âMay we have a bottle of Gattinara, please?â asked Lara.
âOf course, Madame,â replied the waiter.
It was a routine now; the bottle of wine and the weekly updates of life with her mother over their favorite Italian plate.
As the conversation continued, Lara could not help noticing how truly symmetrical and beautiful her motherâs lips were. She inherited genes for perfect lips and had them âuntil the accident. It wasnât anything life-changing, but it did leave a scar, both on the right side her upper lip and on her perception of herself. She continued watching her motherâs mouth move as she formed her words.
âI donât want to frighten you, Lara,â her mother began jokingly, âbut that man over there is staring at you.â
âWhat? Where?â Lara demanded anxiously. She was not used to that sort of attention, much less in a public place.
âHeâs at that table over there,â her mother tilted her head to the left of the restaurant.
âI donât see anyone.â
âDonât worry âheâs coming.â
He leaned over the table and smiled at the ladies. His brown eyes looked over their meal and he casually asked if they enjoyed it.
âYes âyes, it was very good,â Lara started, making sure only her left side faced him, switching glances between him and her mother.
âI couldnât help but notice your gorgeous smile from across the room; it lights the whole room up âtruly.â
Lara could not believe what was happening, while her mother was just smiling and staring at the man. Of all things âshe thought âmy smile?
He continued, âYou seem like a very nice person and would love to treat you to dinner âItalian if youâd like,â he handed her a business card with his name and phone number.
Lara was still in shock as he walked away. Her mother was looking at the business card, held tightly in Laraâs hand.
His name was Caesar and he was in the banking business. Lara was most intrigued about the way he approached her in front of her mother. His approach stayed in her mind as she text-messaged him for the first time. They exchanged texts for several weeks and they both discovered they both had much in common: they both attempted painting but decided to admire the art from afar, both had dogs and loved them dearly, both had a passion for literature and exchanged bedside books with one another under the condition that the books not be written on or dog-eared. Their first meeting consisted of a simple cup of coffee and hours of conversations about the books they lent each other. The second was at the zoo and their predictions of what they animals would do next. In all of the outings, Lara was able to keep the right side of her upper lip out of Caesarâs sight. Heâs too kind to say or do anything regarding my lip, but what would he think? She thought to herself.
It was around the fourth meeting that they decided to go out to a see a play. It was Shakespeareâs Twelfth Night.
âHow did you like the play?â he asked.
âI loved it; Shakespeare was a genius!â
âI thought it was brilliant that he had the âfoolishâ jester make some of the wisest remarks in the play.â
He was intelligent and funny, making Lara laugh with his last comment. She laughed heartily and quickly hid her right side of her face by jumping to his right side, only exposing the left side of her face. Caesar had noticed her quick movements since their first meeting but did not want to say anything; he thought it was adorable. It was another part of her quirky personality that he was falling in love with.
âCan I ask you something?â Caesar asked.
âAnything,â she began. Except that, she hoped.
âWhy do you move around suddenly when youâre with me?â he inquired kindly with a grin.
She expected that question at some point. She thought long and hard how to answer. Should I tell him the truth? Would he understand? She finally reasoned with herself that if he truly cared about her, such a thing as a scar on her lip would not affect his feelings toward her. She positioned herself under a lamppost to allow him to see what she was about to tell him.
âThe truth is âŚ I have a scar âŚ on my lip and I am very self-conscious about it,â she took a deep breath.
His eyes looked at the small scar on the right side of her upper lip. He gently touched it with his right hand and smiled. âIs that all?â he sounded relieved.
He lifted his right hand up in front of Lara. âWhen I was thirteen I had a pretty bad baseball injury on my right hand,â he began, pointing to the ring and small finger on his hand. âMy fingers and knuckles never healed properly and now I canât bend them all the way, see?â He tried to bend all four fingers down but only the index and middle fingers were able to do so. Lara smiled.
âI was hoping you wouldnât notice,â she started.
âWell, now I know and it doesnât matter,â he looked into her eyes and kept them there for a while. Lara still looked embarrassed and unconvinced. âDo you mind about my hand? Does it affect the way I caress your face? No, the same way your kiss still sends me out of this world. You are you âand that includes all the little âimperfectionsâ you think you may have.â He motioned his fingers to signal quotation marks. âSee? I canât even do that right!â
Lara chuckled and he kissed her mid-laugh. Thereâs something special, Reader, about a kiss that is given in the middle of laughter. I could leave you with more details of what happened after that night, but it may suffice to say that they remained happy for many years.