When Harvey and Sadie met

Sadie looked at him and said, “I did look you up online a little. You don’t have any assets.” It wasn’t a question.

Harvey’s jaw wanted to drop, but didn’t. “That’s true.”

“I have assets.”

“I’m happy for you.” What the hell else could he say? He was too busy keeping his sense of humor pinned to the mat. She had large breasts and when she told him she had assets he could’ve sworn she puffed her chest out. That her breasts had nothing to do with what she meant by assets, he understood. It was simply one of those moments when, alas, the healthiest choice on the table was silencing humor.

They were sitting across from each other at a picnic table in the picnic area of a large town park, boasting some 1,500-square acres. The smell of pine trees turned air into a delicacy. Across the way, kids were playing soccer. It was Spring and you could hear the birds.

Sadie had dark hair parted in the middle, a cataract had reached the base of her neck and stayed there.  She continued. “The last man I got serious with had a problem with prenuptial agreements. I need to protect my assets. You can understand that, can’t you?”

“I can, very much so,” Harvey said, and meant. And he did mean it. Yes, he didn’t have any in-depth  knowledge of life story. However, he knew enough about life to recognize and know she’d been deeply wounded along the way. Her instinct to protect herself didn’t come from nowhere.

Harvey looked down, and then back up at Sadie.

“Sadie, how long would you say we’ve known each other?”

“I don’t know. Between phone conversations, texting, in person? Two, three hours maybe?”

“Today is the first day we’ve met face to face, and you’re worrying about prenuptial agreements.”

“No use wasting time.” 

The Healthiest Word

The woman asked me, “Why do you tell people you love them?”

I’d just said, “Love you, brother,” to the man who bagged up some groceries for me. The man always greets me with a smile and a good to see you. I said, “Because that’s how I feel.”
     “But you don’t even know him.” She sounded appalled.
     “I don’t have to know somebody to feel loving towards them.”
     “Nobody ever really feels loving towards someone, unless they know them.”
     “I don’t know what to tell you.”
     “I mean I know when I like somebody, or, sometimes, you know, sometimes you know straight away you don’t like someone.”
     “Hold up.”
     Her head tilts. The movement asks, “What?”
     “How is it knowing you like or don’t like someone without knowing them works, and feeling loving towards someone you don’t know makes no sense to you?”

“It’s two different things.”

He knew the healthiest word and said it. “Okay.”

Two hours later they were out for a walk. A neighbor down the street had a box of puppies out front so they could get some sun. He watched her face light up with joy when she saw the puppies, hurrying over to get a closer look.

“Honey, look! We can adopt one, she said so. Look at them. Don’t you just love them?!”

He knew the healthiest word and said it. “Okay.”

Steven & Kitty (a nugget of fiction)

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Winter.

Nine o’clock Saturday morning. Wind-driven mean cold washed through the streets of Pearl River. Winston’s Newsstand opened at five a.m. Seven days a week Steven Winston opens the shop promptly at five a.m. Steven is twenty-six. He is the fourth-generation owner. His great-great grandfather, Marcus Winston, opened the shop in 1918. After the great war.

Like most places in life, things you could really count on were often in short supply. However, residents of Pearl River could count on Winston’s Newsstand.

Winston’s Newsstand had the best coffee in town. Common knowledge. Marcus Winston used to say: “Life is tough enough. No one should be shorted on a good cup of coffee.”

No one argued.

Steven Winston was a stocky five six, dark chocolate eyes. Wore glasses, a reality he hated. He’d been next in line to run the family store, another reality he hated. It wasn’t that he hated the customers or his family or the store. What he hated was being stuck in Pearl River.

The only good thing about living in Pearl River was he was in love with Kitty Delia and she lived in Pearl River. He’d been in love with Kitty Delia since kindergarten. She was good enough to tolerate him back then. Kitty, with the famous Delia chestnut brown hair, then and now past her shoulders: thick, shiny, glorious waves. Good enough to eat. Her eyes dark, deep-set, glistening. Chocolate brown. Her face a soft oval, her lips, further evidence Michelangelo had ample reason to sculpt the human form. Now, at twenty-six, she was as beautiful as ever. More so in Steven’s eyes.

They had never been an item.

But toleration turned to a real friendship after Kitty’s house caught fire. Kitty was seventeen  and suffered third-degree burns on her left arm. Many neighborhood boys who’d nearly begged for the chance to go out with her disappeared,  some casting petals of pitiable expressions in their wake.

Not so Steven Winston.

He really did love her and care about her and made a point of visiting her in the hospital and when she was recovering at home.

The first time she put on a sleeveless dress after the fire, exposing her badly scarred arm, she called Steven and asked him to please come over. When he got there, she showed him her arm and asked him how she looked.

“Don’t lie to me, Steven. Tell me the truth.”

And he did. He told her the truth. “You look beautiful, Kitty.” He meant it.

“People are going to stare.”

“The hell with’m. Let’m stare. Hell, if those burn patterns were on canvas someone would call it a great abstract painting about the storms of life and pay millions for it!”

She laughed. “You know, you’re right.” She looked at her arm and said: “I name thee, Pompeii.”

He smiled. “You’re beautiful, Kitty.”