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… She didn’t know how … or even if she could, overcome her shyness in order to let him know how she felt.  So, for years they continued their distant relationship; attracted to each other but unable to show their feelings.

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While she cried he luxuriated in holding her close. When it seemed the tears had drained out of her … at least temporarily, he offered to buy her a Coke downtown.

She closed her eyes and nodded her head.

They walked west on the sidewalk her arm curled through his, her body pressed against his left side to absorb his heat her head resting on his left shoulder.

A block later he glanced to the right as they crossed Mackinaw Street bordering the east side of the athletic field, his house two blocks away at the end of the street wondering if his parents were still fighting.

They continued walking west on the sidewalk parallel to the south end of the field.

The northern breeze gusted against his shoulder. The rustle of fallen autumn leaves sounded like dry hands rubbing against each other.   The tops of the trees swayed in the breeze.

What few remaining leaves still present were being stripped away to join others lying flat against the ground, tumbling across yards, or skittering across the streets to gather along the gutters no longer single parts of the whole lush, green canopy working together through Spring and Summer converting sun’s light into sweet sap to be stored below ground during the nap of winter; the bright light of summer that dappled the sidewalks and streets from one end of the little town to the other having slowly disappeared with the change of seasons.

continued …

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