By Mary Hlebovy
“The chances she’ll remember me are about as great as the Browns having a winning season,” Jason thought.
Their bags turned three-quarters full, then more until nothing but a sea of red was visible.
Jason’s opportunity was up. Chloe regretted her silence.
Movement ensued as volunteers unhooked IV’s, depositing pouches and tidying up the area for the next donors.
As they sat in the recovery area drinking juice and eating Keebler crackers, the space between them widened as others joined and took seats on folding chairs. Jason’s eyes followed toward the flowing curls and addictive green eyes peering through mahogany-framed glasses. Chloe stole glances as often as she could without being conspicuous.
Abruptly, a woman’s voice rang out. “Chloe! Jason!”
Chloe and Jason turned simultaneously in the direction of the voice. Chloe saw Joan, a former coworker, who helped her through a difficult situation at work before Joan retired; Jason saw Joan, a neighbor, whom he not-so-affectionately dubbed “the stalker” for prying into everyone’s business when he was a kid.
Both greeted Joan. Joan, feeling awkward, introduced them to each another.
Jason and Chloe exchanged measured hellos, while their hearts did acrobatics. Joan, saying she had a “youge” agenda for the day, hastily strode across the room and disappeared, leaving Chloe and Jason nowhere to look except into each other’s eyes…
Drip. Drip. Drip
The family of five sat around the kitchen table on a frigid Valentine’s Day. They were enjoying a breakfast of eggs, sausage, and toast before mom and dad embarked on their annual trek to the local elementary school while grandma watched the kids.
“Mommy, tell us again how you and daddy met,” piped up seven-year-old Olivia, the youngest.
She and her brothers, Alexander Brian, 9, and Anthony Bartholomew, 10, leaned in as Chloe recounted the story of how Joan had come in to the room on that February day 13 years ago and introduced her to Jason.
How Jason turned sheepishly red-faced when he asked, “What brings you here?”
To which Chloe responded, as serious as ever, “To give blood.”
How the laughter erupted, first, in little gulps, then louder as chuckles turned into chortles and inhibitions dissolved. Jason thought Chloe had the most beautiful dimples; Chloe went crazy over Jason’s dazzling smile and sculpted jawline.
How, the next week, they met at the local coffee bar, The Coffee Cup, where the talking and laughter continued. Wondering, as words fell like waterfalls over their tongues, how it could have taken them so long to meet.
How, she continued, they shared their first magnificent kiss under the oversized porcelain cup adorning the facade of The Coffee Cup. Alex’s lips curved down in angst at the thought of his parents kissing and Anthony covered his eyes with his hands.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
“Keep going,” urged Olivia.
Jason took Chloe’s place while she went to get ready.
“Mommy and I went on many fabulous dates that year, but we always kept returning to our favorite, The Coffee Cup.
“Then Valentine’s Day came around and we went to give blood together. They hooked mommy’s IV up first.
“This was the part where I was supposed to get down on one knee and fumble for the ring. But, before I could get down, the tears began dripping slowly, then steadily, right on Mommy’s arm. I knew I made the right decision seeing the one I loved most giving her blood to keep a stranger alive.
“To her look of sheer horror, I got down on one knee and pulled the ring out of my coat pocket.
“Mommy’s horror turned to shock and her mouth opened in surprise as I asked her to marry me. Now it was her turn to cry and I was happy to share my tissues with her.
“The nurses and volunteers looked on as we hugged and kissed and hugged some more, tears streaming.”
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Chloe came out of the bedroom and grabbed her coat.
“Grandma’s here. Let’s go.”
“Wait, the story isn’t finished. What did you say, mommy?” queried Olivia.
“Yes,” echoed Alexander Brian in knowing anticipation. “Tell us what you said when dad asked you to marry him.”
“I said, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ and ‘I love you! I love you! I love you!’
And love is why, on a cold February Valentine’s Day, Jason and Chloe join hands once again and walked to the neighborhood elementary school to give blood together.
Drip. Drip. Drip.