The display on my phone lit up. Linds. I sighed and hit the ignore button. I know what she wanted, she’d been pestering me for weeks. I wasn’t in the mood. I toss the phone onto the floor and continued to flip through the home and garden magazine. A moment later it began buzzing again. I continued reading about the latest home trends. Rattan furniture was making a come back, and macramé wall hangings. I guess the 70s are here to stay. I sighed and flipped to a different page. The window next to my head rattled. I jumped from my out stretched position to get a better look. Linds stood outside. Banging the glass with the flat of her hand. I scrambled off the bed hoping she hadn’t seen me.
“I can see you dummy, open up! You can’t hide in there forever! Come on Jules!” I sighed and crawled back onto the bed, moved the stick keeping the window from opening any wider and pulled it open.
“Hey Jules. What gives? You been avoiding my calls. I saw you last weekend and everything seemed fine and now this. The reunion is tonight. You do not look ready to go anywhere. How are we gonna blow Riley St. Clair’s socks off and win Todd Nam’s love in those clothes?”
“Look, Linds. I’m really not feeling good. I think I’m just gonna pass on this one.”
“What?! You were so excited last weekend. What’s going on. Why are you in those clothes? And why weren’t you at work today. You sick?”
“Yeah, sick.” Julia coughed a couple times to emphasize the point.
“Uh huh. Move outta the way and let me in.”
“What? Through the window?”
“Yeah, move outta the way!” Linds pulled herself part way through the window and it was all Julia could do to get out of the way in time. Linds curly dark head tumbled through the window. She was small, but strong. A neat compact person with a wild fro and tawny skin. She had wide green eyes like a cat and freckles inherited from her Irish father. Julia couldn’t be any more opposite from her friend. She was large and tall. Fat is what some said, but Linds called her curvolicious. Julia had a short black bob and thick red glasses. She wore comfy pjs just then but usually dressed in vintage reproductions and pinup girl clothing. She loved everything vintage. Linds was a modern girl. Today she wore a leather jacket over ripped jeans and a white tee. Classic look.
“Look here. I really don’t want to go Linds. I’m sorry. I’ve just had a really bad week… I don’t want to deal with all the bitches and jerks from Collinwood, not today anyway.”
“Ah Jules, what the heck is going on? You sounded so keen at dinner. Spill.”
“Nothing is going on, why do you jump to the conclusion immediately. I’m fine, everything is fine, I just don’t want to go! Okay. Can you please leave and let me get back to reading?”
“Um no way nothing is wrong. I can see you haven’t cleaned your room in like a week and you are the tidiest person I know.” Linds gestured around to the small room. It was a mess. There were piles of dirty clothing on the floor, some dirty dishes stacked next to the bed and a stack of mail and receipts on the night stand. Julia grabbed for the papers and stuffed under one large novel she hadn’t read yet.
“I’ve just been busy with the new job, okay?”
“Oh yeah? So what’s with the papers you just shoved away. Anything you’re hiding, huh?” Linds grabbed one of the pieces of mail sticking out and pulled it from the pile without toppling the other books in the stack. “Aha! What is this? Thank you for participating in the trial run with Higgins & Co. We look forward to you starting on Monday. We ask that you please wear this employee ID and don’t worry about lunch, we have it covered. EEEEEEEk Jules! This is awesome! I can’t believe my best friend is going to be working with one of the best firms in the city!”
“Yeah. It’s awesome. I can’t wait. I’m so happy.”
“Let’s just go the reunion for a little bit, besides. I saw on insta that Riley got a really cute pixie cut and might be gay now, how could you resist that? And look, have you seen the pics Todd Nam posted on insta?” She bounced off the bed and shoved the phone in Jules face. There was a slim Asian man, with a round face in large glasses, he had wavy black hair. He has the eyes to melt a k-pop groupies heart!” Linds pulled Jules off the bed and squeezed her until they both started laughing.
“Ugh I guess he’s okay, but there’s one problem Todd is a man and I’m a lesbian, so not exactly floating my boat. But if you really really want to go I guess we could just pop in for a drink then head out again, but only if you promise me alone time to flirt with Riley. And no hanging around. No leaving me alone while you go make out with Todd in the parking lot. And definitely no ditching me there at the end of the night!”
“Ugh that was one time and I still feel really really bad about it! I promise none of that will happen.”
“Say them then.”
“Ugh. I will not hang around; I will not leave you alone… do I have to promise….”
“Yes! Say it!”
“I will not ditch you to you at the reunion.”
“Good. Let’s get ready.”
* * *
“What time did you say it started at? “
“8pm. It’s in the gym.”
“Ugh. Of course it is. Will there even be drinking?”
