• Lisa Alex Gray

The Serendipitous Life of Ruby Slippers (Chapter Eight - Romantic Comedy novel)

The next two days dragged on, the way time always does when you’re excitedly looking forward to something.

I couldn’t wait for my second date with Stanley, even if I didn’t understand how or why it worked out.

In an effort to try and make sense of things and avoid another mishap— I confided in Eveey during our lunch break.

I told her about our strange, brief lunch together and how Stanley told his mother I didn’t want to see him again, even though I never said that, then called days later and asked me out on a second date.

Eveey just shrugged her shoulders and said, “Men are weird, don’t ask me to explain em.”

She always had a carefree reply to everything. Nothing seemed to phase her or even surprise her.

It was the thing I envied most about her.

In the spirit of a second date, Eveey suggested, as the perfect good luck charm, a new shade of nail polish, which she offered to help me pick out.

We settled on a pale shade of pink, after talking her down from a Pepto-Bismol pink.

Eveey’s nails were bright green with daisies in the center of each nail, so pale pink was quite a departure for her.

She was really artistic, and her eclectic nails went perfectly with the rest of her look — which was a cross between 70’s hippy and 80’s neon.

We spent the rest of our lunch break flipping through fashion magazines where Eveey found the perfect hairstyle for my date. It was down with braided sides held back with Bobbie pins.

She was so confident it would be amazing on me, I couldn’t help but agree. Even if I knew I couldn’t come close to duplicating it on Saturday.

I spent the rest of my shift with a big smile on my face, not just for my pending date, but because I really felt like I was developing a close friendship with Eveey.

We usually just stuck to talking about what we saw on the BBC during our lunch break, but by sharing my date story with her today it really got us closer.

Which meant I could end up with a boyfriend and a close girlfriend all at the same time.

Yes, hope was alive again and I couldn’t help but wonder what the future might hold, specifically where Stanley was concerned.

Whatever caused him to get the wrong idea about me during our first date was long forgotten. He was willing to give me a second chance and I wasn’t going to blow it.

The rest of the day flew by and soon it was Saturday and I was sitting in Stanley’s car as he backed out of our driveway — yeap he picked me up this time.

I actually found myself smiling at my mother and waving as she waved us away — who knew?

We spent the next hour walking through the park stopping periodically to listen to a band play their version of “Smoke on the Water” or “Crazy” — depending on what part of the park we were in.

Stanley talked more about his job, his time at college, and his career goals.

He seemed to loosen up a bit and the more he relaxed the more I found my breathing returning to normal and my stomach unclenching.

Later that day, we decide to make our way over to the pond to get a closer look at the ducks.

Stanley stepped off the cement walkway and onto the grass, then stopped in front of a dandelion turned and said, “Those darn flowers are my nemesis.”

“When I was a boy I was waiting to go to church on Sunday in my new dress pants and I was bored, so I wandered outside into the backyard”

“I saw a dandelion in the grass” Stanley paused and looked down at the dandelion for emphasis, “and bent down to take a closer look. I was curious if it smelled good.”

“So I got down on my knees and pressed my nose against the dandelion and took a whiff”

“I remember the smell to this day, it was a kind of buttery sweetness.”

“Anyway, I took a few more whiffs then stood up. That’s when I noticed my pants had grass stains on them.”

“I started to rub them, desperately trying to remove the marks, when my mom called me to leave”

“I ran around the passenger side of her car and got in quickly placing my hands over my knees to cover the stains.”

“Mom didn’t say anything and I thought I was in the clear until she turned her head to back out of the driveway and her eyes stopped on my pants”

“Let’s just say this was NOT a peaceful Sunday for me.” Stanley finished with a nervous chuckle.

Then he looked up at me shyly as his cheeks flushed in embarrassment. “Too much information maybe?” he said with another nervous laugh.

I smiled at him happy that he shared such an intimate story with me.

In fact, his story reminded me of a similar moment when I was young.

And before I could think it through I began to tell him my story...

“I remember how focused I was, all I had to do was find the perfect rock, one with an edge sharp enough for drawing, and I was good to go”.

“I walked on the curb in front of my house trying to balance along the edge while looking in the gutter for rocks, left foot, right foot, left foot, right.” I walk along the edge of the grass demonstrating to Stanley what I mean.

“Then I spied the perfect rock. I was sure it was just like the one my cousin Lucy had used. So I picked it up and scrambled across the lawn to the sidewalk in front of my house and bent down to draw.”

I paused in my storytelling and looked over Stanly who was listening intently, so I continued.

“I bent over and tested the rock by drawing a line on the sidewalk — success. It worked! I was so excited”

I smiled up at Stanley and he smiled back at me.

“I continued drawing until I had scratched out a perfect hopscotch court on the sidewalk”

“I was so proud of myself as I lined up at the beginning of the court, aimed my rock and threw.”

I acted out throwing a rock and hopping forward for Stanley as I continued.

“I think I was just getting ready to aim for the sixth square, I was on one foot, trying to balance while throwing when my mother screamed my name. This caused me to lose my balance and fall hard onto the cement.”

“Well, my fall caused a small hole in my jeans over the right knee” I pointed to my right knee for emphasis.

“Boy was my mother mad when she saw it”

“That is until she noticed the hopscotch court drawn on the sidewalk”

“I thought she’d be proud of me for the great job I’d done, but that wasn’t the case.”

“She went from mad to furious. She said I ruined the sidewalk.” I felt my eyes start to well up from the memory.

“She said the neighbors would be really angry. I even think she said we might have to move? How crazy is that?”

I looked up at Stanly feeling my cheeks flush worried that now I too have revealed too much.

I looked down again and blinked trying to force the wetness from my eyes.

Why did I remember that day? I hadn’t thought about it in years.

I mean what was the big deal anyway, not like it was unusual for my mother to yell at me or be mad at me for something I’d done. But that day it hurt a little more for some reason.

I need to stop thinking about this. I’m going to ruin my date.

Stanley hasn’t said anything in response to my story — maybe I’m already too late.

My hands began to tremble slightly at my sides, then suddenly a warmth spread over my left hand as Stanley’s hand covered mine.

I felt the gentleness of his fingers as they curved over mine. It felt so intimate I almost pull away, but instead, I just stood there mesmerized by the feeling.

Then I slowly brought my eyes up to meet Stanley’s, not knowing what would greet me.

Stanley smiled sweetly at me and said, “I get it.”

That’s all. Just those three words.

It was all he needed to say. He heard me and he understood.

My heart beat loudly in my chest as I stood there looking at him and a lump formed in my throat.

A teen-aged boy ran past us and jumped up to catch a Frisbie a few feet from us, then screamed at his success.

The excitement jolted us from the moment and I felt Stanley’s hand slip from mine.

The rest of the day was like a romance movie come to life. We ate hotdogs and ice cream and sat on the grass listening to different bands play.

We didn’t touch during the rest of our date, but it didn’t matter. That one moment was enough to carry me through the rest of my day — my life.

All I could think as we headed home in his car was — Stanley understood me and I was no longer alone.

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