Julie contemplated her immediate problem, the boulder directly in front of her. Did she risk her shoes, or take them off and almost certainly get a run in her stockings? Talk about a no-win scenario. Maybe Tim could give her a hand. She called after him.
"Tim! Wait! Come back a minute!"
He turned, already a hundred yards down the beach.
"Come on, we're late already—Uncle William's going to kill me."
No, she hadn't really thought so. She yelled after him.
"I didn't know we were coming to the beach. I'm not really dressed for this. I'm sorry."
Tim disappeared around a boulder. His voice drifted back to her.
"Just hurry, okay?"
She decided she'd have to risk her shoes.
When she caught up with him, Tim was leaning on a wall of rock. At about shoulder height there was a short ledge just wide enough to sit or stand on. He grinned. "Here we are!"
Julie didn't have a clue what was expected of her. She looked at the rock, then around the beach below, and out to sea. She nodded, and then, thinking some response was required, smiled.
"It's very nice." She said.
She knew it was wrong the second it was out of her mouth, but, miraculously, Tim didn't seem to notice. Instead, he put his hands on her hips and turned her so her back was to the rock.
She jumped and he lifted her onto the little ledge.
"Okay, now, sit right there—no, move over just a little—that's right. And lean against this rock."
He stood back and gauged her position, like a photographer setting up a shot.
He stepped forward and took her hand.
"Now. Julie, will you marry me?"
"And live happily ever after!"
"I'm not joking. Will you?"
"You're serious? But, but we only just—you mean it?"
"You can come to LA, and live with me while I finish school. We'll get an apartment."
She ordered her brain to come up with a response, but it wasn't paying attention.
"I'll buy you an engagement ring."
She stifled a giggle.
He was so sincere.
* * * * *
I was still making my way through town.
It was sunset, just dark enough to make the Christmas lights and the shop windows come alive in the orange half-light. The street took on a magic glow.
Exotic scents wafted on the warm air from inside a candle shop as I passed the door.
A few steps ahead of me, a toddler struggled to keep up with his weary, preoccupied mother. She stopped suddenly, to look at some toys in a shop window, and he took the opportunity to drop to the sidewalk and rest his legs.
It reminded me of the scene with Dudley and the baby carriage.