“And I now present to you, the graduating class of 1999!” Those were the very last words of Mr. James Craig that young, blue-eyed Michelle Richards ever remembered. He had seen her through that year, well, he had seen them all through that year, or years, strictly speaking because she didn’t go to the school that he was the principal of, Marcus Madison High School for only one year. She was deaf to the joyous screams around her as her classmates threw their hats up in the air, ready to hand the baton to someone else. Michelle was instead gazing around her for someone who she had helped tutor for the past couple of weeks, along with going to end-of-the-school-year dance, where they shared in a magical starlit kiss (her first, it couldn’t of been more perfect as it was highlighted by a slow waltz as he brought her to the middle of the dance floor). She was looking for the tall, dark-haired, dark-eyed Benjamin Wilson. She never ever would have guessed that he would end up liking him, and he her. She was the tall vanilla ice cream cone and he was the ravenous young tyke and she loved it. When Principal Craig told her that she could tutor for extra credit and additional merits for school, she only nodded her head slightly, adding a slight bob to her light blonde curls. She always enjoyed something that might make expensive, distant universities look her way as if they were interested, but she never could’ve imagined Benny Wilson needing help in math, which quickly developed into them talking about things other than school, thus discovering that they had a lot in common.
Michelle liked to imagine that she was the reason that Benny graduated, and she still was stuck in that daydream for much too long as her graduation cap stayed firmly planted on her head, almost as if it was super glued there. Where was he? Where was her studying buddy as of recently, and her boyfriend as of presently (though she could only imagine) (they had not spoken of it to make anything official)? She knew that their last names started with a letter a fair distance in the alphabet (they had all received their diplomas in alphabetic order), but she should have still been able to see his tall body crowned with black hair somewhere in the crowd. Her thoughts were taken out of the clouds, where only what she swore had to be dreams could possibly lie when she heard one of her best friends, green-eyed, brown-haired Brenna Nader calling her by her nickname, which she had sustained once they just barely met in Albert Meeker Junior High.
“Mickey! We finally graduated! Can you believe it?” she was acting like a chipmunk that had received far too much sugar. Michelle gave her a little grin in return with her mouth closed that barely anyone would admit that they believed. Along with this dose of faked posture, she was not ever that good on stage anyway, came the true question that was on her mind with a booming rush of air (she thought fireworks were not allowed here?) (questions for a later time),
“Brenna, have you seen Benny?” her question was answered then as she felt a kiss on her cheek given to her from behind. Her cheeks quickly grew more scarlet than they already were in this crowd of people, as she heard his deep, masculine voice that could not be mistaken for anybody.
“I’m right here, sweetheart. Why do you still have your graduation cap still on?” Sweetheart. Michelle liked the sound of that. She turned around at a speed as if she were Flash and grabbed her tassel speedily, yet delicately because the time called for it and threw it up in the air, letting it almost fly with the wind. She would have stayed there forever if she only could. She heard her mother’s voice behind her then.
“I have to get a picture of this. Turn around and say cheese for me!” Before she could roll her eyes, Michelle grabbed Ben’s hand and turned them both around to face her light-haired mother, wearing her best blue dress today (almost as if she wanted to look just like her daughter in her cerulean graduation robes; they shared hair color, smile, and height anyways). Benny brought his face down to Michelle’s, he wanted their time together to last forever too, as they both chorused “cheese” before he squeezed his sweetheart’s hand and said politely,
“I have to go find my family too now. Thank you for taking the picture Mrs. Richards. I know that I will want to remember this forever.” With that he drifted off. Michelle almost said to him, “Don’t go” but she knew how much he respected his family, and his father, large, gruff, Mr. Scott Wilson would want to see his only son on this auspicious moment too, and her good sense couldn’t ever rob him of that. And that was the last that she saw of her angel that day, or any day, for the next thirty years. They had traded contact information recently, but thought they would not need it, so they lost it, same as those hats, it nearly flew away in the wind. Michelle went to an Ivy League school and Benjamin went to a school that really was not much, but was all that he could dream of, thanks to Michelle. Why had not he kept her phone number, or at least saved it in his address book. Dumb and in love.
Michelle let out a giant sigh as she let herself relax on her sofa back. She had no idea why she was so tired. Today was the last day of her and her husband’s divorce trial. She really should have been bouncing off the walls with exuberant joy. She did not know in the first place why she had chosen to marry Evans Kensia all those years ago. He was he was by far the tallest and darkest boy in her second year of college courses. Perhaps he reminded her of someone? She did not know. That was only the beginning. She remembered a few nights when they thought they were in love, out of expectation or whatever it was, when they could not stay off of each other, and the result was a daughter not that long after they got married and a son, a fair bit of time after that. The children were 13 and 6 now, and she loved them dearly, but my how they made their separation even more difficult. Whether it was the way that her girl, Tiffany always enjoyed playing soccer with her father or that her son, Henry always felt like a big man when we got to put on his miniature toolbelt with velcro and plastic clips and help his father fix something. It was adorable. Michelle had parts of her life that she never ever wanted to give up, but reality often checked things with her like how it did with a certain man she thought she was destined to be with years ago, but they went on different paths and grew up. She looked at her white leather watch vibrantly, no matter how much she wanted a break, life always had different plans. She had to drop by a used car dealership for her to carry out the completion of a car sale. It had too many Evans memories, she was the one paying for it, it was where Tiffany had become a possibility years ago, and she needed the money now more than ever. She brushed her hand through her blonde, quickly growing paler in color locks and grabbed her keys.
The dealership was a little rustier than it had last been once she drove into the parking lot. It reminded her of her happiness, life, and heart. Life just couldn't help being inevitable like that. Right as she opened her car door, she rammed it into another man who happened to be tying his shoe. It just wasn't Michelle's day in all kinds of ways. It was useless to dream in this groggy world, so she didn't. Now, that didn't mean that she wasn't raised to be polite.
"I'm sorry, sir. I don't know where my head is today. Are you okay?" The defendant responded with the startling response of goofy laughter (that somehow sounded familiar) before he reassured her.
"It's alright, I shouldn't have chosen to tie my shoe right there. I'm really the one who should be apologizing." This is what he said, then he straightened his body (wow, he was tall) and looked at her abashed face full-on. "Michelle?"
Michelle was quickly becoming more and more shocked, and that was a hard thing to do, seeing all her days. She said slowly in the same tone as a wren. She had a feeling she was going to regret this.
"It's me, Benny. Remember, from high school?" Michelle suddenly felt as if she was windblown from a tornado or a hurricane. It had been years, and yet, here he was. Her Benny, her sweetheart, right when she needed him. Right when her heart was shattered. If anything deserved a second chance, he did.
"Of course, I remember you."