Based off of Little Red Riding Hood. A work in progress.
|“How could you do this, Gabe? To your own mom. You know she has been worried sick about Cori and then you pull this. I know you want to help, but how would it help by doing that?” Allen was astonished that Gabe had requested such a thing and that he had snuck out. To make matters worse, he asked in front of Maya. Gabe took the verbal lashing quietly because it was in his nature to do so. When he responded, he simply restated his argument, “I know that Cori always wanted to move there someday. Maybe she went there, we could look for her. I’m tired of going to school and pretending like everything is okay. If you hadn’t noticed, nothing has been fine. And you and Mom don’t ever talk about her. You argue again and again about things that don’t matter. Not once have you tried to help her. You send her away for someone else to deal with her problems. I can’t take it anymore.” “I swear that you are becoming more and more like her everyday. Do you really want to end up like her, Gabe?” Allen did not mean to say it out loud, but he had become so frustrated. Gabe couldn’t stand Allen talking about her like that. He automatically went to her defense. It was one of the only topics that made him lose his temper. “Do you honestly think that I’m like her? We are nothing alike. Have you even bothered to learn about us? You adopted us, but do you even know who we are? Do you know what she really thought about school? Do you know how she got the money whenever she ran away? Do you know how she feels about living at home instead of going to college? Do you know how many friends she had in the past year? Two years? Do you even know her favorite color?” Allen was speechless. He continued to glare at his step-dad. Maya had heard Gabe yelling and decided to come back into the room to see what was happening. “That’s what I thought. I’m not like her, but she is my sister and don’t you ever talk about her like that again. She messed up, but she was trying so hard to make both of you happy. She confided in me, not you; and she didn’t end up like anything. She was getting better. I miss her too much to see Mom cry every time I try to talk about her. I’m going with Jordan whether you like it or not.” Maya began to cry and beg. “Gabe, please don’t go. You scared me half to death when I didn’t see you in your bed this morning. I thought that you ran away, too. I just can’t bear to wake up and know that both of my babies are gone. What if you don’t come back?” He talked softly to his mom because of her fragile state. “I would never leave you, Mom; but I need to do this for myself, for Cori, for you. I have to try looking for her.” He walked away, relieved that he said what he needed to say. He still didn’t mention the true nature of his decision to go to San Francisco, but he knew it was for the best.
He headed to his room, but Maya stopped him. She asked in a small voice, “Gabe, how did she get the money to run away?” He didn’t want to say it aloud because maybe then it wouldn’t be true.
“I think that it’s better that you don’t know.” He meant it, but she fell to her knees, sobbing. She was imagining the worst thing possible. He went to his room to pack his bag for his trip. Toby followed at his heels. Allen finally awoken from his shock and called after him, “Is this what you wanted, Gabe? To torture your mom by withholding the truth?” He knelt to comfort his wife, but she shied away. “I want to be alone, Allen. You don’t understand.” This statement angered him. Of course I understand. I am your husband. I know what make you upset, what makes you happy. We have grown older together, he thought. He grabbed her shoulders firmly. His voice began to rise. “How do I not understand? Am I not a good husband? Do I not provide for you? Have I not given you a life most people would kill for? Did I not love you or our children enough? Tell me, Maya, why are you unhappy?” She gave an empty stare and replied calmly, “I love you and I’m happy, I was happy, but…I need to be alone, to come to terms with myself. I’m going to Christina’s house for a while.”
She stood up straight and left him sitting on the floor too stunned to move. “He’s right, you know. We do nothing but argue. I don’t think we know each other anymore.” She went to their room to pack and call her sister. Not only was his son leaving, but even his wife did not want to stay. He could he blame them for wanting to be away from the constant reminder of an empty room, an empty space at the dinner table, an empty sound. But they were supposed to stay together, to weather through this storm with each other’s support. All of this was because Cori was not home.
