“They shouldn’t be allowed to send filth like this through the mail.” Aldena said as she read the card inside the envelope addressed to her.
“What did you get this time? The water bill again?” Adena’s daughter, Nora asked as she gulped down the last drop of coffee from her cup.
“You have jokes. No, daughter is not the water bill or any other bill, it is something more horrible than any bill I could get in the mail.”
“Are you going to tell me or just let me keep guessing, Mother?”
“Read it for yourself.” Adena handed the envelope to her daughter and stepped back to wait for her reaction.
Dear Alumni Of Willow Heights High School,
Class of 1980 is cordially invited to our 40th class reunion on November 1st, 2020. It will be held at the Carlton Le France Hotel and Spa in the main dining room at 7 pm sharp. Guests will dine on either fish, chicken, roast beef or pasta. Enclosed is a card to choose your dinner menu. This is a formal event and tickets are $100 per couple or $60 per single. There will be door prizes and music for your entertainment. Please RSVP before October 15th, 2020 to our esteemed class president for 3 years, Carolina Biswell-Bolton. Her information is at the bottom of the invitation. Hope to see you all there. Valet parking is available for your convenience.
“Well, Mom, are you going?” Nora asked her mom, handing her back the invitation.
“It will be a cold day in hell before I got to that ridiculous display of a reunion. They only are holding it to show off their money, and their high class careers and pictures of their oh so perfect children who are probably all in boarding school in the Swiss Alps or something. No, that is not for me. Besides, high school was not one of my best memories.”
“Mom, you did okay for yourself too. You worked your way through college and through law school. Nobody handed you anything you did on your own. You worked two jobs most of the time while taking care of me and going to school at night. You worked your way up in the firm and are now a partner in one of the best law firms in the city. That’s something to be proud of. You are the best attorney in the whole city.”
“Thank you, Nora, and I love you for saying that. But, I just don’t want to go back to the past. I never really told you about my high school days much. Believe me it was not a good time for me. I got teased and almost bullied every day that I was there. I only had two friends the whole four years and one of them got shot and killed a year after graduation. I will never forget that day. That was one of the saddest days of my life. It was just a pretty terrible experience for me. I was thankful for Rita though she made most days bearable when the unbearable happened. I don’t know what I would have done without her and Nora. I miss Nora and I was heartbroken when she passed away. I couldn’t believe it. She was my angel and now she really is. That’s why I named you after her. My angel on earth is now our angel in heaven.”
“Do you want to talk about it?” Nora asked, lightly patting her mom’s shoulder.
The last time anyone wanted to talk about school with Adena was her parents many years ago. Talking was not what she wanted back then or now. Her parents sat her down on their worn out green and white sofa on the side where the springs weren’t popping out of the cushion and they told her the news. Her dad had gotten a promotion at his job. It wasn’t a big promotion and they would still be far from rich socialites going to the country club every weekend but it was a lot more money than he was making now. Adenia was happy for a minute. Then her parents told her the big news that they were moving. Adena didn’t like change and certainly didn’t want to move and leave her friends. It took her long enough to make friends in this neighborhood and now they had to move to another neighborhood and another school. Nope, Adena couldn’t do it. She didn’t want to try to make new friends all over again. She liked her friends, Rita, Erma and Kady. They made a bond always to stick together. How was she going to stick together with them in another city. Nope she refuses to go. She can stay here with grandma if she has to. No way her parents were going to make her leave. She was going to start high school and everyone knows how hard that is. Especially Algebra, that’s hard and she needed Kady to help her with it. Kady was the brain. Nope, no way. But, in the end she lost that battle and that summer on the hottest day of the year they packed up the moving truck and they all left that city and all of her friends standing on the sidewalk waving to her crying as the truck passed them all by. She hated her parents for making her move. Thankfully, a year later one of her besties moved a few blocks away. Thanks to Rita high school was a little more enjoyable. At least she had her best friend with her.
