The skies were covered with clouds today, big, gray clouds chucking droplets of salty water from the sky. The shrill bell I heard day after day when school ended, rang, so loudly it pierced your ears, demanding you to leave. I had no coat in these warm months, I hadn't brought my pink umbrella with the black spots either.
Not wanting to have them ruined, I left my books in my locker. As always, it wouldn't shut all the way, and I spent the usual ten minutes jerking it open and slamming it closed again, making it shut all the way. I ran then, down the halls, out the front door, into the abnormally cold rain.
The cold tears of angels fell onto my hair, my shoulders. My brother had always told me they were angel's tears. I had never stopped believing that. I slowed to a walk, looked for some shelter. My bus would not come for another two hours. Today I could not walk home as I usually did. Not in this chilly rain.
I ran down the road, to the shops. There were a row of stores lined up, I ran to the one seeming the less crowded, ran right in. I entered, my hair dripping and my clothes clinging to my skin. It was a small second hand shop, filled with clothes from every time era.
An old man sat at the counter, leaning back in an arm chair, his eyes closed. He had thin, long hair, and was snoring lightly. He wore an old gray suit with a loose, red tie. He didn't wake as the bell rang on the door, jingling a happy tune for them, they had a customer. The store was completely empty, I was the only one there. I heard music then, it sounded like “Knocking on Heaven's Door”.
It was coming from the back of the store. Quietly, so as not to wake the old man, I crept toward the back, followed the sound of music. As I reached the back, I turned to the other side of the store, the men's side. There were the dressing rooms, and two old love seats, one a dark red, and the other dark yellow.
I saw a boy laying on his stomach, listening to an old record player. He was looking in a book, writing down answers on a piece of paper. “Excuse me.” I whispered.
He didn't startle when I said it. He simply sat up, and turned around, as if he had been waiting for me to say something. He smiled at me. “Hello, welcome to Lander's Vintage Shop, how may I help you?”
I swallowed, crossed my arms, feeling the cold rain seep into my bones, giving me a chill. “Is it alright if I stay in here until my bus comes?”
He looked me over, still sitting on the floor. He smiled then nodded. “You need some dry clothes.” he noted. He stood then, took my hand, and pulled me to the girl's side of the store.
“I don't really have that much money-”
“Don't worry, it's on the house. This is, after all, a life or death situation. You could get pneumonia and die, I couldn't charge you, not in this life time.” He found a cotton candy pink poodle skirt and a plain baby blue cotton sweater. “Here, these will keep you warm.”
“Thank you.” I whispered. I walked to the boy's side, went into the girl's dressing room where the lights were dim and flickered. I dressed quickly and looked in the mirror. I nearly giggled, seeing myself dressed up as a fifties girl. I came out, my wet clothes draped over my arm.
“We have a dryer in the back. I'll put those in there for you.”
He flashed me a smile. “No problem.”
He reached for them, and I pulled back a little and bit my lip. “Maybe I should do it.” I suggested. “My underwear is in here.”
He smiled politely, nodded, and led me to the back. He showed me the dryer,a dark yellow machine that seemed much outdated, and I put my clothes inside, trying to keep my underwear hidden. He turned it on for me by cranking a rusty dial, then we went back into the store. “Would you like to sit and talk awhile?” he asked.
I nodded. “That would be nice.” I sat on the red love seat, and he sat on the yellow. “Who was that old man at the counter?”
“Mr. Lander, he owns the shop.” he explained.
“Did his wife start it?”
He shook his head. “No, Mr. Lander started it himself.”
“Oh, I see.” I chewed at my lip. “It's very cold outside.” I murmured.
The boy nodded and smiled. “Very.” It was astonishing that he could look me in the eye, not judging me by my figure. Most boys could not keep eye contact, and always looked at my body when we talked.
“Is business okay?” I asked, unable to think of anything else to say.
He shrugged. “We haven't had but two customers in the past two weeks.”
