A Belated Valentine's Story

  • I thought of someone today. Someone I hadn't thought of in a while. I don't know where they are right now, but I hope they are doing okay. We weren't exactly close, but we were school mates. Its amazing how despite never having anything in common, rarely hanging out except when we had the same class, and rarely talking to each other, you will always have a lifelong connection to your classmates.

    Well, I don't have very many particular memories about this one, but he stands out. The first time that I ever really paid attention to him was in 4th period physical science class my junior year, sixteen years old, when he randomly sat at my table and told me I had a pretty smile. I don't remember much of anything else that was said. I just remembered how I felt when he said that. Well, I do remember one other thing. He said that I should smile more often.

    And you know what? At that moment, I remembered that he had a wonderful smile too, and from that point on, whenever he was in the room, I wanted to be where ever I could see his smile, even if he was never going to say a single word to me that day.

    I had a crush on someone else at the time, but after that compliment, I suddenly felt drawn to him. I was too shy to say anything, and he was already dating one of my good friends who happened to be in that same 4th period class, so I just sat back and held on to every word he said. Despite having a good auditory memory, can't recall any specific conversations, but I did pick up on his personality. I realized that if I couldn't be his girlfriend, then I at least wanted to know him and catch that smile every chance I could get.

    On senior day, when the seniors had a big gathering in the cafeteria, everyone was signing books, taking videos, and taking pictures. I think the end of my senior year was the only time in my entire life I was ever a shutter bug. Guess who I managed to get a couple of pictures with? That's right. Mr. Wonderful Smile and sweet, frumpy me. No matter how nicely I dressed, my unruly hair always made me look that way, as did my little round chin.

    Eleven years later, during a particularly hard time in my life, I saw him again. I was working in a home decor shop and had a gentlemen in fatigues and cap come up to me and ask me about bed sheets while I was stocking sheet sets in the middle of a narrow isle. I recognized his smile immediately before he even said a word, and I won't deny that my heart jumped. I probably was also thinking at that moment thank goodness my hair was neatly put away in a little pink plaid work scarf. I did not make any indication that I knew him, but I gave him my best smile. It wasn't the fake kind I often gave to customers, but the genuine kind that you gave someone you loved.

    I don't know if he knew the difference, but we had a very short yet pleasant conversation about thread count, telling him that we only carried up to 400 hundred. He mentioned at the end in a very amusing tone that he liked to spoil himself, before thanking me and walking off to look at shower curtains. I don't know if I got the rest of those sheets on the shelf, but I soon found myself peeking around the shelves to get another look at him, hoping to catch the name on his clothes. I was debating whether I should say something and continued to watch from afar for about ten minutes or so. I think it was ten minutes. It felt like forever.

    Then he was heading towards the door. My friend who was working on the computer at the check out area told him to have a good day, and I just had to speak up. I can replay the little scene that happened afterward over and over, though I could not recall all the words. He did recognized me. He asked me if I was married, and I remember going down on my knees near some boxes that held more sheets, pretending that was on the floor just to open them, saying no like two or three times and asking the same question. He wasn't. He asked about how I was doing. I gave him only the briefest description, mentioning that my mom had died a little over two years ago at the time. He said he was sorry to hear that. Somewhere in there we told my friend that we went to school together.

    I had gotten back up at some point, goodbyes were said, and as soon as he went out the door, my friend said he was very cute. My reaction was a definite 'Oh, yes' as I looked to the floor trying to find something to do. She caught the tone in my voice and had to ask if I had a crush on him. I told her I did, but was always dating someone else. That was all there was to it.

    I tried to contact him again on Facebook. I managed to get my friend request accepted, but I never got any response. Then he dropped out of sight again. I think it was because he was in the army and probably had no time to keep up with the sight. Chances are, he's probably out fighting somewhere even now, a little over two years later. Judging from what I could gather from his page before he disappeared was that he was family oriented and close to God. A few more details that I could put into his puzzle that were missing before, things that as teenagers you did not talk much about unless you were really close.

    There was only one disturbing thing that I found out during all those conversations in 4th period. He had boldly proclaimed that he wanted to 'die in battle'. It was a silly notion at the time, but now it scares me. Is this why he was in the army and never married? He was a football player and was always in shape, so I thought it was just him being a bit of a macho man. That was the only thing that was cocky about him. Now I hope that it really was just a joke.