“Mom, Mom, where did you go? Did you hear me? Do you want to talk about it?”
“Oh, Nora, I was just thinking of how I got to that dreadful high school in the first place. You know I didn’t want to go there right?”
“Yeah, you told me that grand-pops got a new job and you all had to move to Blake Town and that you really didn’t want to or like the school there but you never told me why.”
“It’s a long story.” Adena said brushing her long auburn colored hair back into a ponytail.
“Are you ever going to tell me?” Nora asked.
“Baby girl, I will but not right now. I have to go to work and you also have to go to school. Just think in a few weeks my baby will be a college graduate. I’m so proud of you.” Adena hugged her daughter so tightly that she dreaded letting go of her only child. But, she knew that one day she was going to have to let go of her and let go of some many other things she held onto for so long.
The ringing of the phone jolted Adena out of a sound sleep. She opened her eyes slowly and grabbed her cell phone from the cushion of the couch she was sleeping on.
“Hello.” She said, wiping her eyes.
“Girl I know you aren’t asleep. It’s 3pm on a Saturday.”
“Rita?” Adena asked in a sleepy voice.
“Who else? What are you doing besides sleeping your life away? Did you get the invitation in the mail about the reunion?” Rita asked with too much cheer in her voice for Adena.
“Yes, I did. What about it?”
“Well, are you going?” Rita asked, holding the phone tightly to her ear.
“Are you kidding? No I am not going. Why would I want to go and see those people again?”
“Come on, Adena, it’s been 40 years you can’t be still holding on to what happened 40 years ago girl. Besides look at you now. You are a successful lawyer and not only that, a partner in the firm. Not many people can say that they have their name on a building.” Rita laughed into the phone so hard that Adena could picture her in the same room laughing with that big belly laugh she has.
“I’m not holding on to anything. I just don’t want to go.” Adena said, almost screaming into the phone.
“Look here. First you don’t have to scream at me. I can hear. And second of all, if I have to drag you there by your dyed auburn cover up my grey in your hair I will. You know I will too. So, you better RSVP and say that you are coming. Matter of fact, no, don’t RSVP I will do it for the both of us cause I don’t trust you. You will say you did and didn’t do it.” Rita laughed again into Adena’s ear.
“Ok, but I am only doing this for you. For my friend, Rita Mae Carter.” Adena laughed.
“It’s Rita Mae Clarke now. I went back to my maiden name after I divorced old cheating Chuck.”
“Alright then. Rita Mae Clark. I gotta go and get ready to go in the office for a little bit. I will call you later and we can talk more about this thing you are dragging me too.”
“You going in on a Saturday? OK, guess once you got to the top you gotta stay there. Talk to you later, Miss Lawyer. And are you going to bring my Goddaughter, Nora to the reunion? So, I know how many to say on the RSVP?” Rita asked.
“Hmm, why not? If she wants to go and is free I will bring her. Bye girl.”
Adena hung up the phone and got up from her green and white couch.
“Guess what?” Adena asked her daughter when she entered the living room from her bedroom.
“What?” Nora yawed.
“We are going to the reunion?”
“Who? You and Rita?” Nora asked, sipping on her hot coffee.
“No, me and you!”
“Me and you?” Nora looked confused and almost choked on her coffee.
“Yes, me and my beautiful daughter.” Adena said sitting down on the chair across from Nora at the kitchen table.
“Okay how did this happen? I thought that you weren’t going?” Nora asked.
“I changed my mind. I decided to let go of the past so I can move forward to the future.”
“Alright. That sounds like a plan.” Nora high-five her mom and laughed.
Tonight was the night. The night she would be face to face with all of or most of her old high school classmates. Why did she say yes? I haven’t seen these people in over 40 years and really don’t want to now. Why did I let Rita talk me into this?
