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In One Corner Of My Heart

Story ID:458
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Oak Park IL USA
Year:1944
Person:Michael Stella
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In One Comer Of My Heart"
by Nancy Julien Kopp

Michael's arm was wrapped protectively around my shoulder. He pulled me closer and gave me a little squeeze. We were deeply in love. We were also in kindergarten. Michael Stella was the first boy to fall in love with me. Even at age five, he made me feel special.

It was 1944, and that particular day we were gathered around our teacher, who was reading a story aloud. Miss Horst, a sophisticated, silver-haired woman, ceased reading and said, "Michael and Nancy, we do not sit like that in school."

I responded quickly. "It's all right, we're getting married."

She moved just as quickly to separate us. But, it didn't matter, for Michael continued to be my boyfriend that year and through our grade school career. He was always kind and protective. Many times I carried Michaelís books while he toted the big tuba that he played in the school band. We both cultivated other friends, but Michael and I were always a special twosome.

I also spent time with Michaelís family in those early years. His father was a quiet, kind man, and his mother was loud, flamboyant in her apparel and demeanor, and very loving. She was the only mother I knew who wore a leopard skin coat and hat, bright colored dresses, and spiked heel shoes on platforms to go grocery shopping. She loved me, too ... probably because her son did.

We were definitely a contrast in looks. Michaelís Italian-Greek heritage showed in his olive skin, dark hair and eyes, while I, of French and Irish heritage, had curly red hair and a very fair complexion. Michael was big for his age, and I was smaller than most of the other girls in my class. Quite a pair we must have made.

We reached an age when our classmates began to tease us, and I began to avoid Michael. I strolled home with my girlfriends instead and giggled with them about things he might have said or done. It wasn't that I didn't like him anymore. I did, but I was too immature to stand up for him when others laughed at the big projects he always talked about. Oh yes, he was a Wheeler-Dealer, even as a kid.

On a summer day after seventh grade, he asked me to come over to his house.

We were there alone, and he told me he had three things to ask me. First, he wanted to know if I liked him. "Sure, I do," I answered. Second, he asked if I would 'Go Steady' with him. See him exclusively, only dance with him at the rec complex. I told him no immediately and gave him no reason. My heart began to beat more rapidly because I knew what the third question would be, especially if I had said yes to the one he had just asked. He looked so sad and dejected after I had turned him down. Then, he sighed and said, "No use asking the third thing now." And, I was saved from that first, scary kiss.

Now, all these years later, I know the only reason I turned him down was that I was afraid of what all the other kids would say. Again, youth and insecurity ruled. Even after Iíd disappointed him, Michael didnít give up. The next summer, he took me to Riverview, a Chicago amusement park, and we spent a wonderful day together. It was the last time we saw each other before high school started. I went to the public high school, and he attended the Catholic prep school. He called occasionally just to talk, but we had definitely traveled down different paths, and we drifted apart.

Finally, my high school graduation dance arrived, and since it was Girl-Ask-Boy, I invited him to be my date. There was no one special in my life at the time, so I thought immediately of good old Michael. And, like always, he came to my rescue. We went to the dance and had a lot of fun. He called one more time shortly after that to ask me to go on a Blind Date with a friend of his, which turned out to be a disaster. It was the last time I would talk with this boy who had loved me for so many years. We both went to college in different places and moved on with our lives.

I eventually met and married my husband and have never regretted it for one moment. Our forty-two years together have been filled with love and happiness. But, I sometimes think about Michael Stella ... wonder what became of him. I hope that he found a girl to marry who would appreciate his kindness and gentle ways. Forevermore, there will be a tiny corner of my heart reserved just for him.