Near 500 words: Personalized Poems

Some will do anything for love. Jay was thinking. What could he do to get Dab’s attention? He had been in love with her since he saw her six months before, coming out of Apartment 12B. He would say, “Hello.” She was always courteous. She said hello back to him, and that was it.

Once he went across the street and stood on his head as she walked out of the building. It started to rain and he was left wet. She laughed, plopped open her umbrella, then went on her way.

Then it hit him. He was pretty darn good at writing poems. At least, that was what his literature teacher said.

He put on his khaki shorts, sneakers and blue t-shirt. He made a large sign out of the cardboard box he had in the corner. On it, he wrote “Personalized Poems” in black marker. He took some cord and tied it to each end of the sign, threw it over his head, adjusted it against his chest, put on his straw hat, grabbed his clip board, placed some nice stationery on it and stepped out into the hallway of his apartment.

Mrs. Claymor saw him. Looked at the sign. “Write me a poem,” she demanded.

“Five bucks,” he said.

“What if I don’t like it?”

“Then you don’t like it.”

“Do it get my money back?”

“Of course,” he said, wanting to get on with things and find Dab.

“Does it rhyme?”

“It might just rhyme. Then again you might not be the kind of person who gets a rhyme. Some of the best poems never rhyme.”

“How long will the poem be?”

He wasn’t sure but five lines came to him. Mrs. Claymor liked that, smiled and handed Jay her five bucks. By the time Jay left the apartment building he had made fifty bucks.

Out on the street, several people stopped him and wanted poems. A woman with her daughter wanted one for the child.

Each poem took about five minutes of writing in his beautiful script. One was about how the woman made the sun smile. Another was the story of coming out of a dark tunnel and the woman provided the light. He wrote a poem for a man who had lost his job. And one for a woman who had just been hired. But still no Dab.

As he was about to head back into his apartment building, Dab approached him. Goosebumps appeared on the back of his neck.

She smiled and said, “Write me a poem.”

Jay had saved his best work for this one moment. He quickly wrote her poem and handed it over to her. She gave him the five bucks.

“No, no,” he lied. “This is my hundredth poem. It’s a free one.” He placed the money back into her hand.

She read the poem and said, “What dribble.” Then she dropped the paper on the sidewalk. She walked away.

At that moment, Jay’s world came crashing down. He stood in the middle of the sidewalk with tears in his eyes, thinking what a fool he was. Why did he think this would impress Dab? He felt like a man suddenly caught with no clothes on. He looked up at the side of the apartment building and saw his apartment window on the twelfth floor. He would be dead by the time he hit the ground.

“Hello,” a voice came from behind him. It was soft and light just like one of his poems.

He turned and a woman was holding his Dab poem in her hand.

“How did you know?” she said.

“Know?”

“Yes, this is—” she stumbled over the words. “This is my poem.”

“It is?”

“And it just made my day.”

“It did?”

She looked at the poem again, then back up at Jay. “I’m Carol. Can I buy you dinner?”

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