This was the girl of his dreams.
Yes, Jason had just met her that night at the IHOP out by the highway, but her smile had encouraged him to flirt with her a bit. When she left the check, she had written across the back “Thanks, Sheri,” with a heart for a dot over the i. This was a sure sign that she liked him, and Jason remained seated long enough to ask for one more glass of water, and to inquire what time she got off work. Sheri told him midnight and he asked her if she would like to take a walk.
“Aww, that’s sweet, but I’ve been on my feet for eight hours.”
With a little persistence and the promise of a full moon, Jason won the day and here they were walking through the middle of the town in which they lived. He reached for her hand, but smiled and thought better of it. She laughed when he related a joke that he had seen in an old Andy Hardy movie:
“Polly Benedict says to Andy, ‘What’s cookin?’ and Andy says, ‘Chicken. Wanna neck?’”
They argued playfully about the merits of modern country music.
“Destiny can be cruel,” said Jason, loud enough to rouse a mockingbird who joined the discussion until they were well beyond the tree where he had slumbered. Upon this interruption, Jason softened his voice.
The mockingbird notwithstanding, it was a very quiet night. Nothing much stayed open in town past midnight even on a Saturday night. A few patrons at Gus and Isham’s Tavern were lining up for last call, the laughter spilling out of the open doorway at the end of the block. Neon signs here and there flashed “Closed”; otherwise, all was still save for the footsteps.
Jason and Sheri turned the corner and strolled down the next block, a street lined with old trees and small homes. Jason realized that he was slowly leading them towards his house, and that could be problematic. In no way did he want to make her uncomfortable by being too forward. He didn’t want to scare her off, but he didn’t want to let her go either, and so they just kept walking, a bit more slowly now while Jason tried to figure out what he should do.
“Wonder where they’re going at this hour?” asked Jason as a couple in a black Corolla drove past. He often wondered about things like that. When he was out on one of his midnight walks and saw a light on in someone’s house he wondered why they were up. Insomnia? Sick child? Old movie on television from which they just couldn’t tear themselves away? He was delighted to find that Sheri wondered such things, too, and he marveled that he could feel so close to someone so quickly.
They talked about this and that until, finally, they reached the little walk that led up the steps to his front porch. Jason paused. The moonlight filtered through the leaves on the maple trees casting dancing little shadows on the walk as the breeze stirred them about.
Jason looked up at the moon as he fished his keys out of his pocket.
“Well,” he said. “I guess I’ll see you in my dreams.”
The leaves waved, but the moon responded not at all.