With the click of the seatbelt, I turned toward William and smiled. “I really appreciate what you’re doing. I wouldn’t have known who to trust.”
“Allison, if anyone can fix that old car, it’ll be my buddy John. I’m glad I could point you in the right direction.” Pulling away from the curb, we began the trip back to my house.
The friendship we shared showed signs of blossoming into something more, and the prospect of spending the next thirty minutes together left me just a bit nervous. As we drove we made small talk. I struggled to hold up my end of the conversation, but William had no problem filling the void.
Before long our route led us through a familiar city and I jumped at the opportunity to contribute to the conversation. “Fairgrove… I lived here a long time ago.” Once I got started, the words wouldn’t stop, and before I knew it, I had related everything I remembered about my time there. “…I don’t remember where my house was-I was only five, but I’d love to find it some day. I do remember the little boy next door. His name was Clark Simpson, and he was stupid.” Before William could respond to my unexpected proclamation, I stated my case. “He ate dirt- I saw him! I told him he shouldn’t do that, but he just told me to leave him alone. So I did. That’s the only thing I remember about him, but I know he had a sister named Carol, and I remember they had a green wooden fence. ...There were balls on top…of the posts.” The flood of words trickled to a stop, giving way to the fear that my assessment of Clark’s intelligence might be considered inappropriate. Heat slowly crept up my neck. The amused expression on William’s face relieved my fears.
“So, you remember Clark Simpson, huh?”
“Yes, that was his name. Isn’t it strange that I would remember him at all? I don’t think I even saw him except for the one time.”
With a slight shake of his head, William turned his attention back to the road and introduced another topic of conversation. It was a pleasant drive, and his friendly manner soon put me at ease. I tried not to think about my lack of discretion.
Several days later we headed back to pick up my car. By now, we both welcomed any excuse to spend time together, and the miles and the minutes passed unnoticed until William turned down a side street. It was obvious we weren’t in the right neighborhood and I turned toward him, questioning. With just the hint of a grin, he asked, “Allison, do you know where you are?”
“I don’t think so…Should I? Nothing looks familiar.”
As I spoke, William pulled over in front of an old yellow bungalow. “Well, it has been a long time.” Pointing at the next house, he said, “That’s where Clark lived.”
“Clark who…? Do you mean Clark Simpson…? You knew Clark Simpson?” My surprise kept me from thinking clearly for a minute, but then it came to me. “Then this one is my old house…”
A smile spread across William’s face as he watched my delighted reaction to his surprise. “Yeah, I knew Clark. I lived in Fairgrove, too, when I was growing up. I spent a lot of happy hours inside that house. His mom was like a second Mother to me.”
Though I too was smiling, I couldn’t stop my mouth from hanging open. “You didn’t even say anything the other day…and I went on and on about Clark…” My excitement faded as I recalled my unfriendly remark.
“Oh, don’t let that bother you. Everybody that knew him felt the same way. He never changed, he just found more outrageous things to do, but we loved him anyway.”
Just that easily, William dismissed my mistake. My eyes sought his and I smiled my gratitude, but my heart timidly avowed “How sweet you are!”
Blinking, I turned for another look at the house that was the site of my earliest memories, realizing too, that a precious new memory had just been made. William’s sweet surprise did something to my heart that day. As we spent more time together we discovered many other similarities in our pasts. We also discovered a compatibility that drew our spirits close. Today, we look to the future with hopes of making many more memories together.
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