No. 17: Promising - Part II (continued from Part I)
Date: Spring 2003
The popcorn had finished popping, the candy opened, pops passed around, and the movie selected. The three girls were sprawled around the family room in their pajamas. Girl’s Night.Oh, Little Laura, you'll be a woman soon. Spending $100 on a dress, another $30 on nails, $40 on hair. You'll skip the limo to save money, but you'd be surprised how much you'll spend on dinner.
“So he just asked you to go?” Onnie squealed excitedly. “I can’t believe it, I’ve been praying for it forever!” Her short pigtails bounced around with her.
Mom just smiled, but Aurelia knew she could very easily fly out of her seat, as well. “We’ll have to get you a beautiful dress,” she though out loud. “Do you have any in mind?”
Thinking about the dress she’d seen in the magazine, Aurelia described it to Mom and Onnie. “I’m telling you, Mom, it’s amazing and exactly what I want.”
“You don’t work tomorrow, correct?” Mom asked.
“Well,” Mom slowly suggested, “I guess we’ll just have to go on a miniature shopping spree, tomorrow. After all, Prom is only three weeks away.”
This caused another shrill squeal to sound from Onnie. As a freshman, and an energetic one at that, she still felt the most exciting event in the world was a school dance. “Oh my gosh, I can do your hair, make-up, and everything!”
“What’s going on in here?” Tony grumbled, walking into the room. Aurelia’s twin brother had obviously heard all of their screaming and loud planning.
“Corey asked Relia to Prom,” Onnie shouted for the world to hear.
“That’s it?” Tony asked with disdain. “People were figuring he would get around to it. In fact,” he paused and brightened a little, “we had a betting pool going on. I win thirty bucks.”
He grinned in anticipation of his economic gain. Then, he grabbed his car keys from the end table. “Mom, I’m going over to Tara’s. I’ll be back by midnight.”
“Night, Kiddo,” Mom called out. “Tell Tara I said ‘hi.’ Ask her over for dinner tomorrow night.”
“Okay.” The heavy wooden door slammed shut.
“I think he’s going to ask her to Prom,” Onnie speculated.
Aurelia glanced at Mom who stared longingly at the door. “I have no doubt,” she whispered before looking away. Clearing her throat she announced, “I’m tired, girls, and I need to call your father. He’ll want to know all of the news. Night, and sweet dreams.”
They both said good night and Onnie pulled out some magazine to show Aurelia a number of sample hairstyles she could chose from. Though she feigned deep interest, Aurelia couldn’t forget the look on Mom’s face. She’d looked so sad. It was then that Aurelia knew that Mom didn’t want to leave Omaha. She also knew Mom didn’t want to be apart from her father. For the first time, she realized what Mom must be going through. She had to choose between the place she loved and the man she shared the same feelings for. What she would do Mom’s situation, Aurelia had not the slightest idea.
The magical night of Prom was rapidly approaching. Only three days left to go. Her dress had been bought and was hanging in her closet. Her little sister had helped her chose a hairstyle and practiced it a couple of times. The make up had been selected and the nail appointment scheduled. Dinner reservations were made, a boutonnière ordered, and Corey had taken Aurelia along to decide on a tux with a blue vest to match her dress.
As a present, Aurelia had hand sewn him a handkerchief out of a pale blue material that would look perfect in his coat pocket. With so little time to go, she was finding it difficult to hide her excitement. Granted, Corey had seemed to be looking forward to it as well, but she didn’t want him to detect what was going on inside her.
The school’s gossip grapevine had always linked the two together. It had quieted down substantially until Corey had asked her to Prom. No doubt thanks to her brother and sister. She knew Onnie hadn’t told everyone out of malice, just dumb excitement. As for Tony, he’d done it to cause her grief. He’d told her just the same.
It probably didn’t help matters that she and Corey had become inseparable. Not only this, but in class, he was always finding a way to make contact with her. For her part, Aurelia couldn’t help but gaze at him adoringly whenever he was around. Even the little old ladies at the library had taken to giggling whenever he came around for a visit, which was more frequently then ever. It was making it harder for her to keep their relationship at the “just friends” level.
Mom said he was in love, just like one of the characters in the books she wrote. Aurelia knew better. He couldn’t even like her as more than a friend. Being a very straightforward person, he would have already told her. It didn’t matter in any case. With Spring Break being the week after Prom, she’d be going with her family to Washington DC for a visit. She hadn’t told Corey or any of her other friends. She didn’t want to ruin what few, precious moments she had left with them all but mentioning it.
