An Unfinished Story From Highschool

Two failed marriages, two house payments behind, two kids with a less-than-stellar mother, fired from two jobs in less than two years; Karen Freeman had stopped believing in second chances. “Why did I let you talk me into this?” she snarled at her best friend, Judy, as they stepped into the past. It was the twenty-year reunion of the class 71, Wichita High.

A wannabe 70s rock band was playing a sorry rendition of “Purple Haze” in the corner of the gym as Judy shouted. “I need a drink!” She made a beeline for the refreshment table, Karen on her heels.

“Ooh, look…Tom Jeffrey’s is fat…and bald!” Judy pointed to a short, chubby man standing in a group of other similarly overweight males–the former Wichita football team.

Karen slapped Judy’s hand down. “Stop pointing!”

“Thank you, sugar,” Judy winked at the young man as he handed her two plastic-cup margaritas.

“You are incorrigible,” Karen said, taking her drink from Judy.

“And the night is young!” Judy glowed as her eyes took in the room. Suddenly she took off across the gym floor, “I’ll be right back!”

Karen had been a beanpole in high school, a nerdy girl who’d never belonged to the in-crowd. Judy hadn’t been that popular either but she’s never seemed to care. She had always had a reservoir of self-confidence that Karen had lacked, though Karen had been confident to a point. It was just that over the years, she’d let the cards she’d been dealt bring her down. It made her angry at herself, for Judy had been through plenty of her own trials and she was still on fire with life.

But Karen’s bitterness ran deep. She stood by the refreshment table sipping her drink and spotted Sarah Womack, once Wichita High’s head cheerleader, who looked to weigh about two hundred pounds. Karen was overcome with evil delight. She’d filled out quite nicely after she’d had her kids, and though she admonished herself for being catty, she couldn’t help but feel peacefully vindicated. Though when she looked down at her Target dress and Payless shoes, she saw that it didn’t make a difference if Sarah Womack became the fattest woman in the world, she’d always outclass Karen.

Then she saw him walking toward her next to Judy, his once-dark hair white as an albino rabbit’s, though she would have recognized him anywhere; tall, still lanky Bobby Griffith, the boy who had loved her, the boy who’s affection she had scorned. As the now grown man looked into her eyes, she saw herself as the person he must have seen back then, the one she’d forgotten about.