"What to get her?"
I had my two quarters clutched tightly in hand. The shelves at Silvers, a five and dime, were openly displaying the stores wears for sale. Bracelets, rings, earbobs, scarves...there were simply too many choices.
The decision had been made. She was constantly in my mind. When I broke a crayon, it was because her face distracted me.
"Rickey! Pay attention!" The classroom had erupted into gales of laughter. I looked around to see what the joke was. Everyone was staring at me. I sat upright. Mrs. D---- stood up placing her hands on her hips.
"What is wrong with you, young man. You've been day dreaming. Again! I might have to send a note home to your parents if it doesn't stop. See me after class.:
The class erupted in a single syllable, "Ooooooooh!" Mrs. D--- slapped the side of her ruler against the top of her desk. That crack of wood against wood brought silence.
"Everyone! Pay attention! Wawawa wa wa...' I drifted off. She was two desks over. She had smiled at me. I drifted off into day dream number thirty-five.
It was the Sheriff of Nottingham riding along side my Maid Marion.
"You shouldn't be in these woods, my fair lady," he said leaning toward her. Saddle leather creaked in support of his weight shifting to his left foot. His lips formed into a wet smooch heading in the direction of my Marion. He lifted the veil. It was my sweetie two desks over.
I swung to the limb over the well worn path through my domain, Sherwood Forest.
"My Lord," I shouted. The vine that had carried me to my perch now swung out of sight. "It would behoove you not to complete that kiss."
The sherriff sat bolt upright. His horse nickered with the shift of the saddle. His hand closed around the hilt of his sword.
"You dare to stop me, the Sheriff of Nottingham? I have soldiers farther back who will be here shortly."
Skeeeeee! Thump! Twang.
"You are wrong my Lord. That arrow just arriving tells me you are wrong. It is you and I and my most lovely Maid Marion alone here, now."
"Curses," muttered The sherriff.
"Yes, you may ride on and not be harmed," I said.
"NO!" the word erupted from behind trees, bushes and rocks. Heads popped up from behind the various hiding places.
"No, again!" shouted Little John. "We won't allow him to go, Robin. He has been a thorn in our sides. We should do him in now." Stepping from his cover twirling his quarter staff like a baton. "One crack of my staff will open that melon. The forest animals can feast on his brains. Poor eating though it may be for them."
"Wait!" shouted the sheriff. "You can't kill me. Robin lives by a code."
"He's right, Little John. We're the good guys. We have a code."
Little John spat upon the forest floor. "I be sick of this code. We treat this weasel and his band of cut throats with civility and compassion when we capture them. Would they treat us as fairly?"
"No!" The forest erupted.
"He has a point, Robin," said Marion. "Think about it. How may times have you been captured and tortured? At least once a week. You always manage to escape, battered and bruised."
"Aye," said Will Scarlet. "We've sung many a ballad about it. Those while you are gone are not so flattering as those you might hear when you are returning with new scars amidst broken bones. Half what we steal from the rich we can't give to the poor because ole doc Martin collects his fee from patchin' you up."
"You sing ballads while I'm locked in the dungeon?"
"Well, yes, we do. Some are pretty bawdy."
"I'd like to hear one," says I.
'And why not?"
"Lady present. The code you know."
"Are they so bad?" I ask quizzically.
"Aye, Robin," good Friar Tuck interjects. "They best not tickle so fair an ear as the lovely Maid Marion. Perhaps later when we be in our cups."
"Enough! Be gone Sir Sheriff. Leave my forest. Leave my Marion."
With a sigh Little John laid his staff across the stallion's rump. The smack sends the great beast into a gallop.
"Marion, would you please join me. I have a new set of tree etchings you may find amusing. And we have wine the good Friar has liberated for his flock...."
The ruler came down upon my desk. Marion popped into a bit of smoke above my head. The class was laughing again.
"Yes, Mrs. D----."
"I want you to go stand in that corner until class is over.
"Yes, Mrs. D----."
Traipsing to the corner I smiled at my real Marion. She smilled back. Or was that the tail end of communal laughter. It didn't matter. I was hopelessly hers.
Picking up each piece of jewlery took a long time. They all looked the same to me. The prices were all within my range. Which one would she like? How should I know?
"Can I help you, little boy?" A sales clerk.
"Uh, no," I stammered. A crimson wave flowed up my neck engulfing my face in heat and beads of sweat across my upper lip.
"You've been checking out those rings for a long time. Perhaps I can suggest something? How much do you have to spend?"
"Uh, um." The eloquence of an eight year old wasn't helpful so I opened my hand revealing two shiny quarters.
"Well, let me offer this in exchange for your hard earned money." A bright red stone shone from the genuine gold band between his fingers.
"How about this?" Another gold band but this time the stone was a brilliant green.
Well, let's see..." he stirred the display with his fore finger. Up came another.
"This is very nice." A band of pure gold, I just knew it, with a large, clear stone. He wiggled it to show how the light reflected.
"Um..." I began to look around anxiously. My eyes fell upon some lovely feathered shafts. The salesman forgotten I drifted into Sherwood. Such beauties would serve well to feed my merry men the King's deer. I took one off the counter. I placed it at my eye looking down the length to be sure it was straight and true.
"How much are the arrows?" I asked.
"Twenty-five cents each." Came the answer.
"I'll take two please."
"Have you decided against the ring?"
"I have a duty to my Merry Men of Sherwood," I said placing the two coins in his hand. He looked at me like all adults look at kids. I walked down the aisle staring down the shaft of each carefully chosen arrow.
It was a good trade, I thought, pleased with myself.