She felt somebody looking at her. She scanned the area to see who it was. Their eyes connected. She smiled. He looked at her with an intensity that made her blush. She blinked, breaking eye contact, and turned her head.
In a matter of seconds she had completed a full assessment of him. He was an inch or two taller than her. It was obvious he worked out. She could see the definition of his pectoral muscles through the shirt he was wearing. He was casual but fashionable.
He made his way over to her. Leaning in and whispering in her ear he introduced himself. He td her his name and said he was from Tennesse. She agreed to dance with him. He held her hand and looked into her eyes then led her to the dance floor.
He leaned in again attempting to create an illusion of intimacy in the midst of a crowded dance floor. “Where is your man? I am sure a beautiful woman like you is dating or married.” She responded, “where is your wife? I noticed your wedding ring earlier but I see you have taken it off.”
Lauren was no more than about eight when she learned about this practice. Her best friend told her it would work and if she said so then it was true. She closed her eyes and giggled. She could see his face and laughed at the thought of him running from her as she chased him all over the play ground. As she sat in the middle of the field she picked a flower with lots of petals and began the ritual. As Lauren plucked a petal from the flower she said out loud, “He loves me”, then she pulled another and said “He loves me not”. She continued this pattern of plucking flower petals and reciting the words until she reached the last one, “He loves me not!” She picked up another flower and started again. He just had to love her.
Twenty years later she was sitting in a coffee shop thinking about her fiance Mark. She absent mindedly picked up a flower from the vase in the middle of the table and started plucking the petals and reciting the words. She knew it was a silly game but she continued until the last petal lay on the table, “He loves me not?”
She thought about the six years they had been dating. He was not perfect but then who is? They met her senior year in college. She has just ended a six year relationship year with her high school sweetheart. She was going through a tough time. Jeff had been her world since the end of their sophomore year. She would find herself sitting on a park bench crying. It wasn’t just any bench, it was their bench. At least they claimed it as theirs. It’s where they sat and talked for hours. It served as their dining room table. This bench was where they discussed their futures. It was also the place of their breakup.
As tears slid down her face she had an overwhelming sense of being watched. She raised her head and looked into his eyes. Those eyes were beauitiful, intense, questioning and sympathetic. She tried to smile but according to his version of the story it was more of a painful grimace. He did not say anything that day but he came back a few nights later and gave her a lace handkerchief. He later revealed to her why he brought her the lace handkerchief instead of tissue. He told his mother about her and she said a brokenhearted woman needs permanence in her life, not temporary.
She didn’t believe in things that go bump in the night. But sometimes, when she was home alone, she heard a noise upstairs. It sounded like somebody running from one room to another. That sound gave her chills. She could hear the impression of the feet as they touched the floor above her. The first time it happened she blew it off. But it kept happening. She finally grew curious and brave enough to walk upstairs. Although she was unarmed and ill prepared, she knew it was time to confront her growing fear.