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Strawberry Bubblegum

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When I met her, I was young and my mind was impressionable. It was summer and she was summer. She wore a flower in her long waves that seemed to resemble the ocean crashing against her dark shoulders. Her dress dusted her thighs and fluttered around her stems like delicate petals. But my favorite thing about her, the first thing I noticed about her, was her laugh.

I first heard it when I was at the general store. I was running errands for my grandmother and perusing the different pain relievers when I heard it. It was boisterous and full, doused with sweet with a snort or two mixed in. the sound made me want to know what was so funny, it made me want to know where it was coming from. I rounded a corner and saw long legs attached to the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. Her body was leaning against the check-out corner and her head was tossed back in deep guffawing. A soft hand was pressed to her chest as she chortled at something Barry, the 60-something shop owner behind the counter, said. I watched her loud laughter reduce to giggles of the adorable kind when Barry noticed me.
“Don’t be a stranger, son! Get on over here!” he motioned me over. The beautiful girl finally looked at me and I saw she had large chocolate eyes that studied me intently for the five longest seconds of my life? What was she looking for? What did she see?
“Hi. What’s your name?” she asked suddenly, snapping me out of my stupor.
“I’m Chance,” I replied nervously with an extended hand.
“Hi Chance,” she said in a sweet, almost musical voice. She shook my hand gingerly and her hands felt like a soft butter.
“Excuse me guys, I have to take a call,” Barry said. I just then heard a phone ringing and realized all my senses had gone numb to everything except her.
“So Chance, whatcha got there?” she asked, nodding at my shopping basket.
“Um nothing…”
“Nothing huh? Well you sure do have a lot of nothing!” She laughed and patted my basket.
“Okay you got me. I have some Fixident, a little Polygrip, and caramel candy, It’s for my grandmother,” I said quickly. She giggled and replied,
“Cute. Here take this.” She dropped some strawberry bubblegum in my basket and I saw she was chewing some herself.
“Why do I need this?” I asked.
“Because for some reason, I want you to remember me,” That was all she said. Then she stood on her tip toes and put her lips on my cheek. She smelled like strawberries and grass and I loved it. I closed my eyes and breathed her in and felt her hands lightly touching my shoulders as she used them for support. She pulled back and bit her lip like she was suppressing the urge to kiss me again.
“Bye Chance. See you around.” She turned and started walking to the door.
“Wait! I didn’t catch your name!” I yelled after her. She paused and called over her shoulder with a wink,
“I didn’t give it.” Then she walked out the door and out my life forever.

I still think about her kiss. I think it was one of those kisses that make people keep searching for love, even if they never find it. In that moment, sealed with a perfect kiss, I swore to never give up looking for love, looking for her, and I never have. To this day, I still go to Barry’s every summer and stand next to the strawberry bubblegum, just in case she shows up and I can finally get her name.



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