Allow me to set the scene. Charlie, my male protagonist, is fresh off his latest dating disaster, an all too common outcome. In this scene Charlie is first introduced to his mysterious, mad bumper sticker genius that will dog him throughout the story. The bumper stickers not only add a comic element to the story, they also serve to push Charlie and the story along, mostly kicking and screaming, but ultimately-we hope-to a satisfactory conclusion. Immediately following this is another all too common occurrence for Charlie and that is him pulling out the only memento of what he believes is his personal experience of what many call love at first sight. This is a good look at both the comic element and the romance theme that weave together throughout the story. I hope you enjoy it.
Frustrated, and a little embarrassed by breaking up with Rachael in a note, Charlie headed home. He found a parking spot just beyond his building and thought his luck was turning. Exiting his vehicle he cut behind his Explorer toward his door. That’s when he noticed the bright yellow bumper sticker.
“What the? How did that get on there?” he wondered aloud. He instinctively looked around with the feeling like someone was watching him. Not a mad serial killer stalking you type of feeling, but after a few seconds thought he suddenly knew what it must feel like to be on Candid Camera. And in Charlie’s opinion, whoever had put the bumper sticker on his vehicle had a pretty good sense of humor. It read:
JESUS SHOOTS, JESUS SCORES!!
He chuckled to himself and continued on to his apartment, wondering how long the sticker had been on there before he noticed it. He couldn’t say for sure, and by the time he reached his door he decided to keep the bumper sticker on. He kept imagining Jesus taking a slap shot for the Bruins, chuckling anew with the mental image of Jesus, in full robes rather than hockey gear, diving like Bobby Orr for the winning goal. And the images just kept coming. Now it was Jesus cross checking Mario Lemieux into the glass. Then it was Jesus dropping the gloves, pulling the jersey over the head of Montreal legend Chris Nilan and proceeding to pound the French out of him. Jesus hoisting the Stanley Cup, a Bruin’s logo on his long, flowing robe, emblazoned with the number 1 of course.
Inside his apartment though, he quickly forgot about the bumper sticker. He went to his bedroom dresser and dug out the small, yellow plastic ring with the letter L on it. Taking the ring to the living room he reclined on the sofa, closed his eyes and fondled the toy, letting the nostalgia roll over him in waves.
He pulled it out at every break-up and put it away with each new girlfriend. It was strange, he knew, to keep something so ridiculous from so long ago, but he couldn’t seem to throw it away. It reminded him of the girl who gave it to him twenty-some-odd years ago, when he was just eight. It was all he had left of that ethereal encounter. That familiar melancholy settled over him like a shroud. He shook his head and harrumphed, feeling suddenly foolish. He didn’t even know her name, but he remembered the moment he met her like it was yesterday.
The small classroom was cluttered with colorful toys and chairs and other children. The smell of wet galoshes permeated the air. The curtains were thrown back and a bright winter morning sun streamed in, its rays illuminated magical beams of dust that sliced through the air. It was the first day after the Christmas break, and, for Charlie at least, school was still fun. The rambunctious children laughed and played while they waited on Mrs. Teal to arrive and Charlie had gleefully joined in.
Then Charlie saw her, standing next to the curtain, wistfully staring out the window, and he thought she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her straight brown hair hung almost to her waist and glistened like honeyed silk in that morning sunshine. He timidly went to say hello and when his green eyes met her brown something inside him changed. He didn’t know what it was then, and still didn’t know exactly what it was now, but it was like something inside of him was removed and in some strange way a metamorphosis had begun. It wasn’t unpleasant at all. In fact, Charlie remembered it as magical, because at the same time something else was put inside him. Something new and different and it completed the change within him. Again, he couldn’t say what, then or now; just that it had a profound effect on him.
They clasped hands as they silently stared at one another, the air electrified between them, and he would swear she felt the same things he did. However, at eight years old you don’t have the mental capacity to understand complex feelings, nor the verbal capacity to express them like you do as an adult. So they said nothing, only stood staring while that transmogrifying transfer occurred. Though he didn’t understand the word in its romantic sense, in those precious few moments that seemed to last forever Charlie knew he loved her. He felt the bond tingle from their clasped hands up his arms and settle deep inside his chest. And again, somehow he knew she felt the same. Charlie would swear later in life that if he had ever experienced that thing people call love at first sight, it had been at that moment.
Mrs. Teal came in and broke the spell, but before Charlie and his little angel separated she pulled a small plastic ring off her finger. At first it appeared to be one ring, but she pulled it apart and gave Charlie half—the half he held now—leaned forward, and kissed him gently on the lips. It was an innocent kiss between eight year olds, but despite the adolescent nature, Charlie had never before, and never since, experienced anything so exquisite, so radiant, so magnificent; so pure, in a kiss.
Charlie never saw her again.
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