How do you know if love is real?

Faye and Gerald Crawford find their way into any old-fashioned drugstores they can find. That's where memories were made.
Faye and Gerald Crawford find their way into any old-fashioned drugstores they can find. That’s where memories were made.

AND THIS is how love begins.

There’s a boy with a job.

A boy behind the counter of a downtown drugstore.

A boy making cherry phosphate sodas.

A boy simply waiting for quitting time.

He has nothing else on his mind.

Just the clock.

And another cherry phosphate soda.

And here comes a girl.

Caught in another Alabama summer.

She doesn’t dare want anyone to see her sweat.

Hiding from the heat.

Looking for something cold to drink.

The boy sees her walk past.

He hopes she will come back.

He smiled when she does.

A Coke, she says.

Put a cherry in it, she says.

I want it Cold, she says

Lots of ice.

“What’s your name?” he asks.

She frowns.

She looks away.

Her name is none of his business, she thinks.

“Mine’s Gerald,” he says

He hands her a Coke.

Lots of ice.

A cherry on top.

It is a good day to be working, he thinks.

The drugstore is empty.

Save for two.

A boy.

And a girl.

She sure is pretty, he thinks.

He keeps smiling.

He sure is obnoxious, she thinks.

But she smiles back.

This is Alabama.

This is the South.

This is what girls are supposed to do.

And that’s how love begins.

The days pass.

The weeks slip by.

He only asks her two questions.

“What’s your name?”

It takes her long time to tell him.

And, “Will you marry me?’

She thinks it over.

She is far too young to get married, she knows

She looks him over.

He’s just a kid.

He’s just a kid in a drug store.

He doesn’t even work for tips.

What kind future cab he give her?

“Cherry phosphate sodas,” he says.

It’s not much, she thinks.

It’s enough, she decides.

“I will,” she says.

Love comes in many forms.

Love comes in many disguises.

Sometimes it’s a whim.

Sometimes it strikes like lightning.

Sometimes it’s only a storm that moves on past.

But, sometimes, love is real.

You always know when it is.

Real love tastes like cherry phosphate sodas.

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