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Drama High School Romance

12.12.2020

“And where’s there?” 

“Where’s what?” I answered. 

“Where does the road end? What are we driving to?” He inquired, curious, and reasonably so. I hadn’t told Ben anything yet. How strange it was, to have him here beside me, in the passenger seat of my small, dark blue honda civic. He looked so different from the 18-year-old boy who left me at Homecoming. 

But right now, I didn’t want to answer him yet. To be honest, I was surprised that he already didn't know. Years ago, we took the school bus here, together. Well, almost together. We were in different grades and had different instruments, so we sat in different sections of the bus. But technically, we had come here together. If I can bring him to the place our story began, then maybe he would remember us. 

I answered him quietly and suddenly. 

“Arcadia.” 

*** 

5.23.2016

Finally, the pop music ends, and a slow song plays. I scan the room for Ben, and find him by the exit, getting ready to leave. I run over to him, as fast as my heels will take me, and collide into him. Ben stammers back, but then holds me up by the shoulders, and asks, “What are you doing?” I hesitate answering him, nervous, locked in place by his green eyes. 

I find my courage, and quietly say, “Can I have this dance?” He doesn't smile at first, and I can tell he’s still guarded. But then, after a few beats, he holds out his hand and I place mine in his. I love the feel of his hands, familiar, strong, and calloused from working in the field. I let him pull me close, and he places one hand on the small of my back. We pivot in a small, slow circle, and I rest my head on my chest, breathing in his scent. I’ve missed him. How do I tell him all of the things I feel, all of the apologies he deserves? 

The song is halfway over, and still I haven’t said sorry. I reach up, my mouth searching for his neck. Finding it, I press my lips gently, feeling his warmth. Ben holds me tighter, and I know he wants this too. I pull my head back and look up at him again. He’s staring at me intensely, as if searching for something in my eyes. An answer, a promise? I don’t know what to say, and begin to look away when he catches my face in both his hands and kisses me full on the lips. It takes all of me to keep standing upright, and I melt into his arms. He pulls back first, and I open my eyes. 

He whispers, “I’ve missed you.” Then the song ends, and punk rock blares on, too loud for us to hear each other. I’ve missed my chance, again. I don’t know what to say, or what to do to make this right. 

I feel my cheeks start to burn, and wanting to save myself from complete embarrassment, I tell him, “Hey, I need to use the restroom. I’ll be right back.” 

Without another word, I turn away from him fast and make a beeline for the bathroom. Not wanting to trip in my heels, I never take my eyes off the floor and bump right into Angel. He catches me in his arms, smiling. 

“Going somewhere?” Without a warning he places my hands around his shoulders and holds onto my waist, pulling me close towards him. 

“Angel, stop. Where even is Chantal?” I try and push away from him but he holds onto me tighter. 

He raises an eyebrow and answers, “Jealous?” 

Irritated, I glare up at him and hiss, “I just think that’s the polite thing to do, when one has a girlfriend.” He mulls that over and then nods, agreeing with me. 

“Yes, that would be the right thing, if one had a girlfriend. But I don’t.” I must have looked surprised because he lets out a laugh and gives me his crooked smile, saying “Look, she’s just---” but I cut him off. 

“Your girlfriend.” 

Angel lets out a sigh and looks away. My face softens, and I whisper, barely loud enough for him to hear, “You didn’t have to tell Chantal yes.” I look up and meet his eyes. 

They look pained, and he fires back, “You didn’t have to tell Ben yes. I don’t like you with, him.” Anger rushes through me, and I throw his arms off of me. 

“You didn’t choose me. You chose her. And I choose him. What we had, it was just a one time thing. Bye, Angel.” I push past him, and head straight to the bathroom, not worried anymore of falling and making a fool of myself. I just needed to get away from him, and sort through what I’ll say to Ben.

I didn’t know it then, but Ben was watching me dance with Angel. He was so hurt, that he left the dance. 

I never got the chance to make things right. 

***

12.12.2020

I don’t remember that much more of Homecoming. I bawled my eyes out in the bathroom, then called my mom and asked her to come pick me up. 

Ben was my first love. I know that now, looking back at all of the havoc he wrecked on my life. I never stopped thinking about him, and what could have been. If he'd just give me a chance, then maybe...

But if Ben wasn’t interested in me, then why did he say yes to this road trip? He was here, now, sitting next to me in my car, after all these years. 

“Arcadia? What do you want to do there?” he asks. It takes everything in me not to blurt out, that I'm sorry. That I should have never cheated on you. That you trusted me with everything. I just want to be there for you and I’m so sorry I wasn’t.

Instead, I pause, wanting to choose my words carefully. 

“Begin again.”  

February 16, 2021 05:44

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