This is it, I thought, tightly clutching the bouquet of sunshine roses in nerves, This is the chance of a lifetime.
I forsake my hidden position of the tree and leaped into the pathway of the shocked girl retreating to home.
“H-h-hey, C-C-Clara,” I stammered, oddly blushing a bright red, to my childhood friend, “How’s it goin’?”
’How’s it goin’?’ Is that the best you’ve got? What a moron!
“Just fine . . . until you showed up,” she remarked, scowling.
“Oh God, she’s got her death glare on!”
“I-I just,”—GET IT TOGETHOR, MAN! –“I . . . well . . . it’s—WOULD YOU GO TO HOMECOMING WITH ME?” In desperate hope, I clumsily thrust the bouquet into the lone space between us. The mother of all awkward silences came in response as a few golden petals floated down to the gray concrete.
Picking up my scattered courage, I looked into Clara’s face—a portrait of shock, confusion, and. that’s not resentment, hopefully. Her hazel eyes seemed to blossom more under her glass as she slowly absorbed the information.
Finally, when I couldn’t take it anymore, she answered but I was never prepared for what came next.
“Huh?” It was my turn to stare at her in confusion. “But—why?”
I regretted the spoken word, as she turned all crazy-tigress on me.
“Why, you ask? That’s all you have to say—why? Jeez, John, I thought you trying to go all ‘cool’ on me!” (She’s a little behind on the times.) “I politely said “no” and then you freaked out me. I once believed that you actually knew about me!”
“O-oh, yeah,” went my weak reply as something very important dawned on to me, “you hate dances, right?”
“’Hate dances?’ Oh, I LOATH them with a burning passion equal to the French Revolution!” (Oh, don’t go all history nerd on me.) “Have you’ve fallen to the teenage girl stereotype belief that every girl says ‘yes’ when invited to homecoming? I’m sorry to inform you that you are wrong, good sir! I am not them—I’m myself in my own world!” Her yells echoed throughout the empty school parking lot (thank goodness school’s out).
“Besides,” she continued, “even if I was like them, I would still refused because date of the most boring homecoming comes across the Sounds of Conejo!”
“Um . . . what’s that?”
“UURRRGGGHHH! It’s when all the high school’s marching bands perform their shows, you adolescent! I’ve been watching our band’s practice every day and I know that they’re going to be awesome this season!” Her eyes turned red with annoyance, “I’ve heard that Westlake is doing a Phantom of the Opera show and there’s no way I’m gonna miss it!”
“Well, if you’re so crazy about marching, why don’t you join them?” I screeched.
Now there were tears forming in her eyes, “Did you really forget me in your ‘high school’ haze?” A metallic clang ringed between us.
“What do ya—“ I fell into ‘time to shut up back up plan’ as I regretfully and apolitically glanced at her silver-like wheelchair. It’s hard to imagine this girl who seems to stand taller than you was paralyzed in the legs.
“Sorry,” I mumbled, not meeting her eyes.
“’S okay,” she shrugged, “I know how forgetful you are.”
And cue more awkward silence.
Clara was the first to break the ice, “Furthermore, I must ask you, why should I go to homecoming when I know high school—a period of four years—is not my life?”
Without saying a “see ya later” she rolling elegantly away from me, leaving me wondering.
A few hours of over thinking, freaking out, banging my hand later, I called her once just to affirm something.
“Can I take you to this ‘Sounds of Conejo, thing?”
The pleasant chuckling calmed me. “Sure, but you’re buying the snacks!”