Spoken in Confidence

My dad had assigned me picket fence duty on Saturday.  This meant that I had to gather up spare pickets and replace ones that had been broken by errant baseballs, various body appendages hitting them, and other methods that forcefully rearranged pickets.

I was busily engaged in this when my next door neighbor, Kathleen, walked over and rested her forearms on the fence.  She and I had been neighbors for a while and, even though we had gone to a couple of movies together, not what you would call ‘an item’.  She was fun to be with though.  But today it appeared she had something on her mind because she had a little frown on her face and took a bit of time to say anything.

“Tom, we’ve been friends for a while haven’t we?”

“Sure Kathleen.  Ever since grade school.  What’s up?”

“Well, I have this problem – er – not really a problem, but something like it.  I really could use some advice.  I need someone to talk to.”

“I’ll help if I can.”

“There’s this guy I know and even though I’ve spoken to him a lot, I just can’t get up the nerve to tell him that I really like him.”

“Do I know him?”

“Yeah, but I’m not going to tell you his name right now but I’m around him almost every day.”

“Okay, go ahead.”

“Go ahead – what?”

“Go ahead and tell him you like him.”

“Well, sometimes I think he might already know, and then other times he doesn’t act like it.  I’m afraid that if I tell him that I like him he won’t like me back.  I don’t know what to do!”  She wailed.

“Well, don’t think like that.  Maybe he really does like you.  You’ll never know unless you tell him will you?”

“But, what’ll I say?”

“Tell him what you’re telling me; that you like him.”

She shuffled her feet a little, dropped her eyes down, and spoke in a small voice “I think I’m in love with him.”

“Ah, that matters a lot.  I’d just go ahead and tell a girl that I loved her I think.  But I can see why you’re worried though.  If he doesn’t say anything, or walks away, that would make you feel really bad wouldn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“On the other hand you’re really cute, nice to be around, and I’d be happy to tell anyone you were my girlfriend.  Go ahead and talk to him – tell him what you just told me,” I repeated.

“So I just go and say ‘hey, I really like you a lot and I hope you like me a lot too.’   Is that about it?

“Yep, just about right.  Now go and say it.”

In an even quieter voice, she said “I already did.”

I opened my mouth several times to speak, but each time I went mute.  I stood, turned to face her fully, and reached out with my hand to tilt her chin up.

“Kathleen, I…I didn’t know.  You’ve been right there in front of me all this time but I just didn’t know.  Maybe I love you too.  Maybe that’s the reason I choke up and get tongue tied around you.  Maybe that’s why my brain turns to jelly and I have to remind myself to breathe.”

She leaned forward over the fence and met me halfway across.  Our lips touched, gently.  We kissed.

“I’m so happy,” she said in a whisper after we came up for air.

“That’s not mending the fence!”  My dad shouted from the kitchen window.

“Yeah, but it beats the hell out of hitting your thumb with a hammer.”  I thought to myself.

T.O.M.

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