Something Extraordinary

October 1, 2011
By MarleeFox PLATINUM, Annapolis, Maryland
MarleeFox PLATINUM, Annapolis, Maryland
20 articles 0 photos 3 comments

It wasn’t a huge, burning flame of love to begin with, which is probably why it died so quietly: just a quiet ember that faded from orange to black so silently that hardly anyone noticed the change in the light. She was an outcast in the sense that she hardly mattered to the student body enough to be cast out, appearing so intensely plain that it was almost beautiful, in the way that a blank piece of paper by just being itself can inspire all the color that comes after. He was hardly any different, no exceptional resume, no charges on his cell phone bill, just a quiet, subtly attractive boy who often got mistaken for being younger than he was. Theirs was not a story of dramatic social barriers or forbidden love, and there was no reason for it to be, existing in a world separate from complication, preserved only in its own simplicity.

On a Monday, he invited her on their first “mystery date,” an idea he’d overheard in the hallway. It was to be their eleventh date, but neither of them had been counting. They’d been a couple for a little over two months, as far as anyone else was concerned (and they weren’t concerned.) He wouldn’t tell her where they were going, only telling her to dress “nice” and not to forget a sweater. “Saturday night; I’ll pick you up at seven,” he had said, then rapped his knuckle once on the library desk where she had been sitting and walked back out to the empty hallway.
They hardly saw each other all week following, but for some reason she couldn’t get him out of her mind. For the first time, she was actually daydreaming about him, spending more class time that week with her eyes fixed softly on the ceiling than focused on the blackboard. Somehow, she had gotten it into her head that they were going to be stargazing. It all seemed to fit somehow: the nice outfit for the moonlit picnic, the sweater in case she got cold… It was April, nearing the end of their last school year together, and so both the weather and the sentiment confirmed her assumption. Stargazing was her ideal date, but it wasn’t something she felt she could ask for; It had to be unexpected. Classic yet so exciting, the thought of it made class unbearable and her legs bounce up and down under her desk.

He told her about the date on Monday. By Tuesday she had picked out a dress, sweater, and earrings that matched. By Wednesday, she had driven herself to the county library and checked out the first book she came across on finding constellations. On Thursday, she caught muffled conversation in the hallway: Two girls gossiping about how a boy had taken their friend to dinner at Lambert’s Cove restaurant, the most expensive place around. She smiled to herself as she walked by their giggles, pitying their poor friend for settling for something so unremarkable. Sure it was a nice place, but for the first time in her life, she was going to be a part of something extraordinary, a date no one else had lived through before her.

Focusing on her classes on Friday was nearly impossible. All she could do to keep herself in her seat was sketch out all the constellations she had memorized from her library book. The still stars etched in dull, grey pencil spread over her notebook cover so differently than how she pictured they would spread over the sky on Saturday night. When she got home, she checked the weather forecast on the hour, and it looked perfect: sixty-five degrees and not a cloud to be expected. She smiled for hours on end. It was going to be something extraordinary.

When he arrived at her house on Saturday night five minutes early, she had already been dressed and sitting on the porch impatiently for a half an hour. He smiled at her as she slid into the passenger seat of his beat up black sedan. He was wearing a suit, complete with a deep blue tie. Looking back, she would say that she knew as soon as she saw his tie, but she was so beyond logic that it was perceived only as an insignificant detail to her hardworking imagination.

She didn’t betray her emotions when they pulled into the parking lot of Lambert’s Cove restaurant. She even feigned joyful surprise when he led her in by the hand. She knew it was expensive and she knew that bringing her here was a significant step for him. She thanked him for telling her to wear a sweater, so thoughtful of him to remember that the air conditioning in the dining room was notoriously over-efficient. She smiled throughout the whole night, even held his hand before their entrées came. When he dropped her back off at her house after dinner, she kissed him softly and quickly on his mouth and told him she had had a good time. She stood with one hand on the doorknob of her house as she watched him drive away into the darkness. Only when the taillights of his car had disappeared around the bend did she let herself raise her eyes up for the first time that night where the sky lay draped over the pine trees, clear and swollen with stars.

If you asked him what went wrong after that night, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you, and who could blame him? As far as he knew, she had had a wonderful time. There was no yelling in the hallway at school or tears over the phone. She had simply stopped calling, stopped seeking him out whenever she could, stopped bringing up his name in conversations with her few friends just to feel the sound of him on her lips. It might have been cruel, how she left him lagging and confused, but something had awoken in her as soon as she saw his suit that night: the long-deterred realization that ordinary could only take her so far.

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