Chapter 4: The Aisle
"Sam, I think it's up here."
Angela and Samantha made their way up to the attic. Angela was the first one to the top of the stairs. She ran her hand through a cobweb that was in her way.
"I can tell Tony hasn't been up here in a while." Angela said trying to shake a web off her hand. Since Tony started teaching at Fairfield College in the fall of 1993, the attic and the house in general had taken a backseat to Tony's other responsibilities. "He's going to be furious when he finds out the temp didn't make it up here again."
Angela tried to push some of the boxes out of the way, "It must be over here in the corner."
"I can't believe that you kept some of Jonathan's old baby clothes." Samantha rubbed her very pregnant belly. She was eight months along, again and looked like she would pop at any minute.
"I don't know. I guess I thought I'd be needing them again some day. I would have thought about them sooner, if you hadn't had so many daughters. I'm sure Hank is happy to finally be having a boy."
"People think we're nuts. Sometimes I think I am nuts, but I was the one who told him we'd keep trying 'till we had a boy. I just didn't think it would take six tries."
Sam paused for a second while she watched Angela sort through the heirlooms and boxes. She had a question she had been trying build the courage up to ask for years. She knew she had to put it delicately. Finally Sam found herself saying, "Angela?"
"Yes, sweetheart." She said not really paying attention.
"Do you ever wish you'd had more children?"
Angela turned and cupped Sam's cheek. For a moment, Sam thought Angela was going to cry, but instead a broad smile appeared. "I never told you this before, but I always knew that I would at least have a son and a daughter. I pictured my little girl in diapers and carrying a baby doll. I just never knew she would come into my life as preteen tomboy."
"Thanks Angela." They embraced as Sam wiped a tear from her cheek.
"I mean, I wish your father and I could have had a baby together, but sometimes dreams have to be enough to keep you satisfied. Besides, I get my fair share of baby dolls and diapers now. I'm just happy I get to share your children with you. Your dad is so excited about "Little Hank."
"Hey, we haven't decided that's his name for sure."
"I know, it just sounds so cute."
They continue walking around moving boxes until Angela found the large dusty trunk hidden in the corner.
"Stand back." Angela grabbed hold of one of the leather handles and pulled with all her might. The trunk didn't move.
"Here, let me try." Sam took the handle from Angela and pull the trunk out of the corner with a simple tug.
"Thanks. Thanks a lot." Angela said rolling her eyes.
Angela knelt down besides the heavy wooden truck. She lifted the lid and rush of memories seemed to escape. At the top of the pile of treasures were several little outfits that used to belong to Jonathan.
"How cute!" Both of them giggled as each outfit was pulled out.
"What's that?" Sam said pointing to an item wrapped in blue tissue paper.
"Something that needs to get burned."
"Hey come on Angela," she said as she tore open the tissue paper and found the dress Angela wore at her wedding to Michael. "This is something that's part of your history."
"I know, but somethings are better left forgotten."
Tossing the dress aside, Sam reached in and continued pulling things out of the trunk. She laid them in a pile on the floor. Angela began sorting through them and then stopped. She reached down and pulled a well worn red sweat shirt from the pile. She pulled it close to her face and gave it a good squeeze.
"Oh Angela, what the heck is that?" Sam said bring Angela back to reality.
"Oh this? It's just a reminder of my old college days. I thought I lost this years ago."
"I didn't know you were a Red Sox fan?" Sam said noticing the big logo embroidered on the sweat shirt.
"I'm not. I'm just a fan of a guy who almost made the team."
"Looks to me like you were more than a fan." Sam said teasing.
"Cut it out."
"Angela, your blushing."
"So tell me! What happened?"
"You're not going to believe this. Most days I don't believe it ever happened myself. One day, when Michael and I were dating, we had a fight. I had had enough of him and school. I decided to pack up my stuff and take a bus home. Funny thing was I never got on the bus. This guy was there." She said holding out the sweat shirt as if it were the guy.
"Oh really? And..."
"There really isn't much to say. I had been walking in the rain, and he put this sweat shirt around me to warm me up. We talked, we drank about six cups of cocoa and had a kiss."
"Oh my gosh! So what happened?"
"Well the kiss was wonderful, but it was weird." She paused. "Funny, that was the word he and I both used that night. I can't believe how long it's been since I thought about this. Have you ever felt so good one moment and totally sad the next?"
"I don't. . ."
"He and I both felt the chemistry. Boy, did we feel the chemistry. I don't know how to explain it. We just felt like it wasn't completely right. There was something there, but the timing just felt completely off. Does that make any sense?"
"I don't know how. . . He said so many things that night that comforted me. Things I needed to hear, things that helped me get through the hardest times of my life. The times until I met Tony."
"Whatever happened to the guy?"
"I don't know. I didn't even ask his name."