Sawyer didn’t say anything while he drove me home. I told him when to turn in a shaky voice. I was still scared of myself and what I did, what had happened to me. I thought maybe he was scared, too. He hadn’t exactly signed up for a crazy friend. He opened the door for me when he pulled over to my apartment building. “Are you really okay?” he asked as I was walking to the fire escape. He still held onto my arm. I noticed for the first time that part of his sweater was darker, from my blood. I felt that my expression was still absent and I couldn’t find any words. I didn’t even know the truth myself, but I nodded to give at least one of us peace of mind. He reluctantly let me go. I slowly made my way to climb back up the fire escape. He started to speak again. He hadn’t moved from his station on the sidewalk. I turned to face him. “Call me sometime. When you’re feeling better, I mean.” He tried for more words but failed. I found the words to the question I had been searching for. “Why did you say you were my brother?” He sighed and answered with a sly smile, “Did you really want your dad to find out about this?” At least he was putting tonight’s misadventure behind him quickly. He left me and got into his car. I was left with my blank expression and confusion. I turned towards the building again as he drove off. I continued my journey to the fire escape and began to climb. My arms were weak and in pain, but I pushed through the pain. Part of me still acknowledged the fact that I didn’t want Linda to find out. The window to my room was still open and the light was still off. I checked the window to the left, the living room window. The light was on. I was still trying to understand what was going on. I couldn’t process if the light on was good or bad. I swung myself carefully through my window. The nausea started in my stomach as soon as I stood upright. I didn’t care at that point if Linda knew; the only thing I wanted to do was to rid my system of the sickening feeling. I wanted to relieve the pressure in my head. I wanted to sleep. I let myself gently on my bed and curled into a tight ball. I didn’t care that I was in wet clothes with a bloody sleeve. I didn’t care that rain was coming in sideways and on my floor through the open window. I shut my eyes tight. I willed myself to forget what had happened and to fall asleep. My head was still throbbing. The nausea hadn’t subsided. I couldn’t think straight enough to remember where my medicine was. The light in my room was off and that helped and so did the breeze carrying in the rain. I was so focused on the throbbing that I didn’t notice when Linda appeared at the side of my bed. Her soft hands brushed my cheek as she whispered, “Brooke, are you awake?” I was too tired and in too much pain to move. I tried to say, “Yes,” but the only thing I could manage was a small noise. Her hand moved to my arm, and her slight gasp expressed her shock. “What happened, Brooke? Where were you?” Her voice was elevating. “Do you know how worried I was?” I managed to whisper, “I’m sorry.” She sighed and her voiced returned to the soft and caring level. “You have a headache, don’t you?” I mumbled my response and she left. She returned and rubbed my shoulder. “Here you go.” I sat up slowly with my eyes still closed and extended my right arm to receive the little pill that made my headaches and nausea disappear. She placed it gently in my hand and I guided it into my mouth. I reached out for the glass of water to help swallow the pill. She gave a cool glass to me and I put it to my lips. I only sipped a little bit, but it was enough to fulfill my goal. I laid back down and curled up again. I knew that the pill would disperse throughout my body soon and it relaxed me. “I called your dad,” she said quietly. I groaned slightly. The last thing I wanted was for my dad to find out. “I had to. I didn’t know where you were or what had happened to you. I still don’t know.” The minutes went by in silence. I started to feel the side effect of drowsiness starting at the tips of my toes and fingers. She broke the silence and her voice was growing louder again. “You need to tell me. Something obviously happened since your arm and shirt are bloody. Your stitches are brand new. What happened? I know you’re not sleeping.” I was regaining some strength, but I knew I would soon lose it to the pill in exchange for relieving my headache and nausea. I kept my eyes shut and tried to speak, but it came out as a whisper, “I think I remembered something from before. I went to meet Sawyer. I got a headache and he drove me home, but I remembered.” Her voice was agitated and she stiffened. “What did you remember?” I didn’t want to remember what I did; I didn’t want to re-experience the shear terror I felt. Tears began to well up. I tried to hold them in, but it intensified the throbbing in my head. The tears came pouring out along with the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. “Someone hurt me. It was all so real, but…but…” “Who hurt you? Did they do this to your arm?” I shook my head. “I don’t know. I was running and I fell. I wanted to get away. He was taking me away. I don’t know him.” I was shaking with the new wave of sobs. She started to stroke my arm and tried to soothe me like a mother soothes her crying baby. Everything was becoming duller and I let the oncoming sleep take over me. I was half conscious when I heard the phone. I wasn’t sure if it was in my dream or reality. The shrill ring continued until she answered it. Her voice was distant, but I could hear her half of the conversation. “Hello, Ray?” She paused for