With the legal moniker of Phineas Forest, he seemed doomed from the start. He was actually relieved when a fellow student with an overactive imagination pulled ‘Piney’ out of his name. By the time he’d reached his full height of 6’3 the name Piney Forest actually suited him.
He’d done well at developing a sense of humor and a positive attitude. Pushing the ripe old age of 25, Piney thought he’d figured most things out. He knew when to drop the goofball routine in favor of something more mature. He understood that respect carried you just as far as wittiness, if not further. He was considered an asset at the grocery store where he worked, and it was no surprise he had worked his way from box boy up to assistant manager. What did surprise Piney was that somehow he had managed to attract the attention of one Amelia Greer.
Amelia worked in accounting. She had a quiet and precise manner about her. Piney observed that she was soft and curvy, from her head to her toes. He appreciated the auburn tresses that were pinned up in a neat little bun on her head, and how a few tendrils always managed to escape by day’s end. He admired her soft grey eyes and marveled that she would look on him with favor.
Yes, even after six months of steady company, Piney still felt a sense of wonder whenever he looked down at the compact treasure at his side. Like most young men, he was still learning the ropes when it came to understanding women and Amelia was no exception. Not that she was complicated or demanding. He knew what she liked; flowers, books, men with manners. Piney had no trouble with those things. Still, he was afraid that at some point, he was going to blow it.
The day he realized that Amelia was giving him the cold shoulder, he racked his brain trying to figure out why. They’d gone to dinner the night before and it had been a pleasant evening, but by the time he’d walked her to her door he knew something was amiss. She seemed withdrawn and unusually quiet. He had kissed her good night but she hadn’t really kissed him back. He puzzled over it as he drove home, then promptly forgot about it when he found his roommate watching an Australian tennis match on ESPN. Grabbing a beer from the fridge, he’d sat down and joined him.
The next morning when he got to work and saw her and felt the chill that permeated the air, Piney knew that moment he’d dreaded had arrived. He couldn’t help feeling like an ant riding on the top of a moving wheel; he knew something big was coming but he wasn’t sure what. When he asked her what was wrong she shrugged and said “Nothing.” But he knew better. He studied her. She looked different but he couldn’t put his finger on it. And then it clicked.
“Did you do something to your hair?”
“Piney.” Amelia’s voice was flat but her hand went instinctively to her head. He looked harder. There was no bun, no tendrils framing her face, but rather soft curls that reached no further than her chin. How could he have been so blind as to not notice this dramatic change in her hairdo? He smacked his own hand to his forehead even as she was bringing hers down.
“I’m sorry Amelia. I’ve been a total clod.”
She was shaking her head. “I shouldn’t have treated you the way I did. It’s just a hair do.” She gave a deep sigh. “You have a lot on your mind. I’m making a big deal out of nothing. It just would have been nice for you to have noticed.”
“It’s not nothing. Don’t say that. I should have been paying attention. It’s just… I’m always so amazed that you are even with me… I never in a million years expected to have a girlfriend as spectacular as you… and sometimes I’m blinded to everything else.”
“Do you really feel that way about me Piney?”
“More than words can say.” He grasped her hand. “I… I love you, Amelia.”
“And… I love your new ‘do. It’s beautiful—you’re beautiful!”
“Then, that’s all that matters.” With a rosy glow on her face, Amelia leaned in towards him slightly. Piney knew what that meant and was ever so glad he didn’t miss his cue.
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