Monday, April 29, 2013

TRULY by Summer Day (chapter nine: "Wish Fulfilment - junior year")

Chapter Nine
Wish Fulfilment – Junior Year
Boarding school was boring no more as girls jostled to be part of the Ben Wentworth fan club. His brother was clearly a one man woman…
Confessions of a Teenage Hermit
   After our hiking trip, we started making excuses to meet up at school. 
   The following Monday I was flicking through the required classic reading list in my English Lit folder: Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice as well as two Shakespearean plays, Much Ado About Nothing and Julius Caesar. I felt uninspired. I was wishing we were doing Romeo and Juliet when Ben tapped me on the shoulder and smiled.
    “Hey, didn’t I fix your family’s beach house one summer?” He asked as if it was the first time we’d seen each other in recent years.
    “Hi.” I said, beaming from ear to ear. “That joke’s getting old.”
    “How’s your knee?”
    “Fine, thanks to you.” I changed the subject. “How come you’re in my English Lit class?”
     He shrugged his broad shoulders
    “I transferred from History. This group seems like it’ll be better. They’re combining Junior and Senior classes now. Not enough takers.”
     We looked into each other’s eyes from behind our lockers and before I knew it he’d planted a first kiss on my lips.
     I smiled. It was perfect. He looked around the corridor and said, “I like you. I mean, I really like you. I only talked to Serena to make you jealous.”
    “Really? Well that’s good to know.”
     He smiled.
    “It took a while. Let’s see… three football games, two social mixers, one fall down a cliff. I think I deserve a medal for my bravery.”
    “An award should be arranged.”
    “Uh huh.”
    “Let’s ditch this class and go to the library. I need to do some more research,” I suggested.
    “Sure,” he said. “In the stacks?”
    “Yes,” I replied, “definitely.”
    As we headed to the library he said, “I missed you last night.”
    “Me too.” This was not the moment to play it cool.
    “I got used to sharing the night sky with you. We need to stay focused, though. We shouldn’t get too distracted,” he added as we kissed again behind a row of research files. What can I say? There was some kind of magic between us as I pulled him closer.
   “Agreed,” I said.
   I’d never felt so happy.  Ben and I spent every waking moment together; talking, eating, at team practise. We discussed endlessly what we’d do when high school was over.
   I hadn’t forgotten flying was his dream. Only the very best students would be considered for pilot training in the Air Force. They had to ace math and science and all the difficult subjects. 
    “You have to get serious about study,” I told him. “No distractions.”
     He just smiled his wicked grin.
    “Agreed,” he replied as we met in the bleachers after practise one day.  
     We tried to stop ditching class to make out. We decided to stop meeting between classes to do anything but study. We resolved to stop meeting up after lights out. Just to be together was a perfect distraction.
     I didn’t envy Ben’s dreams but I admired them. After just a short while it became apparent that he had strength of character wholly untested in me, so far. For example, if someone criticized me, Ben always stood up for me. He had his own thoughts and ideas beyond the pack. I’d always done what I was told. I fell into line with the Socials and I was well enough liked because of it. I’d never had to struggle for anything, not even to be noticed. The truth was, I hadn’t wanted to be noticed, until now. 
      I looked into his face again as we walked back to class that day. Apart from kissing we’d spent the last thirty minutes planning the future. We talked about running away together after I’d finished school, but that would hardly be possible if Ben was accepted into the Air Force. He smiled as we walked to lunch together. I remembered a look of wonderment on Ben’s face as we watched a jet fly over the ocean together when we were children. We guessed the places it could be going and ended up with Hawaii.
     “That’s where I want to be someday,” he had said. “Up there in the sky, flying.”
     Every Wednesday, during my junior year, we had practise. Ben played football and I had cheer squad. As Liz noted, we’d become the perfect clich├ęd couple.
     As Ben wandered off down the hallway I noticed he was one of the tallest boys in school. He looked bored with the confines of the walls already.
     Ben carried Great Expectations in one hand (and held the weight of them), literally, in the other. I knew he would be streets ahead of the other students in English Lit. and not just because he was a senior. Ben seemed wise beyond his years.
     By spring of junior year, it was pretty clear we were in love. Even though we were young, I considered Ben the most remarkable person of my sheltered acquaintance. Jenny couldn’t have been more thrilled with the situation. Meanwhile, Liz had given up trying to dissuade me. Melissa was apparently indifferent. 
     Because Ben was academically outstanding and also brilliant at sports, adding to his popularity, my sister Elizabeth seemed to come over to his side eventually, even listing him “top priority” at the Senior Bachelor Auction. Liz wrote, that’s if he’s not too cool to show.
    “Oh, and Jane?” she added as an afterthought, “you can forget about bidding, that would be way too obvious.”