the other side of the line to respond. “She said she remembered.” Another pause. “She didn’t say. No…” she paused mid-sentence. “She said she remembers running away from someone who was trying to hurt her. She didn’t say anything else.” Pause. Her voice was becoming agitated again. “That was the first question I asked, Ray. She didn’t say. I gave her a couple of those pills; she’s sleeping now.” Pause. “I swear I…” She sighed heavily. “I’ll keep an eye on her. After all,” she chuckled and her voice became sultry, “that is what you are paying me for. Hurry home. I’ll be waiting.” None of this made sense. I surrendered myself fully to the sleep brought on by my medicine. My night was dreamless, but I awoke panting. I opened my eyes to the brightness of the morning. I peeked at the clock and it read 8:47. My body was stiff from sleeping in the same position all night. I needed to get ready to see Elizabeth. My headache and nausea were gone, but I was cold. The window was closed and I figured Linda must have closed it at some point last night. Grey light cast itself down amongst the clothes I had thrown onto the floor in frustration last night. My sheets and clothes were still damp, so I got up to change into dry clothes. I didn’t have time to take a shower. I didn’t hear anything outside of my room except the sound of running water. Linda must have been in the shower. As I took my jeans off, I felt the piece of paper with Sawyer’s number in my right pocket. I took it out. It was stuck together from last night’s rain. I unfolded it and grabbed the phone. I knew I needed to see Elizabeth today, but if I didn’t get the answers I wanted, I didn’t want to waste my time. And knowing that everybody I knew sided with my dad I most likely wouldn’t get the answers. I could call Sawyer and ask him to meet me at the hospital. I could go somewhere away from Linda and possibly stall seeing my dad for a while. I dialed his number and put the receiver to my ear. He picked up on the fourth ring. “Hello?” He sounded agitated, like he was in the middle of something. I remembered the time and the fact that most students go to class in the morning. “It’s Brooke. Sorry. I forgot what time it was. You weren’t in class or anything else important, were you?” I whispered into the opposite end. I didn’t want Linda to hear me just incase she finished getting ready early. “No, it’s fine. How are you?” he mumbled. “I’m…okay,” but that was all I could say for lack of a better description. “I was wondering if ask you of a favor and have you meet me at the hospital this morning. I want to…ask you a few questions.” “Of course, but what time?” I could tell that he was becoming more alert. “Does around ten work for you?” That would give me half an hour with Elizabeth. If the session wasn’t going anywhere, I could ask to go to the bathroom and then meet up with Sawyer. Sure, Elizabeth would call Linda or my dad when I didn’t return to finish the session, but I would have a little bit of freedom; memories, answers, and freedom were all I wanted now. “That’s fine. Where do you want to meet?” “In the lobby. Can I ask another favor of you?” “Sure, anything.” “Can you take me somewhere other than the hospital so we can talk.” He hesitated to answer. “Are you it’s a good idea to take you in my car again? I don’t want anything to happen like last…” I cut him off. “Please, Sawyer. I promise that nothing will happen. It’s just that the hospital makes me stressed. All of the doctors and nurses and medical equipment and…” I trailed off. He gave a little sigh. “Okay. Where do you want to go?” “Anything is fine. I’m not picky.” “See you at ten. Bye. “Thanks. Bye.” She could not believe what she just did. Despite the promise she made to herself to never let him hurt her again, she bought a plane ticket to seem him during Spring Break. She went over the past few days’ events in her mind to try and make sense of why she would do such a thing. They had talked and cleared a fraction of the air the day before she decided, but she still wondered what possessed her to buy a plane ticket and give up her vacation to spend it with him. But she had felt something in her gut telling her to go.
She hated him so much that she refused to be called by her first name, the name he had picked out at her birth. She changed her last name to her mother’s maiden name after the divorce. She never bothered to send him a card during Christmas. Her mom forced her to send letters and school pictures to him until the day she turned eighteen. She looked up from her laptop as Lauren started to talk. “I’m going to blow some steam off at the gym. Chem test tomorrow. You wanna come?” Lauren started to change out of her sweats into her workout shorts and sports bra. Her unnaturally fire truck-red hair was already in a high ponytail. She was tan and lean from the hours she spent outside and joining almost every possible club on campus. “I don’t know, Lauren. I don’t feel good.” She was lying on the floor, blindly searching for her tennis shoes underneath her bed. “Of course you don’t. You ate a whole carton of ice cream last night right after you finished off a large pepperoni pizza. I think you need to come work out. It’ll do you good. Come on, Mel.” She found her shoes and was tying them to her feet. “I just feel really depressed right now. I bought a plane ticket.” Lauren’s face scrunched up in surprise and disbelief. “For what?” “I’m going to see my dad for my birthday.” Lauren stood up and she was tall, unlike her. “Why are you going? I thought you hated him and you always spend your birthday in the city and actually have fun.”
