The year was 1961. Sarah Tate was entering the 9th grade. She wore a red, cream, and teal plaid skirt with an aqua Peter Pan collared shirt, teal cardigan, matching knee socks, and crimson loafers. Her hair was shoulder length with a swoop bang and slightly flipped on the ends. She was nervous because this would be her first day of high school. As she looked around, it appeared that the summer had been good to most of her female peers. At the sight, she clasped her books to her chest to keep anyone from noticing her lack of development.
Even some of the boys sprang up like bamboo shoots. In fact, one boy in particular looked very different from his junior high days. Is it? Could it be? Nah, it can’t be. But it was – Pete Wilfred. He wore a navy blue, orange, and white striped button-up shirt with navy pants and brown Hushpuppies. Sarah stared too long and ended up being hit in the face with a spit wad by one of the school misfits.
Breaking the gaze, she held her head down and quickly walked to her locker. She turned the dial three times to the left. Then two to the right. And lastly one to the left. When she jerked the handle, nothing happened. She proceeded through the same steps and received the same results. Then an arm came from behind her and pounded on the locker door with a firm fist. The locker opened. When Sarah turned to thank her victor she realized it was Pete. With a shyness in her body language, she looked up to thanked Pete. And Pete returned the sentiment with a smile and “No problem!”. As Pete walked away, Sarah couldn’t help but stare again. This time, Pete looked back and saw her. She wasn’t expecting that. How embarrassing.
During first period math, Sarah took a seat towards the front of the class. In her junior high days, she was called “smarty pants” or the “teacher’s pet” for such moves. She didn’t care. She wanted to get good grades and sitting in front helped her to achieve that. While students filed into the room, Sarah skimmed her textbook. Then came the voice. “Hi again!”
When Sarah looked up, she saw it was Pete. “Hhh-hi” she managed to stutter out.
Pete proceeded to a desk in the back of the room. Sarah feeling the back of her neck run hot, now found herself wishing she had chosen a different seat. Throughout the class she felt self-conscious. She wouldn’t raise her hand to answer questions. She was too afraid that she would sound dumb. Sarah possessed this kind of demeanor through the first couple weeks of school, until Pete broke the ice.
It happened on a cool autumn afternoon. Sarah had stayed after soon to help one of her teachers. She sat on the schoolhouse steps reading while she waited for her mother to pick her up. Pete walked over and sat next to her. If Sarah had seen him coming, she would have run. Who’s she kidding. She would have frozen in place.
Pete began asking about Sarah’s reading preference and then making small talk about the weather. Sarah’s answers were short and she rarely made eye contact. Then silence. Sarah wasn’t sure what to do, and Pete didn’t know what else to say. Little did Sarah know that he was just as nervous about her as she was him. But Pete manned up and asked Sarah if she’d like to eat lunch together the following day. About this time, Sarah’s mother arrived. As she rose to leave, she responded to Pete with a , “Sure!”.
After Sarah and her mother were out of sight, Pete jumped up from his cement seat, and then began to strut like a peacock – all with a huge grin on his face.
The day of reckoning had come. The bell rang to signal the end of 3rd period – which meant the beginning of lunchtime for Sarah and Pete. Sarah ran to her locker to put away her books, then to the bathroom to check out her appearance. She decided not to enter after puffs of smoke met her nose in the hallway. Oh well, she’d have to take her chance. She smoothed her hand over her hair and straightened her clothes. She tried to look as cool as a cucumber on the outside, but internally her stomach and nerves were moving like a roller coaster.
In contrast, Pete was hold up in the boys bathroom. He used his black plastic comb to make sure the hairs were in place. His friends teased him and questioned the all-of-a-sudden concern for how he looked. His only response was that he was meeting someone for lunch. More teasing came from the other boys. Pete tried to remain cool and undisturbed in physical appearance. However, inside he felt like his internal organs were doing flips like acrobats at the circus.
Pete arrived at the cafeteria first. He thought he’d wait for Sarah, and then the two could go through the lunch line together. When Sarah came in sight, it was like everything began to move in slow motion. The only person Pete saw was Sarah. Sarah in turn looked around for Pete, but then she caught his eyes and it was like the fourth of July. She no longer felt nervous, but rather excitement and admiration like nothing before. She smiled and waved. Pete rushed over to her.
“Hi Sarah! You look nice today.”
With a hidden blush, “Thank you. You do too.”
After a brief uncomfortable silence, Sarah gazed towards the lunch line. Pete took the hint and then escorted her.
During lunch, Pete and Sarah started out talking about school – which teachers they liked and which were a snore. They transitioned into hobbies, and then onto television shows they liked. Sarah loved The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as well as American Bandstand, but had to sneak to watch the latter at her aunt’s house. Pete, on the other hand, loved watching Daniel Boone and Rin Tin Tin. The conversation went on and on until the final bell rang for lunch. Where did the time go?
From that day forward, Pete and Sarah became inseparable. They held hands walking to class (that is, until teachers told them to part). Their first kiss was shared under the oak tree next to the town library. They were good for each other. Pete was a go-getter while Sarah had smarts. Sarah helped Pete with difficult school work. Pete would reaffirm her with encouragement. Their parents weren’t too keen about them becoming serious so quickly and so young. However, they grew to accept it, and were not surprised when the two wed shortly after high school graduation.
The first year of marriage was bliss. Sarah loved turning the tiny apartment into a glorious home. Everything was in one room, but the way Sarah situated the furnishings, you’d think it was a four room mansion.
Pete worked for the local grocery store during high school and continued after graduation. He was now a junior manager. He loved this position, but had set his sights on owning the store someday. Every time the thought filled his mind, his heart leapt with glee.
Sarah was so proud of him. Considering the discouragement his father had placed at his feet during childhood, Pete accomplished more than he or his father ever imagined. Pete had never told anyone about the things that happened back then – except Sarah. He could trust her. And she in turn would offset the negative things that his father tried to implant. Pete vowed that he would never treat his own children this way. He’d get the chance to put intentions into action when Sarah announced her first pregnancy.
As the baby grew inside, Pete would take every opportunity to say something encouraging to Sarah’s stomach. The couple was so happy. Not just because of the baby, but because of each other. When most little girls dreamed of Prince Charming, Sarah often thought she wasn’t good enough to have someone like that. Yet and still her Prince Charming found her in 9th grade and the love continued well beyond.
XOXO, Melanie Dawnn
Photos: Solitary Spinster, JillMarieMasibag Copyright © 2013-2014 ✽ All Rights Reserved