Poetry

Chicken Soup Home Delivery

 Chicken Soup Home Delivery

Appointment with Love
Six minutes to six, said the great round clock over
the information booth in Grand Central Station. The
tall young Army lieutenant who had just come from the
direction of the tracks lifted his sunburned face, and
his eyes narrowed to note the exact time. His heart
was pounding with a beat that shocked him because he
could not control it. In six minutes, he would see the
woman who had filled such a special place in his life
for the past 13 months, the woman he had never seen,
yet whose written words had been with him and
sustained him unfailingly.

He placed himself as close as he could to the
information booth, just beyond the ring of people
besieging the clerks...

Lieutenant Blandford remembered one night in
particular, the worst of the fighting, when his plane
had been caught in the midst of a pack of Zeros. He
had seen the grinning face of one of the enemy pilots.


In one of his letters, he had confessed to her that he
often felt fear, and only a few days before this
battle, he had received her answer: "Of course you
fear...all brave men do. Didn't King David know fear?
That's why he wrote the 23rd Psalm. Next time you
doubt yourself, I want you to hear my voice reciting
to you: 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art
with me.'" And he had remembered; he had heard her
imagined voice, and it had renewed his strength and
skill.

Now he was going to hear her real voice. Four minutes
to six. His face grew sharp.

Under the immense, starred roof, people were walking
fast, like threads of color being woven into a gray
web. A girl passed close to him, and Lieutenant
Blandford started. She was wearing a red flower in her
suit lapel, but it was a crimson sweet pea, not the
little red rose they had agreed upon. Besides, this
girl was too young, about 18, whereas Hollis Meynell
had frankly told him she was 30. "Well, what of it?"
he had answered. "I'm 32." He was 29.

His mind went back to that book - the book the Lord
Himself must have put into his hands out of the
hundreds of Army library books sent to the Florida
training camp. Of Human Bondage, it was; and
throughout the book were notes in a woman's writing.
He had always hated that writing-in-habit, but these
remarks were different. He had never believed that a
woman could see into a man's heart so tenderly, so
understandingly. Her name was on the bookplate: Hollis
Meynell. He had got hold of a New York City telephone
book and found her address. He had written, she had
answered. Next day he had been shipped out, but they
had gone on writing.

For 13 months, she had faithfully replied, and more
than replied. When his letters did not arrive she
wrote anyway, and now he believed he loved her, and
she loved him.

But she had refused all his pleas to send him her
photograph. That seemed rather bad, of course. But she
had explained: "If your feeling for me has any
reality, any honest basis, what I look like won't
matter. Suppose I'm beautiful. I'd always be haunted
by the feeling that you had been taking a chance on
just that, and that kind of love would disgust me.
Suppose I'm plain (and you must admit that this is
more likely). Then I'd always fear that you were going
on writing to me only because you were lonely and had
no one else. No, don't ask for my picture. When you
come to New York, you shall see me and then you shall
make your decision. Remember, both of us are free to
stop or to go on after that - whichever we choose..."

One minute to six - he pulled hard on a cigarette.

Then Lieutenant Blandford's heart leaped higher than
his plane had ever done.

A young woman was coming toward him. Her figure was
long and slim; her blond hair lay back in curls from
her delicate ears. Her eyes were blue as flowers, her
lips and chin had a gentle firmness. In her pale green
suit, she was like springtime come alive.

He started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice
that she was wearing no rose, and as he moved, a
small, provocative smile curved her lips.

"Going my way, soldier?" she murmured.

Uncontrollably, he made one step closer to her. Then
he saw Hollis Meynell.

She was standing almost directly behind the girl, a
woman well past 40, her graying hair tucked under a
worn hat. She was more than plump; her thick-ankled
feet were thrust into low-heeled shoes. But she wore a
red rose in the rumpled lapel of her brown coat.

The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away.

Blandford felt as though he were being split in two,
so keen was his desire to follow the girl, yet so deep
was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly
companioned and upheld his own; and there she stood.
Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible; he could
see that now. Her gray eyes had a warm, kindly
twinkle.

Lieutenant Blandford did not hesitate. His fingers
gripped the small worn, blue leather copy of Of Human
Bondage, which was to identify him to her. This would
not be love, but it would be something precious,
something perhaps even rarer than love - a friendship
for which he had been and must ever be grateful.

He squared his broad shoulders, saluted and held the
book out toward the woman, although even while he
spoke he felt shocked by the bitterness of his
disappointment.

"I'm Lieutenant John Blandford, and you - you are Miss
Meynell. I'm so glad you could meet me. May...may I
take you to dinner?"

The woman's face broadened in a tolerant smile. "I
don't know what this is all about, son," she answered.
"That young lady in the green suit - the one who just
went by - begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And
she said that if you asked me to go out with you, I
should tell you that she's waiting for you in that big
restaurant across the street. She said it was some
kind of a test. I've got two boys with Uncle Sam
myself, so I didn't mind to oblige you."


By Sulamith Ish-Kishor

This is a sweet story that I recieved via e-mail. Hope you
like it. Lonely Navy wife, Lydia Adams

contributed by "*Lydia*"