Ruby trudged home, stomping her feet so fiercely she could just about feel the pebbles on the sidewalk coming through the soles of her saddle shoes…
You just wait until I see Papa! I’ll tell him all about that awful Robert and what he did to me at school today ! And right in front of everybody, too! Right there on the playground! Papa will understand. Why, I had to slug him! What choice did I have?!
Surely, Mama will understand one little tear in my dress. It wasn’t my fault stupid old Robert couldn’t take his beatin’ like a man, grabbed my dress and threw me on the ground. Of course, I had to kick him! What else is a girl suppose to do? I had to defend myself! What’s he doin’ hittin’ a girl anyways?! Didn’t his Papa teach him that boys aren’t suppose to hit girls?! Stupid old Robert!
Stupid old Robert! I can’t believe he asked me to the Spring formal in front of the whole auditorium?! I was soooo embarrassed! Right in the middle of the half-time break of the basketball game…and me in my cheer-leading uniform!
By the time I got home there were roses on the table with a note saying how honored he was that the prettiest girl in the school said she’d go to the formal with him. He was honored! The prettiest girl! Red roses…”Ruby” red his note said…my favorite!
But, of course, daddy and the boys found out! I spent the whole night being teased and taunted and listening to the boys make smooch-y noises across the dinner table! I finally had to lock myself in my room just to get some peace and quiet. I spent the night arranging and rearranging my roses – you know, the ones from stupid old Robert.
Stupid old Robert! I can’t believe today of all days – before God, the minister, our families and friends – and he still couldn’t tie that tie right! I must have shown him how a thousand times. It’s all I can do not to reach over and adjust it right here in the middle of the service! Or maybe I should strangle him with it, because as I roll my eyes at him, I look down and see that his socks don’t match! One blue. One black. What on earth will our pictures look like?
Well…I guess they’ll look like us! Me – always fussing and fretting, trying to have everything so perfect. Robert – a crazy, disheveled, free-spirited mess…a perfect mess…my perfect mess! Mr. & Mrs. Perfect Mess!
Stupid old Robert! What does he think he’s doing out there?! “Robert, get out of that tree!” I yell, but I laugh, knowing he’ll climb to the top with those kids even if he falls and breaks both arms. Then he’ll laugh all the way to the E.R. and have a cast signing party and invite the whole neighborhood!
15 years next week and I wouldn’t change one day. Not one day. I know this with all my heart as I see our wedding photo hanging above the mantel – me in my perfect gown and Robert in his suit…crooked tie and two different color socks. But, I don’t see the tie or the socks… all that’s captured there is the love I see in stupid old Robert’s eyes.
Stupid old Robert! You broke our agreement! We had a deal! You weren’t allowed to go first. You weren’t allowed to leave me in a world without you – without you falling out of trees, mis-matching your socks and needing me to tie your tie. How can there be a Ruby without a Robert?
I walk up the stairs, exhausted and ready for sleep, but almost unable to bear the thought of our room without him there. As I open the door, I trip, nearly falling to my knees. I mutter to myself, ” I could have broken my neck”, and look down for the offending object that caused my tumble. There they lay – Robert’s slippers – right in the middle of the floor where he always left them. How many times had I told him to pick them up and put them away before someone trips and falls and breaks their neck? Without another thought, I lay the slippers back down, exactly where they had been left by Robert…stupid old Robert…dear, wonderful, amazing, stupid old Robert!