“I don’t even know. I’ll go to the gym with you, but let me change first. You can go on. I’ll meet you there in a few.” “Okay.” Lauren bounced over to her and gave her a tight hug. “Just don’t think about it too much like if you really have to pee, you don’t think about water. How ‘bout we use your massage certificates tomorrow or Sunday? It can be a girls’ weekend. We’ll just unwind and not worry about anything.” “Sounds fine. I’ll be down in a few. Bye.” Lauren bounced out of the room and she waited until she was certain nobody else would come in. She took her chair over to the closet and stepped up. She got her stash of junk food that she hid from everyone, especially Lauren. There was a fresh bag of cheddar and sour cream chips, a box of chocolates from her birthday, and a package of double chocolate chip cookies. She threw them onto her bed and raided the mini-fridge they had purchased together. She found the pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream she bought. She started with the ice cream. Every time she started to binge, she hated herself. She hated that she kept this from everybody, the feeling of purging afterwards; but she couldn’t stop. This was the one thing she could control. She could eat whatever she wanted as long as she didn’t let her body digest it. It didn’t start off with the need of approval or the need to be skinny. She wanted to be in control of herself, not just the mindless peers she manipulated. Since middle school they preached about the dangers of eating disorders; but that didn’t stop her. She knew she didn’t have an eating disorder. She could stop anytime she wanted, but she didn’t want to stop. She liked the power of putting something into her body and then deciding that she didn’t want it. She didn’t binge and purge to be skinny like all the girls with the sad-sob stories she heard over and over again. The reason she hated herself for this need of control was the lying to her mom and friends and Hayden. She kept it from them because she knew they wouldn’t understand her reasons as to why she did this. She hated that she had to sneak enough food for her to be at her breaking point. She almost didn’t make it in time to the bathroom the previous night. Lauren was talking non-stop as she ate the last spoonfuls of ice cream. She lied and said that Hayden wanted to talk to her. She loved Hayden but hated herself for not being able to tell him. But the stress from talking with her dad and landing the lead role in the spring performance and the approaching finals was too much. She would binge, purge, go work out, buy some more junk food, and then start the cycle again in a few days. “Linda told me that you snuck out last night. I would like to know why.” Elizabeth was not smiling today. She wore concern well, though. I know that this would come up eventually, but I had pretended that it wouldn’t. I didn’t think I was entirely ready to handle the memories of the previous night.
“I wanted to get out and do something on my own. I met this guy yesterday and he invited me to spend some time with…” She cut me off, but she was still gentle and caring. “That was very dangerous, Brooke. Linda also told me that you remembered something.” She cleared her throat and shifted in her chair. She briefly looked down at her notebook, like she was uncomfortable with what she was about to say. “I wasn’t going to bring this up until later, when you remembered more, but since last nights incidents brought out something familiar, you need to know.” “What do I need to know?” I said calmly. I knew whatever was coming was going to be unpleasant and I wanted to show Elizabeth that I was handling this maturely. “A few weeks before you started to help your dad, you were in Yosemite with a friend. One night, you went out with your friend to have fun downtown. You were walking back to your hotel when a group of drunken men started to follow you. They chased you into the woods and they raped both of you. The two of you had nightmares every time you closed your eyes. Your friend found out a few weeks later that she was pregnant. You were the only one she told. She couldn’t live with herself after that; she was so distraught, she killed herself. You were having a hard time adjusting to all the changes. It was one of the major reasons your dad moved to San Francisco to live with you. The day of your accident, you were coming back from your last visit to Santa Rosa.” “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier? This could’ve helped me remember sooner! Why didn’t I remember it on my own?” I screamed at Elizabeth, the opposite of maturity. I was frustrated and angry mostly with myself, but screaming felt like it would help; it didn’t help, it only made it worse. Angry tears spilled over my eyes. My chest did not shake with staggered breaths as it had the previous night when I was filled with sorrow and pain. “Sometimes the mind tries to protect itself from unpleasant memories. When your head was hit, your mind took a chance to hide anything that would potentially hurt you along with all of your memories prior to that Yosemite trip. Your mind did not want you to remember this terrible event in your life. I did not want to tell you because the mind will reveal its secrets when it is ready. If you could not remember it on your own, then your mind was not ready, you were not ready.” “But I am ready! I’ve been ready to remember since…”
“Brooke, take some deep breaths. In through your nose and out through your mouth.” I followed her calm instructions with jagged breaths. “This is what we were afraid would happen; that you would react like this. You need to stay calm. There’s another part I need to tell you about.”
