Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Snowy Afternoon

"Is he single?" Mom asked me.
"A widower," I said. "No kids."
I'd come home from work on a snowy afternoon and was sitting at the kitchen table in my house, enjoying a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll with my mom, rolls that she'd just baked.
"You've inquired about him?" she asked.
I hated to admit this. Nearly blushed a little. "A bit. From other neighbors."
Mom said that at the moment Cody was helping the man in question shovel snow. He'd moved into the neighborhood two weeks ago. I'd parked in my garage in the alley and had come in the back door, so I hadn't seen Cody and the new neighbor out front, shoveling."Have you introduced yourself?" Mom asked. "You might like him."
"I've got a great life," I said. "Why should I complicate things?"
"Why have you been asking about him?"
I sighed. "All right, I admit it, I've been curious."
"About time," Mom said. "Cody would love having a dad."
"I know."
Then Mom left, saying she'd see me tomorrow.
Bundled against the cold, I marched outside to see what was up with Cody and our new neighbor. Six inches of fresh snow had fallen today, but the sky was clear now.
What I'd told Mom was true: I had a great life. Though my husband had died in a construction accident three years ago, I was coping. I was on my way to owning my own home, and I had a great job as dental hygienist. Cody was a delightful son, a straight-A student. Again I thought, Why complicate things, Casey? Still, lately...
As I approached, my neighbor muscled a snow blower up and down his drive, and Cody shoveled up the loose snow that fell off the piles. They looked up. "This is my mom," Cody said, beaming.
The man immediately shut down the blower, pulled off his cotton work glove, and extended his hand. I swallowed. He looked my age, thirty-eight. Maybe a little older. He wore no hat. His golden, curly hair fell over his forehead and touched his ears. His smile sparkled like sunlight on fresh snow.
Before I could remove my mitten to shake his hand, our eyes locked. His blue eyes definitely rocked me, and my heart did a crazy flip-flop.
We shook. "Adam Cunningham," he said. But I already knew his name. A neighbor had told me. And that he was an electrical engineer.
"Casey Kingsley," I said. "I hope Cody's not bothering you."
"Not at all. He's a great helper."
Cody piped in: "We're going to finish Mr. Cunningham's drive and sidewalk and then do ours."
"Don't worry," Adam said. "I won't overwork him."
"You come in if you get cold," I told Cody.
Back home, seated at my kitchen table again on this snowy afternoon, I wondered what to think of Adam Cunningham and my reaction to him—my heart flipping-flopping like that.
About a half hour later, Cody stomped into the kitchen through the back door, his cheeks and nose red from the cold. "Mr. Cunningham told me to go in. He'd finish up—I was shivering."
I peered out the front window. Adam had nearly finished my drive.
Cody plucked his stocking cap off his head. "Grandma said when we finished. I should invite Mr. Cunningham in for a cinnamon roll and coffee.  She said, 'Tell him your mom said it was okay.'"
"Grandma said that?" Nice going, Mom!
"I already asked him," Cody said.  Then he added, a little sheepishly: "Um...I told him about Dad."
I nodded silently.
The next time I peered out the window, I saw that my sidewalk and drive were clear of snow, but Adam was nowhere in sight. He'd obviously gone home, ignoring Cody's invitation. My heart sank.
"Call him, Mom."
"He's new in the neighborhood, Cody. His number won't be listed."
And with that I heard a tentative knock at the back door. I opened the door and before me, filling the doorway, smiling handsomely, stood Adam Cunningham.
I swallowed again and invited him in.
"Went home to change clothes," he said. "Everything I had on was full of snow and wet." His chin lifted. He sniffed. "Smells like rolls and coffee."
I asked Adam to sit down, and I told Cody to hang our neighbor's jacket in the closet. The three of us ate, drank, and chatted like old friends. But mainly, Adam rambled on easily about himself: "Got tired of the big city. I like this little town of Walnut Grove. My life has always been—well, complicated..."
My eyebrows lifted. 
I gazed at the handsome man with blue eyes. His life has been complicated, and I've been fearful of complicating mine. Maybe we could work out some kind of an agreement. Meet somewhere in between. Complicated but not so complicated.
I smiled at Cody and asked Adam if he'd like another cup of coffee.