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Funny High School Romance

Coleen eyed her parents’ house from the shade of the tree a few doors down. They hadn’t lived there long, but today she began planning her move out.

Preparing for the ‘big reveal,’ Coleen draped her sweater over her ring finger and walked resolutely to her home.

The family had lived there since the beginning of her senior school year. Her parents, Michael and Heidi, bought it along with the Sunny Day Café behind them, on the next block. Michael loved the convenient commute, mere steps away, across the alley.

Coleen found her ‘new kid’ worries had been for nothing. She’d made many friends. And today, her boyfriend, Aaron, asked her to marry him. She said ‘yes.’ She couldn’t wait to tell her parents.

Waiting is boring. And being patient gets so complicated. Hours become days, become weeks… She couldn’t wait any more. She’d deal with whatever happened.

Her dad hated surprises. Michael liked things regular and predictable. Change meant disruption and almost never an improvement.

This would be for the good, though. But she needed to phrase things so they could see it and avoid a ration of heartache for everyone. They’d come around. Waiting was for losers. She wanted to live.

Coleen set her jaw. Opening the door to the kitchen, she called out.

“Mom!”

No answer. ‘Strange… her car’s here.’ She could smell dinner in the oven.

“Mom!”

~

Doing his daily slow burn, Colleen’s father, Michael, watched the high school punks enter his café and occupy his largest booth. Every afternoon after school, they trooped in and camped out. Jackson, their leader, held court right through the dinner rush.

Michael never expected his main clientele would be these under-aged, soda drinking bums. They’d sit laughing and talking for hours. And ordered endless refills of cokes. Food? An occasional order of French fries, split amongst half a dozen slackers.

Shirley, the waitress hated them for their snarky comments and minimal tips, usually whatever coins remained after paying the check.

Michael picked up the phone on the first ring.

“Sunny Day… Yeah?”

“Mike, it’s Heidi.”

“Who?”

“You know, your wife. I live with you…?”

“Oh, hi. Sorry. Distracted by these…”

“I need you home. Now. We have a situation. Shouldn’t take long, but it can’t wait.”

Michael swore under his breath. “Right now?” She didn’t respond. “Okay. Guess I can break free...”

He hung up, signaled Shirley, and headed out the back and across the alley.

Moments later, Aaron entered the café. His friend, Jackson, hailed him, the long lost hero. Everyone scooted over so he could sit.

Jackson asked, “Where you been? What’s wrong?”

Downcast, Aaron scanned the booth crammed with his best friends. Lumpy swiped at his cell phone. Snoozy dozed. Lucky read the sports page. Chalky worked his ever present crossword puzzle. George, known as Drippy, mopped up a spilled coke.

“You’ve gotta help me, guys... mucked things up royally. Super dumb.”

Shaking his head, Jackson said, “You didn’t. Tell me you didn’t.” Aaron’s face said it all. Jackson hit the table. He calculated, counting fingers. “What is this, ten?”

Aaron nodded slightly. Jackson pounded the table.

“He did it! Guys, he did it again.” They murmured curiously.

Drippy said, “Not again…” He reached for another napkin.

Concentrating, Chalky marked his puzzle and murmured, “Betroth…”

Jackson said, “That’s right.” He addressed Aaron. “Who? Who’s the lucky girl? Is she a ten?”

Everyone laughed.

“Coleen…”

Jackson nodded in admiration.

Lucky looked up. “What happened?”

“Our friend, Aaron, did it again. He just proposed marriage, get this… for his tenth time. And not twice to the same woman…” Jackson held his hand up for silence. “Now, this doesn’t count the nun you proposed to, does it?”

Aaron shook his head.

“What was her name again?”

“Sister Hortense…”

Everyone pounded the table and booed.

Aaron protested. “I was eight. She was beautiful.”

Jackson added. “She doesn’t count because she wisely declined his proposal.”

While marking his puzzle, Chalky mumbled, “Horned…”

Jackson slapped Aaron’s back. “So, tell me, do you win a prize on reaching a dozen?”

Aaron had to take it. There was no escape.

The waitress approached to refill glasses. She gave Aaron a fishy look.

Jackson said, “I heard St. Marino’s formed a ministry dedicated to helping girls he’s proposed to.”

Aaron said, “Alright, stop. Guys, I need help here. I really meant this one.”

Jackson was on a roll. “Aaron, are there any girls at school you haven’t proposed to? Who’ll Coleen get for bride’s maids? How will you keep them from telling her about how their former fiancé jilted them? For her!”

The laughter got so loud that Snoozy woke up and asked, “What happened?”

~

Heidi had Michael sit. Coleen felt like she was under the tree on Christmas morning.

“Coleen has some news.”

He looked at her expectantly. Grinning, Coleen displayed the ring on her finger.

“I’m getting married. Aaron asked me…”

Though not good news, this was not the crisis Michael had feared.

“You pregnant?”

“Daddy! No! Why do you both expect that?”

Heidi dove in. “How long have you known him? I mean, do you know him at all? Where will you live? How? Does he even have a job? Have you met his parents? Where do they live?”

Coleen shrank from the deluge of questions.

Michael said, “Wait, Heidi. We’re getting ahead of ourselves.” He leaned in. “Coleen, you know you can’t take this seriously.”

“He gave me a ring.” Coleen stretched out her hand again.

Heidi said, “From Cracker Jacks? He’s a kid.”

Michael said, “He’s high. Or psychotic. I won’t pay for it.”

“Thanks Dad. Nice to know what you really think.”

“This isn’t about you, baby doll. But he’s not thinking with his brain. Trust me, at that age, thinking wasn’t my strong suit.”

Heidi nodded. “No lie… I mean, Coleen, what’s the rush?”

“Right… Keep dating but finish your education. Get on your feet.”

