From JM Bray
The first time I saw my wife, her back was toward me as she chatted with my college roommate. She was tall and slender with raven-coloured hair that reached to her shoulder blades, wore a dark t-shirt and a pair of 501 Levi’s. Her perfectly rounded derrière filled them in a way that drew my 23-year-old eyes like a magnet.
It was lust at first sight.
As I strolled up Spike said hi and she turned to face me. She was not only stunning, but had yellow-green eyes like a cat that sucked me into their depths. She took my breath away. I stammered some inane hello and soon realized that they were talking about their upcoming date.
Spike had claimed another…and I’d missed out…again.
Over the next few months, I ran into her from time to time. Her fling with Spike was short, but I but never summoned the courage to do more than chat in a friendly way. And then…she was gone. She’d left college for some unknown reason and that was that.
Three years later in early November my senior year, I was returning from a weekend party at Spike’s place off campus. As I walked toward the cafeteria, a small white car passed with two gorgeous women passed; a blond who drove and a brunette in the passenger seat. They both stared at me so I gave them my version of a flirtatious look and pointed my fingers like they were six-guns. About 50 feet past me the car slammed on it’s brakes and the curly-haired brunette jumped out, ran to me and threw her arms around my neck.
‘Ohhh it’s so good to see you,’ she said over my shoulder.
I had no idea who she was, but wasn’t about to turn down a hug from a beautiful girl. When we pulled away and looked at each other I realized it was her, the perm in her hair had thrown me. But there was a problem…I couldn’t remember her name. I covered my embarrassed panic as we chatted. She, of course, asked about Spike and I filled her in on his adventures, and danced around the hole in my mind where her name resided. Our short talk was ending and I determined not to let her get away a second time. But how to do it without using her name? Then it hit me.
‘Hey, why don’t you write your name and number and I’ll let Spike know I saw you?’ The words flowed like they were from someone else, someone who pulled off perfect lines with stunners like the girl who now sat in the little white car.
‘That’d be great.’ She wrote it on a scrap of paper and handed it to me.
I took it from her, palmed it in my left hand on top of the car and glanced at it. ‘Well, Kari,’ I said like I’d known it all along, ‘it was great seeing you.’
‘You too!’ She said and they drove off.
Later that day, I told Spike I’d seen her but never mentioned her desire to make contact…which was precisely what I’d said I’d do. I waited a couple of weeks then, one night after work around midnight, I gave her a call. Again, in a very short while, I found out she was dating someone she’d met shortly after our chat. This time it wasn’t my room mate, so I put on my big boy pants and stepped up.
I called her regularly, often in the middle of the night and we’d talk about life. I asked her out, repeatedly, and each time she declined, saying that she was dating this guy. I even told her to bring him along, we’d go out as friends. She laughed and didn’t’ think it was a good idea. Over the month leading to winter break, we talked at least a couple hundred hours on the phone.
One night while I was at home for Christmas, the phone rang and I picked it up. ‘Hello?’
‘We can go out now,’ were Kari’s first words.
My heart took off like a rocket launched at the moon and I tried to somehow console her over her break up, while still being elated that we could finally go out. I asked her out for Friday, but she was in a church play. Undeterred I suggested that I’d come watch it and we’d have a late dinner afterward. She agreed.
After the play we went to her parents home where she was staying at the time, she changed and we left. As I walked her to the car, on our ‘first date’ I knew something as clearly as the stars that lit the night sky above us. I was in love, deeply, irrevocably, wonderfully. I wanted to kiss her before I even opened the door of the ’69 Bonneville, but I held off. I knew she liked me, but was she feeling what I did? I didn’t want to mess things up.
On the way to the restaurant, we chatted playfully and I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
‘Look at the road. You’re going to wreck us,’ she said.
‘Not till you kiss me.’
‘What?’ A smile tugged her lips.
‘Kiss me and then I can to go back to driving.’
With a grin, she planted a fast, soft kiss on my lips. Our first one…one neither of us will ever forget. During dinner at a restaurant on the pier overlooking the waves rolling beneath us, we laughed, flirted, and talked. On the drive home I asked her to my parents’ house the next day. When she said she’d promised to help her recent ex-boyfriend buy a present for his mom, I tried not to let my frustration show. ‘Nah, you don’t want to do that.’
‘I don’t, hmm?’
‘So, what do you want me to do instead.’
I glanced over, and cocked an eyebrow. ‘He’s your ex…he had his chance and blew it. Tell him to buy his own present.’
Her face went from surprise to excitement in a couple of seconds. ‘Ok. I’ll do it.’
‘You could even, bring up some clothes, spend the night at my parents’ place and we can hang out Sunday too.’
That’s what she did. Seeing her with my family and my infant nephew only solidified my love for her. Sunday afternoon, two days after our first official date, we went to pick up a guitar amp my friend borrowed. When he opened the door and greeted us he asked, ‘And who is this?’
I said, ‘This is Kari, the woman I’m going to marry.’
His eyebrows shot up and his voice followed them. ‘Really? What do you think about that?’ he asked her.
She smiled and shrugged, ‘What can I say?’
At the car, she told me with a shocked smile, ‘You shouldn’t tell people that.’
I employed a shrug of my own and said, ‘I already know, I’m just waiting for you to catch up.’
The next Saturday, eight days after our first date, in the entryway of her parents house I asked her to be my wife. Three months later we were married and we’ve been together ever since. Twenty-eight years.
J.M. Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. In his spare time, he races an old Porsche named ‘Tuffy’.
His new story, Tearing the Shroud, mixes role-playing, fantasy, possession, and staving off an apocalypse – and Vincent thought calculus was tough.