Phil stood at the water's edge, staring out of the ocean. Phil had never really seen the ocean. Being in Ohio, one can't find the ocean. Phil never realized how beautiful the ocean was, with the sun shining on it, making it sparkly. But then again, Phil never realized how many things were beautiful until he met Abigail Joy. And now the most beautiful out of all the things was-

"Dead," whispered Phil, as tears welled up.

Ed, Carol, and Eli came by to see Phil. Phil heard them coming and quickly wiped his tears away. It wasn't like Phil to show emotion.

"Phil, are you all right?" asked Ed.

Phil said, "Yeah, I'm fine. He turned away because the concern in Ed's voice made Phil tear up again and he didn't want to see it.

"Phil, it's ok to cry," said Carol, as tears of her own began to form. "We all know how much you loved her."

Phil turned further away and said, "I'm fine. Please leave me alone."

The three knew he wasn't fine but didn't want to press it. However, they didn't want Phil's grief to eat away at him.

"Phil, I know you difficult it is to deal with losing the love of your life-" Eli began.

"No you don't!" yelled Phil.

The three looked taken aback; they never expected Phil to be so loud.

"Your girlfriend is alive," Phil continued with tears welling up more. "Your girlfriend doesn't have cancer. Your girlfriend-" Phil stopped his rampage and threw a rock into the water. He threw it so hard that he feel down to the sandy ground. He shook hard and had the tears fall down his face.

Shaky, he said, in a trembling voice, "Your girlfriend didn't die in your arms." Phil buried his face in his hands and wept. Phil could take it anymore; the pain of losing his girlfriend was too much to take for him

The three sat down next to Phil. "I never realized how much I loved Abigail Joy until she died," he said, still tears rolling down his face.

"That's how it is with people," said Ed. "We don't know how much we care for people until they leave us."

"You know something?" said Phil. "As angry as I am that Abigail Joy's dead, as livid and hurt as I feel, that's how much I want to touch her, that's how much I want to hold her."

Phil stood up and took his toe and made circles with his toe. "She changed me," he said. "I would still be the same guy I was if I hadn't met her."
Phil went on to tell the story of Abigail Joy.

Phil was the manager of Stuckeyville bowl in Stuckeyville, Ohio. He was always conjuring a scheme to get more money for himself, everything from selling turkeys to trying to write music but none had gotten him in trouble-at least serious trouble, until now.

"Phil, Phil, Phil," said Ed, the owner of the Stuckeyville bowling alley. He paced in front of Phil, who was covered in brownie mix.

"Bosco," started Phil, by he was stopped by a look from Ed. Ed didn't like being called "Bosco."

"I mean, Ed," continued Phil, sheepishly. "I know how upset you are at me, but look at it from my side. I was trying to do help out-"

"By what?" demanded Ed. "By making a scheme that you would bake 20 batches of brownies for the Stuckeyville Boys and Girls Club and sell them at $2 a brownie!"

"Hey, man," defended Phil. "Those brownies are hard to make and how am I suppose to compensate for working so hard?'

"Oh, heaven forbid, that you work hard, Phil!" yelled Ed. Ed sat down at the bar and untied his tie.

Ed looked so stressed and upset that Phil actually felt regret. "Look, man," he said. "I'm really sorry I did this. I was only thinking of myself as usual."

"What else is new?" asked Ed.
Phil looked down at his egg-covered sneakers and said, "Look, is there anything I can do to make up for this?"

Ed rubbed his eyes and said, "Yes, you can. My cousin, Abigail Joy is the program director for the Boys and Girls Club and she needs a volunteer to help organize and head up the indoor soccer program. And I suggested you, Phillip."

"Aughhh," groaned Phil. "Kids? Soccer? Phillip? Come on, Ed, I can't stand children."

"Really?" said Ed. "It's either that or I dock your pay for the brownies."

Phil thought about it and said, "You know, in words of Whitney Houston, I believe children are our future."

The two smiled at each other.

The next day, Phil went to the Boys and Girls Club to start his volunteer work. He took a peek through the window to see what was happening. Phil felt his stomach turn. There were at least 100 children! 100 loud, screaming, exciting children!

Phil stepped away and felt the nausea come to his stomach.

Ed walked up and saw Phil's expression.

"A little nervous, Philly?" teased Ed.

Phil straightened up and put on an "as-if" look. "No, of course not!" he said. " I can handle it!"

