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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

After returning from the war, I profess my love to a long time friend.

Submitted: May 29, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 29, 2018




Ah-ha! Look who’s back from the war.”

I stopped at the corner of an intersection, in front of a quaint deli. I was sharply attired in my Navy dress uniform, sailor cap tilted sideways, and hi-gloss black shoes which gleamed under the noon sun. “Hi-ya, boys. Miss me?”

The old gang of miscreants loitered on the sidewalk, near the stone steps of the deli’s entrance. Upon seeing me, they halted the dice game and tried best to hide their smiles.

“Like I miss a damn hemorrhoid.” A short, stocky young man jumped off a stack of crates.

I slapped hands with him, gave him a big hug. “How ya been, Tiny, still crawling up floozies’ legs for a bite?”

“Look who’s got jokes,” Tiny snapped back. “Is it true what they say… 100 sailor boys go out to sea and 50 couples come back?”

You hear that?” someone laughed at my left. “He called you—”

“It’s only gay if you cuddle,” I said matter-of-factly. With a chuckle, I turned to the gangly, freckle-faced friend. “Lil Pete? You grow out of that nickname yet?”

“Don’t make me whip it out and make y’all self-conscious.” Pete smiled wide before commencing our secret handshake, which consisted of a slap, dap, snap, and embrace.

“My, oh, my…” I looked the two of them over. Then it hit me. “Where is—”

Amazing…” a voice, high-pitched yet strong, said from the deli’s doorway.

I didn’t need to turn. I knew exactly who it was, not only from the familiar tone but the usage of her favorite word ‘Amazing.’

I thought you forgot about little ole us, sailing the seven seas and all,” the voice continued, “What took ya, huh?”

“Has it really been so long?” I asked over my shoulder.

I suppose not, by your own watch,” the voice chirped. “But, are you ever on time by mine? Nope.”

“I’m—at the very least…” I wheeled around on the heel of my shiny shoes. “…fashionably late.”

A tall blonde, dark roots, stood atop the stone steps, in the doorway of the deli. She didn’t even attempt to hide her stained apron or fix her messy bun. She just crossed her arms and stared down at me with those ocean-blue eyes that could shipwreck any sailor.

“Hola, my Belle….” I prepared myself for an introduction by removing my cap and rubbing a palm over my waxy black hair, which shined from pomade. “…as beautiful as the day I left.”

“Amazing….” Belle scoffed, rolled her eyes. “Do you forget I’m immune to your charm, or lack thereof?”

“Years of friendship hasn’t upped my odds any?” A crooked smile appeared on my face as I approached her, step by step. “I think its time for my pension, momma.”

Pete shuffled at my side. “Uh… Mel…”

Tiny tugged on my sleeve. “Psss!”

With my eyes firmly fixed on Belle, I extended an arm to my old friends and silenced them with one finger.

Belle shook her head at my silliness, looked away. Her smile, however, never wavered. “Boy, you’re a—”

I perked up. “—mazing?”

“A nut.” Belle wagged her head in my face, playfully putting emphasis on the insult.

I cupped my sailor cap over my heart. “…a nut in love.”

“A nut nonetheless.” Belle crossed her arms and raised her nose in the air, exaggerating her pretentiousness.

“If loving you makes me a nut, I don’t want to be cracked.” I stopped, creased my brows. I honestly didn’t know if that made sense or not. After a moment, I jumped back into character and reached for her left hand.

“What are you doing?” Belle slapped my advance away in a light-hearted manner. She stuck her left hand in her apron pocket, so I settled for her right. While brushing my thumb over her knuckles, Belle’s eyes swept the street, watching people pass. She blushed, and through grit teeth, said, “Get. Up.”

“Belle, now, don’t fight it!” I lifted my voice for the whole neighborhood to hear. To say she was shy would be an understatement, and I reveled in making her squirm. Her bashfulness was just too adorable to ignore. “I’ve come back—from fighting for our freedom, mind you?—to make you an honest woman.”

Pedestrians slowed their pace around the small deli. Little by little, they huddled around, lending an ear.