“Oh.” Was all I replied. “Um, this is a nice song you’ve chosen.”
He smiled, nodded. “Thank you.”
“Thank you for the clothes, I really like them.”
I was being drawn to him, but I could not understand why. “How long have you worked here?”
“Oh, a very long time.” he replied. His eyes looked into mine, so much patience was showing. He was beyond his years, I realized. Much farther than I had ever seen before. It was as though he saw right through me, understood me when I did not. I expected him to seem disappointed that I was so easy to read. But he was not. He was still patient, just waiting for me to speak.
“I want to say something to you, but I don’t know what it is.” I breathed, then realized I’d said that aloud.
He smiled a little more, very charming, very breath taking. The more I looked at him the more beautiful I realized he was. “I know.” he murmured. “And I will answer your queston when the time is right.”
“What is my question?” I wondered aloud. It was beginning to feel like I couldn’t hold my thoughts in.
He had a half smile now, dimples showing on the left side of his mouth. “I’ll also tell you that when the time is right.”
“How do you know what my question is when I don’t?” I blurted out, then covered my mouth. “Why do I keep thinking aloud?” I mumbled under my hand.
He placed his hands on his lap. “I know many things.” he replied, his voice careful, clear, and soothing. “I have had a long time to learn them. I am not making you tell me anything. It is all of your own accord. You are just curious, no harm in that. Not here that is. Others do not appreciate curiosity or it’s reasons. I understand it. It’s alright to ask.”
“How much do you know?” I asked.
“A lot.” he repeated. “Ask me, and I will answer what I can, and what is right to answer today.”
“I have so many questions.” I realized. “Where do I begin?”
“I will wait.” he replied, leaning back.
I searched through my thoughts, found one that I felt I needed to begin with. “Do you know that I am not only fascinated, but find myself attracted to you?” I asked, blinking at him, tilting my head in true curiosity.
He nodded. “Most women seem to be both when they meet me.” he said it honestly, and was not petty.
“Are you attracted to me?” I asked. I looked down, biting my lip as I waited to hear the answer from the beautiful person.
“You are lovely, caring, and honest. I am very attracted to you.” he replied. “If I may be honest with you, I would like to make love to you. Not now, but once we get to know one another.”
I looked up, expecting him to be trying to trick me, playing a game. He was solely honest, there were no tricks. I realized so quickly, that I wanted the same thing. “I would like that, but I do not want to wait. I do not have patience like you.” I murmured.
He stood, walked to the red love seat, sat down next to me. Gently, he lifted my chin and pressed his lips to mine. He deepened the kiss, but he was so soft with it. I leaned against him, unable to stay away. I’d known him for moments only, and he already had my heart.
He stood up, pulled me with him, then led me into the boy’s dressing room, opening the door for me. I stepped inside, befuddled by his politeness and manners. Most boys just weren’t like that. He stepped in behind me, closed the door softly.
He kissed me again, softly. I could feel that he had wanted to wait a bit longer. Not disappointment, but concern for me. But as he looked into my eyes, I nodded. Then he knew it was alright. He was so gentle as he carefully pulled off the sweater, it was passionate all the same. I didn’t feel as if I were with a man or a boy, I felt as if I were with a person who understood me to my core, and that feeling was none other.
I had a sudden fear that I may never feel it again. The thought terrified me, and he saw. He brushed his fingers along my jaw, slowly combed them through my hair. He looked into my eyes as if he just knew, as if he had gone through every emotion I had, and many more. How did one person know so much?
With the bluest eyes, filled with knowledge, I now realized why some eyes were brighter. He was full of innocence, in the most terrific way. He was a man, he was grown, he knew things. Yet he understood, he had an almost child-like way of answering things, of being so honest. And to explain the color, it was like the bluest sky and the bluest sea had collided together, right into his eyes.
