I stood by my car in my parents’ driveway. I’d just returned from my final year at college. That’s when I saw her. A gorgeous blonde walking toward me on the sidewalk. She turned to follow the path to the house next door. I watched as she opened the door and walked in without pausing or ringing the doorbell.
Mom hadn’t said anything about the Stewarts moving. I searched my memory. The Stewarts had had a daughter … Audrey, Abigail, … Allison, that’s what it was, Allison. But she was a gangly, freckle-faced girl with braces last I’d seen her. That blonde couldn’t be Allison.
I grabbed my suitcase and backpack and strode into the house. “Hey everyone, I’m home!”
Mom came from the kitchen, Dad from the living room, and my younger brother, Tim, bounded down the stairs. I got hugs from everyone and after taking my bags to my room upstairs, Tim helped me bring the rest of the stuff from the car.
“So, little brother, I come home and you’ll soon be leaving for college. You got some big dreams?”
Tim smiled. “Doesn’t everyone have big dreams? I’m headed to the same college you just came from, but I’ll be studying computer technology. I plan to create the best social media ever.”
“Social media? Don’t we have enough of that?” I poked him in the side with my elbow.
“Not like what I’ll create. You just wait and see.”
“Will your social media be able to hook me up with the gorgeous blonde I saw walk into the house next door?”
Tim’s gaze dropped to his feet. “You won’t need any help.”
“Whoa, did I say something wrong? Who is that girl?”
“That’s Allison Stewart, don’t you remember her? And, no you didn’t say anything wrong.” Every word came out monotone.
“That’s really Allison? How did that transformation happen? Whoa, is she your girl?”
“Huh, I wish! She doesn’t have the time of day for me, and yeah, she grew up and the freckles disappeared. The braces came off to reveal a dazzling smile, and she filled out well, didn’t she?”
I grinned and tousled his hair. “Okay, Tim, I’ll stay out of your way. I can see you’re interested in her.”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“Does she have a boyfriend?”
“Not right now. She doesn’t keep a boyfriend long.” Tim looked at me but didn’t say more.
I got settled in my room and enjoyed Mom’s cooking and dinner with the family. It felt good to be home again but I didn’t plan to stay long. With the job I had lined up, I should be able to move out of here for good after the holidays. Maybe not out of the area, just out of my parents’ house.
The following Friday I rang the Stewart’s doorbell. Mrs. Stewart answered.
“Is Allison here?”
“No, she isn’t. She should be back in about an hour. Is there something I can do for you?”
“No. I’m Chad Waters from next door, just returned from college. I saw Allison the day I arrived, and thought I’d stop by and say hi.”
Mrs. Stewart looked me up and down, then closed the door. Had I offended her somehow?
As the time drew nearer for Allison’s return, I went over and sat down in their driveway in front of her dad’s Range Rover. I bet no guy had ever waited for her like this before.
I didn’t have to wait long. I saw Allison coming down the sidewalk, wearing a pair of jeans and an orange t-shirt, her hair, pulled into a ponytail. I could tell the moment she spotted me. Her pace slowed and before getting too close, she called out, “Who are you and what are you doing sitting in our driveway?”
I stood up and smiled at her. “Allison, it’s me, Chad, from next door. I thought I’d see how you’re doing and maybe take you out for a soda or pizza or something.”
She came and stood about three feet away from me. “Chad, is it really you?”
I nodded. She stepped closer then reached out and touched my arm, sending an electrical current up to my shoulder. Then she stepped even closer and put her hand on the side of my face and my heart skipped a beat.
“You’re more handsome than I remember. This must be a dream.”
“I know what you mean. You’re so beautiful … not at all like I remembered you.”
She laughed out loud—a sound like tinkling bells.
Her eyes glistened with unshed tears, and she whispered, “I’ve always dreamed of being your girl.”
Then I kissed her.