"Good, I'm glad," said Ed. With that, the two walked into the club to the front desk, where a blonde-haired woman greeted them.

"Hi, can I help you?" she asked cheerfully.

"Yes, I'm Ed Stevens," said Ed. "I'm here to see Abigail Joy Montgomery, the program director."

"Ok, I'll see if she's in her office," said the secretary. However, she didn't need to.

"Hey, cous!" said a voice. Ed and Phil turned to see a pretty, brunette woman.

Ed responded with a big smile and said, "Hi, Abigail Joy." The two reached out to hug each other.

"How are you?" she responded, with, what Phil thought was the sweetest smile he had ever seen.
"Great, how are you?" he responded.

The two began a brief conversation but Phil didn't listen. He was too busy looking at Abigail Joy. She was simply the most beautiful woman he had ever laid his eyes on. She was tall, at least, 5'10, had a heart-shaped face, lovely brown eyes, silky brown hair, and amazing, hourglass figure. Phil was speechless and everybody knew it.

"And you must be Phil Stubbs," she said.

Phil couldn't find his voice, so Ed nudged him to speak.

Suddenly, Phil found his voice. "Yes, I'm Phil Stubbs," he stammered.

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Phil," she said as she shook his hand.

As Phil touched her hand, he felt something he had never before, couldn't describe.

"Phil, thank you so much for taking on running the indoor soccer program," she continued. "I was worried that I would have to cancel the whole program. And a lot of people wouldn't be too pleased with that."

"Why?" asked Phil.

"Well, we depend on the soccer program to keep the athletic department of the club open, along with our bingo night," she explained. "Plus, it keeps the kids out of trouble and the parents like that."

Abigail Joy led the two to a conference room. "Ok, Phil and Ed, here are all the activity cards that the parents filled out," she said. "If anyone didn't pay the activity fee or membership dues, just put those names on a sheet and hand it to me later."

"What if they don't have the money to pay?" asked Phil.

Abigail Joy looked at him and laughed. Then she said, seriously, "Phil, at the Boys and Girls Club, the money doesn't matter to us. All we care about is the children."

With that, she left.

"Man, does she have a lot to learn," Phil said.

Ed didn't respond. Ed knew his cousin. She didn't care at all about making money. She cared about making a difference. He hoped that Phil would learn from that her; perhaps paying off the brownies wasn't the only reason that Ed wanted Phil to work there.

For the next few hours, Ed and Phil were busy organizing the kids' teams. They had to make sure certain accommodations, for example, some parents wanted their children on teams with other children in order to ensure car-pooling problems. Then, they had to organize the children by experience and then, they had to make sure that all the time had the same number of children. By the time the two men were done, they had been working for four and a half hours! Yikes!

The two dropped on an old couch, exhausted and tired.

"Oh, man," said Ed. "Am I beat."

"Me too," agreed Phil as he shifted a yawn.

The two sat in silence. Abigail Joy knocked on the door and came in.

"Hey guys," she said. "How did you do?"

"We just finished, Abs," said Ed. "It's some doing but we got all the kids on the right teams."

"That's great, Ed," said Abigail Joy. Then, she looked at Phil. "Are you ok, Phil?" asked Abigail Joy.

Phil suddenly straightened up and looked presentable. "Me?" he said. "I'm fine, I mean, fine."

"Phil, you don't have to make an act for me," Abigail Joy said. "If tired, just show it."

She winked at him and mentioned that there was pizza for dinner downstairs. The two men followed her and the three sat down to pizza. While Ed and Phil began to eat, Abigail Joy took her time. She bowed her head and folded her hands. After a few seconds, she lifted her head up and began to eat.

Phil looked around and said, "What were you doing?"

She smiled and said, "I was saying grace."

Phil looked at Ed and asked, "Grace! I have never seen anyone say 'grace' before."

"I'm a Christian," she said, casually.

Phil thought for a moment. "Oh, you're one of the venting, raving religious freaks," he said.

Instead of getting annoyed and telling Phil off, Abigail Joy simply smiled and said, "I prefer the term, 'Jesus freak'"
Phil said, "So, you believe in God and go to church and stuff?"

"Yup, I go every Sunday," she said, with a grin.

"Do you go Ed?" asked Phil with a sly grin.

Ed smiled and said, "From time to time."

"When I twist his arm," Abigail Joy said, which resulted in great laughter.