“What?” I snapped.
“We believe that on your trip back to San Francisco, you were trying to kill yourself.”
I didn’t say anything for a while. I couldn’t. I just stared at the floor with my mouth pursed.
I glanced at the clock on the wall opposite of the couch I was sitting on. It was 9:57. “I need to go to the bathroom.” I clenched my teeth.
Elizabeth stared at me, confused, but then she said, “Okay, but hurry back.”
I stood up and hurried out the door. The woman behind the window watched me with confusion, but I didn’t care. I only wanted to get away and think about the recent events on my own. I rushed down the hallway, going the opposite direction of the bathroom. I anxiously waited for the elevator doors to open. When they finally did, I pressed the button for the lobby and then the one to close the doors. I was alone in the elevator and this comforted me. There would almost be no witnesses to my escape.
The elevator beeped to tell me that I had arrived at the lobby. People were walking around the lobby, but I managed to see out of the glass windows and automatic doors. I recognized Sawyer standing by the door where a young couple was pushing a stroller with a sleeping toddler. He was wearing dark jeans paired with a dark green shirt underneath a navy blue jacket. It was different from last night, probably because the jacket he had been wearing had my blood on it. I walked faster towards him. “Sawyer, are you ready?”
He stared at me and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I’ll tell you about later.”
“Why are you in such a hurry? Are you sure this is such a good idea?”
“I just need to talk over some things with you, to make sense of what’s been happening.”
“If you’re sure…Let’s go. My car is parked just down the block.”
He started to walk out the doors. I looked over my shoulder to make sure that nobody was following me. “So where are we going?”
“I thought the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park would be a good place to talk. It’s Rebecca’s favorite place to go to relax.” He unlocked his car from the keys in his pocket. Again, he opened the passenger’s door and waited until my seatbelt was buckled. When he sat in his seat, he didn’t turn on the music. The entire ten-minute ride and finding parking was silent. We walked to the entrance and Sawyer paid seven dollars to the man sitting behind the window.
I walked next to Sawyer breathlessly. I had never seen anything like it, well from what I could remember. It was beautiful there. The grayness of the clouds added to the tranquility. The large and graceful trees were starting to peek open with green leaves. Flower buds were waiting to bloom. Small waterfalls throughout the garden provided the soundtrack of meditation. The air was filled with jasmine and clean water. Everyone already in the garden was whispering in fear of disturbing the peacefulness of the garden. Some were attempting to climb to the top of a severely arched bridge for a photo, but then were stuck trying to get back to the simple path leading the wanderers through the garden. A few miniature bridges let people walk over water and point at they orange and white koi fish swimming calmly beneath the water’s surface. Traditional Japanese pagodas and shrines were hidden amongst the trees and bushes. Paper lanterns hung from a wooden ceiling covering wooden tables and chairs. Japanese servers dressed in kimonos were bringing teapots and cookies to the people sitting at the tables.
Sawyer sat down on a stool and I sat in the one next to him. He got up and told me to stay seated. I followed his instructions happily. I looked at the tranquil scenery. Time passed quickly and Sawyer returned. Shortly after him, a woman in a kimono deposited two teapots and teacups along with a bowl of crackers at out table. She stated that the tea in the teapots was jasmine and for us to wait a few minutes to let the leaves seep.
“So what did you want to talk about?” I had almost forgotten about why we were here. My happiness crashed instantly.
“I was with my therapist this morning and I found out something before my accident. And maybe it explains last night.” He nodded, his teeth clenched together.
Taking his silence as a signal to go on, I continued, “She says that my memory will come back quicker if I’m surrounded by familiar things. My dad and I stayed in San Francisco because we lived here before my mom left and so I could finish school when I get better. Before my accident, I was with my friend in Yosemite. She said we were there for a Winter Break vacation, just us girls. We were walking back to our hotel one night when we were raped by a group of drunk men.” I stopped at the painful memories of the night before. I took a deep breath and continued. “My friend found out that she was pregnant. She killed herself and I was driving back from my last visit to Santa Rosa. An they think…they think I was trying to kill myself on that drive back here.” I didn’t look into his eyes. I was still angry with myself for not remembering on my own and Linda and my dad for not telling me.
