Panic at the ballroom can turn out alright after all...
|Seth tossed the mail on the counter. As the envelopes fanned out, one handwritten address stood out amidst the others. Curious, he pulled the letter from the stack and opened it.
Five Year Reunion
Join the Class of 2015 for our…
Seth immediately tore it up and threw it emphatically into the trash. He scowled, loosening his black tie. He grabbed a beer from the fridge and took a long pull. Walking over to his bookshelf, he pulled a volume of the shelf and ran his fingers over the imprinted words on the cover.
“Sammamish High School: Yearbook 2015”
He set it on the coffee table and plopped down on the couch, flipping to the “Most Likely to” section. Next to the word “Succeed” was his photo.
Frowning, he tilted his head back and drained the rest of his beer, slamming the book shut with a definitive *whap*.
A month later, Seth was at work setting up a banquet table in the hotel ballroom.
“Ahh!” he cried as it slipped, tearing off the buttons on his black vest.
Showing his boss the damaged uniform, the man replied. “Again, Tom?”
“It’s Seth, sir.”
“Whatever. I’ll order you a replacement uniform, but it’s coming out of your paycheck this time.”
Seth smirked. Now he hoped his boss forgot his name again—when it came time to enter the charge into the payroll system!
Walking back into the ballroom, his jaw dropped upon seeing a familiar face.
“Seth! So good to see you, man!”
“John? What are you doing here?” Seth was instantly self-conscious, crossing his arms over his torn uniform.
“Ha! Good one! Glad you made it to the reunion! I was wondering whether the old gang would show up...” John slapped him on the back.
The reunion! It was tonight? Here?
Omigod! Omigod! Omigod!
Seth felt his heart begin to race, his brow sweat, his hands tremble. He took deep breath. Not a panic attack! Not here!
Another pair of familiar eyes found him.
“Seth? Wow! I don’t think I’ve talked to you since I quit Facebook!” said Carl, another of his high school crew. Carl threw his arms around Seth, giving him a big hug.
“Seth! Get back to work, dumbass! No fraternizing with the guests!” came his boss’ voice behind him. Seth closed his eyes, dropping his head. Couldn’t this have been the time his boss forgot his name?
“Um, guys… I’ve got to get back to work. Sorry.” Seth didn’t meet their eyes as his cheeks flushed crimson. He skulked back to the corner to set up the last table.
“What? Seth? You work here? Didn’t you go to Stanford?”
“Yeah. Didn’t graduate. Anxiety issues,” Seth replied, back to his friends as he walked away. He heard them murmuring. He didn’t want to know what they were saying.
He set up the last table, then looked for the nearest exit and darted for it, eager to make his escape. As he left the ballroom, he nearly tripped over someone slumped next to the entrance.
He looked down. It was a beautiful Filipino girl. It couldn’t be!? But it was. He had spent most of high school wanting to ask her out—and never actually doing it. It was probably the single biggest regret of his high school years, possibly the biggest regret of his life. And that was saying something coming from a Stanford dropout.
Right now, however, she was the last person on earth he wanted to see. He hurried past her. Until he heard her sniffle. He paused, back to her, listening. He heard another sniffle. Was she crying?
He whirled to gaze at the parts of her mascara-lined face that were visible between her fingers. His stomach clenched in empathy for the poor girl. What had happened to her? He walked slowly toward her and knelt before her.
“Lucy?” he intoned.
She looked up, sliding her hands down.
“Seth?” She eyed his outfit.
Seth’s blush bloomed anew. He was completely mortified, yes, but that would have to wait. He needed to make sure that Lucy was alright.
“Yeah. I work here,” he said, the corners of his mouth dropping. “Are you okay?”
“I guess I was just embarrassed. I thought I could face everyone… but I can’t. I just can’t!” Tears began to well up in her beautiful brown eyes once more.
“Why? You look absolutely gorgeous tonight.”
She gave a quick smile at the compliment before her lips returned to their frown.
“I-I dropped out of school. I’m doing temp clerical work. I just… I feel so inadequate. I mean, look at all the successful people from our class!” She didn’t meet his eyes. “I can’t even believe I’m telling you this, but…”
“...but I’m in exactly the same boat,” he said, resting a hand on hers. She looked up, eyes meeting his in reaction to his unexpected touch.
“I never told you this, but I had the biggest crush on you all through high school…” he confessed. He didn’t look away, eyes glued to hers. A lump formed in his throat. Was he really doing this?
She smiled, her glassy eyes now alight.
“You too huh?”
Sam felt his heart flutter with the unexpected reciprocation of his long-hidden feelings.
“You… you wouldn’t happen to be free tomorrow night would you?” he asked with a crooked smile.
“I would,” she said, her smile broadening.
“Then I’d be honored if you would accompany me to dinner,” he said. He couldn’t believe it! Had he really just asked her out?
“I’d love to, Seth.” He rose, pulling her gently up with him.
She gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
He escorted her back into the ballroom, shame forgotten, only pride in its place.