When Willie got home from work, she sat down in her favorite chair. It was a rickety rocking chair that Enez had lulled all three of her children to sleep while they listened to the soft, rhythmic creaking of the worn and loose floor boards.
She wasn’t sure if she was more physically or emotionally exhausted. She quickly fell asleep, clutching the dandelion in her hand.
Papa walked in and smiled when he saw her. The boys weren’t yet awake and he didn’t want to disturb the precious few minutes of sleep that she was enjoying.
When he saw the dandelion, he gently took it from her hand and put it into a glass of water. Papa understood why she picked them. Enezs’ bright red ribbon still clung tightly to her hair.
The house was quiet when he left for work and as he walked along the cobblestone street, he reminisced about his conversation with Enez the night before.
“You would be so proud of our girl, my love. She is a strong beautiful woman, just like you. And I think a very fortunate gentleman may have caught her eye. She came to me and asked if she could wear your ribbon. I know you would approve and I wish you could have seen it in her hair. I think it must make her feel a little closer to you. I have to get home now. I will talk to you tomorrow, sweetheart.”
When Willie woke up to the pleas for breakfast from her younger brothers, she was almost frantic when she discovered that the dandelion was not in her hand. She looked all around the chair and the floor. When she started to question that perhaps it had been a dream, she saw it in the glass sitting on the kitchen table and breathed a sigh of relief.
She took the ribbon from her hair and carefully returned it to the box in Papas’ room. It was going to be five long nights before she once again saw Albert. She hoped that Papa would agree to let her wear the ribbon the following Monday and she hoped that should she wear it, Albert would notice.
After a long week and the welcome respite of Sunday, Willie was feeling the familiar sensation of butterflies in her stomach. Papa had graciously agreed to let her once more, wear Enezs’ red ribbon. In the few hours before it was time for her to go to work, Papa asked Willie if there was anything she wanted to tell him.
“What do you mean Papa?” she asked.
With a twinkle in his eye, he said “Willowdean Elizabeth Prescott, don’t play coy with me.” When he called her by her full name, she knew it could only mean one of two things. He was angry or he was being playful. “Who is it?” Papa asked.
Willie smiled as she started telling him about the fetching gentleman. “He’s a boy at the factory,” she said. “Oh Papa, he’s so fine and he tells me that I am beautiful.”
Papa smiled and said “that’s the reason you wanted to wear her mothers’ ribbon?”
“Yes,” she said. “He only works on Monday so I won’t ask to wear it every day.”
Not wanting to pry, Papa didn’t ask Willie any more about him but said “be careful with your heart, child. You don’t want it to get broken.”
He kissed her on the forehead and thought to himself that the boy must be the mechanic who cleans and oils the machines to keep them in good working order.
Willie got to work and as had happened every day for the last several months, with the exception of the previous Monday, the foreman walked past her, said nothing and locked the door.
Willie busied herself with her chores and anxiously awaited Alberts’ arrival. While dusting the machines, she noticed a dainty pair of scissors laying on the floor. They must belong to the worker who sat at that station, she thought. She picked them up and carefully sat them on the table. When she turned, Albert was standing there, smiling.
Willie no longer questioned her feelings for Albert. She was sure beyond all doubt that she was in love with him. What she did question was how he could possibly be in love with her, until he looked into her eyes and it was as if they became part of each other.
He told her he liked the way she had her hair tied back with a ribbon. She was thrilled that he noticed. “It was my mothers’,” she said “and I think of her when I wear it.” She didn’t tell him that she had worn it just for him.
Albert smiled and said “I wish I could stay but I mustn’t keep you from your work.” Once again, Willie watched him walk down the long dark hallway and disappear.
To be continued_______________