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Saturday, October 9, 2010
High School Reunion by Betsy Knapp
Maybe if I hadn’t ordered lunch from Mr. Fong’s that day. Maybe if I hadn’t read my fortune cookie message: You will find true love very soon. Maybe if I hadn’t received an invitation to my fifteenth year high school reunion. Maybe I wouldn’t have found Will Dawson again.
Will and I stood out at West Richmond High School like two oddballs.
Will lived on a farm and did chores before boarding the school bus. He always wore jeans, plaid shirts and work boots.
As for me, my mother would say, “Now, Kelly Monroe, you don’t need all those angora sweaters and pleated skirts.” So we bought my clothes at the local thrift shop.
Will and I were assigned as partners in chemistry class and became good friends. Will and I also went to our senior prom together. He showed up at my house wearing a brand new blue suit. Maybe the pants were a little short, but the smile on his face made up for everything. He presented me with a beautiful wrist corsage that matched my bubblegum pink gown.
When Will escorted me home that night, we stood under the porch light, looking at each other like a couple of scared owls. Suddenly he leaned over to kiss me. Unfortunately, he missed his mark and planted the kiss on my right ear. It didn’t matter to me. I was tingling. Ear, mouth, who cared? I had been kissed...for the first time.
However, as it often happens, after graduation I lost touch with Will.
I attended a local community college for two years, but finally convinced my mother to let me make The Big Move to Manhattan.
My first job was in the mail room at the Global Broadcasting System. I made no secret that I was determined to go to the top at GBS. A couple of years later, I interviewed for the position of production assistant at the top-rated daytime television program, “For Today’s Woman.” That was the stepping stone to producer. In five short years, I was named host of “FTW”. My face was on billboards all over New York, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island. Oh, yes, don’t forget Long Island and New Jersey, too.
My name was on everyone’s lips. Television Magazines often implied that I was the next Barbara Walters. I was the Kelly Monroe. I had everything I wanted…except someone to love me.
I stepped into the West Richmond High School gymnasium. “So far, so good,” I thought to myself. “I haven’t run into any of the Mean Girls. Yet.”
A long table was filled with name tags. I was having a little trouble finding mine.
“Looking for this?”
I turned around to see a tall, handsome, blond man holding out my name tag. “It was on the floor,” he said.
“How did you know it was mine?” I asked, all the time thinking what a brainless thing for me to say. Of course, he would know my face from television.
I took the name tag from the man and pinned it to my silk dress. “Thanks so much,” I said, smiling a little. “And you are…oh, good heavens, you’re Will Dawson!” I grabbed Will and hugged him as tight as I could.
Will gently pulled himself away from me. “You are beautiful, Kelly.” As he continued, his eyes began to caress my face, “…but then…you always were.”
I smiled, timidly for me, and was about to reach out and touch Will’s strong, chiseled face when a bouncy young woman approached, and called back over her shoulder, “Everyone, over here. Kelly Monroe is here!”
By now, a large group of classmates had gathered around us. Bonnie Sue Brown, one of the Mean Girls”, called out, “Hey, Kelly where did you find that handsome guy with you?”
I was about to say something that I probably would regret later when I thought, “This is not high school. This is a reunion.”
Before I could answer, Will took care of that for me. “Bonnie Sue, you mean you don’t recognize this old country boy?”
The woman gasped and turned beet red. “You’re Will Dawson, aren’t you?” She waited a minute and then called out, “Hey, you married, Will?”
Now my mind was full of questions. Where had Will been all this time? What did he do? And, the most important question of all…was he married?
Will answered Bonnie Sue, showing dimples…had he always had dimples? “I wrote a book called With The Troops," he said.
All I could do was look at Will with tremendous pride. And I had thought I was such a big deal hosting a television program.
“I read your book, Will,” I told him. “But why no photograph on the back cover?”
“That was me,” Will said. “My head was sticking through a tank turret. I was wearing a helmet and …I had a beard, too. But right now, I would like to ask Kelly Monroe out for coffee!”
As everyone roared with laughter, I took Will’s hand, “Just name the time and the place.”
Will replied, “There’s coffee here. How about right now?”
I took a quick look at Will. “I was thinking about a place a little more private.”
“Hmm…” Will said, looking into my eyes. “We could talk about old times. And for the record, I’m not married. How about you?"
I showed him my empty ring finger. “Never found the right guy.”
Everyone at the reunion was screaming, “Kelly and Will! Kelly and Will!”
With that, I took Will’s arm. “We have a lot of old times to talk about tonight.”
Will hugged me as we walked out of our old high school. “Kelly, I have missed you so much.”
I felt all warm inside as I thought, “But not as much as I have missed you, Will Dawson.”
Maybe it was written in the stars for me to order lunch from Mr. Fong’s that day.
About the Author: After a successful career in fashion and broadcasting, as well as writing a newspaper column, Betsy Knapp returned to her first love of writing fiction. Betsy’s short stories "The Cover Girl" and "Destiny’s Diner" have appeared in Long and Short Reviews. She will also have a short story "Victory At Sea" appearing in Chick Lit Shorties Summer Launch. Betsy Knapp and her husband live in a charming Vermont village. Contact Betsy Knapp at http://originalshortstories-author.blogspot.com/