The way she looked at children left no doubt about what she wanted most of all, a child of her own. That dream was transparent to anyone watching, not that many people seemed to watch. You see Cindy seemed to have a way of making herself invisible. Not to me (never to me), but to other people. To me she was always the most obvious thing in the room, there might as well have been a spotlight on her, she was that radiant.
Cindy had a habit of showing up to any event just late enough to avoid any unstructured socializing, and then leaving early enough to avoid the same at the tail end. Or perhaps that isn't true. Perhaps I put that attribute on her too early, simply based on the fact that I can never seem to get as much as a minute alone with her.
In any case Cindy was a bit of an oddity, a somewhat attractive Christian girl who managed to make it all the way to age 25 without getting engaged. The sheer oddity of her availability often served to plant ideas in mind as to why? Was she incredibly picky? Did she have some dark side to her personality that scared men away if they got too close? It certainly wasn't her looks. She was cute in the librarian sort of way, thin, quiet, long red hair, a few freckles and a skin tone that suggests that they multiply during the summer.
It was 8 years ago that I first saw her. I was 17 and she was the girl who worked at the Christian bookstore. I had a minor crush on her even back then. Nothing too major, I would just see her at the store, and hope she would talk to me. That never quite worked out, and at age 19 I joined the Army, but I never forgot about Cindy.
The years passed, Cindy always lingered somewhere in the back of my mind, at the very edge of conscious thought. Every few months or so I would be talking "shop" with the guys, and Cindy would pop into my head, just a tinge of regret about the road not taken. Every few years I would actually see Cindy somewhere, the shopping mall, Mc Donalds, or even in traffic. So I was never quite able to forget her.
As the years passed 17 year old Paige turned into 25 year old Paige. One of my friends started mentioning "Cindy" who they assured me that I would be totally into. I am always intrigued by such statements, so I asked for a few details. Thin, quiet, and red hair, was really the only details that my friend could provide, but that was enough. I had already associated the two Cindys in my mind. A week later I found out that they were one and the same.
We went to a Sunday night after church event at the house of a friend. Cindy showed up 30 seconds before it actually got started. I was relieved in some weird sort of way to see that she was the same Cindy I thought she would be. I felt kind of like I already knew her, when I didn't really. She was mostly quiet, but when she did speak it was something worth hearing. I hung on her every word, and was thoroughly smitten by the end of the evening. She gave me some advice on an issue I brought up to the group, and that was the closest thing to a conversation we have ever had.
The weeks went by and all of a sudden I was 15 years old again. I could not manage to open my mouth to speak to this girl, other than to say "Hello" or "Goodbye" when she showed up at an event (usually arriving late and leaving early). It was a combination of nervousness and dumb luck, and it just kept getting worse and worse. I could not do a thing to break the ice with this girl.
Cindy arrived hours late for Kyle and Whitney's Super Bowl party, and only stayed 20 minutes. She sat right next to me, but then proceeded to alternate speaking with Becky to her right, and making goo goo eyes at baby Tyler who was sprawled out on the floor in front of the television. I sat there laughing at myself for my inability to speak. When she got up to leave she said goodbye quietly to the room. I said goodbye, as did two other people, then something possessed me to say goodbye again as loudly as I could without yelling. That second goodbye finally managed to get her attention. She smiled the biggest smile and shushed me and said "quiet exit", and then left, still smiling.
I somehow thought I would need to hear more, but somehow that was all I needed to hear. My fears and doubts melted with that smile and those two little words. Maybe I'll only get three words out of her next time, maybe four. But I am not going to have any problems speaking to her any more, that much I am certain of.