Belle sighed and glared down at me with a grin simmering beneath her pinched lips. No matter how red-faced she became when I put on a show, there was always a hint of enjoyment, as though tickled by my goofy, intrepid nature.

“I love you…” I said. Although genuine, my half-cocked smile always came off as mischievous.

“Stop.” Belle clenched her jaw, but the smile remained over top. She pleaded with her eyes.

With Belle’s hand in mine, I looked to the cluster of people on the sidewalk, and in a melodic way, said:

Is my love for her a fallacy?

Since kids, she’s been pals with me…

All so I can prove I’m not a hound-dog with every gal I see.

Belle puckered her lips with skepticism. “You forget high school?”

I winked and finally released her hand. I paraded up and down the congested corner like a street performer, professing my love.

Don’t leave me so callously.

That’s a valid plea.

I don’t want to be love’s casualty…

stricken with a malady.

“Please leave affably,” Belle butted in, getting laughs from the audience. She bowed to the sprinkle of applause.

I chuckled, shrugged, and then gave her the benefit of the doubt with a pity clap. As she narrowed her gaze on me, I cleared my throat, jumped a muddy puddle, and swung around a light post.

Come with me. We’ll fly out of this galaxy...

leave this reality…

go where my palace be.

“Amazing…” Belle furrowed a brow. “…your palace ‘be?”

I quickly tried to correct myself and tossed out another rhyme:

Not proper English. We shall agree.

“Ha!” Belle spun away and started back inside the deli. “Should I be flattered by these rehashed lines?”

Or… we can go back to sitting under apple trees…

Belle halted abruptly. Her two toned Oxford shoes screeched across the linoleum floor. She shot a glance over her shoulder.

outside of that gallery

eating pizza with Italian cheese

without gaining calories.

Belle whipped back around with a quizzical expression, as though studying me for sincerity. “I remember…”

“We should’ve never gone home.” My tone became serious. My eyes held her and only her.

“We were kids.” Belle steadied a shoulder against the threshold.

“But we were together.”

“Listen…” Belle hesitated. “…there’s som—”

I wanted to fold the corner of that day in time, save it.

I thought about it on sleepless nights, embraced it.

I can’t get you outta my mind, let’s face it...

You’re one of a kind … I walked over to the deli, stopped a step down from her. …simply amazing.

“Amazing…” Belle shook her head in an attempt to ward off the tears. “Why this? Why now?”

“War…” My eyes became glassy too. “…puts things into perspective.”

“Of course… of course it would.” Belle exhaled a shaky breath. “What am I ever gonna do with you? Ah-ha…” she cried, laughed at the same time.

“I don’t know,” I said, “but, um, I’ll give you the rest of my life to figure it out.”

“Clearly…” Belle said aloud. She sniffled, released a big breath, and sucked in the tears. To the large crowd gathered on the corner, she continued, “…he’s joking. You can all move along. He likes to put on a show, embarrass me. He’s not being serious.”

I blocked out the crowd behind me: the car horns, murmurs, and shouts for taxis. With my heart beating rapidly, chill-bumps swarming my arms, I concentrated on her alone. “And if I were?”

The air was taken from Belle. I could see it in her drooping face. Sunlight sparkled in her misty blue eyes. She looked down while removing her left hand from the apron. A wedding ring adorned her finger. “I’m sorry…”

The unexpected reveal hit me like a brick. I was stunned, dizzy, to the point I almost fell back off the steps. My steady gaze became vacant. My heart skipped a beat. “Has it really been so long?”

“I suppose not…” A single tear rolled down Belle’s cheek. Her lip quivered. “…by your own watch.”

In my moment of shock and confusion, I didn’t reply.

“But, are you ever on time by mine—” Belle’s voice cracked as she repeated her earlier sentiment. “I’ve been waiting since we were kids, Mel. And now…”

With her footsteps escaping through the deli, I just continued staring into another dimension, in a disheartened daze. “Amazing…”

© Copyright 2018 MELEL. All rights reserved.

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