March 7th, 2016

A Moment of Anxiety

By: Jennifer Kent

As we drive towards the work site I am so nervous that she will think this is a stupid surprise.  I know that’s silly because she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body but I want her to really like this.  It means a lot to me and it’s important that she understands that.

Pulling me out of my musings she asks, “So will you give me just one little hint?” When I look over at her she is giving me an adorable puppy dog face.  I thought her smile blew me away but her cute factor might just push me over the edge.

Picking up her hand I kiss the back of it, give her a smile then answer, “Nice try, sweetheart.”

I can feel her still staring at me so when we stop at a red light I look over and, damn if I thought her puppy dog face did me in, her pout makes me want to kiss her right here and now.  Her perfect mouth is so enticing with her bottom lip pushed out.  “Not fair.” I say with a laugh as I reach over and run my thumb over that bottom lip.  Lost in the moment I jump when the car behind us beeps.

She giggles as I start to drive again and I try for a disapproving look but fail miserably.  “Stop trying to confuse me with your cuteness into telling you. It won’t work.”

Feigning innocence she smothers her smile, presses her hands to her chest and says, “Me? I would never do such a thing.” Then shrugging she adds, “But thanks for the tip.”

Narrowing my eyes as I glance at her I ask, “What tip?”

“That you can be confused and eventually persuaded into giving in to me. I’ll keep that information locked away for when I want to use it against you.” She says completely straight faced as she stares straight out the windshield.

“Huh, Well then. I’ll have to remember that. And pay better attention to find out similar dirt on you.” When she looks over at me with a sweet smile I wiggle my eyebrows her way.

Shaking her head and giving me a pitying look she merely says, “You never tip your hand Landon. Now I’ll just be extra careful.”

Laughing because I’ve never seen this side of her and love that she seems to be more and more comfortable with me as time goes on I make a mental note to quiz Gram but simply say, “We’ll see.” Noticing we are getting close I add, “We’re almost there. Will you close your eyes or me?”

She does so immediately and says, “I’m really excited.”

As we pull into the parking lot I send up a silent prayer that I am not about to blow my first attempt at surprising her.  She had said to me that she wanted to see what exactly I did and this idea came to me right away.  Hopefully that instinct will prove a good one.

As we pull to a stop she asks, “Can I open my eyes yet?”

“Not yet. Let me help you out and get you to the perfect spot.” I say as I climb out of the car to open her door.  When she gets out I walk her to the middle of the lot, the best vantage point to see the whole place.

Standing behind her I put my hands on her shoulders and lean in to whisper in her ear, “Okay, open you eyes.”

I watch her and the expression on her face makes my heart feel like it was going to explode out of my chest.  I can tell she knows exactly what this place is.  Turning into my arms she hugs me and says, “You designed this, didn’t you?”

I know now I never should have doubted her.  “This was the first blueprint I created when I was working towards my Master’s degree. My favorite professor who I took many classes with introduced me to this real estate developer.  He thought along the same lines as me. He wanted to build a plaza that offered commercial space that wasn’t so commercially. But he was sick of the cookie cutter molds that everyone offered him. He loved my idea to add in the apartments”

Standing here with her is almost like seeing the place for the first time.  All commercial space now-a-days is so cold and uninviting so I wanted this place to entice people.  I loved the idea of adding apartments and having stores that put forth a more homey feel.  There is a frozen yogurt place, a small mom and pop convenient store and a 50’s style burger joint going in so far.  There are five store fronts total and I wanted them all to be small businesses not any big conglomerate.

After examining everything for a few minutes she finally turns back to me and says, “It’s amazing. It already feels so comfortable. I love the wood paneling and porch type entry ways. Almost like a throw back to an old country store.”

“That’s exactly what I was going for. On the second level there will be five apartments, a laundry room and a gym. When it’s all done there will be a gate with a key pass to get up to the residential area. We wouldn’t want any riff raff getting up there to use the gym.” I tease with a smile.

“It’s really beautiful. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done.” That more than anything else puts me completely at ease because she not only likes my surprise but hints to the future.

After telling her the stores that already signed leases to open up shop here I ask her, “You wanna know the first business to come check us out and sign a lease?”

Looking a little skeptical but still smiling she nods and says, “Yeah.”

“A comic book store.” Not looking surprised as I thought she would she looks from the building to me then bursts out laughing.  I give her a second to regain her composure before looping my arms around her waist and whisper, “And do you want to know what I’m hoping will take up the last store front?”

Tilting her head to one side she asks, “What?”

“A book store with a coffee shop.”

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It Happens Every Night

By: Tony Wassom

It was such a pretty day, and I remember it so clearly. Well, not clearly: the sun was glaring off the windshield but only when it made its way through the morning fog.  Mom pulled into a parking spot and I jumped out to go with her. I always loved going into the bank. We walked up to the doors, right next to the entrance to the mall.

“That looks like a giant snowflake!” I said, to her.

“That’s what it is. You are so smart!” She always loved making me feel special. “The bank is called Winters’ Bank and that snowflake is their symbol.”

We made our way through the glass doors and into the lobby. The only people there were behind the counter, counting money. Mom walked over to the table sticking out of the wall and started writing on papers she pulled from her purse.

“What are you writing?”

“This is called a deposit,” she was so happy to help me learn. “You want to watch?”

I nodded, and she picked me up and sat me on the table next to her papers. When she finished, she kissed me on the cheek and headed to the counter.

“I’ll be right back. You stay right here on this table so you can see me.”

She walked over to the rope maze and made her way toward the counter.

Then, I heard what sounded like a fire truck. The alarm blared and there was a red light spinning on the wall just above where I was sitting. When I looked back to mom, there were people everywhere. The lobby was full of strangers, and more strangers were coming in the door and getting in line. There were so many people I couldn’t see her, anymore.

“Mommy!” I yelled, but she didn’t answer.

“MOMMY!”   I screamed…

That’s where I wake up, every time.

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