Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

First Love

Aileen R. Bennett


I often think of my first love.

With my head dipped in the water cooler at work, I felt, rather than heard, the person who stood behind me. Biding my time until the clock reached to going-home time, I wasn’t in any hurry to stop sipping the cool, refreshing water. But then I did hear the clearing of a throat and, pushing my hair away from my face, I stood.

And there he stood. All six feet of him with eyes so brown I saw my reflection in them. He smiled, showing a set of the most even, white teeth I had ever seen. My face flushed. No, my face didn’t “just” flush - it must have resembled a ripened Winesap apple. I attempted to return his smile, but my mouth still held the last sip of water taken. Quickly swallowing it, I tried to think of something clever to say to this Adonis. You’re beautiful almost came out. “Sorry I took so long,” were the only words I managed, and they came out in sort of a slurp. I turned and got on the cloud which took me back to my office.

Will I ever see him again? Does he work here? Is he a visitor? Questions swirled like eddies in my head. If I didn’t find out immediately, he could be gone forever. I hurried back down the hallway, peering around the corner to the water cooler. He was gone...vanished...with my heart. I swung around to head back down the hallway and literally bumped into him.

“We’ve got to stop meeting this way,” he quipped. “At least let me have the name of the lady who keeps showing up.” What was my name? I forgot everything except his smile...it was still there...and it was for me.

After I came to my senses, I answered. “Mary,” I said. “Mary Stevens.” I asked him the same. “John,” he said, “John Williams.” Like any girl with her first crush or first love, I wrote his name with mine in my head. “Perfect,” I heard the word come out of my mouth. His laughter was contagious and, after I sputtered some inane excuse for my blunder, I joined in.

“Would Mary Stevens have dinner with John Williams?” he asked.

Yes, or we could simply elope...whichever. “I think I’d like that,” I replied with some measure of sanity.

We had dinner, which was accompanied by a summer of complete and total bliss. Lunches together at the office, drinks after work, dancing on weekends...we became inseparable. That is until the snows came.

We said our goodbyes at the airport with no commitment, only promises to call, to write, to see each other again. As he boarded the flight that would take him around the world, I waved until the airplane was out of sight.

And so was he...never to be seen or heard from again. “Don’t cry because it’s over,” a friend said, “smile because it happened.” I smile...but after fifty years, I often think of my first love.

***

Aileen Ridings Bennett is a “dyed-in-the-wool Southerner.” Born in a small town in Tennessee, she moved to Oak Ridge, growing up in a strange and secret town and era, she proclaims. She has written a column entitled "Life, Love and Laughter." Aileen studied creative writing under Arizola Magnenat, a published author and journalist. Her first novel, The Annie Chase Story, was released in October, 2005 by Behler Publishing Company.

© Aileen R. Bennett

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012