Arthur rocked his foot again to keep the porch swing at a steady rhythm. One hand rested on his son Tommy’s shoulder as the little boy lay across his lap, asleep. His other arm stretched behind Alma, not quite touching her shoulders. The blonde curls of little Mary’s sleeping head tumbled over Alma’s knees and swayed with the movement of the swing. Arthur sighed. Nothing could beat this cool spring evening.
He felt Alma’s weight shift with her own sigh. “You know something, Arthur?”
“Hmmm?” he murmured, leaning his head back to watch the speckle of moonlight through the branches of the oak tree.
“In the seven years we’ve been married, you ain’t once said you loved me.”
Arthur’s head lifted and he turned to her in surprise. “I ain’t?”
“Nope. Not once.” Her dark chocolate eyes were melting.
Arthur let his gaze return to the oak tree moonlight. He tried to think back on the time he first saw Alma, but couldn’t bring it to mind. He recalled the long weeks that passed where he had sat in the corner booth of the town’s only café and watched Alma come from her courthouse clerking job and eat lunch. He’d hold the same newspaper in front of his face until she left. There were times he just knew she glanced his way. But they never spoke until the day the waitress, whose frame was as ample as her smile, brought him a Dr. Pepper with a wink.
“Young lady at the counter bought this for you.” She stepped to the side and nodded at the wide open chocolate brown eyes. Arthur gulped but not on the Dr. Pepper. “She did?”
“Uh-huh,” the waitress winked again before moving to the next table of the lunch hour rush.
Even though his hands shook, Arthur picked up the hard plastic cup and walked the straightest line he could toward the chocolate brown eyes. “Uh, thanks for the Dr. Pepper, but I, uh, really like Coke.”
The eyes widened. “I didn’t-” she cocked her head to look around him and he turned to see an ample smile from across the room. Arthur turned back, cheeks flaming. “Uh…”
“Here,” the chocolate eyed girl handed Arthur her drink. “This is the Coke you bought me – uh, I like Dr. Pepper myself.”
Wind jostled the oak tree branches, revealing the full moon. Arthur squeezed the warm flesh of his son’s shoulder. A soft snore vibrated up to his ears.
Arthur looked back into his wife’s chocolate eyes. “Sorry about that, Alma. I guess it’s because –well, I love you the way God loves.”
“You know. Like eternity. No real beginning.” He nodded, never breaking eye contact. “And it sure ain’t ever gonna end.”
Now her eyes really did melt. “Guess that’s as good as it gets.”
When he leaned in to put some sugar on her cheek, Arthur swore he tasted the fizzy flavor of Coke.
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