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Maple Street Memories #9

Episode Nine

Mary felt her throat tighten as a sob threatened to escape.  Charles reached across the Formica table and gripped her hand.  “I know this is not what we hoped.  We will just have to continue to meet and learn more about each other.  I’m confident with time, they will all come around.”

Mary nodded, fearing her voice would crack if she spoke.  He chatted throughout the meal and when the check came said, “Would you mind showing me the house?”

Mary agreed and accepted a ride from him since she always walked to work.  He drove a Cadillac and she marveled at the plush interior on the short trip to Maple Street.  He parked in front of the house and she said, “It’s looking a bit worn and without the flowers we always had, it looks sad.”

They passed through the porch and she unlocked the door and led him through to the living area.  He gazed upon the furnishings and nodded as she explained the various rooms.  “It’s much like I remember.  I wanted to make sure you had a nice home.  It looks like it was just that.”

He admired photos in frames on the mantle and accepted a glass of lemonade after taking a seat.  “While we wait for my family to come around what do you say to lunch and a movie each week?  Maybe even dinner occasionally?”

Mary smiled.  “I would enjoy spending time with you.  It would give me something to look forward to each week.”  She spent the rest of the afternoon quizzing him about his family.  She wanted to know about her grandparents and other relatives.

He suggested they sit on the porch, where he took a leather pouch from his inside jacket pocket.  He retrieved a pipe and a tin of tobacco.  She watched as he took pinches from the tin and with practiced fingers, tamped it into the shiny wooden bowl of the pipe.  He struck a match and circled it over the bowl while taking long draws from the stem.  He extinguished the match and puffed on the mouthpiece while rings of smoke danced above him.

Charles told her about his French parents who came to America and started the business.  His eyes twinkled when he spoke about an uncle, who was a baker he blamed him for his weakness for pastries.  They laughed and chatted away the afternoon.  Charles pulled his pocket watch and raised his brows.  “Oh, my, I must be getting on.”

She stood and walked him to the door.  He held his hat and smiled.  He moved closer and wrapped her in a tight hug.  “I’m so glad you found me, chere.”

She felt his strong grip and longed for him to stay.  The scent of his pipe mingled with the citrus from the fresh lemonade.  “I’m the happy one,” she whispered, her eyes squeezed tight.

He let her go and adjusted his hat.  He gave her a soft kiss on the cheek.  “Until next week?”

“Yes, yes.  I’ll meet you at the movies.”  She walked with him to the sidewalk, arm in arm, and waved goodbye until she could no longer see his Cadillac.  She trotted back into the house and went about her packing duties.

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