When she was sixteen, she got a job at the YMCA as a summer camp counselor, and worked with children right out of kindergarten. When she forgot a name, she simply called the child 'sweetheart', and this became a common name for all of her acquaintances as the summer and following school year progressed. It was no longer an issue of remembering a name - it was a word that implied familiarity, friendship, and love to those she called it to.

A week after school started, a boy asked her to a movie, and soon after they became a couple. Of everyone she talked to, she never called him the nickname she so readily gave to others. He grew suspicious and jealous when he noticed her peculiar habit, and the relationship ended unhappily after a few months.

She finished her high school career, graduating with honors, and began college. She still kept the habit of calling others 'sweetheart', but never used the name towards any boy she let kiss her. This strange failing caused concern to several boyfriends, and ended more than one relationship due to the same suspicion and jealousy that ended the first. She did not grow disheartened, but simply went on with her life.

She continued working with children, and any child she cared for loved her in return. Younger children enjoyed being sweethearts, and older children outwardly rolled their eyes, but in truth did not mind.

College ended, and she began work as an elementary school teacher. Every child in her class was a sweetheart, and she loved them no matter their faults. Her boyfriend bestowed upon her a diamond ring, and they wed in summer under an arbor.

One evening her brother, who happened to be in town for the night, stopped by, and the two sat up for hours talking. Her husband did not know this brother very well, and sat in the corner armchair, listening to their conversation, noting that she called the visitor sweetheart, but never said that word to him. After the brother had made his farewells, her husband inquired about this strange habit of hers. She laughed, kissed him on the nose, and answered, "Because I'm in love with you." He did not understand this explanation completely, but grabbed her and kissed her ever so gently on the lips.

A year or so passed. Her husband received a promotion, and was transferred to a town where a boy she had known from high school now resided. They had been the best of friends, and she called him the moment the new house was in order. He asked the two to dinner, but her husband was unable to attend. Her husband waited up for her. He heard a car in the driveway, heard the door open, and his wife say, "Thank you for a wonderful time." She came in the house, her cheeks red and her eyes glittering. Her husband asked if she enjoyed herself, and kissing him on the forehead she answered, "Yes sweetheart, I had a lovely evening."