To Love Again
Gloria hurried into the Starbucks and saw her friend already seated with a latte. She waved, then went to the bar to get her coffee. Or maybe she should have tea. Something soothing. Her nerves were all a jangle ever since the visit from Frederick the evening before. She couldn’t wait to tell her friend what he had come for.
She ordered a chamomile tea, and when it was ready, she took the cup and joined Felicia. Early this morning, Gloria had called and asked Felicia to meet her at the coffee shop, tantalizing her by saying she had the most amazing thing to share. Felicia had pleaded for Gloria to tell her straight away, but Gloria put her off, telling her it had to be said face to face.
Now her friend looked over at her, excitement flashing in her eyes. “Okay, now are you going to tell me?”
“This man I know from Sunday school came to visit me last evening.”
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“Frederick. His name is Frederick.”
“Okay.” The look on Felicia’s face clearly indicated she found nothing so amazing about this. “So what did this Frederick have to say?”
“‘I’ve come to court you, Gloria.’”
Felicia stifled a laugh. “Really? That’s what he said? Nobody talks like that now’a days.”
“That’s what I told him.”
“What? Your response was to correct him?”
Gloria sighed. “I didn’t correct him. I merely pointed out that people don’t court these days. According to my grandson people hook up.”
“I’ve heard that, too. Not exactly sure I know what that means.”
“Me either. But maybe we’re better off not knowing.”
Felicia took a sip of her coffee, then asked. “So what did you tell him?”
“I told him I didn’t know. I’d have to think about it.”
“Well, don’t think too long. We’re not teenagers anymore.”
Gloria stirred more sugar into her tea. “What would you do?”
“Don’t put it off on me.” Felicia laughed. “This is a decision you have to make.”
When her Gloria didn’t respond, Felicia got up and went to buy a couple of scones. She brought them back, then sat down, sliding one over to her friend as she asked, “So tell me. How do you feel about this man wanting to court you?”
“I’m not sure.” Gloria carefully broke open the scone and buttered one half. “I like him. He and his late wife were good friends, so I know what kind of a man he is. He was so good to her when she was sick. Then when Ray was dying, he came almost every day to sit with him.”
“He sounds like a terrific guy.”
“Well, yes he is. But we’re old. We’re past the stage of falling in love.”
“Gloria Keith, I can’t believe you said that. You who always lives life to the fullest.”
“This is different.”
Gloria averted her eyes, making a big production out of buttering the second half of her pastry, and Felicia said, “You’re scared, aren’t you.”
“Wouldn’t you be? Ray was the only man I’ve ever loved. The only one I have ever been with. You know, hooked up. What if Frederick wants to… you know.”
Felicia laughed. “It’s only an evening out. And if he was so formal as to say he wants to court you, I doubt he will ask you to go to bed on the first date.”
“Don’t be crass.”
Sometimes Felicia could be a little rough around the edges, but that had always been endearing to Gloria who tended to be a little more refined and genteel. She’d been taught that ladies don’t say bad words or talk openly about what went on between a man and a woman, and Felicia’s openness was sometimes like a breath of fresh air. Despite their differences, a deep bond had formed over the years they’d known each other. That bond had allowed Felica to be crass and Gloria to reprimand her without diminishing the friendship.
“I’ve got an idea,” Gloria said, wiping bits of butter off her fingers with a napkin. “Why don’t you and Dave join us for a dinner? I could cook and invite Frederick over and that way it wouldn’t be like a real date.”
“But what if he wants a real date?” Felicia grinned. “What if he wants to kiss you good night at the end of the evening?”
Gloria’s neck grew warm at the thought. And much to her chagrin, so did another part of her anatomy. “You’re being crass again.”
“No I’m not.” Felicia leaned forward and lowered her voice. “Just think about it for a minute. It’s clear he has some expectations. You just have to decide if you have any as well.”
Gloria folded her napkin into smaller and smaller squares. “I just thought that part of life was over. After Ray… you know. I’m almost 70 for Pete’s sake. I think Frederick is even older.”
“Does that mean you just sit in your rocking chair on the back porch and let the rest of your life just blow on by?”
Gloria tried to find an answer, but words failed her.
“That’s not the Gloria I know,” Felicia said, a bit of a challenge in her tone. “My friend Gloria has never been afraid to jump into a new adventure.”
All the way home, Gloria thought about what Felicia had said. Was it true? Am I just too scared to entertain the idea of a new adventure?
She pulled her little Honda into the detached garage, then walked to her back door. Instead of passing the rocking chair on the back porch, she paused and ran her hand along the back, giving it a gentle push. As the chair slowly rocked back and forth, Gloria wiped her sweating palms on her slacks.
Then she walked into the house. If she didn’t call Frederick right now, she might chicken out.