Lindsay picked up her spoon and swung it violently seesaw fashion between her fingers. She pursed her lips, then dove the spoon headlong into her tea. What was she doing here? Sitting in a coffee shop in the middle of the morning. Waiting on a man she knew little about? In a town where she knew no one?
She looked toward the door when someone walked in. A young couple, laughing, touching one another. Well, that certainly wasn’t Robin.
Her mind trailed back to a long-lost memory. Decades before this moment. Two children, not much older than five years of age. A girl and a boy, hand-in-hand, running along a hillside. The bright, clean air of the meadow still faint in her nostrils.
A different memory. That same boy and girl under a tree, a makeshift swing attached to a strong branch. The boy was pushing her in the swing. Sailing through the air, the girl stretched an eager arm toward the sky.
She, of course, was the girl. Robin the boy. Two clueless playmates, lost in the rapture that was childhood. Bonded to one another through the innocence and exploration of life’s first few years.
Her final memory. Robin had handed her a card. On it, a simple hand-drawn pink heart. “I think we should get married,” he had said to her.
“Yuck,” she said in response, “I never want to get married.” The card lost to the wind as they ran off toward the sun. Completely forgotten by herself until this very moment.
It floored her when he had called her out of the blue. Twenty years, almost to the day, of their final moments together. Sure, she had thought about him in passing. Why? She wasn’t sure. The strength of their short friendship laying a foundation for so many more in her life. But now, so many years later, she could barely recall his face. The smudged image became harder and harder to bring with any clarity into her mind.
This man could be a serial killer, for all she knew. The past is meant to stay in the past. She pushed the cup of tea toward the center of the table, determined to slip out the door, and back to the reality that was the present.
Just as she was about to rise and make her exit, the door opened. A handsome man of similar age, distinguished and dapper entered and eagerly looked around. His beautiful brown eyes forming a bridge in time before her own. Robin.
Her gaze caught his eye and a slow smile broadened his lips. “Lindsey,” he said as he rushed toward her, “I thought I might have missed you.”
“I was about to leave,” Lindsey said. Her mind’s thoughts rushed around in her head as she contemplated what to do next.
“I’m so glad you stayed,” he said, “May I?” He gestured toward a chair opposite her.
“Yes,” she said before she could stop herself. Within her swelled a feeling of comfort and security she had not known since childhood. Was it nostalgia? Or, something else?
“Thank you,” he said as he sat down.
“I’m curious,” she said hesitantly, “How did you happen to call on my mother?”ow Ho
He smiled. “I actually ran into her by accident. In the lobby of a hotel in New York. She was attending a conference and I was there on business. We got to talking and she told me you had just moved to Atlanta. She said that you didn’t know too many people, so . . . “
Lindsay chuckled. “So, she twisted your arm and got you to volunteer to show me around?”
Warmth surged through her body. A tingling feeling followed the warmth wherever it went. No, this thing she was experiencing was definitely not just nostalgia. The joy of their friendship as children found its way once again into her heart. Missing for so long, she welcomed its return.
“She didn’t have to twist too hard. I enjoy showing people around my city,” he said.
“Careful,” she said, “I might take you up on that offer.”
Lindsay sat on the blanket Robin had laid out in the meadow for their picnic. She watched him unload a cooler of food from the car. He had insisted on doing everything himself. It was, after all, the second anniversary of that day in the coffee shop. He had planned something special for their get-together.
In the intervening time, their friendship had not only returned, but blossomed and more. She could only dare hope what his intention for this day might be.
He made his way to the blanket and placed the cooler on the edge. Dropping to his knees, he reached forward and took her hands in his. “I have something I want to ask you,” he said.
Prickles scampered up her back. “Okay.”
“But first, I want to show you something.” He pulled out a rumpled piece of stiff paper and handed it to her.
She looked down at the creased and worn card. On it was a faded pink, hand-drawn heart. “Do you remember when I gave this to you?”
“Yes, I do,” she pulled the 20-year-old child’s drawing to her heart and held it there with both hands.
“Do you remember what I said to you?”
“Yes,” she said, grimacing.
He smiled at her. “Please tell me you’ve changed your mind.”
Her heart began to pound loudly in her ears. “I was a child then. What did I know?”
“So, you’ve changed your mind about marriage?”
She swallowed hard. “Yes, for the right man.”
He shifted his position so he was on one knee and gently took her hand in his. “Let me be that man. Will you marry me?”
She flung her arms around him as the card flew out of her hands, “Yes, yes, I will.”
The hug moved eagerly into a passionate kiss, as the card floated gently in the breeze.
Copyright 2023, Monica Nelson