A shiny black roadster with a bright silver fender sat at the side of a narrow country road. On the fender perched a plump ripe peach. A young man in overalls walked slowly toward the car, staring in wonder at the peach which appeared to grow larger with each step he took. Picking it up, he glanced around. Some distance away, to his right, was a large white house with black trim and a bay window in the front. There was a porch which went around the side with a porch swing and rocking chairs on it. All was encompassed by a white picket fence with a gate and large bushes in the front. As his eyes moved in a sweeping look, he saw to his left, leaning against a tree a few yards away, a young girl, laughing. Immediately, he knew why. He stood, speechless, admiring her slim figure in her green sprigged dress with a sash. Her hair, a mass of brown curls, fell below her shoulders.
“Do I have you to thank for this succulent snack?” he began, but she merely laughed again, flashing shiny white teeth, her blue eyes sparkling their answer. As he took a step toward her, she quickly turned, went through the gate, ran to the front steps of the house and up them to the porch. As she opened the front door, she looked back over her shoulder, the very movement a message in itself. As the front door closed, the young man stood there staring. He slowly opened the door of his car, and got in, sitting there as if stunned, gazing at the peach in his hand. “Just like her skin,” he said, turning his head to look at the door she had entered once more. “I must know her.” Shaking his head abruptly, he looked around and grinned. Jumping out of the car, he grabbed the heavy crank from its resting place under the front seat, inserted it into the hole beneath the radiator and turned it rapidly. The engine, choked, gurgled, and began to chug away, running noisily. Once again, he climbed in behind the wheel and slowly drove away, looking back from time to time.
“Is that you, Raymond?” a woman’s voice called out as the screen door slammed behind him.
“Yes, Mom, I’m back,” he answered.
“Did you get the eggs?”
The shadows in the kitchen had lengthened with the setting of the sun that had happened on his way home and he couldn’t see her face, but he knew it well with it’s bright and exuberant eyes, smooth, unwrinkled skin, and gray hair piled into a knot atop her head. Of course, she had on the blue gingham dress because it was Monday, washday. Stepping forward, the remaining light fell across her pursed lips, and he thought, she is peeling apples. She always pursed her lips when she was peeling apples more than anything else.
“No, the Millers weren’t home.” Slowly, he brought the next words to his lips, hesitating, “Mom, who moved into the McRae’s house across the road from the Miller’s?”
“The old white farmhouse? Why, no one that I know of, though somebody ought to, that is prime land just going to waste. Ought to have chickens and cows and kids on it, much less corn and tomatoes, a strawberry bed. Seems to me the McRae’s should have sold it instead of just moving off like that to St. Louis. Mrs. McRae told me she just couldn’t take the country any more. Can you imagine? Why, listen……” She cocked her head to the side as sounds drifted through the twilight in through the window, crickets chirping, frogs croaking, leaves rustling, and an even deeper silence that was a sound in itself. “Why would anyone want to leave this?”
“Mom, I saw a girl there today,” Raymond blurted out. “The girl I’m going to marry!”
They both sat in stunned disbelief at his words. “No,” his mother breathed quietly.
“I know,” he murmured gently, his dark eyes looking deep into her blue ones as they had for the last twenty-one years. “I can hardly believe it myself, but Mom, I know, I just know!”
His mother smiled, a tranquil smile as if she had a secret. “I know, men just know these things, your dad told his brother the night we met that we were going to be married. Your Uncle Tom told Aunt Ethel, my sister, and I laughed, oh, how I laughed! I got a big joke outof it that night. I was just fourteen, and marriage was the last thing on my mind, then. I said, we’ll see about that. Besides, he was such a tall serious boy. I couldn’t imagine talking to him, much less getting married. He started coming around; would walk a mile or so from town or ride a horse over if it was late. Then I decided I would marry him, but Mama made us wait until I was sixteen. At the end, it was awful hard to wait, I wanted to cook for him, and wash his clothes. Every time I washed a dish, I’d wish it was his. But then I got to do that, for fifty-three years. I never once wished it any other way.”
They both sat silently, remembering the gentle dark eyes they loved, the large hands, deep voice. The kitchen was dark. “Well,” said his mother as she lit the kerosene lamp, “I suppose I’ll need to meet this girl. Tell me about her, what does she look like?” Her son began to talk animatedly, rose to his feet, and paced about the room. His mother smiled again with a knowing look as she watched him.
“Complexion like peaches, you say? That’s what your father used to call me, you know? His peaches ‘n cream. He said life was good to him, but I was the peaces ‘n cream.” Neither spoke, gazing at the peach on the table, each lost in their own dream, hers of the past, his of the future.
He drove down the dirt road, puffs of red dust rising behind his tires. “What if she’s not there? What if she hates me? What if she’s a figment of my imagination, a ghost?” The tortured thoughts that had caused him to lie awake until the sun finally rose ran through his brain like bees buzzing around a hive. He had awakened and knew he had to go to her.
“That bad, huh?” teased his mother. “Before chores?”
“Well, just thought I’d go back to the Millers for the eggs,” he mumbled.
“Bring her back for breakfast if she can come,” this from his mother. “Doubt that she can though. What mother is going to let her daughter go off in a car with a man she doesn’t know?”
His anxiety had increased with each passing mile, and he took no notice of the dew shining on the grass as he usually did, even when he stopped and picked a bouquet of daisies, buttercups, and pansies. “I wish I could find a rose,” he muttered to himself, “a perfect one, just like her.”
As he rounded a curve, and the house came into view, he stopped the car, and leaned his head on the steering wheel. He heard his father’s strong voice say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” and a new resolve flowed through him. His father, too, had known what he wanted, and had risked saying so and going after it.
Walking up the steps to her front door, he thought, I don’t even know her name, what would he say if her father or mother opened the door? What would he say if she did? The front door opened before he could knock. “Hello,” he began haltingly, “I’m Raymond….”
The beautiful face interrupted him, “I thought you would never come….I’m Julia.” She took his arm and pulled him through the doorway. “I want you to meet my parents; please come in for breakfast.”
As he turned to close the door behind him, he was smiling.
(O.K. so I’ve taken a lot of poetic license here. This is based on the story I heard about my grandparents meeting. My grandfather, Raymond, was with his best friend, who was dating my grandmother’s sister, Ethel and he met my grandmother, Julia. He did tell his friend the same night that he was going to marry my grandmother and she was fourteen, but I just wove that into the fabric of the story. The feelings are attributed to the Raymond in the story although the main story (of my grandparents) is told by his mother. Also, my grandfather did not have a roadster, and it’s too long a story to go into to--to say why I used it. Suffice it to say that I just didn’t want to take it out, and put a horse in it’s place…I think I’m entitled occasionally to fictionalize but I will always say so).