had spent too much time working and not enough time socializing.

After an hour of small talk with just about everyone in the room, it was obvious that Josh was avoiding his long-ago crush. He walked outside to his car to drop off his jacket, as he walked back to the party, the front door opened before he could touch the door knob, “Oh, excuse me,” it was her, “I didn’t hit you did I?” she asked. Her hair softly bounced on her shoulders, with waves of think curls framing her face. Her lips were pouty, but not too full, she didn’t wear much makeup, she didn’t have to.

“No, you didn’t,” he wondered what else he could say to continue their accidental meeting. “Are you leaving?” was all he could manage to ask.

“Oh…no, I just got cold. I think I have a sweater in my car,” she didn’t know why he seemed interested in what she was doing.

She continued walking down the steps when she heard, “I have a sweater you can use, if you didn’t bring one,” he regretted his words as soon as they were out of his mouth.

“I’m fine, but thank you,” she gave him a puzzled look and then turned to walk to her car.

She thinks I’m crazy, I’m never going to talk to her again, he thought, but wait, we know each other. That’s when he realized, she doesn’t remember me, she looked at me like I was a stranger. While they did not converse much 15 years ago, they had met at least three times. Once when he ran into her and Luke at the movies and once more when Luke gave him a ride home and she came along, then of course at the summer dance. How could I not forget her, and she doesn’t remember me?

By the time Marie came back to the party, he made it his goal to talk to her. She was sitting with Liz, someone Josh knew, “Hi Liz, how’s work?” he asked, trying to remember where and what she did for work.

“It’s good, busy, you know. How about you, how’s work?” she replied.

“The same,” he noticed Marie just listening to the two, politely waiting for an introduction or possibly for him to leave.

“Oh, Josh, do you know Marie? She works with me, and I brought her along to the party,” she turned to Marie, “this is my friend Josh, he works with Kevin who you met over there,” Liz gestured towards the sliding glass doors where Kevin was talking to a group of people who seemed to be enchanted with whatever story he was telling.

“Hi Josh,” she smiled. It took 15 years, but this was the first time, as far as he could remember that she’d ever said his name.

“So, you work with Liz? How’s that?” he wished desperately to remember what Liz did for work. What if she picked up dead bodies or something? No, he was sure he would remember that.

She laughed, “working with Liz or what we do?” Marie answered his question with a question.

“I mean what you do? Liz is great,” Josh answered, and hoped he wouldn’t muddle things up since he could be setting himself up for something embarrassing. I’m going to have to find out what Liz does, I’ll ask Kevin.

“Yes, Liz is great and very good at her job. She’s been a huge help to me, especially since the person who was supposed to train me hasn’t been helpful,” she looked at him and thought, I’m not sure he knows what we do? “I mean it’s really about the children, right?” she raised her eyebrows and waited for his reply.

Aha, a clue! He thought. Children, no wonder I didn’t remember, any kind of social work escapes my memory.

“So, how are you helping the children?” he asked thinking this should be a safe question.

“Well, if they get picked up by truant officers, we make sure the children and their parents have to pay a huge fine and do at least a weekend in the local jail,” she smirked and again waited for an answer.

“Oh, well, I guess they have to learn?” he wasn’t sure how to continue.

“Do you know what I do? She asked boldly and clearly.

“No,” he knew he was caught, “I just wanted to talk to you. I haven’t spoken to Liz in months and I don’t know her that well, sorry. You’re right, I don’t know what either of you do. But if you’ll have coffee with me, maybe tomorrow? You can tell me all about what you do, and I’ll inform you of something you may not know.  And then it will be my turn to say, do you know…?” he stopped because he knew he had her attention.

“You intrigue me. Liz says you’re a nice guy, so I know you’re not a serial killer…”

He cut her off at “serial killer”, “You asked about me?” his odds were looking better; happiness fell on his face like a warm spring shower.

“Maybe…well you were questioning me at the door,” she reminded him and then added, “but I am curious as to what you know,” she smiled at him as she bit the corner of her lip.

“Tomorrow, just keep this in mind,” he added as they both took out their phones to exchange information, “remember someone you knew whose name began with the letter L,” he finished, hoping that small clue would keep her curiosity piqued and she would meet him the next day.

The two chatted for the rest of the night. They would both remember that night well into their future anniversaries for the rest of their lives.

February 16, 2021 04:15

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1 comment

Sky Daniels
15:51 Mar 06, 2021

This story came up for me to critique. It was very cute.

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