It began one early June. The girl hung upside down on the monkey bars. Her long brown hair flowing everywhere, covering her dark brown eyes. She laughed heartily showing off for her mom. Her mother, a single mother, smiled and took a picture of her beautiful daughter.
"Try to move your hair out of your face silly girl. I want a good picture of you," said her mom.
The child looked up and brushed her hair away from her face. She gave her mom a big smile, making it obvious that she was missing two front teeth.
The mother laughed. "Ok, I got it! I think this one will be just perfect! " She examined the pictured on her digital camera.
The child carefully picked her body up and managed to quickly get down from the monkey bars. She'd been at the park since ten that morning and now it was almost noontime. Her tummy began to growl.
"I'm hungry mom," she said.
"We'll leave in a few minutes. I'm just going to go over the pictures I took."
The child shrugged and turned to see what she could play next. She was going for the slide when she spotted him. He was skinny, a bit taller than her and had brown curly hair and big blue eyes. He was playing with his Hot Wheels, rolling the cars around rocks and dirt. She felt her heart almost skip a beat. She didn't understand why and will never understand why she suddenly got the urge to go over and hug him. As if she'd known him forever.
The boy rolled his monster trucks over the smaller cars pretending it was real. He made the car sounds and all. Suddenly, he felt someone kneeling next to him. Before he could see who it was, she covered him. She was hugging him tight. He panicked not knowing what to do.
The man quickly threw down his newspaper and almost spilled his coffee. He rushed over to the boy and laughed as he saw the pretty little girl with her arms around him.
"Well, well," the man said trying hard not to laugh anymore. It wasn't easy to hide a smile "and who are you?" He asked the little girl.
The girl finally let the boy go and giggled sweetly. "I'm Hallie. Who are you?" She asked man.
"Well, I'm Simon's father. Oh and he's Simon," the man pointed at his son.
Simon was collecting his toys and trying to catch his breath. "Tell her to go away dad!"
The man laughed this time. "Simon, she was just hugging you. What's wrong with that?"
Simon nodded. "I don't like girls! Girls are gross!"
Hallie blushed. "I didn't mean to scare you. I though you looked like a nice person. I wanted to play with you. I'm sorry."
The man was touched. "Sweetie it's ok. He's just ... well, he's shy."
"I'm not shy! She just scared me! I hate girls!" Simon held his toys to his chest. He tried to look away but often found himself wanting to look at the girl who had held him.
"Hallie! What ... uh ... what's going on?" The woman asked as her eyes met with the man's.
He laughed. She liked his laugh. "Hello, I'm Sam and this is my son Simon. I have already met Hallie. Your daughter scared my son for a moment."
The woman frowned and gave the child a cautious look. "I'm sorry what do you mean she scared him?"
He laughed again. Such a sweet laugh. "She was hugging him."
The woman looked confused. "What? You mean she just went to him and-"
"Yes mom! I hugged him. I'm sorry ok? I'm sorry Simon," Hallie searched Simon's face for a sign of forgiveness but the boy only turned away.
"Honey, why did you do that?" The woman put her arms around her daughter.
"I-I don't know. I just wanted to be his friend. I wanted to play with him."
"Simon, tell Hallie you accept her apology," Sam ordered.
Simon was upset. Hallie could feel her heart breaking.
"Simon?" Sam continued to try to get his son to forgive Hallie. He found the whole situation amusing. Not to mention Hallie's mother quite a beautiful woman. She had the same brown hair as her daughter but dark green eyes. He wondered if she was married. He saw no sign of a ring, but that didn't mean she couldn't be married or have a boyfriend.
"Oh give him time. He's just shaken up I suppose," the woman said softly.
"I didn't get your name by the way," Sam said casually. He was dying to know her name, her status!
"I'm sorry, I'm Jane. I'm a photographer for a children's magazine."
He looked impressed. "Is that so? Sounds more exciting than being a cop."
She couldn't help but smile. He was gorgeous! She began to wonder if he was single. Someone as charming as Sam couldn't possibly be single. "No I think being a cop has more adventures. We were ... we were just about to go get some lunch. Hallie is hungry and I guess so am I." Jane said quietly.
