This is the busiest time of the year for me. I’m a shoe maker and a carpenter. Recently I was given the task of making dress shoes for a six foot two tall woman and as you can imagine, she has a difficult time finding good shoes. Hmm, now that I’m staring at her, I haven’t found many people who can stand toe to toe with me, and especially not a woman.
“How did you hear of me?”
“Oh. My father…said you made some shoes for him in the past.”
“Who’s your father again?”
“Schneider, Schneider…” tapping my index finger against my lips, “now that I think about it, you do resemble your father…your height that is.”
“Yeah, I get that a lot. I can’t say it’s been a picnic living with my height.”
“Be proud of what your father passed on to you. Besides, you’re a beautiful woman. Remember to stand up tall.”
“If I stand any taller, I’ll become a permanent skyscraper.”
“It’s okay. At least you know no one will miss you.”
We carried on small talk until I noted her measurements and assured her that her shoes would be ready in less than three weeks.
“My name is Marlena by the way.”
“Marlena, it was nice to meet you.” I waved and earned a big smile from her.
I spent the rest of the day laying the ground work for Marlena’s shoes coupled with finally piecing together two sets of chairs. The order for Jensen Beagle was almost complete. I hope he likes his dining room furniture.
With the last light switched off, I emerge from my shop and looking up toward the dusky sky. The night is ready to settle in and I shall follow suit. Sliding inside my truck is always an adventure, most days I grunt from over worked muscles or melt into the seat with a sign of relief. Right now it’s too hot and humid to do either. Summer announced it’s presence early this year. This morning I woke up in a sweat soaked t-shirt. Don’t get me wrong, I love Summer but not in combination with humidity. I always feel as if I’m making an atonement for my transgressions.
I shake myself from my ever present thoughts and start on my way home. The breeze feels good against my neck. I notice the tall grass waving at me as I eat up the dirt road. Further down, there are Weeping willows, in a permanent bow waiting for someone to acknowledge it’s presence. I tip my invisible hat to the willows and smile.
The drive home was relaxing because I can hear nature singing it’s song. By the time I approached my house, the sky has turned black velvet with diamond light piercing through.
Slowing my truck to a crawl, I spot an unrecognizable car. It was empty. Finally at a stop, I park my car and hop down to the ground. My eyes spot a silhouette of a person sitting on my porch step. Stepping cautiously as not to scare this stranger, my eyes narrow but can’t identify the stranger.
“Excuse me.” No response was given. “Excuse me,” I say again, “can I help you, are you lost?” Still no response. Next I poke at this person. This stranger was curled up into a ball with his or her head tucked into his or her lap. I get a little closer to gently shake this person awake.
I hear a sigh and a slight yawn. “Excuse me?”
“How can I help you?”
This stranger who’s looking up at me through hazy eyes has shorter hair from when I last saw her, a pixie haircut. Her eyes are as big as a child that was caught with her hand in the cookie jar. They were a warm hazel.
She stood in front of me and stretched, yawned and stretched again to her tip toes with her back slightly arched. I’m in utter amazement, my heart’s pounding like tribal drums against the earth and I think I feel sweat starting to trickle down the back of my neck.
She’s staring at me. Wait, is she smiling or am I imaging things?
“I’m sorry. I don’t usually post up on someone’s porch…I just feel asleep briefly.”
“What are you doing here?” I blurted out as she looked quizzically back at me. “I mean who gave you my address?”
“Ah yes. I was told that you’re a carpenter. I asked Melba for your business card but she didn’t have anymore.”
Melba. Melba is an elderly woman who still works despite the age of eighty-nine. She’s known as the cities nose. If there was some juicy gossip to be found, she can doggedly sniff it down. In this case Melba has done me a fine services for once.
“I see. Yes I am a carpenter, what exactly did you want done?”
“Melba said that you may not have the time to fill another order since you’re backed up with with previous requests.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, my name is Summer Raine and I was looking for some bar stools. I’ve checked around and I’m looking for a certain height that I can’t find in the stores. Say about this high and no more than this width.”
After her miming, he nodded and listened to her final request.
“Well Ms. Summer Raine, I think we can work something out.”
“Really?! Just name your price!”
“Now hold on, I don’t even have the design sketched out.”
“I trust you. Everyone says you’re just that good.”
“I do the best I can. You wouldn’t happen to have a rough sketch of what you want your stools to look like?”
“Well…” she hesitated.
“Well…what?” I teased.
“I have them in my car, but they are horrible drawings.”
“Hey, you’re not backing out on me are you?”
“No! Not at all.”
“Then go grab those sketches and let me take a look at them.”
“I don’t know…”
She started then stopped and looked back at me. I shoo her on and she returns a nervous smile. So this is what her smile looks like up close. Returning with the folder she asked me not to laugh. “I won’t.”
“Do you promise?”
“No.” I wave for her to come closer. “Have a seat on the stairs while I turn on the porch light.”
I come back to sit beside her. She hands me the folder while looking away. I accept and open the folder. I can now feel her eyes burning the right side of my face while I stare down at her drawings trying to keep a straight face. “Don’t you dare!”
I couldn’t help it, these drawings look like something a child could come up with. But they were endearing. Tears dropped from her eyes but this time it was from endless laughter.
And just like that, we happened.