“Yes! It says so on the invitation! Look, right here!” Linds held up her phone with the facebook event open for Jules to scroll through.
“Okay, not while I’m driving, geez!”
“Sorry. Look, there’s a good parking spot. It’s nice and close to the entrance, perfect for a quick escape.”
“Cool. Well I guess we just head in then…”
“Yeah, here goes nothing. Let’s go!” Linds jumped out of the car and trotted off towards the gym entrance. The door was propped open and a blonde woman stood outside it next to a folding table decorated with a rose gold table cloth and a clipboard. Linds was evidently checking them in as she ran her finger down the list and pointed out her name. Jules climbed out of the car, checking to make sure the lights were off and her parking break was in place before she headed to the entrance.
“Hello there! I just need you to check your name off the list, okay?”
“Sure.” Jules took the list from Linds and found her name and checked it off.
“And I also need to see two pieces of ID. For the bar. Then I can give you one of those lovely wrist bands.” She held up the wrist bands and waved them around.
“Now I definitely feel like I’m headed to a school dance, here you go.”
“I know, isn’t it fun! The theme was high school dance in 2018! Eeeee!”
“Oh yeah. What a theme. Cool. I really see you, uh, committed.”
“Okay okay, lets get in there! I wanna see what the old place looks like. Stop digging Jules. Your ID is right here.” Linds held it out to the greeter and smiled.
“Hey! When did you grab that.”
“Earlier, in the car. Come on, lets go! “
The greeter barely had a chance to slap the wrist bands on before Linds pulled them both into the gym. The lights were dim and the room was decorated with more rose good and millennial pink decorations. There was a balloon arch way and giant rose gold stars taped to the wall. A photo booth took up one wall and another was filled with photos: 2008 class photos, varsity, theatre, band, clubs, and an assortment of yearbook photo.
“Ooooh! Look at this place! They actually did a pretty decent job. I bet you’re in the year book team photo and I’m definitely in all the theatre ones. Haha! Not much has change, has it?”
“Can I please get a drink first?” Jules pointed to the bar on the opposite wall.
“Yes, please. Then we’ll explore and mingle.”
“Yeah, but mingle with who, where is everyone?”
“I dunno, it’s awfully empty isn’t it. Ugh. Though look who is here. Teresa Fink. Can we not?”
“Too late she’s seen us and heading this way. Hard to hide when you are the only ones in the room. Oh god I knew this was a bad idea!”
“Hiiiiiiiiii! Omg Julia Bellows? Lindsay Andersen! Wow! I didn’t expect to see you two here! I’m sooooooo excited! Isn’t this great! Jenny and I set up the whole thing! Wo-eeew it was a lot of work, what with the little ones at home and Eric away at sea. But how are you two doing! Tell me all about your lives these days! Ooooh!” A short brunette approached them with open arms and a huge fake smile plastered across her face.
“I’m going to get a drink.”
“Hi Teresa. Nice to see you, well aren’t you looking good!”
“Oh please, my friends call me Tara these days! Oooooh it’s so nice to see you Lindsay. Oooh lookie who’s here. Is that Todd Nam? What a snack! I’ve got to go greet him!”
“Oh thank god!” Tara moved off towards the door where Todd had just walked in. He was looking around but Linds moved off to find Jules before she went to corner him.
“Look! Look who just walked in! Todd Nam. Teresa just called him a snack. I nearly puked, but he definitely, definitely is hot.”
“I mean, yeah, I guess, but as I said I don’t care. There isn’t a gay in the building unless Teresa is doing a really good job of staying the closet. Did you hear her though? Talking about the kids at home and her hubby away at sea. Ughhhhh. And she’s still married to Eric Carter? I find that hard to believe. Didn’t they just get married because he knocked her up and her dad is super religious? At least that’s what I heard…”
“Ah now you’re getting into the spirit of things. I’m gonna go say hi to Todd. You coming?”
“I guess. Oh look isn’t that Riley St.Clair with him? I had a crush on her in high school, is she his date?”
“No way! Ah man.”
“Look, it’s not like you were gonna hook up anyway, you promised, remember?”
“I know, but still. I was hoping for a little flirting action, just for old times sake.”
“Ha. A little flirt action. As if you could do only a little flirting. HAHAHA. Come on. I’ll buy the next round of drinks if you manage to not flirt with him right away.”
“Fine and I’ll buy the next round I don’t. Let’s go.” The two women crossed the room to where Todd and Riley were talking.
“Hey, how’s it going? Lindsay, Julia, nice to see you two again.”
“Hiiiiiiii, Todd. It’s been so long! Oh my gosh!” Jules leaned into Linds so Todd and Riley wouldn’t hear her.
“Tone it down a bit, girl!”