"You didn't? Why not?"
"I don't know. I felt like I knew him. It just never came up."
"Did you ever try to find him?"
"I wanted to, but that night after I got back to the dorm, Michael was waiting for me. I guess the rest, you can say, 'is history.' Once, I thought I saw him, though."
"When your father came to interview for the housekeeper job."
"You mean you thought this guy was Dad?"
"For an instant, I did."
"Did you ever ask him?"
"Of course, not. What am I going to say? 'Hey, did you ever meet a girl at a bus station on your way from Boston to New York and share a kiss with her back in the
70's?' He'd think I'm a little off my rocker."
"What's the worst he can say? No? You ought to ask him. I mean, how wonderful it would be, if you guys really had known it each other before. I mean, you really could have been my mother."
"If he is the guy, and that's still up for debate, there are some very good reasons why were weren't meant to be together yet."
"Like what?" Sam said waiting to see what Angela could come up with.
"Honestly, there were a lot of things. Well, for one I think Marie needed to have the chance to be a mother. You wouldn't have been the woman you are without her." Angela tenderly reached over and brushed her fingers down Sam's cheek. "And I. . .I guess I needed to know that I could live without Michael. I just had to divorce him to do it."
"Angela, come on. You know we have to ask him." Sam said putting her arm around her.
"I've thought about it through the years, but I don't know. I guess I thought if he was the guy something would spark his memory."
Sam gazed up at Angela with a devilish grin.
"What are you thinking, Sam?" Angela knew by the look in Sam's eyes that she was in trouble. "Sam. . ."
"Well, I was thinking. If it is him, I have an idea that might spark his memory. What if we try this..."
A few days later. . .
"Come on Samantha. We've been in the car for a long time. Don't you think you'd better tell me where we're going?" Tony'd been blindfolded for about forty-five minutes."
"Come on Da, it'd take all the fun out it. Besides, we're almost there."
Sam pulled the car over in front of an old dinner and led him to a table inside. She winked at the waitress who walked over to the bathroom door and knocked on it.
"Where are we, Sam?" He said as she pulled off the blindfold.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust. He found himself sitting at a booth with two cups of cocoa in front of him with a can of whipped cream sitting near by.
"What the. . ."
"Bye, Dad. I'll see you later." Sam walked out the side door.
"But Sam, how am I..." As the door closed behind Sam, a reflection in the glass came into focus.
"Maddone a'mi . . " His jaw dropped as he watched a girl in a red sweat shirt walk towards him. The diner, the girl, the sweat shirt; all of it hit him in the face like a mack truck. "No, deja vu." As she walked closer to him, he realized the girl in the red sweat shirt was Angela, his Angela. Her hair was a lot shorter and blonder than the girl he remembered. The sweat shirt was faded and well worn at the cuffs. She still looked great in the jeans and the blouse fit her better than ever.
"May I have a seat?" she said boldly.
She leaned toward the booth to sit down, but Tony rushed to his feet. He grabbed her by the waist and kissed her. Right there in the middle of the aisle, he kissed her just as he had in the bus station's parking lot all those years before. Just like the last time, it wasn't gentle. It wasn't even neat. It was filled with all the passion, the regret, the love and devotion of the past. This time the peace was there filled with happiness. The confusion of the thirty-seven year old kiss was gone and all that followed was joy.
As they stopped kissing long enough to take a breath, Tony took a minute to gaze into her eyes.
"So, it took me a couple of smacks," he joked.
"Yeah, just a few. I'm glad to meet you, Tony." She leaned in and kissed him again.
A waitress walked up behind them with a pot of cocoa in her hand. "Huh, hum! Do you two need any refills?" After a few moments passed with no answer, the waitress dropped off the ticket, and left to serve another table.
"So, can I refill your cups?" She said to the couple sitting a few tables down.
"No, Shirley," said the young Italian man reading her name tag. "I think we're good." He was sitting at the table with a very attractive young blonde. "We'll be leaving soon." He said as he left fifteen dollars on the table.
"Thanks," Shirley said taking the cash with a smile.
(Thanks for reading. Please leave your review on the way out.)
I'd like to send out my personal thanks to several people who inspired me with this story:
1) To the guy I met on the bus from Idaho Falls to Salt Lake City in 1991, I hope you're having a great life.
2)To my mom and dad, thanks for your continued support;
3) My best friend, Jenny, thanks for being born in such a cool way;
4) To my little brother, Jaime, I wish I could have known you;
5) To the grandma-in-law, Johnnie Rae, I never met, thanks for leaving my father-in-law with such a sweet memory;
6) To my husband who loves me despite the way the house looks when I'm busy on the internet; and
7) And most especially, thanks to my Heavenly Father who inspired me with ideas for this story that I never would have come up with on my own.