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Reading the invitation caused a flutter in Claire’s heart.
“You have been invited to the biggest party of the year,” the letter read. She was invited to Carissa’s end of the year party. Carissa was the most popular and snobby girl in their senior class. Being quiet had never helped Claire into the popular group of girls. While she looked at the letter, her mother came to her bedroom door.
“You’re grounded,” her mother flatly said.
Coming out of her trance, Claire exclaimed, “What?! No!”
“You went over your text message limit again.”
“Why can’t you just switch me to unlimited?” Claire asked in frustration.
“Because I don’t want texting to become your life,” her mother retorted.
And with that, Claire slammed her bedroom door shut. The party was the next night and Claire was grounded for the next week. She had finally been invited to the party of the year and couldn’t even go. Sitting on her bed and pondering, Claire decided to sneak out and go to the party.
The next night she took a shower just before eight o’clock which would give her plenty of time to get ready and sneak out for nine o’clock. After stepping out of the shower she dried herself off and styled her hair into a curly up-do. Tendrils of mocha framed Claire’s face. A dark gray eye shadow lined her eye lids and nude lipstick covered her lips. She donned a navy blue mini dress. Then, Claire slipped into her pair of banana yellow heels and left her house. She was ready to party.
When Claire arrived at Carissa’s house, no one opened the door for her. There was no one looking in her direction. Claire felt alone. Wandering to a corner, she couldn’t help but wonder why she was at the party and not obeying her parents. Suddenly, Claire began to feel as if someone were watching her. She looked up just in time to see the bad-boy, heartthrob Jesse looking her way. Claire’s stomach dropped. Her hands began to feel clammy. Was he really looking at her? She couldn’t believe it. Looking down in disbelief, she tried to comprehend what had just happened. But she could not comprehend fast enough because before she knew it, Jesse was hovering over her with his six foot frame.
“Hey. Do I know you? I haven’t seen you around,” Jesse said coolly.
“Yeah, I’m Claire. We have third period English together,” Claire murmured while blushing.
Claire responded softly, “It’s okay, though. I’m kind of quiet. I wouldn’t have expected you to notice me.”
“No. I’m sorry. I’ve noticed you. I just didn’t recognize you like this,” Jesse smiled and looked her up and down. Claire blushed once again and Jesse asked, “Would you like some punch?”
“Sure. I’d love some punch.”
Jesse left Claire in the corner to fetch two glasses of punch. All the while, she wondered if he would truly come back with punch or if he would just leave her in that corner. When he came back, Claire couldn’t help but smile. She took a sip and felt a little tingle down her throat.
“Do you want to get out of here?” Jesse asked.
The two arrived outside of Carissa’s house and Claire asked, “Where are we going?”
“Just come with me,” responded Jesse.
Claire followed Jesse into the downtown area of Scotch Dale. It was about eleven o’clock and many of the stores had closed for the night. Jesse pulled Claire into one of the few open stores, a Tattoo Parlor. At that moment, Claire was not feeling completely herself. She giggled with delight when she set her eyes on the wall of designs.
“Pick one. I’ll pay,” Jesse told Claire.
After examining the wall for about twenty minutes, Claire decided on a simple butterfly and a surprise for Jesse. The tattoo artist took Claire into the back room while Jesse sat in the waiting area. The woman tattoo artist said to Claire, “That’s one hot boy you’ve got yourself. How long have you two been together?”
Claire responded, “Oh, you know, we just met tonight.”
The tattoo artist gave Claire a quizzical look, but commenced with the butterfly. The artist used her tools skillfully. There was no pain when the she put the finishing touches onto “Jesse”, Claire’s surprise for Jesse. Once the bandages were placed over the tattoo, Claire moved towards the waiting room. There was no one waiting. Jesse had abandoned Claire. She began to feel lightheaded and ran from the Tattoo Parlor. Tears poured from her eyes as she flew through her front door and into her bedroom.
Jesse skipped town that night and was never seen again. Claire always thought about him and that night when they first met. Hoping he would come back, she never accepted another date. She fell in love with Jesse that night because he treated her as if she existed. She had gone four years without meeting someone new because she fully believed he would come back.
One morning, while getting her morning latte, Claire heard her name called from somewhere behind her. Turning around, she saw an all too familiar face.
“Jesse?” was all she could say before he interrupted her.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to leave you like that. I just?I began having feelings for you and it was too much for me to handle. I’d always been the guy in the back of the room but, you brought me to the front.”
Claire was speechless. She grabbed her latte from the counter, grabbed hold of Jesse’s arm, and pulled him out the door. They walked to the park and sat on a bench.
“Jesse, I was never that girl. I was never the girl who got the guy in the end and when I thought that maybe I had become that girl, you left. I’ve been waiting for you to come back. I knew that one day you would be back in my life.”
Both sat in silence for about ten minutes. Jesse turned to look at Claire. Pushing back a loose piece of hair, he stared deeply into her eyes. Then, he kissed her. Not passionately but sweetly soft. When he released her from the kiss, Claire blushed and Jesse blushed along with her. They had both been waiting for that moment since that fateful night at the party. Jesse allowed himself to be brought front and center into Claire’s life.
Jesse still does not regret going back to Scotch Dale and seeing Claire. In fact, it was ultimately the greatest decision he ever made. He fell back in love with Claire. After nine months of being together, Jesse proposed and Claire accepted with one condition.
“Just never leave me,” she said softly.
And Jesse’s response was, “Not until the day I die.”