Sam couldn't stop looking at her. "We were a bit hungry too. Do you mind if you join you? I know this great deli about two blocks from here if you want to meet there or we could all walk there together."
Jane looked nervous. "Uh ... well..." she began.
Sam understood. "You're wondering if I'm married aren't you?"
She nodded. "Am I that obvious?"
He blushed. "Maybe a little. But to answer your question no I'm not married. I've been divorced for two years now. I don't' have a girlfriend either if that was your next question."
She looked surprised. "Really? I figured you probably had a wife who was crazy about you."
He laughed. "Yes, she used to be then she found someone else to be crazy about."
She looked sad. "I'm sorry."
He shrugged. "It's ok. It's done and over with. I'm ready to..." He paused and then looked at her. "I'm ready to move on."
She felt her heart race.
"What about you Jane? You married? Got a boyfriend?"
"Neither one. My husband passed away over four years ago. He was a truck driver and one night fell asleep at the wheel..." she stopped.
Hallie kept looking at Simon who did nothing but look down at the ground as he held his hot wheels in his arms.
"I'm really sorry to hear that Jane. Must be hard for you.
She nodded. "It is but I've come to accept it. I'm ready to live my life."
He smiled at her. "So ... what do you say? Shall we go?"
Jane felt excited. "Sure. Let me just go put up my camera in my car and then we'll walk over there."
As they headed off, the adults talked and the children were silent. Hallie wanted to talk to Simon but Simon looked mad. She was almost afraid to say anything and get him even more upset.
Over lunch Sam and Jane continued to chat. They had turkey sandwiches while the children ate grilled cheese sandwiches with pickles. Hallie noticed that Simon hardly ate his. He was busy sipping his soda and looking down. She felt awful. She hadn't meant to scare him. But then again she wouldn't take back the hug she gave him. It had felt so ... wonderful.
It only took one month before Sam and Jane cut out the polite "accidental" meetings at the park. They were exclusively dating now. When they went out, Hallie and Simon were stuck with the same babysitter at Sam's house, a 20 year old who spent her time talking on the phone.
Hallie tried to play with Simon but Simon only pushed her away. He spent his time up in his room playing with his cars while Hallie was stuck downstairs listening in on the babysitters phone calls she made to her boyfriend.
One night, Hallie got bored and went upstairs to see what Simon was doing. She knocked softly on his door. He opened it and frowned.
"What?" He asked coldly.
Hallie smiled. "Just wanted to see what you were doing. Can I come in and play with you? I'm bored."
He nodded. "No. This is MY room. And this is MY house. You are only here because my dad is stupid for dating your mom. I don't want a new mom. I want MY mom." With that he slammed the door leaving Hallie in tears.
Jane and Sam got in later that night and paid the babysitter. Once she was gone, they found Hallie in the kitchen sobbing. Jane rushed over to her and put her arms around her.
"What's wrong sweetie? What is it?"
Hallie didn't answer.
Jane looked at Sam who was as clueless as she was. Sam went over to the mother and child. "Hallie? Are you ok? Where's Simon?"
Hallie hiccupped and looked up at the adults with her red teary eyes. "He's upstairs. He says he wants his REAL mom."
Sam sighed and looked at Jane. "I'm really sorry. Ever since Tanya left me, Simon thinks it's my fault. As if I should have fought to keep her. He's been mad at me for a while but I figured he'd get over it."
Jane looked sympathetic. "I understand it must be difficult for him. We'll be leaving now. Go up and talk to him."
Once they were gone, Sam rushed up to his son's bedroom. Simon was in bed with his lamp on reading his comic books. "Simon..." Sam began.
Simon looked up from his book. "Hey dad."
Sam walked over and sat next to his son on the bed. "So I hear you said something to Hallie about your "real" mother."
Simon looked down.
Simon slowly looked into his father's eyes. "Yeah so what? I hate Hallie and I hate Jane. You and I are happy the way we are! We don't need them!"
Sam felt his heart breaking. "You may think that now but-"
"No!" Simon yelled. He threw his comic book on the floor and raised his body up. "Now that you met HER all you do is go out and leave me stuck here with Hallie who is always bothering me. She wants to play and I hate girls I don't want to play with her!"
.... There is more of this story ...