Adena, Rita and Nora walked in the dining room of the hotel all dressed in long red dresses with matching red velvet purses and of course red shoes that reminded Adena of the shoes that Dorthy wore in the movie The Wizard of Oz. Adena wished that she could click her heels and go back home but that would be rude. She was here for a purpose. Adena checked their coats and they stood there for a minute just looking around at all the people. They looked at all the fancy dresses the women were wearing. It looked like they were dressed for a fancy ballroom where they were all going to participate in an elegant ballroom dancing contest. Adena never saw so many sparkling dresses in her life. Not only did the dresses sparkle like tiny diamonds the purses the women carried did too. The men were all dressed in tuxedos or expensive suits holding on to the arms of their spouses and girlfriends who were called finances because that was a fancier word than girlfriend. The jewelry the women wore would make Tiffany’s jewelry store jealous. Adena saw a variety of big diamond rings on fingers, not just ring fingers but all fingers in some cases. She also saw a variety of pearls, emeralds, and diamond necklaces draped on various sizes of necks on the women some looked so heavy she wondered how the necks were holding them up. Every woman's hair was gorgeous. She saw a lot of black, blonde, brown and auburn top buns and side buns and back buns. Of course, the buns had a variety of diamond headbands, and hair jewels. This was certainly an elegant affair. There were tables draped with black or gold table cloths with numbers in the middle of the tables and a small bouquet of red and yellow roses in the middle of each table. As you entered you were given a number corresponding to a table. Adena scanned the table numbers trying to find her table. She spotted their table and before she could go to table 45 a woman came up to her wearing a long dress with the sparkles on it and her matching “Dorthy from the Wizard of OZ shoes sticking out from the bottom of her dress. Her hair was in a side bun and decorated with red ribbons and what looked like red rubies.
“Adena?” The woman said as she reached her hand out to shake Adena’s hand.
“Yes, and you are Mary? Mary Renalds.” Adena read the name tag hanging around the woman’s neck which clashed with her pearl necklace.
“Yes, it’s good to see you?” Mary smiled a big kool-aid s type of smile exposing her obviously bleached white teeth.
“Nice to see you after all these years.” Adena said smiling back at the woman.
“Well, I think that dinner is about to start. Nice seeing you dear. I will catch up with you later.” Mary said as she walked away heading towards table 47.
“Well, Mom, how do you feel?” Nora asked her mom gently holding on to her forearm.
“I think that this isn’t so bad. Or at least not as bad as I thought it was going to be.”
“Ready to find our table? Girl, I am hungry.” Rita said, glancing around the room at all the fancy tables.
Adena sat at the table with the gold table cloth and looked around the room again and thought that all these people, all the people that she went to school with 40 years ago, all the people who laughed at her, made fun of her, tried to bully her, who tried to tell her she was not on their level that she was a nerd because she liked to read and go to the library after school and all of them now here and now pretending to be at the crystal ball and pretending to be perfect. They all were laughing and spinning tales of their lives now and how they are all living the high life in their big homes and driving their big cars and the women marrying money as they call it. She looked at all of them and listened to all of their stories and told a few of her own and by the time the party was over a few hours later Adena realized what she should have realized 40 years ago that all these people with all of their money, fancy houses, fancy clothes and so called perfect lives aren’t any better than her and she wouldn’t trade lives with them for anything in the world. She loved her life, her child and her best friend, Rita. She had finally, 40 years later left the past in the past.
“Aren’t you glad that you came? I must say for a reunion with people that we didn’t like in high school they really know how to have a good party. I think I danced so much my bunions hurt.” Rita said as she looked down at her tired aching feet.
“You sure did dance a lot. Especially with Slick Rick.” Adena laughed at her friend.
“Guess what? He ain’t that slick. Except for his hair. His hair is slick.” Rita laughed.
“Ready to go, Mom?” Nora asked her mom while getting their coats.
“Yes, I sure am. This was fun I must admit. I feel like I traveled back in time. And now it's time to go back to the future.”
“Adena, I couldn’t have said it any better than that. Let’s roll out.” Rita said smiling.