Part 1760 – “Do You Really Love Me?”

John stood in the middle of the mall’s food court. He knew he should just sit down and relax.

But his knees refused to bend.

And his legs refused to relax.

She’s going to stand me up. I’m sure of it.

How could someone as amazing as her want me? It’s just a joke. Just a horrible, heartless prank.

But I hope she shows up.

I hope—

His heart stopped beating as Carolyn entered the food court. She looked right at him and waved enthusiastically.

He grinned and waved back. 

His legs moved on automatic, plowing him thoughtlessly towards her. He bumped into chairs and tables and people, but he didn’t care. All he saw was her.

Carolyn.

She wore a white sundress with a yellow daisy choker necklace and black gladiator sandals and she looked amazing.

She ran to him and grabbed his hands. “You’re here! You’re really here!”

He nodded wordlessly.

“I’m so glad! I was worried that you’d stand me up just to be ‘cool’ or whatever.”

He laughed. “I was worried that you’d do the same thing to me.”

She laughed. “I’m glad we were both wrong.” Her eyes sparkled with happiness. “I’m so glad you’re here, John.”

“Same.”

***

John stopped at a red light and struggled to keep his emotions under control.

Carolyn.

Carrie.

Clarice reached over and laid her hand on top of his hand.

He looked over at her.

Clarice.

“Are you okay?”

“It hurts.” he said softly.

Her expression softened into compassion. “I know. Have you ever considered how different our lives would have turned out if we had met each other instead of our respective spouses?”

He shook his head.

“I do. Mainly because I’m kind of strange that way.”

“Not at all.”

“You’re sweet.” She squeezed his hand. “Our kids probably wouldn’t exist. Different genes in the whole gene pool and all that. Elsie, if she still existed, wouldn’t be a hunter. Which means that Mr. Hot Chapstick Lover Boy Hildreth would probably have wound up with someone else.”

“Or he’d stay single.” He shifted in his seat. “What if we didn’t have any girls? What if our children were boys?”

“Woo! Plot twist happening right here and now! Mmm. I bet he’d be a good looking one. Probably would look a lot like you.”

“With hints and touches of you mixed in.”

“Of course.”

He turned forward.

The light was still red. Somehow.

“Clarice. Did you mean it?”

“What?”

“Do you really love me?”

“John. Look at me.”

He obeyed.

“I know we’re no longer the young, fabulous creatures we used to be. We’re both over a certain age.” She held up her index finger for emphasis. “Not that I’m going to say what that age is. A lady has the right to keep that information secret. Truth being preached right here and now.”

“Then, I won’t ask.”

“Good. My point is, well.” She lowered her hand. “None of that stuff really matters. Our age. Wrinkles. Hair dye. Et cetera. All that matters is I am with you. You feel right with me. Your glow is comforting like a candle in a window during a snowstorm. If I walk towards your glow, I’ll find my way home.”

“Clarice, can I be your home?”

“If I can be yours. I love you, John. And I solemnly swear, on every possible edition of the Bible, that is the truth.”

The light turned green.

But John didn’t notice.

He leaned towards Clarice and kissed her. “I love you too.”

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