This story is based on the life of my wonderful grandmother, and amazing grandfather. May he rest...
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MORE THAN A WALK
“Duane LaMar Meacham,” the military captain read.
“Well, I guess I should be going now,” Duane said. “Bye mom. Bye dad.” His mom stood up wiping away her tears and wrapped her son in a tight hug and whispered in his ear.
“Bye Duane, come home safe,” she said. He returned her hug and then turned to his dad.
“Ummm, bye dad.”
“I’m proud of you.” Then he couldn’t contain himself anymore, and hugged his son.
“I love you, son. You know that, right?” he asked.
“Yes, dad, of coarse I know that.”
“Don’t you ever forget it.”
“I won’t I promise. I love you too father.”\
“Alright,” Duane’s dad held him at arms length, his hands resting on Duane’s shoulders, his eyes sweeping over him. “You’ll do well out there Duane. Goodbye.”
“Bye dad,” he looked over his dad’s shoulder and met his moms blue eyes, shimmering with tears. “Bye mom, I love you.” With that, Duane turned to join the rest of the people he would be working with in repairing all the battle equipment for the marines in the Korean War.
Duane worked in the maintenance force for about two years, and then finally returned home, only to head off to college.
“Fransiska,” the principle spoke in a serious tone. “Since your grades here are so high, we have no more to offer you here, thus, the administration and I have come to the conclusion that you are going to skip your senior year of high school next year, and go straight to college.” Fransiska beamed with joy.
“Thank you! Thank you so much!”
Fransiska rushed through the college hallway, her books pressed up against her chest, and her head bent down. She turned a corner and ran right into the most handsome boy she had ever seen. Her books clattered to the ground, bringing her back to sanity.
“S---sorry,” she stuttered. She was lost in his beautiful sea green eyes. As he bent down to pick up Fransiska’s books, his wavy, dark brown hair fell over his eyes, casting a shadow across his angled face.
“It’s my fault. I should have been watching where I was going,” the boy said. He looked like he was in his twenties. “Name’s Duane, by the way.” He extended his hand out to Fransiska, she shook it. His hands were rough and callused, like someone who did a lot of fixing.
“Fransiska,” she replied. Duane held onto Fransiska’s small delicate hand, a second longer than necessary, then turned and rushed off down the hall.
Fransiska walked into the dining hall, sat at her favorite seat tucked away in a corner by the window, and pulled out her homework. A few minutes later she was interrupted by a familiar, deep, male voice. His voice made her feel like she was laying on a warm sandy beach, soaking up the sun, and letting the ocean trickle over her fingers.
“Can I sit here?” he asked, she looked up and saw the angled face that complimented his soothing voice. Duane.
“Oh, yeah. Ummm, sure, yeah of course,” she blurted out. He smiled. Oh, if she thought his voice could light up the room, his smile melted her soul.
From that day on Duane always sat there with her for lunch.
One day while Duane was eating, and Fransiska was studying, Duane asked her this, “So, ummmm, are you---I was wondering---If you don’t want to, wow, I’m bad at this. Ummm.” He reached up and stretched out his collar. “Do you want to go out to a ball, I got these two tickets to it? If you don’t want to I can give them to someone else,” he quickly finished. Fransiska’s heart leapt, she could feel the blood rise up into her cheeks, she hoped he wouldn’t notice.
“YES! Yes, yes, of course!” she was practically exploding with joy, Duane instantly relaxed. She was going to a ball!
“Okay, sounds good. I’ll pick you up around 6 tomorrow?”
“Okay.” Fransiska could barley contain herself.
“Okay.” At that, Duane got up and left, Fransiska sat there giddy with a feeling of warmth, a feeling she had never felt so strong before. She felt a new longing.
Elise was studying Fransiska’s hair, deep in thought. Then suddenly her face lit up. “I’ve got it!” she exclaimed. Elise was Fransiska’s roommate, and her best friend. She started putting Fransiska’s long dark hair up into hot rollers.
“I can’t believe he asked me out, Elise!” Fransiska was squirming with joy.
“Yeah, now quit moving,” she demanded. “While the hot rollers are doing their work, I’m going to busy myself with your make up.” She applied dark eyeliner and fussed over which shade of eye shadow to use, she decided on a soft blueish silver, to bring out the silver gray, in Fransiska’s eyes. Then she finished with a rosy lipstick and began to remove the rollers. When they were out, Fransiskas hair fell down her back and shoulders in tumbling curls. Then taking a silver and gold barrette, she took a loose piece of Fransiska’s bangs, and clipped them back into place.
“Perfect.” She said, as she let Fransiska turn to look at herself in the mirror. Fransiska was speechless.
“I know, I’m a genius. You didn’t know you could look this hot did you?” Fransiska had to admit, she really did look good.
“You are amazing,” Fransiska whispered.
“Go on, I know you’re dying to get into that blue dress I bought you.”
“Thank you so much!” With that Fransiska hopped off her chair and raced over to the closet pulling out a long sparkly blue dress, it was sleeveless, with a silver jacket to be worn over it. Fransiska undressed and slipped the dress over her head, careful not to mess up Elise’s art, and twirled in a circle, her head tilted backward and her arms out to the sides. Then there was a knock at the door, Fransiska opened it, grinning. Duane’s reaction was perfect. His jaw dropped, then he just smiled and held out his arm to her. Man, if she thought Duane was stunning in jeans, and a T-shirt, Duane in a tux, made her go weak in the knees. She linked arms with him, glancing over her shoulder to Elise, Elise gave her a thumbs up and shut the door.
“You look amazing,” he said.
They walked into the ball room. There were big chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling---they looked like they were crying crystals--- and people dancing on the dark, wood floor. Fransiska and Duane went to join them. Duane put Fransiska’s hands around his neck and placed his hands on the small of Fransiska’s back. She carefully laid her head against his chest, it was ripped with hard muscles, and Duane put his chin on the top of her head. They stayed there swaying to the slow music for a few hours, but to the two of them it seemed only a few minutes. After a while, Fransiska broke apart, and grabbed his hand firmly and guided him outside.
“Where are we going?” he asked, a small smile hinting at the corners of his mouth.
“It was getting hot in there, let’s just go for a walk.”
“Okay.” He laced his fingers through hers and they walked away from the building, and down a path. There were trees along the edges of the path leading to a small white bridge crossing a river, the moon reflected off the water, casting a glow across the bridge. They stopped on top of the bridge and gazed over the side into the dark water.
“This is so pretty,” Fransiska noted.
“Yes. Now, don’t make fun of me for saying this, because I may lose any of my masculine credit by saying this, but I don’t know how tonight could get any better,” Duane said.
“I do,” Fransiska said. And with that she pressed her lips firmly against his. He kissed her back, his lips melting into hers. He was kissing her so deeply that she felt her heart fill with light, and her knees turn to rubber.
“Wow,” Duane murmured without taking his mouth off hers.
“Mmm,” Fransiska answered. Finally she broke the kiss but kept her face only inches apart from his. She had her hand on his chest, and she could feel his heart racing. He was breathing deeply. “I’m sorry,” she apologized.
“Don’t be.” Then they were no inches apart, and they were kissing again.