His name was Willard Snyder, and he lived in a rundown old house on 32 Plantar Street. How coincidental that the school he taught at was just two blocks away. So for the last twenty years, he would walk the two blocks from Plantar Street onto Main Avenue with a sort of grim smile as he paced. He was used to this transition from home to work every day, except, of course, Saturdays and Sundays. He evaluated life as a mere transition. However, he believed in nothing. He was a science man, of course. He taught Physics at Widdleton High.
However, on this particular day at seven twenty in the morning, Willard was late. Clouds were forming outside of his window and rain was a most definite possibility. He normally arrived at school around seven yet in the search for his charcoal umbrella he had lost twenty minutes, still unable to find the cursed umbrella. Strange enough, this little mishap would change his entire outlook on this day, the twelfth of November, and every day for the rest of his life.
Mr. Snyder was a tad overweight from an addiction to Hostess Twinkies. He had a whole stock load back in his cupboard at home. Let us just say he had enough to last him through the apocalypse. Besides being pleasantly plump, as Willard believed he was, Willard was short. He was so short and stout that he resembled the lower half of a tree, a trunk to be precise. He even had dark brown eyes resembling the color of a Hemlock. And as if his name wasn't repulsive enough, Willard carried along with his stocky frame quite a mark, a mole, to be exact. This mole was below the right corner of his nose, bulging and colossal. And to be honest, it left everyone who saw it with a feeling only a fraction short of abhorrence… but not of Willard, no, only the atrocity above his upper lip. However, Willard paid no mind to the passerby people who occasionally gawked at him on his way to school. He knew the mole was not so welcoming but honestly, neither was he.
He was so unwelcoming, that he had started a routine for his every day. Instead of attending faculty parties or watching a game at the local bar, Willard sat alone in a room of off-white colored walls. In this room, was a single chair, wooden and desolated. Every night, after eating his dinner, he retired to the chair with a folder of the day's homework assignments. There, he would check them, correct them, make notes in the margins, etcetera. What would make this strange is the mere fact that there was only a chair in the room: no table, no pictures, no nothing. Willard liked it like this. He convinced himself, it was easier to clean, which he did frequently, yet in reality, he couldn't keep the real reason from entering his thoughts every time he had walked into the room.
His wife had loved this room. It was painted her favorite shade of blue once, a light cobalt. Yet he had found it reminded him of her so he had stripped the walls of all joy and left them cold and bare. It was the same for the rest of the house but for this room in particular. It was her sitting room. She had loved to knit and sew. He would walk home from the school and find her sitting here, in this exact chair, rocking back and forth, sewing. She listened to a lot of Mozart and Beethoven while she knitted. He could still hear her humming their symphonies. And it forever plagued him, the symphony of what was her life.
He had never been able to throw away that rocking chair though. It had a strange way of always coming back to him. He would set it out on his porch to remind himself to break it down and burn it. Yet every time he saw the wooden rocking chair, he would stand mortified at the thought of burning her and he was compelled to return it to the rocking room. That was what he had called it. He would call it, Dorothea's room, but it was too hard mentioning her name.
It was strange how he had rid himself of all aspects of her except for the chair. And even then, when one would think he would never want to be reminded, he still sat in the chair every night for one sole purpose only, to remember her. He didn't want to think of her all the time; he just didn't want to forget her either. She was the reason why he was still living yet now that she was gone, he convinced himself he was living for her memory although it hurt all too much. It was what she would have wanted he knew this. It was just hard to live without her and still have her symphony playing endlessly in his thoughts.
He had found himself thinking of her while walking sole against sidewalk. He had missed her. It had been a long time since he had gone to see her. And I should, he thought to himself.
Yet on this day, Willard acquired the company of one so unexpected he couldn't help but to be dumbfounded in her presence. He was walking as usual to Widdleton High, except for the fact that he was twenty minutes late, when he brushed up against something below his eye-sight. Next to him, in a light flamingo pink tutu, was a girl of what seemed to be seven years of age with a paper bag lunch and a Dora the Explorer backpack slung over her left shoulder.
He looked at her, puzzled; not only by her choice of attire but also that she was standing, waiting for her bus, in the middle of a crosswalk. She didn't even look up when he had bumped into her. Instead, she kept her eyes straight ahead, scanning the horizon for that monstrous yellow monster that dragged her to a dungeon until three o'clock in the afternoon.
"Are you aware you are standing in the middle of a crosswalk?" he asked lightly, trying to be as caring as a kindergarten teacher.
She didn't answer instead she kept her eyes ahead still awaiting her doom.
He tried again.
"Are you aware you are wearing a pink tutu?"
She still left him with no reply. In this minute of absolute eerie silence, he considered just going about his way and leaving her standing in the middle of a crosswalk… until she got run over by a car. As soon as the picture materialized, Willard shook his head abruptly. No, of course not. He would not leave her standing in the middle of the crosswalk. It just wasn't safe.
Yet as he went on conflicting and constructing a way to get her back on the sidewalk, a tiny, mouse-like voice interrupted his train of thought.
"If you expect me to answer, you could try not being so austere," she said loudly.