She felt a pencil jab into her side. It was Corey, who now pouted for having been neglected so long. Batting his eyes at her, he stuck out his bottom lip and said, “What’s wrong, Lia? Don’t you want to play with me?”
Sending him a look that would make a smoldering temptress proud, she simply said, “do you know it?”
That was the final mark in the trigger of the grapevine frenzy. Their flirtations were now at an all time high. She really needed to put a stop to it, but she was enjoying herself entirely too much. She could already hear the sound of her heart breaking in the very near future.
He came to her house promptly at six the following Saturday. Her father, who was home to collect them for the next week, was the one who came up to her room to announce Corey’s arrival.
“Come in,” she called in response to the knock at her door, still primping in front of a mirror.
Stepping in cautiously, then closing the door behind his tall figure, her father scanned her appearance up and down. “You look beautiful, Sweetheart,” he spoke gruffly. His eyes were watering slightly, but he looked away quickly.
“Thanks,” Aurelia said, patting her hair softly and checking herself over in the mirror, again and again.
Clearing his throat, her father brought his eyes to her face. “Look,” he began quietly, “I know this has all been pretty rough on you all lately. Believe me, it’s been hard for me too.”
Aurelia just stared back at him.
“Not getting to be with my family has been awful. Not getting to see each of you everyday almost makes me wish I hadn’t accepted this position.”
“Yeah right,” Aurelia rolled her eyes. “You can’t fool me. I know this is your dream job. It’s what you’ve always wanted to do.”
“I can’t deny that,” her father interrupted, “but you forgot to mention my other dream.”
Thrown off guard, Aurelia looked quizzically at her father.
Staring at his shoes, her father said quietly, “My other dream was to have a good family. To be a good father. To have a wonderful wife. And I have the first and the third, I just haven’t been able to manage the second yet.”
For a moment, both stood in silence, neither knowing what to say.
“I just wish President Lawrence hadn’t run till the next election.” Pausing, to laugh shortly before finishing, “But anyhow, I didn’t mean to spoil your evening. I just wanted you to know that I love you, and I’m so proud to be your father.”
He lightly chucked her under the chin with his finger. “I’m glad Corey is the sort of young man good enough to take my oldest girl out.”
For the first since he’d been named Attorney General, Aurelia felt at peace with Dad, and she knew everything would work out for the best. She’d been wrong about him, and she couldn’t wait to get to know him again. That would have to wait till later because she had a full night ahead of her.
Sitting on a couch in the screened in porch in the back of her friend’s house, Aurelia sat leaning up against the wall of Corey’s chest, listening to his heartbeat and feeling the warmth of his arms. It reminded her so much of the beaches of Florida. The two sat there, resting, and she thought of the evening she’d had. The corsage on her wrist was made of a bouquet of baby yellow roses, held together by a light blue ribbon. She loved it, just as she knew she’d cherish the picture her mother had taken of Corey putting it on her. Even more she’d love the picture of her pinning on his boutonnière, which in reality had been pinned on by her mother, but the picture taken while Aurelia faked it. They’d gone to a small Chinese restaurant. It was inexpensive, and cozy, and they did not need to beat a crowd there. They’d all joked, and laughed, and Corey had been such a gentleman, opening doors, and paying for her.
At the dance, they tangoed, made up moves, and even did the chicken polka a time or two. It was fun going with someone who wasn’t afraid to dance. Even closer to perfection were the slow dances, where Corey held her close. The world seemed to stop for them. They all stopped by Post-Prom and found it amusing for only a couple of hours. Since their parents knew their intent to stay over with a few friends at one of their houses, it wasn’t an issue how late they stayed out. They all played poker and watched a movie, which brought them to now. Just before the sunrise, and right after the last stars had faded from the sky.
“You know what, Lia?”
“Tonight was just about perfect,” Corey declared. “We had fun, it was comfortable, and I’m glad I went with someone I cared about, not just some ditzy girl with looks.”
“Gee thanks,” Aurelia sarcastically moaned.
Looking down at her seriously, Corey said, “You know what I mean. Besides, what are you worried about? You know you were easily the most gorgeous girl there.”
This caused Aurelia to be shocked. She couldn’t even think of anything she might say in response to such a statement.
“Your dress made your eyes look so blue,” he began to list. “I never knew they were that color. Your hair looks so elegant, and that’s who you are elegant. The jokes you made were so witty, and I don’t remember a time I wasn’t laughing. You were always smiling, and your smile brings out your dimples. I love your smile. You know, actually, there probably isn’t a single thing about you I don’t love.”