Slowly, he trailed his fingers down my neck, touching softly over my collar bone. He went on to rest them over my heart, before he moved them between my breasts, and down to my stomach. He slowly closed his hand into a fist there, let it rest, kissed me again, so soft. He took his time then, kissing me, softly but deeper and deeper with each kiss. It felt nearly as if we were melding into one.
He slowed the kiss, then backed away. He pulled his own shirt off, let it fall to the floor. This situation wasn’t anything like two kids sleeping together for the first time. No, it was as if we knew each other, or he knew me, and as if this only made sense, as if it were the most normal and natural thing in the world. We were supposed to be one, we were supposed to be together, here and now. It just made plain sense. I had no idea why, but I was glad it did.
This time I trailed my fingers over him, and he watched them brush against his chest, firm, to my surprise. I hadn’t thought what his body would be like. It was firm, but still soft, thick skin. I took my time exploring, then leaned in and kissed his neck. He lifted his chin to allow easier access, as I gently brushed my lips along his neck, then his shoulders.
When I was finally ready, he unbuttoned the poodle skirt, let it fall. I stepped out of it, pushed it aside with my foot. He removed his trousers, let them drop to the floor beside him, then removed the boxers he wore. He stepped toward me, kissed me once more, before he slowly entered my body, just as gently as he could.
He moved all the way in, then slowly pulled away, and again came back, gently, slowly. He stared into my eyes, and I looked back into his. It was like making love for the first time, but yet it felt like making love again.
I didn’t want to leave, but I would come back tomorrow, I would see him again. So I went home when the bus came, in the sweater and poodle skirt he’d given me, my other clothes in a bag. I didn’t speak, all I could to was think about him, about how I had made love to the most wonderful person I would ever meet. I would see him again, after school. Maybe we would make love again.
That night I went to sleep, with him in my dreams.
When the bell shrilled again, when I finally got my locker closed, I ran. I ran to the store, ran as fast as I could. Then my heart sank. It wasn’t simply that he wasn’t there, but there was another store, a book store, right were the store I went to just the day before was supposed to be.
It didn’t make sense. Even if the store had gone out of business, this one couldn’t have been set up over night. I ran inside, my breath hitching in panic. I was going to call out his name, when I realized, I’d never learned his name.
How could I not know his name?
I walked over to the man behind the counter. “Sir, why isn’t this a clothing shop? This was a clothing shop.”
He gave me a look, then snapped his fingers. “Right. Oh, they shut that shop down seventeen years ago when the owner Mr. Lander died.”
Died? But I’d just seen him, alive and well, and not near death. “Seventeen years ago? But it was just here yesterday. That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Are you alright? Do I need to call a doctor or something?” he asked.
“There was a boy. Not quite a boy. He was about eighteen I think. A very nice boy…” I looked around, hoping to see his face. “Where is he?”
“I’m the only one here. My wife works here too, and a girl about your age. But that’s all. What was his name?”
I shook my head. “That’s just it. I don’t know.” I whispered. “Thank you for your time.” I walked out of the store, walked down the road, towards my home. Had I imagined it all? How does someone imagine that? I suddenly had an idea, and ran home. I ran over to my closet, looked through it, and there they were, the clothes he had given me. It had to have been real. Something very strange was going on.
But day after day, I went to the store, and it was always the book store. Always. I still had the clothes, I still had the memories. I didn’t have him. Life turned gray, turned dark. I was never going to see him again. Never. For an entire month I argued with my mind, and eventually I decided, that even though I had the clothes, it had to be an elaborate dream.
Maybe I’d had the clothes all along, and just didn’t remember. It was hard to tell. So it took thirty days for me to decide that it hadn’t happened. That it was all just some strange fantasy. I must have heard about the store before. That was why I imagined it. The boy just must have been something out of my head. The blue eyes, the dimples, the answers. It was all just a dream.
Things all changed again, when soon after I decided it was only a dream, I found I was pregnant.
To be Continued…
© Copyright 2017 Cherie Arlavine . All rights reserved.
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