Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)
TITLE: When Henry Met Halley
By Debbie Sickler
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“Isn’t it.” She corrected as she entered the general store with barely a glance Henry’s direction. Her dainty feet carried her straight to the counter, where she placed her empty wicker basket. “Good morning Mr. Milton. Is my order ready yet?”
Henry, who had been on his way out, pretended to look at cans on a shelf. He was intrigued; beautiful women were rare around Wellbrook. “Psst. Tommy.” He whispered in a hushed tone, motioning for the stock boy to come over. “Hey, who’s that over there talkin’ to Frank?”
“Why that’s Miss Jones. She’s the new school teacher. Came over on the coach from Easton last week.” Tommy shook his feather duster over the canned goods absently. “Sure is a looker, ain’t she Henry?”
“Isn’t.” Henry ducked his head quickly as Miss Jones gathered her purchases in her basket and turned to face the door.
“Huh?” Tommy was never very quick to catch on.
She paused and nodded towards the cans Henry was studying. “Hmmm…peas or lima beans? Tough decision. I’d go with the peas.” She left the store with more than just her order. With that, she walked away with a basket of goods and Henry’s affections.
The next afternoon, Henry paced back and forth in front of the one room school house. Just go in there an’ ask her. Don’t be such a coward. The school door swung open and fifteen young pupils dashed out to the freedom of the play yard. Startled by their commotion, Henry lost his nerve and headed back out the gate.
“Little late to be starting your education isn’t?” Henry spun around to see his angel atop the school house stairs.
“How do ma’am.” He took a few steps towards heaven. “Names Henry. Henry Myers.” The wild horses stampeding in his stomach caused his words to gallop out of his mouth.
“Pleasure to meet you Mr. Myers. Which student is yours? I don’t remember a Myers in my class…” She looked rather puzzled as she muttered under her breath, trying to match his face to those of her students.
“Uh, no ma’am. I ain’t, uh, I’m not here about your students. I, uh, I came to see you ma’am.” Henry’s voice cracked, reminding him of his days as a growing teen. His face flushed an uncharacteristic shade of pink.
Miss Jones smiled as his intentions became clear to her. “Mr. Myers. Is there something you’d like to say to me sir?” She was never one to be shy herself and found the trait rather charming in the potential suitor standing before her.
“I uh, I was wondering if I could have the pleasure of escorting you to the church picnic down by the creek this Sunday afternoon. My sister Mary Elizabeth’ll be cookin’ up some of her fine fried chicken and I’d love to share some with you, if’in you ain’t, uh, I mean, if you don’t have prior plans.” There. He’d done what he’d came for. Henry breathed deeply, feeling light headed.
“Mr. Myers, that sounds like a lovely idea. I’d be delighted to attend the picnic with you. However, I do have one question for you.”
Henry’s elation took a momentary dip as he stood silently waiting for his fate.
“Will that fried chicken be paired with the peas or the lima beans, because I absolutely detest lima beans?” She had a smirk on her face that etched her portrait into Henry’s heart forever as he smiled at the memory of their first meeting.
His thoughts were halted by the giggles of twin girls who had found their teacher’s conversation more interesting than their jump rope resting limp in their hands.
“That’s enough. Run along you two.” Now it was Miss Jones’s turn to flush uncharacteristically. “I really should be getting back to my class.”
“Um, sure Miss Jones. Thank you for your time.” Henry felt sheepish and giddy all at the same time.
“Halley. You may call me Halley.”
“Mrs. Halley Myers…” Henry hadn’t intended to make his musing public knowledge.
“Moving a little fast there aren’t we Mr. Myers? Let’s just make it through the picnic before we start sending out our wedding invitations, shall we?”
“Uh yes ma’am. I mean Miss Halley. See you Sunday.”
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