'Maybe you come with me one day," she offered.

"Oh, no, cous," he said, laughing. "Phil's Jewish. I don't think he'd want to go."

Phil looked at him and said, "Ha, ha."

"But you don't believe in God?" asked Abigail Joy.

Phil stopped chewing and looked at her. Phil had never been asked if he believed in God. He was Jewish but he never gave a thought to it.

"I don't know," he shrugged. "I never thought much about it."

Abigail Joy smiled at him and said, "Maybe you should."

The three finished eating and the two left for the night.

As Phil lay sleeping in his bed that night, he thought about the woman he had met. There was something really different about her. He couldn't put his finger on it, but it was something that was making Phil fall in love with her and he had only known her a day.

The next day, Phil went to the Boys and Girls Club for the first day of soccer practices. Phil didn't really know what to expect but he hoped to see Abigail Joy. He did. She was standing by the lockers, putting her things away. Phil felt his heart skip a beat; she was so beautiful, wearing a flowered-dress, white shoes and her hair up in a bun. Phil was super attractive to her but he had a job to do.

Phil went to punch his time card in. He turned to get some papers and bumped into-. Abigail Joy!

"Hi, Phil, how are you?" she greeted with a big smile.

Phil got professional and replied, "Hi, Abigail Joy. I'm fine, you?"

"Good, are you ready for the first day of practice?" she asked.

"As ready as I'll ever be," he replied. But he looked worried.

"Don't worry, Phil," she soothed. She took his hand and rubbed it. "You'll be fine. I just know it."

Trying hard not to be overwhelmed by her touch, Phil said, skeptically. "How do you know I'll be okay? You don't know how I am around children."

Abigail Joy looked at him and said, "It doesn't matter. You seem nice and I think the kids will like you; you seem like a big kid yourself."

That made Phil laughed and more comfortable. He actually smiled and said, "I never thought about myself like that but thanks."

"Your welcome," said Abigail Joy. She looked at him with much intensity; as if she could look right into him and see that he needed encouragement. It was amazed Phil.

The two finally snapped out of it.

"I better get going," he said quickly.

"Me, too," she replied just as quickly.

The two turned and went off.

Despite his inexperience, Phil seemed to handle the hundreds of children but he did have dozens of coaches. Phil walked around and coached the kids. The kids seemed to take a liking to him and it was the same for Phil. However, there was a little girl that didn't really participate in soccer. Phil decided to walk over to the little girl.

"Hi there, cutie," he said.

The little girl looked up through her white-blond hair and bright blue eyes. She didn't respond.

Phil sat down next to her and asked, "Why aren't you playing soccer? Everyone seems to be having fun. Don't you want to join in?"

The little girl shrugged.

Phil decided to press on. "What's your name?"

"Amy Bloomfield," she said.

"Amy," he repeated. "That's a really pretty name for a really pretty girl. I'm Coach Phil."

Amy just sat and looked at the kids playing.

"Why don't you want to play?" he asked.

"I'm not good. she said.

"Oh, Amy," he breathed. "How do you know that you're not good?"

"But I'm small," she complained. "All the kids pick on me because I'm small."

Phil looked at her and said, "I know how you feel. When I was little boy, I wanted to play football but I was very small and kids picked on me. But you know what?"

"What?" she suddenly perked up.

"My coach took me aside and he practice with everyday," he explained. "And little by little, I got more confident in my playing and I started liking the game more and more. Before I knew, I was starter on the time and I was the youngest."

"What is confident?" she asked.

"Confident means that you believe in yourself, that you can be good at anything you do," he said.

"What if I'm not good at soccer?" she asked.

Phil wrapped his arm around her and said, "Look, Amy, you'll never know until you try." He smiled at her and said, "How about it, sister? You and me?"

Amy perked up and said, "Ok, you and me, Coach Phil!"

For the next few hours, Phil and Amy kicked the soccer ball back and forth. Despite the fact, she was small; Amy was a pretty good kicker. Phil was impressed.

Soon, Amy's mom came to pick her up. "Thanks, Coach Phil! See you at practice!"

"Bye, Amy," he said.

Phil turned to the messy gym and proceeded to clean it up.

"Hi," called a voice.

"Auighh!" he screamed, as he jumped.

"I'm sorry," said Abigail Joy. "I wanted to help you clean up."

Phil blushed, smiled, and said, "Oh, thanks," he said.

