by Dawn DeBraal
I left my grandparent's house at the end of summer in 1962, saying goodbye to my best friend, Amy Violetti. She was a beautiful girl with long blond hair, brown eyes. When she smiled, the biggest set of braces intertwined with multi-colored rubber bands that I had ever seen. As we hugged each other goodbye, I could feel my heart, breaking. That summer, I honestly thought I was in love.
Amy and I wrote to one another. She dotted her "i’s," with hearts. Twice a week, I would get a letter from her. Immediately, I wrote back to her. I didn't want to look desperate, so I always waited for Amy to write to me first.
She told me about school life, home, her friend Sheila, trying out for the cheer-leading squad. I told her about making the basketball team that I had grown two inches in three months, about my friends, my classes at school and how much I missed her.
One day the letters stopped. I don't know the date that happened, only that I remember Amy missing a week. The following week, I didn't get a letter from her either. By the third week, I wondered if I should break my rule of not being the first to write. It had been a while since I'd heard from her. When my grandparents called my folks, they handed the phone to me telling me to make it quick it was long distance, and those calls were expensive.
"Hi, Grandma, Grandpa. I just wanted to let you know that I miss you. Say, have you heard from Amy Violetti?" Grandma gave me the crushing news, the Violettis had moved out of the area, and Amy didn't live next door anymore. I told Grandma I loved her again, holding back tears when I handed the phone to my mom.
I couldn't believe Amy would move and not tell me about it. My heart was broken. I sat in my room for weeks. Mom and Dad tried to get me to eat because I stopped doing that too—my grades slid.
When my parents asked if I wanted to spend the summer with my grandparents, I told them no. My grandparents were sad, but now that I was fifteen, it was to be expected, I was old enough to stay home on my own.
I managed to move on with my life. I had a brief courtship with Wendy Ames. I think I just liked the fact that Wendy had blond hair and braces. She was nothing like Amy though.
When school ended that summer, my grandpa had a stroke. He was expected to make a full recovery. My mom insisted that I spend the summer with my grandparents to help them out. Now that I had a driver's license, I would be allowed to take my grandparents' car, drive them to doctor appointments, run errands, mow the lawn, and, take them for groceries. So, I agreed. My breakup with Wendy was still fresh, but not raw by any means. She was a girl I liked but didn't love.
When I got to my grandparents' house, I was shocked at what a year had done to age them. I had forgotten when you are on the downhill side it goes faster. Grandma was pretty good yet, but Grandpa wasn't the same. I didn't think I could forgive myself for staying away for so long.
I never dared to ask Grandma if she found out where Amy Violetti had moved. It was foolish to think at fourteen I'd found the love of my life, but that was the way I felt.
"Grandma, I'm going to the malt shop," I called out as I left after mowing their lawn. I needed to get away. I was not the best caregiver. I took the old Buick out for a ride finding myself pulling into Leon's ice cream shop, a place where Amy and I used to go. The neon Leon sign was the same; nothing had changed. I ordered my regular medium chocolate malt, extra thick with two straws.
I was lost in thought, thinking about what had transpired over the last two years—feeling a little sorry for myself, when I felt the table bump. I looked up to give the person a scowl for disturbing my thoughts, and there she was, Amy Violetti.
"Amy!" I was shocked. "Why did you stop writing?"Stupid thing to say.
"You stopped writing,” she threw it back at me. “You only responded when I wrote to you. I wanted to make sure you wanted to be with me. You never initiated another letter." I couldn't believe what she was telling me.
"Do you still live in town?"
"No visiting my grandparents. We moved to Dayton."
"That's only half an hour from me!"
"I waited for you here last year. You didn't come." I was shocked at how stupid I had been. All I needed to do was to write or come to visit my grandparents last year and go to Leon's. I would have seen her.
"I'm sorry, Amy, I didn't know. Please sit down! It's so good to see you!" She sat down with her malt. "I have missed you," is all I could think of to say to her. She was taller and more beautiful than I had remembered.
"I've missed you too." I wanted to cry with relief when she said that. Suddenly she smiled. A flash of that summer went through my mind. She no longer had braces. She had beautiful white straight teeth, but the smile was the same. The smile that reached down and seized my heart. I had never let her go. I was still in love with Amy Violetti and I was getting signals from her that she felt the same way about me. Amy Violetti would forever, be my best friend.