George met Pamela on a crisp autumn day in the grocery store. He would remember it later in life as love at first sight, but that’s not exactly how it happened. They were in the produce section; they passed one another walking in opposite directions, and then stopped, and they both reached for the same organic mango at the same time. Their hands brushed against one another and there was a burst of electricity that felt almost like familiarity. She laughed and pulled her hand away, and he was taken in by her easy smile. She glanced away shyly when he looked at her, brushing a lock of hair away from her face, and then looked back up with a spark dancing in her eye. She was without makeup, in jeans and a sweatshirt, and her hair was pulled back in a simple ponytail, but her casual state of dress enhanced her charm, if anything.
George held out the contested mango to her, and said, “here, you take it. It’s the best in the whole lot.”
She tilted her head to the left and looked up at him with feigned suspicion. “How can you be so sure?”
He looked upward for a moment, and then replied, “let’s just say that I have an eye for quality.”
She rolled her eyes and laughed, shaking her head.
They exchanged information and made a date to go out to dinner. On that Saturday night, he picked her up at her apartment. He tried to put his best foot forward, dressed in a button down shirt and a sport coat, with his hair plastered in place and his chin neatly shaved. She came to the door and it should have been obvious that she was doing the same, with a blue and white flowered dress and her hair falling around her shoulders in soft, fat curls and some eyeliner painstakingly applied, but all he saw was that glorious light shining at the center of her, glowing through her eyes and her broad smile.
At the restaurant, they chatted over a glass of wine. She was a veterinary assistant. “It’s not much, but it pays the bills,” she said with a slight shrug, “and I’ve always liked animals.”
They ordered their food. He ordered the sea bass, and she ordered the sirloin.
“You could have had the filet,” he said, thinking she had balked at the price.
“I could have had the filet, and it’s tender and it’s a very popular cut,” she responded, “but it doesn’t taste like much. I ordered the sirloin because I like a sirloin.”
“Well, then,” George said, smiling at her with an air of wonder.
It would have perhaps been cliché to say that he loved to look at her, but it was true. It wasn’t that she was beautiful, though you’d have had a difficult time convincing George that she wasn’t, but every time she moved, and every word that she spoke, reverberated through him like the pure tone of a bell. He was delighted by her; by her tone of voice, by the way she moved her head, and even just by the way she thought. And when he dropped her off at the door to her apartment, and she put her arms around him, it felt perfect, not awkward or strange, but just like she belonged there, with her head against his chest. And when she tilted her head up toward him, kissing her felt perfect too.
One day, in the wintertime, there was a freeze and snow fell over the town. He called her on the phone and asked if she wanted to go out for a walk in a park.
“What, in this cold?” she asked.
“What better time than this?” he answered, and then said, “don’t worry about me, I’ll have you to keep me warm.”
She laughed and agreed.
When he got to the park, she was waiting for him at the entrance. She smiled a sweet, one sided smile when she saw him, and he dashed toward her and gathered her in his arms, pulling her around in a circle. He felt her hands gasp his upper arms as he pulled her off her feet, the toes of her boots dragging in the snow beneath. She threw her head back and laughed, and he stumbled in his abandon. The movement of their bodies caused the falling snow to swirl around them.
When he stopped, after one and a half turns, his face was almost nose to nose with hers. She giggled at him, her breath surrounding his face in a visible cloud of warmth and sweet human smell, and he closed his eyes in contentment, drinking in the feel of her.
They walked in the wintry weather, and when George slipped on the ice, and Pamela reached out a mittened hand to help him to his feet. He looked up at her, she was smiling, and her other hand brushed a lock of blond hair away from her face. Her cheeks were pink from the cold. He looked into her bright blue eyes, and that was when it hit him.
He loved her.
It was a statement, not a question. In that moment he realized that she and she alone was unique and remarkable and beautiful and perfect. And that he was so incredibly lucky to have her.
I am going to marry this woman, he thought.
This is the first in a series of posts that constitute a piece of short fiction. To read part two, go here.