I was four-years-old when the neighbors had a baby. I only vaguely remember them bringing her home for the first time. They had named their baby girl Sally. I remember being taken by my parents to the neighbor's house to meet Sally. Her mom called my mom on the phone and asked us to come see their new baby.
I remember lagging behind my mom as we went in their door. Sally's mother called out to me. "Hey Billy, come on over here and see baby Sally."
Sally grew rapidly at first. However, by the time she started grade school, her growth had drastically slowed. She was several inches shorter but a little heavier than the other kids. Her dark auburn hair was nearly impossible for her to keep brushed out. It always seemed to be in the midst of a wind storm. To make matters worse, at least to Sally, her face was covered with freckles.
I was nearly nine-years-old when she went for her preschool screenings. One of the screenings revealed she needed glasses. Her parents couldn't afford fancy frames, so Sally got the cheap black horned rim style. Sally hated her glasses. I tried to cheer her up by telling her that the glasses helped bring attention to her pretty light brown eyes. I remember her looking up at me and smiling.
Naturally, it wasn't long before the other kids, especially the older ones, began picking on her. I ran the bullies off when I caught them teasing her. Sally frequently cried while I hugged and tried to comfort her. I hated seeing Sally cry. Even then, I was beginning to have tender feelings for my young friend.
As we grew older, I took up sports and became well muscled and coordinated. Football and basketball helped me build strength and speed into what became my six foot body.
Sally stopped growing when she reached about five foot three inches. She continued to slowly add weight due to her lack of activities that would have provided her with some exercise. She usually stayed in her room and studied rather than go out and be subject to the taunts of the other kids. She wasn't huge but was what I called well rounded or plump. By the time she was in high school, the extra weight had at least one benefit. Sally had developed a substantial pair of breasts. She usually kept them somewhat hidden by wearing baggy tops.
She also developed into a very smart girl. All the study time always kept her at the top of her class. In spite of her intelligence and her offers of help, her classmates rejected her and continued to pick on her.
After a while, although it still hurt her, Sally learned to tolerate and ignore most of the teasing and harassment from the other kids.
She had just turned sixteen-years-old and was, as usual, at the head of her class academically. I had graduated two years earlier and was attending a nearby community college. On my daily drive home, I made it a point to drive past my old high school. I would frequently see Sally walking home and would offer her a ride. She always accepted. She often told me, "I feel safe when I'm with you, Billy."
Then one Thursday afternoon it all came to a head. Several of her classmates had her surrounded in an alley and had her backed up against a store's back wall. They didn't notice when I stopped my car and quietly walked up behind them. As I drew closer I could hear them cursing and calling her vile names. There were several boys holding her against the wall. They were crudely and roughly feeling her up. Their girlfriends were standing in a semicircle around them and were urging the boys on.
I immediately saw red. My anger was more than I could handle. How dare they do this to my friend?
Sally was bawling her eyes out. She sobbed, "Why? Why are you doing this to me? I've never done anything to you. I've only offered to help you."
The biggest boy was holding her against the wall by her throat. He spit in her face and yelled at her. "You're always making us look stupid. You act like your so smart. You're ugly too."
One of the girlfriends groaned as she saw me. "Oh shit!"
The boy who had Sally by the throat and had been cursing her turned just in time to catch a straight right to his nose. It immediately began spewing blood. He yelled at me. "You son-of-a-bitch! I'll kick your ass for that!"
As he drew back to swing at me, I stepped forward and gave him a solid uppercut into his soft belly. He folded over and went down to his knees. The next guy tried to sucker punch me from behind. He got a hard backhanded fist to his cheek for his efforts. He stumbled back and fell to the ground taking one of the bitches with him. He laid there holding the side of his face.
I then stepped between Sally and the gang of punks. "Anyone else want to try some of this?" No one took me up on my offer. "Then get the fuck out of here. If you know what's good for you, you'll never bother Sally again."
"What's it to you, asshole." The first punk gasped. He was still trying to regain his breath from the upper cut to his gut.
