Stella LaMont. My first crush; first love. Some forty-one years after I interrupted her eating sushi with friends at Taste of Tokyo, she still digs into my brain. I suppose I don’t mind, though, because I often let my mind indulge in those delectable memories.
I feel the butterflies in my stomach, the same way I did when my macho bravado puffed my chest and told my friends I wasn’t scared of no girl. I was terrified! Led Zeppelin gave me courage. “Stairway to Heaven” playing in the background, I sauntered over to Stella’s table. Her friends giggled at my approach, shaking my nerve.
“Hey,” I said, thumbs hooked in my jeans pockets. “I’m Tommy.”
“I know,” she whispered. “Oh, I’m Stella.”
I knew. “I’m seein’ The Godfather on Friday night. Wanna go?”
“Welllllll…” She glanced at her friends. “I suppose. But my daddy has to meet you first.”
“No problem.” As I turned to shuffle back to my friends, I grinned at the girly squeals behind me.
Little did I know those were the “good ‘ol days” revered by white hairs in rocking chairs. Back then, I thought juggling was figuring out how to be at school enough to stay out of trouble, but not so much that I learned something. My waking moments consisted of concocting some excuse to see Stella. I craved the static electricity that sparked when she leaned on my shoulder at the movies, or when we made out at Dee’s drive-in over burgers and shakes.
My thoughts jolt into the present when my wife shifts on the sofa and rests her head on my lap. Almost in reflex, I caress her shoulder. We’re watching Steel Magnolia’s for the umpteenth time, but it doesn’t matter. All four kids have left home, but our nest doesn’t feel empty.
My gaze rests on Stella. She still has the golden glow I fell in love with all those years ago- the natural kind people wore before cancer fears and the spray tan fad. I brush my thumb over her cheek. Her skin, a thinning map of wrinkles, is a testament to our life together. I smile when I think of how many times she’s accused me of causing them.
“I love you, Stella,” I whisper. A thought flashes in my mind: maybe I’m wrong. These could be the good ‘ol days.
So, here it is: I’m a big fat liar. I posted yesterday and said I wouldn’t post again until Monday because I wouldn’t have computer access this weekend. It’s true that I won’t have PC access, but Susan, over at Polysyllabic Profundities, put up a writing challenge that I couldn’t refuse. (See what I did there? I shifted blame and became the victim. I’m thinking of a career in politics :))
Seriously, I may have a writing challenge addiction, and I haven’t heard of a rehab program for that! If there is one, I should consider checking myself in.
So, the sappy story above was prompted by the following words that we were challenged to include in a story of any length:
- static electricity
- Led Zeppelin
- spray tan
This challenge is open to anyone – so go ahead, write your own story! Just leave Susan a comment with a link to your story so she can mention it in a post with those who tried the challenge.