“Hi Todd, Riley. Good to see you.”
“Wow, I love your dress. You look, great. I mean, I love it you look so great.” A tall woman with a pixie cut and huge blue eyes smiled shyly at Jules from under a mop of red hair. She wore a slinky black dress, denim jacket, and combat boots. The same thing she wore everyday in high school.
“Thanks… um I made it.” Jules swirled so her silver dress shimmered in the light. It as fitted at the top with a V-neck giving her ample cleavage, and flared at the skirt creating a pretty hourglass shape. “I sew a lot of my own stuff. Ordinary sizes don’t always fit well…you look good too. So sophisticated…”
“Thanks. I came out and chopped my hair right off. I know, pretty stereotypical, right?” Linds raised an eyebrow at Jules and moved away towards the photo booth with Eric.
“So what’re you two up to these days?”
“Oh! Eric and I both work at the same company. Pyre Games. He’s in marketing and I’m on the software side. We kinda dated for a bit, but it didn’t really work out due to the whole I’m gay thing.”
“Ah that’s cool. Well Lindsay and I don’t work together, but we’ve stayed in touch. We took a couple years off and travelled for a bit. I worked as a travel writer, but then decided I hate it. All the magic goes out of traveling when you don’t go home and shower once in awhile. Then I get off to college and Linds jumped into the local theatre scene. And that’s kinda where we’re at.”
“Oh neat! What did you study?”
“No way! That’s awesome. I just started working on a new game that’s all about interior design. I’d love your input some time.”
“You would? I mean, yeah, that’d be awesome.”
“Yeah we’re looking for a design consultant right now. Here, let me give you my card and you can call the office on Monday. Are you working anywhere right now?”
“Ahhhh not really, I mean, I’m just kinda between stuff, you know.”
“Perfect! We might need you to come on to the team long term. Just call Monday and I’ll see what my boss can do.”
“Thanks so nice.”
“What’s so nice?”
“Hey! Julia, congrats on the job with Higgins & Co. we’ve been looking for a design consultant, but working for them, that’s so cool! My cousin works there. I’ll put in a good word with him for you!”
“Ummm what? I thought you said you were between jobs?”
“Ahhhh yes, I was between jobs but now I’m with Higgins & Co. I might not stay though, it’s not my thing really. The game design sounds way better.”
“Ah no man, you can’t let a job like that slip through your fingers! Higgins & Co. is amazing. My cousin works with some of the biggest celebs and CEOs. There are amazing perks too. So cool!”
“Yeah. I hear they have a swimming pool. Wait, why would you say you were between jobs?”
“Ummmm not reason.” Linds grabbed Jules arm and pulled her away from Riley and Todd.
“What. Is. Going. On.” You’ve been dying to get a job there. I saw the letter. I thought it was all set?”
“Well, it might not have been as set as we thought… They told me they didn’t like my ‘aesthetic’ I think it was a nice way of saying that I’m too bold and fat for them. They want a nice slim girl who likes neutrals. It was just a trial run anyway. No harm done I guess. I barely lasted two days before I got laid off.”
“Those assholes. I can’t believe this! Uuuugh. But you so deserve to be there. I don’t get it.”
“They are stuck up snobs. Stuck up snobs I really really really wanted to work for, but they are all the same. I know I shouldn’t be upset because they were assholes, but it’s like the best firm in the city and I so wanted it… so bad… agh!”
“Ahhh Jules, come here. Let me give you a hug.”
“Hey what’s going on? I texted my cousin and he said you don’t work at Higgins & Co. anymore.”
“Oh um. This is awkward. I um got laid off actually.”
“Well they don’t know a good thing when it hits them in the face! Let me buy you a drink and you can some me some of your design concepts. I’m sure you’ll be a good fit at Pyre! I recruited Todd too. They really trust my judgement.” Riley tactfully steered Jules back towards the bar, leaving Todd and Linds to catch up alone. More former Collinwood students had begun to filter into the gym.
“Thanks, that’s so nice of you. I barely know you any more.”
“Nah. I always thought you were cool in high school. I wish I could’ve been so out and proud of my sexuality. You never let anyone put you down or anything get to you. I admired you so much.”
“What’ll it be ladies?”
“I’ll have a gin and tonic.”
“Beer please, the pilsner.”
“Here you go.”
“Wow it’s getting loud in here…”
“You wanna go some place quieter?”
“Come on, I know just the spot.” Riley grabbed Jules hand and winked at her before pulling her towards the exit to the gym into the parking lot. The two women slipped out giggling and talking the entire time. Once they made it away from the arriving former students and around the side of the school into the warm, starry night Riley cupped her hand around Jule’s face and leaned in a kissed her. They both giggled then kissed again and again.