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Green-Light Means Go

A story about taking chances.

By Caitlin Jill AndersPublished 3 years ago 6 min read
Green-Light Means Go
Photo by Carlos Alberto Gómez Iñiguez on Unsplash

She met him at a red light. He pulled up after her, and it took her maybe 10 seconds to realize he was watching her dancing to the radio. She smiled politely and then smiled genuinely when she got a good look at him. His hair was soft and his eyes were bright. There wasn’t anything mysterious about him, which she liked. She was sick of mystery. It never got her anywhere.

She giggled and gave a little wave, and he laughed. He darted his eyes away for a minute, but she stayed locked in. Suddenly he mouthed something at her, and she gave him a confused look. He motioned for her to roll down her window, and he did the same.

“Green-light means go,” he yelled, and she turned back to the light as the sounds of honking behind her finally hit her ears.

Flustered from her flirting trance, she frantically pulled away, as a feeling washed over her that she may have missed out on something great. She pulled into the grocery store parking lot, parked, and sighed. She looked down at her hands for a while. She’d never liked them much. Finally, she looked up again — and there he was.

Up close, his face was even nicer. He had a freckle next to his nose that she really liked. He promised he hadn’t been following her — he just really needed bananas. They walked in together, and by the time they walked out, they had a date planned.

None of their friends or family could get over how they met. Everyone and their mother had an opinion about it. Her own mother was especially baffled. “You met a man at a traffic light?! What kind of love story is that to tell the grandkids?” Apparently, she thought it was creepy. Her mother had always been very traditional. Personally, though, she loved it, and everyone else did too. They all thought it was so romantic, and it was, but not quite as romantic as he was.

He was the kind of guy that screenwriters dreamed of. He was a rom-com come to life. He did things like plan picnics in beautiful locations, or take off work so he could spend all day cooking her a huge fancy dinner and surprise her with it when she got home. Every time he passed somewhere that sold flowers, he stopped and bought her some. The thing she liked the best, though, was every time they were in the car together and the light turned green, he’d flash her a smile and those eyes and say, “Green-light means go!”

Three years after they met, they were driving to what she thought was a family picnic. It was about 15 minutes away, and 7 minutes in, they pulled up to the light just as it turned red. She was driving. She hated to drive, but he’d said his calf was bothering him and asked if she could drive instead. When they stopped at the light, he suddenly turned to her and grabbed her hand.

“I’ve gotta do this now and do it fast, which is fitting, because I just can’t wait anymore. This is how we met, and it was the most magical thing that’s ever happened to me. The last three years have been everything, and now there’s only one thing left to say.”

The light turned green, and he pulled a little box out of the passenger door cupholder. “Green-light means go, so I’m asking you if you'll go with me down the aisle and marry me?”

Just like that day three years ago, she barely heard all of the honking going on behind her as their car sat at the light. She cried the rest of the way to the park, and when they finally arrived, he jumped out, raced around to the driver's side door, and got down on one knee. He placed the ring on her finger as she cried and cried, and she couldn't get over how beautiful it looked in the afternoon light. The family picnic was actually a surprise engagement party, and everyone cheered as they walked over the hill and into the view of the people down below. They all wanted to see her ring, and almost everyone gasped or something else dramatic when she showed it to them.

Instead of a diamond, he'd gotten an emerald.

Three more years later, she still couldn't stop looking at her ring. She looked in the mirror and smiled, reaching up to her neck to gently caress it. She'd had to stop wearing it on her finger for a while. She was too pregnant, and her fingers were swollen. She still wanted to be able to wear it somehow though, so he bought her a chain so she could wear it around her neck until their son was born.

That day they were painting the baby's room. They'd decided on green so that the little guy would never be able to forget where he came from. They painted together for a while, and then he decided to take a break. He sat on the floor near her belly, and read the baby the book "Go, Dog. Go!" When he got to the part about the dogs and the traffic light, he whispered into her belly, "Because green-light means go, right little man?" He'd been collecting every book with green lights he could find. So many stories, but theirs would always be the best.

Three more years later, and their son knew their story well. Every time they were in a car, he would always try and beat his dad to saying it. "Green-light means go," their son would yell, and then burst into uncontrollable giggles. She loved that he let their son beat him every time. He was such a good dad. She still loved him so.

Three more years later, things were harder. There were things they'd never talked about before they got married, things that were coming up now. Her mother said she told her so. "You can't meet a man at a traffic light and make it last," she said. After months of fighting, months of trying, they decided to take space from each other for a while. They agreed she would go and stay at her mother's, as much as they both hated that idea. They tried to explain to their son what was happening, but it was hard. All those years ago, when he'd proposed at the green light, she'd never imagined it being this hard.

She and her son got into the car and drove away. 6 minutes into their drive, they stopped at a red light, and that's where she started to cry. She tried to do it silently, stealthily, as moms are so good at doing. The light turned green.

"Does green light still mean go?" Her son observed the empty seat, then looked at her hesitantly. But she didn't know how to answer him, because she just wasn't sure either.

Three months later, they were still trying. Every time she drove their son back to see his dad, she would think of him at every green light she saw. They'd been going to counseling. She felt like it was helping. She felt like she was ready to move back home and try again. She wasn't sure how to tell him that though. She was scared he wouldn't be ready to take the plunge.

One day, the doorbell rang at her mom's house. She went to answer the door and found him standing there with a battery-powered lamp in the shape of a traffic light. He pushed the button to turn it on. First, it went to red, so he clicked it again. Then yellow, so he clicked it again. "Green-light means go?" It wasn't a fact this time. It was a question.

He handed her the lamp, and she breathed a happy sigh.

"Green-light means go."

And so they went.

Short Story

About the Creator

Caitlin Jill Anders

Full-time writer with anxiety just figuring it out.

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    Caitlin Jill AndersWritten by Caitlin Jill Anders

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