It was still hot at ten til six but the street was completely shaded by the tall houses and trees. Jack had put on his black leather Sunday shoes with white socks with the faded jeans and blue tee shirt; he felt pretty good about his outfit. It was a short blocks walk to Ellen’s house, it would have been faster and cooler if he had taken the bike but the bike never made a good impression and they would have to walk to Woolworth’s anyway so he had left the bike where it had fallen in the grass. Ellen’s house was a lot like Jack’s with wood siding and six-feet of porch across the front. Jack climbed the steps and prepared to knock on the front door when it opened. Ellen stood in the doorway smiling at him.
“Mom says I should invite you for dinner,’” Jack had eaten with Ellen’s family before; his family and hers went to the same church and had Sunday lunch together every so often.
“I thought we would go to Woolworth’s?” said Jack, wanting to keep the emphasis on this is a date.
“She already set a plate,” Ellen replied, suggesting that once a plate was set it was a final thing. “They said they would give us the whole front room for the movie.” Jack was ready to give in even before she added, “They said they would take a long walk after dinner and give us some space?” Letting him know she had already negotiated the best outcome possible in the dinner debate.
Dinner went well. There were questions about Uncle Toby’s farm that kept Jack talking, everyone in town knew about Toby and the blue wheat but very few had done more than walk by the field and even fewer had talked to Toby much more than to say hi. The questions tapered off. Ellen’s mom was a very good cook and Jack found himself to be very hungry. He had seconds of everything, which inspired Ellen’s mom to heap a double sized piece of hot apple pie with a scoop of ice cream into a bowl for Jack at the end of the meal.
“We’re going for a walk. We might go as far as Uncle’s and take a look at what you raked up, Jack,” Ellen’s mom said letting them know how long her and her husband would be gone. “You’re welcome to come along,” she added knowing Jack and Ellen had other plans. The parents left and the kids had the whole house to themselves. Ellen took Jack to the racks of DVDs hidden behind cabinet doors near the TV and they made comments, good and bad on the hundreds of movies until they settled on an old Star Wars episode neither of them had seen in years. They sat on the sofa close enough to each other to suggest they were a little more than casual friends but not committed to anything close to a relationship. On the walk home Jack felt good about the night and was already planning ways of running into Ellen in the morning.