The Forbidden Fruit

“I know you care about him. I’ve never seen you like this about anyone, so please don’t take it wrong when I tell you that I believe that Tom, while a very nice guy, is the Devil. What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he’s around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No. I’m semi-serious here. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing … he will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance … Just a tiny bit. And he will talk about all of us really being just ’salesmen.’ And he’ll get all the great women.”

–Aaron Altman in Broadcast News (1987)

It’s a beautiful spring day and the college campus is alive with the sounds of young adults interacting. Janie has had her eye on Tom for some time and, surprisingly, today, as they walk into the classroom in Brach Hall, the normally shy Tom appears to be walking right toward her, and as he does, she stares at the ground. She silently admonishes herself for dressing so sloppily today, even slipping on her roommate’s oversized shoes as she headed out the door for class. “Could I possibly get yesterday’s notes from you?” “Sure,” she smiles, taking off her glasses–of all days not to wear contact lenses. “But tomorrow’s the test, I’ll need them to study tonight,” she submits. “How about we get lunch after class and I can copy them while we eat. My treat,” he adds. “I’d like that very much,” she says softly. Tom smiles. Years later, neither can remember what they had for lunch that day. Janie and Tom began a relationship that took them through graduation and into the rest of their lives. They married right out of school despite their parents’ objections, and cheered each other on as they got jobs and promotions and earned the down payment for their first home. The first few years weren’t easy, and Janie recalls rolling pennies many mornings to put enough gas in the car to get them back and forth to work. The Christmas tree they got that year had been pulled from the pile of those thrown away by the Y.M.C.A. on December 24th after all sales were made. They decorated all night and on Christmas morning had created the most beautiful tree either of them had ever seen. It was their present to each other, as they could afford little else.

A New Chapter

Months turned into years and Janie’s tastes made the house a home. Tom took great care of the lawn and landscaping, and everyone who visited envied their happiness. One night when Tom came home from work, Janie burst through the back door and leapt into his arms. They were going to have a baby.

That March, their baby girl Brach came into the world and drew them even closer. They took her to church a few weeks later, and Tom held his little girl through the whole service; never could a man be filled with more pride. He loved his bride and their baby girl more than life. Brach would turn out to be an only child and an extremely sociable girl, bright, caring, loyal and beautiful. Her personality filled the room when she entered. As Brach was finishing her junior year in high school and already considering colleges she wanted to visit as a senior, her parents bought her a car. Her extracurricular calendar was so full she needed and deserved her own transportation. When Brach saw her reward in the driveway, Mom and daughter hugged and cried, and Dad tried to be aloof as if it were no big deal, but they loved their daughter. They lived to make her happy.

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