Heidi said, “We struggled in our first years… And we’d graduated. Honey, have you thought this through?”

“Broaden your horizons. Find a career, so you’re independent.”

This sounded too familiar. “Like pharmacology?”

Michael nodded. “You could do worse. Steady, practical, meet people.”

“Sick people…”

“Whatever… Better that than these goofballs hanging out at the café. I call them the Society of St. Ne’er-do-well. Rejects with no agenda besides spending hours at my biggest table.”

Heidi said, “That’s terrible…”

Coleen looked at the floor.

Michael continued. “Once actually set up a game of Risk.”

“No… What happened?”

“I told them to order food, or clear out. ‘This is no gambling den.’” He looked at Coleen and cocked his head. “Wait, is Aaron one of that bunch in my café after school?” Coleen hesitated and nodded. “I don’t want you falling for some jock, but this bunch? You’re not marrying a lout or lay-about.”

“Daddy, I’m not marrying them all. Just Aaron.”

“You can tell a lot about a man by his friends, kid.” Michael said, “Listen, Sweetheart, I get it’s not easy at your age. You want freedom. But think, in five years, will being tied to this guy feel like freedom?”

That hit home. Coleen leaned back and nodded. She said nothing. Heidi took Michael’s hand.

She walked out to the front yard.

~

Chalky marked his puzzle. “Cuckold…”

Aaron said, “What kind of puzzle is that, Chalky?”

“Just a crossword…”

Aaron said, “Help me out, guys. What have I done? How do I get out of this?”

Jackson said, “Why get out? Everyone thinks you’re the perfect couple.”

“They do?” Several at the table nodded or shrugged. “Get real. I’m eighteen. How can I marry her?”

“Aaron, everyone can agree you’re an idiot. But an extremely charming one. Ten women thought so… I wish I were so charming.”

Aaron felt he should thank Jackson, but wasn’t sure why.

Jackson indicated those occupying their booth. “Have you considered the current dating pool? The seven dwarves would beat out these guys.”

Lucky said, “And there’s only six of us.”

“Exactly. And not one Prince Charming in sight.” Jackson peered into the distance. “Toss her and she’ll land in someone’s lap… Lumpy, Snoozy, Drippy… Chalky, Lucky…”

Aaron looked at Jackson. “Or you?”

He attempted innocent surprise. “Aaron, you know I’d never go after your ex. She’s out of my league. And you’re my best friend.”

Hoping to diffuse any tension, he nodded at the others. “I’m saying this is the cream of the crop, unless she gets snagged by some BMOC in college.”

Chalky filled in another word on his puzzle. “Dickwad… No! I’m sorry. Duckweed.”

Jackson ignored him. “But you’re kidding yourself if you think no one will pursue her. Coleen won’t cloister herself away. You sure you want to kick her to the curb?”

Aaron took Jackson’s advice to heart. “Okay then. She is the love of my life. I’ll stick by her.”

He left the café. He walked to Coleen’s house and saw her standing outside.

“Are you waiting for me?”                             

Coleen smiled and took his hand. “I need to tell you... We need to…”

“Slow down?”

Surprised, Coleen nodded. “I need more time…” She took a step. “Walk with me?”

He said, “Anywhere.” They walked in silence. Aaron stopped. “Coleen, I need to tell you…”

She smiled at him. “About your previous, uhm, dalliances?”

Aaron balked. “You… you know?”

Coleen laughed. “Your whole saga is documented in the girl’s locker room. With quotes and extensive citations. You thought that was secret?”

Resigned, he sighed. “No. Of course… I have no secrets from you…”

She nodded and taking his hand, started walking again. “So, tell me about that nun…”

They laughed together, embraced and then kissed.

Aaron thought, ‘It’s actually true… ten’s a charm.’

June 23, 2023 15:10

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10 comments

Amanda Lieser
02:12 Jul 18, 2023

Hi John, Oh you made my romantic heart sing! I loved the story and I loved that it ended rather happily. I don’t think that love is something that we can truly ever master, which is part of the reason why it’s so magical your characters felt human in all of their flaws, hopes, and dream. I love how at the end of the story, there was a level of acceptance that we can only hope for in reality. I thought you were approach to the prompt was absolutely brilliant with the two parallel conversations, and devoured every bit of it. Nice work!!

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John K Adams
03:30 Jul 18, 2023

Thank you, Amanda! Such effusive praise. I'm so glad it worked for you. I had fun with it and hoped it would come across as it did for you. I really appreciate your reading and comments. They make my day.

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Bruce Friedman
14:56 Jul 15, 2023

Good fresh dialogue. Charming story. I noticed that you use ellipses in your writing. I tend to favor em dashes. I decided to find out how they differ in use: In creative writing, an ellipsis is used to show a pause or hesitation in speech, while an em dash is used to show an abrupt interruption or sudden change in thought or dialogue.

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John K Adams
15:02 Jul 15, 2023

Bruce, thanks for reading and commenting. Sounds like I need to add em dashes to my repertoire. Good to know.

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Delbert Griffith
18:37 Jul 03, 2023

OK, this was funny, but also serious. I like the idea of a seven dwarves/Snow White/Prince Charming tale. The modernized version is, as expected, full of turns for the young lovers. Fun read, my friend. Cheers!

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John K Adams
20:44 Jul 03, 2023

Thanks, Delbert. I always enjoy your take on things.

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Bonnie Clarkson
03:00 Jun 28, 2023

Loved the suspense. Loved the gradual introduction of his former fiances. Good job.

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John K Adams
14:46 Jun 28, 2023

Thanks, Bonnie.

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Mary Bendickson
05:19 Jun 24, 2023

How many bedrooms they gonna need for other six duckweeds?

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John K Adams
13:47 Jun 24, 2023

Thanks for reading Mary.

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