When It All Happened

April 4, 2011
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When Terry was seven, he saw an angel.
Now his mother insisted that angels lived in heaven and not across the street, and his older sister told him, “Angels have to have golden hair, Dummy!” But Terry never believed them because he’d already made up his mind and it was set in stone now.
Besides with a name like Madeline Grace, you had to be at least part angel.

When Madeline was six, she took her first nervous steps into kindergarten. Eyes bulging from her skull, she stood petrified as her mother left the room. The noise was deafening to her.
Madeline slowly turned towards the voice, which had come from a scrawny, pale boy with limp, golden curls. The first thing she noticed was that his smile was crooked and the first thing she said was, “Yes?”
“Would you like to play dress up with me?” The strange boy asked. Madeline’s eyes got even wider.
“Dress up?”
The boy shrugged. “Isn’t that what girls play?”
Madeline finally smiled, a bit bashfully, and said, “I don’t know, but I want to play legos.”
The small pale boy with the crooked grin smiled.

When Terry was ten, he watched the other boys ride their two wheel bikes and longingly looked at his training wheels. They’d all been taught by their fathers to ride, but Terry’s never left the office. Let alone taught him anything.
Terry leaned against the garage door and sighed.

When Madeline was nine, she taught Terry how to ride a two wheeler even though she’d only just learned herself.
“Now just hold onto the handle bars and I’ll hold the seat, okay?”
“I don’t know about this Madeline, it looks kind of–”
“Oh come on Terry, you got to learn someday.”
“I know that, but this is–”
They started off down the street, the bike wiggling between them.
“Why aren’t you holding it straight?”
“I’m trying!”
“Well we’re going to crash.”
“Let me get off!”
“Keep trying, you can do this.”
“No I can’t–AH!”
Madeline stood over the heap of bike and boy, hands on her hips, and asked, “Why’d you stop peddling?”
“You didn’t see the parked car ahead of us?”
She looked over at the Sedan, sitting four feet in front of them.
“Oh,” She smiled bashfully. “Sorry.”

When Terry was thirteen, he was the smallest kid in his class. Even smaller than the girls. So of course, it was the year he was bullied the most and the year he first saw Madeline hit someone.
She punched and got punched herself, defending his honor to the end. Or at least till the school officer broke up the fight. When Terry tried apologizing, she put her arm around his shoulder, bent down to look him in the eyes and said, “Terry, I would take a dozen more hits if they were for my best friend.”
It was the first time she’d called him her best friend.

When Madeline was fourteen, she went on her first date with a junior from high school.
It all went horribly wrong.
It was also the first time she cried into Terry’s shoulder, after the boy had ditched her at the movies. After Terry had biked all the way there to pick her up and let her ride home on his handle bars.
He made her laugh when he rolled his eyes, after she mentioned his two wheel bike, and said, “I’ll never live that down.”

When Terry was fifteen, he kissed a girl for the first time. It was with Florence Catch, from Madeline’s grade, one below his. He had been sweating like crazy and when he bent down to kiss her, knocked her glasses off and caught his lip on her braces.
Madeline had tried not to laugh when he told her, but she had insisted she couldn’t help it. It was too funny.

When Madeline turned fifteen, that was the summer Terry went away and she waited anxiously for his return in the fall. Nothing seemed quite normal or the same without him there. She couldn’t even bike to Pop’s Ice Cream Parlor without thinking of and missing him.
However, that was the fall when Terry surprised Madeline by growing seven inches and thickening out quite a bit. He insisted he was the same guy despite his now five-ten, broad, muscle toned frame but for some reason she couldn’t look past it.
His curls weren’t even limp anymore.
“What on earth did they do to you there?” She asked him.

When Terry was seventeen, he got in his first real fight. He couldn’t help it, it was Madeline after all, and when he saw her boyfriend sucking the face off of some other girl, he lost it.
When he got home that evening, two hours late, she was there with his mother, both worried sick. Her horrified face and pestering questions at the sight of his own bruised and bleeding one, made him snap more sharply than usual.
“Why don’t you pick your boyfriends a bit more carefully?”
Her wounded expression made him almost regret having to tell her, but he did.
He knew, even as she cleaned his face off with a washcloth, that she was trying not to cry. His mother scurried out of the room, probably to tell his father, and that’s when Madeline broke down.
As always though, Terry was there for her, pulling her into his arms and holding her close, as she cried into his shoulder.
When Madeline was seventeen, she finally got to be strong for Terry, and not in the physical way. She sat through his graduation with him, squeezing his clenched hand in encouragement, even though she knew his dad wouldn’t show. Just like he didn’t for the swim meets or the debate team, or anything else Terry did.
So she stayed with him as he finally got his diploma, even though now he was determined to throw it all away.
She never had expected him to join the military or for that matter, make the cut.

When Terry was nineteen, he took a short leave of absence from his training at Fort Hood and journeyed home for Madeline’s graduation. And just like she’d done for him, he sat with her and held her clenched hand. He knew her father would have been there if he could have. It hadn’t been a choice like his.

When Madeline was nineteen, she stood in the airport and hugged Terry goodbye, waiting patiently with his girlfriend until his plain was in the sky.
The girl began to sob as it leapt into the air.
“Come now,” Madeline chided softly. “Don’t start that again. He’ll be fine.”
“No he won’t!” The girl sobbed louder, drawing spectators. “He’s going to die!”
Madeline rolled her eyes, hiding her own worry, and lead the girl back out to the car.
Then took her out for caffeine and reminiscing, while her heart slowly began to ache.

When Terry was twenty-one, he was wounded in combat and sent home for good. He was still bandaged up when he walked through the airport gate, hobbling on his injured leg. A smile grew on his face when Madeline ran up and nearly tackled him into a hug.
This time, she was alone, but for Terry it was enough.

When Madeline was twenty-three, she finished college and moved to New York City.
“But it’s so far away. Why do you want to leave Texas anyway?”
“Terry, come on,” She said, filling her suit case with more clothes and he laid lounged on her bed. “I can’t stay here forever. I got to spread my wings and fly!”
She laughed and made him laugh.
“But you’re leaving everyone else in the dust. Including me.”
“Then come with me.” Her answer didn’t surprise Terry, she’d already asked him once.
And he hated himself for answering the same way again. “I can’t.”
This time, he was the one watching her plain take off and wondering whether she’d be okay.

When Terry was twenty-five, Madeline moved to Austin, where he was finishing college. Late but at least not never. After he’d helped her move into her apartment, they went for a stroll on the streets.
It was one of those magical nights, where you just know something wonderfully shocking is going to happen. And it did.
Terry kissed Madeline, without even thinking, and they both bashfully smiled.
Then avoided each other for a solid week.

When Madeline was twenty-six, Terry proposed to her, abruptly and without warning. They’d only been dating about a year and a half.
She was frozen in shock, sitting on a park bench over looking the river. Terry was kneeling in front of her, one hand holding a tiny black box, a smile on his face.
And all she could think of to say was, “Why?”

When Terry was twenty-seven, Madeline finally asked him the question he had been dying to answer his whole life.
“Because you’re my angel.”

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softballfreak42 said...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm
AWWWWWW so sweet! I loved it! =D
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