"I'll make it real simple for you ignorant shit-for-brains punks. Sally is my friend, and I don't like seeing my friend upset by a bunch of dumb ass punks and bitches like you. Now get the fuck out of here! Now!"
They seemed to agree with my suggestion. The whole gang not only left, but they did so on the run.
I then turned to Sally and wrapped her in my arms. "Are you alright, Sally? Would you like a ride home?"
She continued to cry as she laid her head on my chest. Through her sobs she said, "I'll be alright, but I'd appreciate a ride."
I held Sally around her shoulders and drew her close. She continued to sob as we walked to my car. "Sally, please stop crying. You know I hate seeing you cry."
As we rode toward home, Sally began to brighten a bit. She had stopped crying and was chatting about things in general. She never liked talking about her tormentors.
I turned onto our street and Sally leaned over and kissed my cheek. "Thank you, Billy. I've never really told you how much I've appreciated your help all these years."
I told her, "That's alright Sally. You know I care about what happens to you."
She looked up at me and smiled.
I then had an urge to do something I had never done with her before. "Sally, would you go out with me tonight? I'd love to take you out for dinner and maybe a movie. We can go to someplace nice to eat."
She seemed to get excited. "You mean like on a date?"
"Well yeah. I guess I'm asking you to go on a date with me. Sally, I should have done this a long time ago, but you did just turn sixteen. I didn't know how your parents would react to their young daughter going out with someone four years older than you. Anyway, will you go to dinner with me, Sally?"
Her eyes sparkled and a broad smile spread over her entire face. "Yes, Billy. I'd love to go on a date with you. I don't care where we go. I've never been on a real date."
"Alright then, I'll pick you up at about seven o'clock. Be sure to wear something nice. We are not going to a fast food joint."
Rather then pull into my driveway as I usually did and let her walk to her home in the house next door, I pulled into her driveway. She kissed my cheek again and practically ran into her home. As she burst through her front door I heard her shout. "Mom, Billy asked me to go out with him on a real date!"
As her door slammed shut, I backed out of her drive and drove to my home next door. The phone began ringing a few minutes after I walked in. Since Mom and Dad were not home from work, I grabbed the phone as soon as I could.
I answered, "Hello."
It was Sally's mother. "Billy, did you mean to ask Sally out for a date?"
"Yes I did. I'm sorry I didn't ask for your permission first. I know she's only sixteen and I am twenty, but I hope our going out is okay with you. I want to take her to a nice restaurant for dinner and maybe a movie later if she'd like that. I know it's a school night, and I'll get her home early enough for her to get some rest. Will that be okay with you?"
Sally's mother excitedly replied. "Okay? It's not just okay, it's great! Billy, you have been Sally's only friend all these years. She has told us how you have helped her out with the bullies now and then, and she told us what you did this afternoon. Billy, you are more than welcome to date Sally. Sally is a smart girl and, as much as I hate to admit it, she's nearly an adult. It has been a long time since I've seen her this happy. She's singing in the shower right now. If she wants to go out with you, her father and I are more than happy about it. Have a good time."
When I hung up the phone, I couldn't believe how excited Sally's mother had sounded. One would think I had asked her out as well.
As I hung up, I saw the note from Mom and Dad lying next to the phone. It read, "Billy, we are going to Aunt Susan's for the weekend. Stay safe and call if you need anything. Love, Mom and Dad"
Since it was getting late, I headed for the shower. A hot shower and a shave didn't take all that long, but I certainly did not want to be late picking up Sally for our first date.
It was just a few minutes before seven PM when I knocked on Sally's door. Her mother answered the door and invited me in. She told me, "Sally is just about ready. She's been busily getting ready for your date almost since she came in. I'm sure she'll be down any time now." She then shouted up the stairway, "Sally, Billy is here."
Sally excitedly called back. "I'll be down in just a minute. I'm just finishing my hair."
It took her more like five minutes. But, when she came down the stairs, seeing Sally was well worth the wait. I almost didn't recognize my date.
.... There is more of this story ...