    I found that picture I took of us a short while ago. I was cleaning things out and rearranging my room to get my mind off of being unemployed, and found stacks of photos from my last couple years of high school. There were so many that I could only give them a quick look, laugh, and move on. I had pictures of the other guy that I had a crush on who is married and has a kid now and another guy that I knew since middle school who for some reason kept popping up everywhere after high school. We even went to the same college. He was nice but too cocky for my taste. Those two guys are easily accessible on the net and so is another guy from college who managed to break my heart even after I had decided that relationship between us would never work. He had too many issues going on, so I kept my feelings to myself. There was even one more guy from college who I had fallen the hardest for. It was so bad that one time when he smiled as he walked passed, I actually ran into a door frame. Alas, we were also never meant to be. He was already taken during those four years we went to school together and is now married with a child.

    But now, the one I want to talk to is out of reach. I want to tell him how much it made me happy to hear him say I had a pretty smile. I should have said something when he walked into that store, it was the perfect moment, but I was still just too shy and had someone watching. I've had so many issues in my life that got in the way of it, especially when I was a withdrawn sixteen year old. The others I mentioned and a few more that happened in between were always unreachable too, always taken or interested in someone else. I've come to call this my curse. The one time I had a real chance was blown before I realized there was probably not going to be any more chances.

    I never got the chance to ask for advice from Mom before she died. I was just starting to get comfortable with the idea when she suddenly passed away. She got to watch and give advice to my little sister who had a particularly serious relationship in high school while I was off at college. She also helped my sister with the breakup. I wanted that. I was too uncomfortable with the idea at the time, but now I realized what an opportunity I had missed with my mother as well. Nobody knew me like she did, and now she's gone. I can't even tell her about the man I'm thinking about right now. I can't ask her what to do and tell her how he makes me feel. I can't replace her, and I can't find him.

    My life is so filled with countless stops and starts, that it would probably take the rest of my life to type out everything and have it make any sort of sense, even to me. I'm currently in the biggest rut of my life, surviving on borrowed time. I feel like my wings are broken, and now that I've waited too long, there won't be anyone I cant trust enough to help me fix them. I've been told that love is patient and kind. I'm familiar with that entire Bible verse. Ever read Shakespeare's Sonnet 116? I've made a collage of it for my senior English class. I still have it here, sitting near my bed waiting to be either hung on the wall or put away. But these two beautifully written pieces of poetry continue to escape me in real life. I've got a wonderful piece of fan fiction I'm currently writing for one of my favorite TV series where I've thrown together many wonderful romantic scenes between my favorite couples amongst their adventures, but I've seen the failures of my own love life and the love lives of others seeping heavily into their relationships. Yet where these character at least get a chance to be together before things fall apart, I never got to even take a single step alongside anyone one I've fallen for.

    The comment he made about my smile is probably about as far as we'll ever go. He's found his place in the world. A dangerous place I rather he not go. He has a very sacrificial streak in him for sure, willing even to die for one's family and country. I wonder if ever thought of me the way I think of him now. I wonder if I'll ever see him alive again in this lifetime. If I do, I know exactly what I'll say, no matter who's watching. Then I'll tell him he has wonderful smile too.

    If that's all I accomplish in my life, then I will die happy.


  • may the words in your heart happen, really a very touching story, and beautiful,

    thank u for sharing,

    i am sixty five and in all my years, i know we all have someone who has touch our souls, even with just three words,

    bless you,


  • thank you for sharing joylily, it was a wonderful way to bring back memories:)

  • Thanks, you two. Yes, it was a wonderful way to bring memories back. I was just going to leave a note on another thread I had started, and it just came pouring out. We don't often realize it, but we do touch a lot of people with a simple word. Ever heard of the book Five People You Meet in Heaven? I watched a movie adaptation of it several times, and I cried each time. It deals with this very concept. I was thinking of that movie the whole time I wrote this.


  • That is a really beautiful story of you and him JoyLily. You write straight from your heart. I hope so much you get to see him again... we do meet special people in our lives that live with us forever I think... you will certainly see him again. Thanks for sharing a beautiful part of your life like that...

    blessings, astra

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