Charlie was a good looking boy about fifteen years of age when he noticed a young girl secretively following him to school. She was around nine and just coming out of her tomboy phase. He thought it was amusing the way she hid behind trees and mailboxes while she tagged along behind him. He would flash her one of his legendarily handsome grins when their eyes locked. Shy at first, she became more comfortable by his outwardly gentle kind-heartedness to her.
On his way home from school one glorious spring day, he slipped around the corner of Duncan’s Drugstore and laid in wait for her to follow. She was utterly unprepared to bump into him face to face. When she did, she started crying. Deeply troubled by her reaction, he put his arm around her and offered to buy her an ice-cream soda at the drugstore’s fountain. “Come on inside, Kid. It will make both of us feel better.” Her heart was elated and she quickly got over her childlike distress.
Still being at the edge of her tomboyish nature, she asked him if she could carry his books. Charlie said “Sure Kid that would be swell.” From that day onward she would rush down the three blocks to his street, meeting him at the corner for their walk to school. Grinning as he approached, she would wait for him to hand her his books. Folks in the neighborhood would smile as they saw the two walking down the sidewalk. “There goes Charlie and the Kid”, they would say. She felt so contented to be his friend, secretly dreaming that one day they would marry.
Throughout high school Charlie dated a beautiful girl named Mary. They had even become engaged towards the end of their senior year. Although she was only twelve years old by then, the Kid was not concerned in the least. She knew Charlie belonged to her. She knew it all the way to her toes!
The Vietnam War was winding down when graduation day arrived. As Charlie and Mary were making their wedding plans, his draft number was one of the last to be called. Mary made the decision that they should wait to wed until he returned.
As he was preparing to leave for boot camp, the Kid raced down to his house to give him the four-leafed clover she had found just for him. When she saw Mary kissing Charlie, she tried bravely to hold back the tears that began welling up in her eyes. She had never kissed a boy and here was that girl kissing her Charlie. It took him a few seconds before he noticed her standing there, but when he did, he playfully picked her up by the waist and twirled her around three times. The tears never got to drop because she once again felt the joy from his special attention. She presented him with the gift she had brought him and he said, “Kid, I will treasure this forever” as he slipped the delicate petals into the clear sleeve in his wallet. Mary selfishly pulled him back towards her and began showering him with more kisses.
Three years and eleven days drudged by when she got word from the neighbors that Charlie had been critically wounded and was recovering in a hospital in the North Carolina. She also heard that Mary had gotten tired of waiting and married a boy from Raleigh, but she would wait ‘forever and a day’ because he was her Charlie.
Another year slowly passed and by age sixteen she had blossomed into a ravishing beauty. All the boys wanted to carry her books to school, but she refused any and all offers, even turning down the Varsity football captain’s invitation to the prom. Her heart belonged to Charlie and she was waiting for him.
By the end of August, her faithfulness was rewarded when Charlie came home. She showed up at his door and he was stunned to see the magnificent, butterfly transformation of his young friend. He told her how sorry he was that he had lost her four-leafed clover when his wallet was destroyed on the battlefield. She was just grateful that he had come home. She told him, “I will find you another”. Then, every day of her senior year, he walked her to and from school. Now he carried her books and they always stopped at Duncan’s for an ice cream soda. As they got close to home, the neighbors would smile and say, “There goes Charlie and the Kid”.
June of the following year, Charlie’s physical wounds had healed and his heart bore no scar from the abandonment of his fiancée Mary. In fact, he was thoroughly pleased with the way life had turned his way. He was unable to get down on one knee, but on her graduation day he asked, “Kid, will you marry me?” Her heart soared as her dream was becoming reality. They quickly got married and were soon the parents of a beautiful little girl they named Olivia. Life was so sweet; just as she knew it would be. He was her man and she was his girl.
Within five years, Charlie was left to care for Olivia alone. They had hardly begun their blissful life together when the disease of cancer, which is no respecter of love and happiness, stole his beautiful bride away.
Olivia had started school and now the two of them could be seen walking the same sidewalks that her momma had walked to school with her daddy. He would carry her books and the neighbors would smilingly say “There goes Charlie and the Kid”.
As Charlie and Olivia walked to school on the date that her momma had died a year earlier, Olivia leaned over and picked up a four-leafed clover. “Here, I found this just for you”. Smiling through his tears, he openly said thank you to Olivia and silently to “the Kid”.
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