All the chairs the boys had sat on were empty. On the other side of the room, Jessica was the only girl still seated. Her mother had insisted she go to the high school dance, saying that even if she weren’t asked, she needed to hold her head up high and be confident. Jessica wasn’t certain how to look “confident,” but assumed that meant no tears.
The boys and girls moving on the floor became a blur to her until she heard a soft voice ask, “Will you dance with me?” For a moment she thought she was talking out loud to herself. A smile from a Raymond, a shy boy from her junior year history class, told her otherwise.
Three years later Jessica sat on a sofa in a small apartment thinking of that school dance. She was waiting for her husband to come home from work– late again. Why couldn’t he take the 5:15 and be home by 5:45? Sometimes he didn’t tell her he’d be late. This evening she wondered what had happened to Raymond. Their relationship ended abruptly in the summer when he went away to camp. She started dating a boy who played on the football team and by summer’s end had forgotten Raymond until he asked her to go to the senior prom. It was how he asked that stayed with her. One Saturday morning he stood on her doorstep with a dozen red roses.
“Jessica, these are for you. Will you go to the senior prom with me?”
“How was camp?” she asked, hoping that Raymond would get a sense of how angry she was that he’d left her for the summer.
“My parents made me go—they’re getting a divorce, so they thought it best that I not be home for awhile.” He handed her the flowers–no one had ever done that before. She was overcome with guilt and quickly accepted the invitation, even though she expected the football player to ask her, and when he did, she told Raymond a lie: the football player’s mother was dying and that she had to go to the prom with him. She married the player the summer after graduation.
Her husband opened the door and without looking at her, mumbled, “The bus broke down.”
She shook her head, promising herself that she’d find Raymond so she could apologize for the one lie she had told in high school.