Willard stood mortified. A seven year-old girl was scolding him. It seemed so absurd and strangely enough, Willard let out a chuckle.
"I'm sorry, I wasn't aware I was speaking to you thus. Please receive my apology, Miss..." he inquired.
He smiled, "Pleased to meet you. I'm…"
He looked at her puzzled, quite intrigued by her already astounding presentation.
She looked up at him with her big baby blue eyes.
"You teach my sister, Heather."
He paused, drifting back to his classroom. He did in fact teach Heather Reed. A smart and charming girl, Heather was often quiet and sat in the back of the classroom.
"That I do."
A few moments passed between them, leaving Willard a bit out of sorts. He was frazzled about being so late but he hated the idea of just leaving her there. Yet, it was obvious she had waited for the bus before so it couldn't be too harmful to go about his way… now was it?
"Well… I better be…"
"I hate school. There really is no point for it. I've learned everything there is to know already!"
He sighed; he had heard this argument so many times before.
"What is the product of five hundred thousand multiplied by two hundred?"
She looked at him puzzled, "Huh?"
He chuckled and let out another sigh from his lungs.
"Ten hundred million," he replied while guiding her to the sidewalk.
"Oh who cares? I doubt I'll ever have to use that number in my life. People rarely make over two million in their entire lives."
He paused, contemplating her response. Of course, she was right.
"That may be but what if you want to be a mathematician when you are older?" he asked.
She shook her head, "No, thank you! I am fine without my millions."
"Then what do you want to do with your life? Dance?"
She laughed, hesitantly, "For now."
"Is that why you're wearing the tutu? Do you have class today?" he asked.
She raised an eyebrow, "I don't have class today. I'm just wearing it because I want to. Why aren't you wearing a tie? Afraid someone will strangle you?"
He looked down to his shirt. He was so engrossed in his search for the umbrella that he must have forgotten his tie, which he now realized was still on his pillow.
He chuckled, "Something like that."
A few moments passed between them while they waited for her bus. He was glad that he had brought her to the sidewalk for now cars were whooshing past them in a colorful daze.
"What is that under your nose?" she asked curiously.
She pointed to the monstrous mole.
"It's a mole. I was born with it," he replied, smiling.
She paused, as though contemplating something and then said, "No, I think you're wrong."
"Am I wrong?" he questioned.
"Yes, I think you're very wrong. It's an angel kiss."
She looked up at him again, her blue eyes widened as did her smile.
She hesitated, as though thinking he was slow, "It… is… an… angel… kiss."
He laughed at her. Her naïve and badgering humor was so compelling and full with audacity.
"I heard you, Miss Reed."
She smiled again and ruffled her curly ginger red hair. The vivaciousness it held as it bounced on her shoulder made Willard cringe. His hair, in comparison, was straight, straw-like both in color and texture, dull, bland, blah; any possible word for boring. He almost envied the girl for having such a head of hair his had started to abandon him near the top corners of facial palette.
"Obviously you didn't… like now, you're not listening, really, more like dosing off…"
He turned in her direction, "I'm sorry. What were you saying?"
She stomped her foot across the yellow white dash on the pavement.
"No. You didn't want to listen...," she repined.
He knelt down, "Oh but I do. I really do! Please tell me!"
He knew this always worked with children. They needed to feel appreciated, adored even. Like a little turpentine god, she worked her mysterious voodoo over him.
He begged a few moments more until she had finally given in to his pleas. Her face was filled with empowerment and joy. It was becoming more and more obvious that she would grow up to be some world-renown actress.
"Okay, I'll tell you. My mother says that angel kisses are special and only some people have them. Since you have one, you must've been kissed a lot."
"An angel must have come down from heaven when you were a baby. She said, 'Others might be mean to you or don't notice you as they should but that's just because they don't know how it feels to be blessed."
He paused, laughing inside at the thought of an angel kissing him. She must have noticed because the corners of her face had turned upside down into a full-on frown.
He sighed and scratched his head. The bus had just started to turn around the corner.
"I don't know. I'm very doubtful that an angel kissed me."
She looked up, teary eyed, "Well, you shouldn't. It's true!"
He smiled reluctantly.
"And how do you know? You're what, seven? You haven't seen the world. There are other stories out there that might make more sense than an angel kissing me…"
His tone wasn't meant to be hurtful but he could tell that he did. Her little button nose scrunched, nostrils flared. However, when she stomped her feet in reply, it wasn't that she was mad at him. No, she was rather proud.
"My mother told me so. So it has to be true."
"And where is she now? Why isn't she here waiting for the bus with you?"
She approached the bus, her backpack swinging lightly, hair caught in the breeze.
Yet she did not speak. Instead, she walked to the back of the bus and pulled down a window.
"She's in heaven!" she called out, face reddened with joy.
It was such a picture, watching little Miss. Reed ride away with the big yellow monster, except he was sure that she didn't think it such a monster anymore. And for him, he felt a new hold. Perhaps it was Dorothea; perhaps it was not. Either way, something had changed within him, a smile forming from the corners of his mouth.
He looked up to the sky and watched it pour. Little droplets of heaven splashed upon his face and he was left feeling nothing short of blessed.