I remember the first time I met Laura. How could I not, her presence being so deeply seared into my psyche?
I was leaving Shaws when a powerful force hit me like a gust of wind or beam of sunlight through the clouds. Turning I saw the slight wisp of a woman with oversized eyes shining at me. She smiled, her eyes flashing her joy. For a moment she filled my universe.
Mr. Saunders, an older neighbor I’d gotten to know since I moved to town the year before, greeted me, “Hi Jim! You haven’t met my daughter Laura, have you? This is her husband, Mark and that’s little Sarah.” Truthfully, I hadn’t even noticed the man nor the child in the stroller, only Laura.
I waved at cute Sarah and shook Mark’s hand. He greeted me with a funny grin.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Laura said as I took her proffered hand. I made the mistake of looking into her eyes. They were a bright, electric blue, the type of eyes that saw things mine couldn’t, magnets that promised me the secret to life.
I started to drown in the depths of Laura’s wonderful eyes when I was saved by Mr. Saunders’ voice, “Hey Jim, we’re having a little get-together Friday before Laura and Mark return to California on Saturday. Can you stop by about seven?”
I said I’d love to then bid my farewells to the group. Mr. Saunders nodded agreeably. Mark looked at me with pity, the pity one might feel for a rat being placed into a boa’s cage. I waved again at Sarah and she flashed me with eyes just like her mothers’. Laura’s eyes smiled at me with a cat-like hunger. I felt them burn their way into my soul. I was smitten.
On Friday I tried to avoid both alcohol and Laura. Despite my best efforts I was in her bed by nine. I remember looking over at her in rapture. She lay facing me, her eyes almost glowing with triumphant and a satisfied grin on her face. I suggested getting up to rejoin the party before we were missed. She purred that I should go ahead, that she’d come down later.
I could feel her eyes on me as I clumsily dressed. I was doubly embarrassed as I realized I’d made love to my neighbor’s daughter under his roof while he entertained a houseful of guests. I heard a sound and almost died when I realized Sarah was sleeping in the corner of the bedroom. At least I hope she was sleeping.
I slipped out of the room and bumped into Mark. I tripped over an attempted apology. “Hey, don’t be sorry,” he said. “I’m not the victim here.” He smiled that smile full of pity. “You have to understand, she’s a force of nature, like a thunderstorm rolling across the Great Plains. Nobody can predict her, let alone control or possess her. Hers is a storm that hides a deadly tornado. If you’re lucky you’ll remember the power and beauty of the lightning dancing on the prairie. If you’re unlucky you’ll become another statistic. Who knows which? Not I. Actually, I kind of like you and hope she just blows you by.” He laughed as he turned to go down the stairs.
I left the house, shaking.
For months, perhaps years, every time I was attracted to a woman I felt Laura’s eyes on me, frowning in disapproval. She inhabited my dreams and stalked my waking hours. I was haunted, the eyes always on my mind.
Slowly she faded, almost forgotten several years later when I met and fell in love with Kathy.
In the six years since the party I haven’t seen Laura. Not until today, the “happiest day of my life”.
As we stood at the alter saying our “I do’s” I felt Laura’s eyes on my back. When Kathy and I were presented to the congregation I could see her in the back row. Her eyes were full of love and hate, hurt and betrayal. She turned them towards Kathy. I couldn’t read the emotion, but I could feel it streaking across the room like lightning. I shuddered as we passed that last pew on the way out.
Now Kathy sleeps the sleep of innocence by my side while I wait for the eye of the storm, for the twister to strike. I have visions of Laura’s eyes on my brain, Laura’s stormy eyes.