by Jeannie Yee Davis
“What would you do if you saw Eddie again?” Ron asked over his shoulder, weaving in with the tourists on the narrow Chinatown sidewalk leading to Plymouth Square. I zig-zagged closely behind, grimaced, and swatted my hand at the cigarette smoke that hung in the air and stank like an ashtray. I hopped around the Chinese gentleman, escaping his next puff and averting sideswiping a grandmother with a toddler on piggyback.
“I haven’t thought that far.” I hollered, catching up to Ron. “Why do you ask?”
“You said Eddie was your teen crush in your story, “Fantasy Lover.” Aren’t you curious what became of him?”
“I know where you’re going with this. I wished for a Hallmark Romance, too, but it’s not going to happen. I’m sure he’s a successful doctor married to that lawyer to make his mother happy and probably left San Francisco,” I shrugged. “Besides, I’m a writer. I’ll make him a character in a novel.”
“He probably moved away,” Ron concurred. “By the way, thanks for inviting me.”
“Thank you for joining me! After three years of widowhood, I’m adjusting—attending events alone, not so much.” I sighed.
“Chinese New Years’ festival is more fun with friends.” Ron smiled, giving me a playful nudge.
“Want to walk around until the concert starts?” I turned to Ron and lost my footing when I felt a jab in my shoulder. Suddenly, strong hands pressed against my arms, stopping my fall.
“Sorry. My fault,” a silky man’s voice flowed from behind. “You okay?”
I inhaled the fresh, sweet laundry scent that sparked a memory. I spun around to quizzical eyes peering at me.
“Do I know you?” he asked. “You look very familiar.”
Just one look into his warm eyes, my heart smiled. I gasped and exclaimed, “Eddie!” His chiseled face and black wavy hair are identical to the snapshot in my memory.
I nodded. Willing my gaping mouth closed. “You remember me?” I lifted my collar cooling the unexpected warmth.
“I…” Eddie uttered when a statuette beauty arrived, slipping her arm around his just as Ron returned.
“Did I hear you say, Eddie?”
“Yes, you did. Ron, this is Eddie,” I cleared my throat. “Eddie, this is my old friend, Ron.”
“Hi, I’m Stella. Eddie’s cousin.”
“Oh, you’re Eddie’s cousin!” I said, beaming a smile. “Nice to meet you, Stella! We’re checking out the booths. You’re welcome to come with.”
“Perfect! My first time here. I’m so excited. Our festival isn’t this big in Boston.” Stella giggled.
“Where in Boston? I’m from Charlestown.” Ron grinned.
“Dorchester.” Stella took Ron’s arm, chattering, and wandered off like old friends.
“We better keep up with them,” Eddie led the way along the narrow street where booths replaced cars for the festival, trailing far behind the Bostonians when we lost them. We ambled along, seizing the moment that led us to Pacific Avenue. “I wonder who lives in my house now?”
“Same here. Strange. You lived at the top, and I at the bottom of this hill but never saw each other until the first day of junior high.”
“Remember the last time we stood at a bus stop?” Eddie tapped his foot at our old bus stop.
“I was 16.” I nodded. “At the streetcar stop where I confessed I was madly in crush with you.”
“About that, I should’ve gotten your number. I’m sorry I didn’t.”
“Really?” I gushed. “But, you didn’t like me.”
“When you approached me, I didn’t remember you…at first.”
“I’m sorry. Is it warm or just me?” I waved, fanning. Three decades later, I’m still embarrassed.
“After we said goodbye, I had this feeling I did know you. One night in a dream, I saw you standing outside your house, and I remembered seeing you before.” Eddie smiled and recited, “‘You had a crush on me since your first day of junior high. I was two years older. Our paths rarely crossed.’ You took the first chance you had to talk to me. I get it. I was flattered.”
“You remember what I told you on the streetcar?”
“I remember everything. I wish I had told you sooner.”
“But, didn’t you marry the lawyer your mother picked?”
“Divorced five years.”
“Don’t be. A lawyer and a cardiologist have very little in common. The divorce was eye-opening. Arranged marriages guarantee a marriage but not love. I had a wife and a great career, but we weren’t happy. Now, I’m in search of that missing element.”
“Love. My turn to confess. I had a crush on you, too. If it’s not too late, I am hoping we could get together sometime.”
“I’d love that!” My heart danced.
“Oh, good. I’m going to do it right this time. Can I have your number?”