The two began to clean up.

"I want to say, that I was really impressed by how you handled Amy," she said.

"Thanks," he smiled. "She's a pretty cool little girl."

"Well, she's been through a lot," she said. "Her parents divorced when she was just a toddler and her father is a absentee dad. Treated the mom badly, hasn't seen the mom or her in years."

"Wow, that's pretty tough," he said.

"Yeah, the mom works 12-hour days as a nurse," she said. "She hardly ever sees her. She comes to the club before and after school. She's very lonely."

"I can tell, she had a hard time trying to play soccer," he said.

"Well, I've tried to get through to her a lot," she said. "You seemed to see succeed the first time. I'm impressed."

He smiled at her and said," Thanks, Abigail Joy."

Abigail Joy didn't respond. She looked tired and her face was wet with sweat.

Phil studied her and said, "You okay, Abigail Joy?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," she said. "I'm, just really tired. That's all."

Phil still looked concern. "Why don't I call Ed?"

"No, no," she said, with great force. "I'll be all right." She felt a little dizzy and Phil held her to steady her. The two looked into each other's eyes, deeply and with much sincerity. Then, the something unusual happened; Phil and Abigail Joy felt their faces move toward each other. Before they knew it, their lips were touched and they kissed. Suddenly, the two pulled away.

"I'm sorry," she said.

"About what?" asked Phil.

"I kissed you," she said, with much shame. "I shouldn't have done that."

"Done what?" asked Phil with a laugh. "Kissed me? It's ok."

"No, it's not that," she said. "It's-"

She stopped when Phil touched her face and stroked it.

"It's ok," he soothed. "Don't worry."

Abigail Joy softens and smiled. Phil took her in his arms and kissed her. When the two were finished, Abigail Joy and Phil stared into each other's eyes.

"I've been wanting to do that to you since I saw you," Phil said.

"Me too," she said.

Abigail Joy rested her head on Phil's chest. Phil tightens his embrace and held her for what seemed like forever.

Then, "I have to go, Phil," she said.

"Don't, please," he pleaded.

"I have to," she said. She released herself from him and kissed his chin.

She smiled at him and left for the night. Well, Phil was practically walking on air when he left. He was in love.

The next day, Phil was working at the bowling alley. He was cleaning the counter and singing---.love ballads.

"Always and forever," he sang. "Each moment with you."

Eli and Shirley, two workers at the alley, just stared. Phil had taken a coat stand and was dancing with it. He stopped when he saw the two staring at him.

Sheepishly, Phil turned off the music and put the coat stand to the side.

"How long have you been watching act like a complete moron?" asked Phil.

"Since we started working with you," said Eli.

"Ha, ha," he said sarcastically. He gave Eli a playfully punch.

"What's up with you, Phil?" asked Shirley.

"I'm in love, my dear," he responded as he took her hand and gave her a kiss.

"With who?" asked Eli.

"Yeah, with who?" asked Ed, who had just walked in.

"Oh, I'm in love with Abigail Joy," Phil responded with a smile.

Ed didn't look pleased. "Abigail Joy?" he stammered. "When did this happen?"

"Last night, when we kissed," he said as he began filling up salt and peppershakers.

"You kissed her?" he said.

"Yes," he said, softly. "It was so sweet. It wasn't like any other kiss I've felt before."

Ed did not look at all happy. In fact, he looked angry.

"Phil, I need to talk to you," he said in a grave voice.

Feeling nervous, Phil followed ED into his office.

Ed closed the door. He turned slowly to Phil. Phil thought he saw tears in his eyes but Ed quickly went to the window.

"Phil, I wanted you to help out at the Boys and Girls Club," he said. "Not fall in love with my cousin."

"I didn't plan on it," he said, defensively. "Neither did she."

Ed turned to him and said, "Look, Phil, I think it's best if you and my cousin keep a professional relationship and not get too close, ok?"

Feeling effective, Phil stood up slowly at looked at Ed straight in the eye.

"Look, man," Phil said. "I don't who you think you are, but you have no right, not one, telling me who to fall in love with, ok?"

Ed tried to reason with him. "Phil, I don't have a problem with you two dating, it's just that I don't want you to get hurt, all right?"

Phil looked at him and said, "Look, it's real nice of you to think of me and my feelings but I'm a big boy and I can take care of myself, thank you very much." With that, Phil stormed out of the office.