I remember the red brick on the side of the building behind her because it was all I saw when she was gone.
Most likely I was wearing double-knee Toughskins at the time since, as my mom used to say all the time, I liked to walk on my knees. I wasn’t walking on my knees that day, nor in that moment.
In fact, it’s been almost 45 years since that day, but the memory is etched in my mind as if it happened just this morning.
My eyes turned towards the red brick wall when all of a sudden time slowed way down as I saw the blue dress. Her long black hair following.
I could tell she was running fast because of the way her hair and dress flowed behind her. And like I also had power to breath under water, my eyes captured the moment in still life slow motion.
I could see the curve of her chin. And the blue dress motioning. The black hair, so long. So pretty. I looked closer. I could stare forever it seemed. She was running. The blue dress and her hair dancing so perfectly.
Without warning. Red brick.
No matter where I looked, I knew I would never see the girl in the blue dress again. The perfect girl. My heart ached. I promised myself I wouldn’t let her out of my sight if I saw her again. She made time stand still. Just for me.
My family moved shortly after that. I was at a new school, with a new second grade teacher, and new friends. There were no red brick walls at my new school. I sometimes still looked, but the girl in the blue dress wasn’t there either.
Steam ahead through junior high and high school. Lots of pretty girls. None of them ever quite like the girl in the blue dress. That’s okay. Time doesn’t need to stand still. My powers to breath under water silenced.
I met my wife when we were in high school though. It wasn’t long before I fell in love with her. She was so pretty with her pixie cut. So loving too, the way she gave to others so effortlessly.
I’ll bet the blue dress girl was just a dream, I would think. It didn’t matter anymore. But I still remembered.
Then one day time slowed down for a moment as I noticed a picture on the wall at Debbie’s house. It was so cute. She and her brother must have taken a school picture together. It was obviously an old colorless picture, but still so lovely.
Wait. Debbie has long hair in this picture. And a dress. And as I looked closer, a familiar curve in her chin.
“Debbie?” I ask.
“Are you wearing a blue dress in this picture?” I ask.
Time stands still for me, and I swear I can breath under water.