Once again, Aurelia was at a loss for words. She wouldn’t have had time to respond as his lips descended upon hers, and the two shared a kiss. Closing her eyes, she allowed herself to be taken away to a paradise she’d never known. It wasn’t her first kiss, but somehow after being kissed by Corey, she felt like she’d been welcomed to a new world. Certainly by kissing her with this intensity, it must mean something. Perhaps Corey may share her feelings after all. No sooner had the thought entered her mind, then the kiss was ended abruptly.
To her dismay, he pulled away, almost in a state of horror. “Oh, God, Aurelia,” he stammered, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to. I just got caught up in the moment.”
Still pulling herself to her senses, Aurelia began to ramble all of what she had felt for him for so long. Finishing she said, “I want nothing more than to know that you feel the same way, and that we can start a new form of life together. It’s part of why I’m so against leaving. Truly, Corey, I’m not making this up. I care about you, more than anyone else.”
After all of that, he just stared at her. Nothing was said for quite sometime, till Corey stood up and said, “I think we should go home, we both could obviously use some sleep.”
Nothing was said on the drive home, and when Aurelia got out of the car, he reached out to grab her hand, but pulled it away quickly. Looking out his own window, he quietly said, “I think that you and I could use some time apart. To figure things out, you know? We’ve just been around each other too much. No wonder we were acting like this.”
Of everything she had thought he might say, this was what hurt the most. Fighting against tears, Aurelia got out, and before slamming the door, she angrily spat, “If you want time alone, Corey, take it. You’re about to get all the time in the world.” She ran inside and curled up on her bed, safe in her haven, ignoring his calls for her to come back.
She had only one day left in Washington D.C. before returning to Omaha. Though she had moped around much of the trip, Aurelia knew she had enjoyed herself. D.C. was a fun place, she just knew it wasn’t for her. So had Dad. After he and Mom had spent a great deal of talking, and then speaking with the President, they all came to an understanding. He would only be required to spend one week a month in Washington. It was still a considerable amount of time, but he was willing to do it in order to secure his family’s happiness. After she and Tony graduated, they would relocate for the remainder of the term, as Onnie didn’t mind the idea of relocation before junior year.
Sitting alone in the sun room, her silent revere of what had passed between herself and Corey was interrupted by her brother Cameron, who had joined them on his own Spring Break. He sat next to her on the sofa, and they both stared out the window for a time.
Then he turned to her and said, “So what are you going to do about him?”
Startled, Aurelia looked to him. “What do you mean?”
Cameron rolled his eyes and laughed at her playing it off as nothing. “You know what I mean. What are you going to do about Corey?”
It was then that she finally cut lose her feelings. She began to sob, and her brother pulled her into his arms. “I just don’t know, Cam, I don’t.” She gulped air between sobs. “Part of me wants to fight for him, and the other wants me to give up and start over.”
Thinking very carefully, and choosing his words, Cameron finally asked, “Which one is it going to be? You can’t do both.”
Wiping her eyes, and taking a shallow breath, Aurelia knew the answer. “I’m going to fight for him. You know that’s what I want.”
Breaking out into a huge smile, Cameron laughed, “Then get to it. Don’t worry, I’ve made all of the arrangements.”
When he’d dropped her off, Cameron had said she didn’t have anything to worry about. All she had to do was talk to Corey. After the flight, she didn’t know what to expect. Would anyone really be there to pick her up? Cameron said that he’d made arrangements to take her to Corey, so she wondered who it would be there. Even more than that, she wondered how she would explain this all to that person. With the exception of a few friends, she’d practically dropped off of the face of the Earth.
Stepping out of the terminal, Aurelia looked around until she saw the most easily recognized face. The most needed pair of eyes. Even before she could say anything, Corey had thrown his arms around her and pulled her close to him in a tight embrace.
“They said you weren’t coming back,” Corey breathed out. “I thought I’d messed things forever.”
Aurelia smiled brightly at Corey as the two settled on a bench by the windows. She’d never been happier to see anyone. With Corey still holding her hand she managed to get out, “Whoever your source was, they were obviously misinformed.”
“I missed you so much,” holding her tight, Corey managed to say. “Your brother told me that you wouldn’t be moving after all. I’m so relieved. You see, I never realized how much you meant to me till you were gone.” After a pause he finished. “I’m sorry.”
