She had many regrets in her life, they piled in abundance like forgotten gumballs in an antique shop. It wasn’t new to have one now, but it was a different type. When it came to her childhood and Mom, there were many things she’d have done differently. The consequences had been heavy, but this wasn’t one of those great regrets. This was simpler, but still deep.
When he’d asked her out, she’d said no. It had seemed wise at the time; she hadn’t wanted to jeopardize the band. But on the eve of her final high school days, and no longer a band-mate, it felt like she had sacrificed too much.
It might have been the wrong choice, she didn’t expect they’d have stayed together after she left in the fall. But they might have had a year full of romance, stolen kisses, whispers, and quiet moments with the radio playing.
Everything was ending, and if she could change one small thing, it’d be saying yes to Monroe.
One day, all his betting would get him into trouble according to his Dad. When he’d rented the mascot costume, his Dad thought for sure, that he’d finally learned his lesson. But wearing a mascot uniform to his Junior Prom didn’t really seem that big of a deal.
She’d asked Alex to be her date, and thankfully, he’d said yes. Everyone knew that he was trying to date Eden Fink, they went to the last dance together, but only Juniors and Seniors were allowed to prom, meaning Eden couldn’t attend.
She wasn’t sure she liked Alex all that much, though they had many similarities with their parents being business owners. At the end of the day, she wanted to wear her beautiful gown. She’d gotten the dress for actual price with her Mom’s perks, and she would not let it go to waste.
She had been on her way to entering the prom, but somehow she’d walked around to the back parking lot and pulled out her music.
Just a song or two, then she’d be ready to face her first and last high school dance.
Monroe was thinking of Ella when he pulled out his cellphone. His girlfriend, Vivienne wasn’t old enough to attend. Ella had promised to go with him as a friend, but she wasn’t there. He did have his buddy, Jake. Next year they’d be seniors and Vivienne would be a junior.
Next year was where it was at.
It’s Manny. Somehow her little brother knew that she hadn’t gone in yet. He always knew those anxious bits of her, because he had them too. But he was braver than her, she should have been the one cheering her younger siblings on, but Manny had always done that for her.
“Promise you’ll go in now?”
Monroe made him come, plus he had to be sure that his buddy followed through with the mascot outfit. Now that he was here though, he found himself intrigued by the raven haired woman taking their photos.
Clearly she was an adult and expecting, but he felt a vibe between them.
He decided to introduce himself, and attempt some subtle flirting.
He was on the phone with Vivienne when she entered, saying that he loved her, and would see her later. Did he mean tonight?
She didn’t dislike Vivienne, they didn’t really know one another.
Monroe was the only one to stick by her through the band upheaval. She’d thought maybe he still liked her, and perhaps if he showed her a single sign tonight, perhaps she’d tell him how she felt. Perhaps.
He shouted at the DJ, requesting something more hip.
He tried pulling Ella into a group dance, but she made excuses then wandered off.
Jake wasn’t even interested in dancing with him.
Fueled by the music and twinkling lights, Jake decided to ask Meg to dance. She’d told him earlier that she’d never attended any dances until she did photography.
He’d never felt this alive in all his life. Her smile was arrows to his heart, her dress was gorgeous, and he didn’t mind that she was pregnant. In another year or so, he’d be even taller, and would be on his way out of this place. He could take care of her and the baby.
She had told them about her boyfriend and buying a house, but mostly, she didn’t talk. She enjoyed the attention he was giving her, he could tell.
They were both attending EU in the fall. She hadn’t known that. She probably wouldn’t have asked him if she had known.
Regardless, they posed for a prom photo together. She might hang it on her wall if they were in separate dorms.
Overall, she had a good time and he seemed to as well. Perhaps they’d see one another on campus.
Monroe insisted on the photo. She would have skipped it. She felt awkward in her own skin without a photo magnifying it, but she obliged.
Afterward though, she appreciated this last symbol of high school and friendships.
She excuses herself to grab a salad.
He offered to eat with her, but she declined.
Maybe she doesn’t like him that way, but it had really felt like it.
Ella sneaks off without a word.
Monroe seemed smitten with Vivienne; she didn’t want to be that kind of girl, so she said nothing.
Now she sits down in the middle of the field, and enjoys the city as it moves into a restless slumber.
All those years ago, everything had been intimidating. There were rumors she’d made valedictorian. She didn’t believe that to be true, but the rumor alone was an accomplishment. The fact that someone like her could actually obtain teenage greatness was baffling.
She wasn’t afraid of this field anymore, the teachers, and especially not the students. She wanted to feel fearless for her future, but that hadn’t happened.
Everything about the next few months terrified her, she couldn’t even begin to look past September.
She wondered if her Mom would have been proud, if perhaps she might have gotten help and been involved. She worried about the traps her Mom fell in, that same weakness was a piece of her; she could feel all the poor choices just a breath away.
Monroe finds her out in the field, calls out exuberantly, shattering her reverie.
He jogs across the field, chiding her for not saying goodbye.
This was a real goodbye, not a see ya later.
He announces proudly that he’s planning to attend EU himself, after high school of course. She’d be a sophomore, would she be excelling? She hoped so.
Would Monroe be accepted to EU? She didn’t feel as confident.
“You better study then; it matters.” She encourages him playfully.
“I will,” he laughs it off then quiets. “I’ll miss you, better save room in your new band for me.”
He pulled her in for a hug, and she wanted to say how much she’d miss him too, but words escaped her. Quietly she hugged him, and wondered achingly if she had made a bad choice in saying no.
She had no new regrets tonight though; she was glad she hadn’t told Monroe her feelings, and sometimes that was enough.
Notes: Jake Grimsley was ALL about Meg Schehl! They might even be 3 bolts. It was an unexpected occurrence for sure.
Ella became interested in Monroe after he was with Vivienne. If he’d made any sign/want for Ella, I would have allowed her to fulfill some of her wants for him, but he didn’t at all.
Next up, they graduate plus a million other graduations and birthdays. Then I can see if we have a valedictorian this school year and who it might be, and if Ella got a full ride.
Thanks for reading!