A small boy zipped up his wool jacket and made sure a hat covered his ears. He pulled on his gloves, removed the top from his mother’s empty glass canning jar and rushed outside. Below zero, he took a deep breath and blew out, seeing his white breath hanging in the air, quickly moved the wide mouth bottle over it and screwed the top back on. He rushed back in and showed the bottle to his mother, “What do you have in there honey?”
He answered, “December.”
The happy kid, outside again, removed the top of the bottle. The Month drifted out. He thought it best, soon it would be Christmas.
The young woman, a copy editor for a New York publishing house, left work early every Friday and escaped from the Island of Manhattan. Where to? No one knew, except her apartment roommates and a man she never met.
For two months on Friday evenings this man boarded her one-hour shuttle flight from New York to Cape Cod. He neither spoke nor heard a word, yet bonkers about her.
The jet had two seats on either side of the aisle, the flight usually full. The object of the man’s affection always boarded the plane first and selected a window seat. He avoided sitting next to her. Having no idea what he would say, sat in the aisle seat behind her. That way he could see a bit of his sweetheart in the separated space between the seats; the side of her head, adorable. He imagined how sweet it would be nibbling her ear.
During those two months he struggled over what to say if he sat beside her. He spent hours making a list; better be good or it would the end of their romance. After crossing out the insipid remarks the list wasn’t very long, but had to go with it.
His love, boarded sat in the window seat and buckled her belt, every other seat on the plane still vacant. He stood in the aisle and said his first words to her, “Is this seat taken?”
She looked around, “Apparently not,” her first words to him.
He sat in the aisle seat, blurted out, “I like your ear,” regretted it as soon as he said it.
She smiled and said, “What took you so long to sit beside me?” His spirits ballooned. They laughed, ordered cocktails in miniature bottles and received their peanuts.
He said, “I’ll try to be mesmerizing and not bore you. My name is Rick,what is yours and what do you do?”
“Seren, a copy-editor, I paint wildlife on the weekends. Say, you’re not the Rick of ‘Rick’s’ along the shore?”
He said, “Yes, on weekends. On weekdays I’m a statistician for an insurance company. Friday and Saturday nights I spell Sam on the piano and help my partner out. In the near future I’ll devote my full time to the restaurant business.”
She said, “My favorite song is ‘As Time Goes By.’ Can you play it?”
“Yes, you can hear for yourself. Could I pick you up at eight? You can sit beside me at the piano. I’ll play it, with all my soul, just for you. Then, I’ll procure a romantic table with candlelight and a French wine to mellow us out. Live lobster flown in today or we could dine on fresh fish or maybe char broiled filets or all three. After we sip rare liquor and close the gin joint up, I’ll drive you home. If you invited me in to see your paintings, I would go for it.”
She took a business card out of her purse and wrote her home address on the back, said “I’d love to.”
He said, “Seren, maybe someday, a man will come along and you will marry him. He will persuade you to give up your job and concentrate on your wildlife art. He will be around to encourage and love you.”
“Who do you suppose that might be?” she asked.
“I think it should be someone who could play your favorite songs on the piano.”
She replied, “I should hope so.”
Silence, the man didn’t know what to say. In his wildest dreams he could not imagine their conversation going this far. He wasn’t sure, but thought he had proposed to her, positive that wasn’t on his list. Now what? He had talked himself into a corner. He thought of something and wrote a quote on a napkin.
“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” – Ingrid Bergman.
He handed it to her. She read it, smiled, turned her head leaning towards him. He moved forward, kissed her lightly on the lips and nibbled her ear. She rested her hand on the armrest. He covered it with his and closed his eyes. Their nearness provocative, they tried to calm down.
Seren, anxious to tell her roommates, she had fallen in love.
It did not matter to Rick, finding his sweetheart had only one ear.