He paused for a couple of seconds before asking, “You say that your therapist said that being in familiar surroundings would jog your memory, correct?”
I looked at him to see if his face would give a hint as to where he was going. It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting at all. He poured his tea into a teacup and took a sip. Warm, gray wisps ascended from the slightly green liquid. “Yes,” I said cautiously as I poured my tea into the empty teacup and ate one of the crackers from the small bowl. It was tangy and crunchy. I decided to try another.
He waited for me to try a sip of tea before he asked the next question. “And you remembered this little ‘incident’ when you were in the car with me, correct?”
“Yes.” I still couldn’t see where he was going with these questions.
“Do you know the name of your friend? The one who died?”
I opened my mouth to say “yes,” but I snapped it shut because I realized I didn’t even know the name of my best friend who died. I stared at the tealeaves dancing around each other at the bottom of my cup. I took another sip. What kind of friend was I?
He sighed at my lack of an answer. “Have you watched the news lately?”
“Yes. Why are you asking me all of these questions?” The questions were starting to make me feel uncomfortable. I was already emotional when I fled from my session. These questions weren’t helping any. I glared at him, waiting for an answer.
He took a long sip of tea. He kept his voice low, “Have you heard of the missing girl, Cori Baine?”
The name sent shivers throughout my body. That name started the conversation where I argued with Linda. It was before I snuck out. Before I remembered the horrible things my mind was trying to keep locked up. Before I scared Sawyer and myself. “Of course.” I tried to keep my voice soft, too, but I had little control over my emotions, especially today.
“Gabe, one of the guys you met last night, is Cori’s brother.”
I couldn’t see what connection he was trying to make. “Okay, but what does that have to do with anything that we’re talking about?” I was completely confused.
“This is going to sound crazy, but you need to trust me. Everything your dad and your therapist told you has been a total and complete lie.”
“Hold it right there, sister.”
“What’s going on?”
“No one allowed in. Crime scene.”
“If you don’t take your mitts off me pretty quick, there’s gonna be another crime…”
“Oh, yeah? Try me, hot shot…”
“Stop, stop. Let’s try it again. I want you to really put some emotion into it, Kate, like Mel. I didn’t cast you so you could revert back to your high school drama class. Dress rehearsal is in four weeks, people. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to start acting like professionals. Drama can happen anywhere, but theatre belongs on the stage. Take it from the top.”
Her director was always shouting at them whenever a big performance was underway. He had no problem with her, however, because she kept her emotions out of the way. She saved them for her characters.
This was the tenth time they had rehearsed the scene and she was starting to get annoyed with Kate’s lack of enthusiasm. To tell the truth, she thought Kate had no talent and was only given roles because of her parents’ funding of all the productions she wanted to be in. But she kept her annoyance at bay and continued starting the scene, busting in the pantomimed door to see Erik as Vernon sitting in a chair, a white taped ‘x’ on the floor where a chalk outline of ballerina would be, and Kate standing by the pretend door trying to keep her out.
They finished the scene and their director released them for lunch. She went to the row in the audience where Hayden was waiting with her lunch. She tossed her bent script into her bag in the seat next to her and started eating the Caesar salad. When she finished, she grabbed her bag and went for a walk with him to Washington Square Park.
“Why are you going to see your dad without me for you birthday? We always spend it together. I could go with you.”
“No. I don’t want my dad to meet any of my new friends or mon petit copain. He’s embarrassing and I hate him, but he’s still my dad and I haven’t seen him since my high school graduation.” She looked at him and his messy light brown hair and brown eyes with affection, the closest she had ever gotten to feeling love for somebody. She was wearing his favorite shirt: a short-sleeved embroidered green blouse. They were stopped at the arch.
He smiled and said, “Mel, come here.”
She smiled in response, “I already am here.” She was confused.
He reached into his pocket and he knew she had no idea what he was about to ask her. “Will you, Melanie, make me the happiest man in the world by marring me?” He took the little blue velvet box out of his pocket and opened it to display his grandmother’s wedding ring, a 1.5-carat diamond on a silver band, to her.