So that was who Cameron had called. At least one thing made perfect sense. As for the world of Corey, he had apologized now, but it didn’t seem to matter. Aurelia had somehow known he never meant to hurt her with those thoughtless words.
“I forgive you.”
Sighing, he looked out at the planes taking off and landing. “All of those things you said to me, were exactly what I’ve been feeling the same way too, for as long as I can remember. I was just so overwhelmed when you told me, and so scared to know you felt the same way, I panicked. It was wrong of me, but I lashed out. I was afraid to grow closer to you when I thought you would be leaving.”
The two sat in silence and just looked at one another. It had only been a few days since they’d last seen one another, but it might as well have been an eternity. Neither would grow tired of the sight of the other.
“I completely understand.”
Still more silence while the two reflected on all that had occurred. Corey interrupted the silence by saying, “Now that you’re back for good, I was wondering if you would like to, you know, officially be my girlfriend.” He said this quietly, showing reservation and nervousness for the first time since she’d met him.
Joy flooded through her heart when she heard the words. It all stopped when she thought of what had happened last time they’d discussed this. Tears came to her eyes as Aurelia stammered, “We can’t, Corey, we can’t. You’re my best friend, and I though I had messed everything up once. Don’t ask me to risk losing you again. I don’t think I can handle that.”
“Listen, Lia,” Corey said seriously, pulling her closer to him. “We’ve been through a lot. Cooties, puberty, ups and downs, this scare. We survived this, we can make it through anything.”
They sat still for a moment, then Aurelia pulled out of his embrace. Looking intently into his eyes, she confessed for the first time to anyone, “I’ve never really believed high school romances could end peacefully and with no regrets. I have even less faith in them lasting.”
It was at that moment she tore her eyes away from his. This was the first time they’d broken all contact since their reunion. A plane took off beginning a new flight. Just as this was a new beginning for their relationship. With a smile playing at her lips, she reached her hand out to lace her fingers with his. Shyly, Aurelia shifted her glance to stare him in the eyes.
“Prove me wrong.”
This was another junior year creative writing assignment. We were tasked with writing a short story. It could be about anything -- preferably something about the high school experience. And for Little Laura, prom was definitely one of those experiences.
At this point in my junior year, I'd recently undergone a fairly horrific break-up. I'm willing to concede I handled it poorly and was overly dramatic about the whole thing. (Can you tell by this story that I'd fully embraced a dramatic life of an angst-filled teen?) On top of nursing my wounded heart, I didn't have any prospects for my upcoming junior prom.
(I later went on to not only find a date to my prom, but I was invited to -- and attended -- proms at two other schools that year. By senior year I had a steady boyfriend at another high school, and I went to two more proms. So, yeah, five proms. I made out like a bandit getting the prom experience.)
|Little Laura before her junior prom.|
|Little Laura before her date's prom, junior year.|
|Little Laura before another |
date's prom, junior year.
|Little Laura before her senior prom.|
Yeah... Even after four Homecomings, four winter formals and five proms, I
have still never figured out how to pin a damn boutonniere. Thanks, Mom.
|Little Laura before her then-boyfriend's senior prom.|
(And, yes, I removed the face of my dates. I don't have
their permissions, and this isn't about them. It's about LL!)
I'll give Little Laura this much. She's finally learned to use the damned spell check. And I'm pretty sure I hadn't seen this on an episode of Friends or Saved by the Bell, which means this is a Little Laura original. And, aside from the theatrics -- and fully embracing the concept of having my characters "add" or "snarl" -- this isn't a bad little story. Or am I wrong? I could be wrong.
In all seriousness, as I read this story, there were a couple of moments that made me smile, because I thought it was actually sweet and not so bad. Then there were other times I did a lot of Liz Lemon-style eye rolling.
Now, we've already stepped into the truth thunderdome. But I'm going to invite you into an inner chamber of the dome for this truth bomb I'm about to drop. Here's the confession: I'm about 95 percent sure the mom in this story is supposed to be me in the future.
At this point, I wanted to be a teacher (and a novelist), and what is the mother in this story doing? I also had high aspirations of marrying a highly successful, motivated family man. (Now, I'm just looking for a guy who has a job and is willing to take the trash out and change the kitty litter 50 percent of the time.) Another reason I suspect this: all four of the children in this book are ones I planned to name my own children at this point in my life. My two favorite girl names and my two favorite boy names.
What's wrong with me? Four kids? I know I grew up as one of four, but sheesh, y'all.That's a lot of work.
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