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Six Times

The first time was in November of 6th grade. Her name was Cassie Oliver. She wore plaid Bermuda shorts, a crew neck t-shirt, and the customary hot-pink velour Juicy jacket. I remember perfectly how a few strands escaped from her gingerbread-colored ponytail and freckles were sprinkled on her skin like cinnamon.

“Cassie?”

“Yep?” she said.

“Do think… do wanna… I mean, do you want to go out with me?”


She said no.

* * *


The second time was during the summer between 6th and 7th grade. I’m not sure how she looked, because I called her on the phone. Her voice was crackly and unclear, and the phone was cool against my clammy face. I’m sure she looked beautiful. I asked her to go to a movie.



She said no.

* * *


I may or may not have cried the first two times, tears pooling on my upper lip, but I promised that I would never put my self on the line like that again. But then we had so many classes together the next school year. I could make her laugh; her laugh was the prettiest sound I’d ever heard. So I did it anyway. Stayed after English class, caught her arm as she walked out into the hall.



She said no.

* * *


I told my self the last time didn’t count, convinced myself that the third- the actual third time- was the charm. It was 8th grade graduation, the end of middle school, there was nothing else to do but go for it. I put more thought into it this time. I conceived a careful plan of attack, a special configuration of words to get her to say yes. Her hair was a little darker now, longer and curling prettily at the ends. Her freckles were fading, and her bra straps were visible next to the spaghetti straps of her purple dress. My voice cracked.



She said no.

* * *


It’s time for a new beginning; time to make things right between us. We’re in high school after all. We can be mature about this. We can pretend all those middle-school mishaps never happened. We’re both freshman, we’re both single, why not?



She said no.

* * *


Sophomore year she had a boyfriend. All year. I couldn’t believe they stayed together that long. He was a jerk. She was perfect: gorgeous, smart, sweet, and funny. He was the last person who deserved her. But he got her anyway. It even lasted part way through Junior year. Then I saw her cry. It was just a glimpse, though the huddle of friends that surrounded her the day after he ended it. The mascara ran down her face in black rivulets. I never hated her for saying no to me; maybe I even loved her more. But I hated him, despised him, for doing that to her.

* * *


The prom excitement whizzed around the hallways and classrooms like a swarm of locusts descending on learning and drowning it out with their deafening din. Girls gossiped in corners about their dates and dresses, where they were getting their nails or hair done, or what color their shoes were.

Jocks huddled and punched each other in the shoulders in congratulations for their hot dates. They smiled smugly and confidently as they were praised. I couldn’t imagine how they had managed to get those girls. Yet I so wished that I could do that myself.

The pressure to have a date pressed down on my shoulders densely as the day of prom got nearer and nearer. Even my friends, losers like me, had dates. I didn’t; I felt like the only one straggling. I would have asked someone, it’s just that I couldn’t think of anyone to ask. Except her.

The fateful Saturday drew closer and closer, until it was not just prom day, it was tomorrow. I was walking dejectedly down the hallway, head bent and books held tightly to my chest in shame. I didn’t have a date. I was actually that lame.

Then, a snippet of conversation just happened to float toward my ears.

“I feel so bad for Cassie!” A girl whined as she leaned against her locker.

“I know! She’s still not over Tyler, and now she has no date to prom.” I glanced over and saw a group of Cassie’s friends.

“And, I mean, of course she’s not going to go without a date. It’s so sad!” another girl echoed. They all nodded in solemn agreement.

Cassie? Without a date? It was a sign! An omen! It would have been ridiculous not to take that chance, right? Right. I assured myself that as I marched into 4th period. I continued to tell myself that again and again through the entire class. When lunchtime rolled around, I was on a mission. I forged my way through the dense crowd in the hallway looking for that one particular face. Finally, I found it.

“Cassie…” I paused, out of breath. She twirled around to look at me, her brown hair fanning out around her shoulders as she did so.

“Adam. Hi. What were you saying?” she peered at me with her indigo eyes.

“Uhm…” nerves twisted my stomach into knots before I can continue, “I’m just going to come out and say this. Will you go to prom with me?”

Cassie’s eyes widened in surprise, and she shifted uncomfortably. She just stood there and blinked long enough to make me well beyond nervous. Finally she opened her mouth, closed it again, opened it once more, and began to speak.

“Yes.”

“What?” I asked, taking a step backwards in shock.

“Yes!” she whispered, excitement edging into her voice. She reached out and took my hand, “I think you’ve waiting long enough. And it’s not like I have any other date, so why not?”

I just stared back at her dumfounded.

“I’d love to go with you.” She repeated, smiling at me, and then disappearing off down the hall.

“I’ll pick you up at 7!” I called after her.

* * *


“Happy birthday to you!” The off-tune crowd drew out the last note, clapping and cheering happily. Cassie leaned forward and blew out the colorful wax ‘2’ and ‘7’ candles, the flames momentarily illuminating her porcelain skin.

“Happy 27th Cassie!” everyone chorused joyously.

“Happy birthday, baby.” I said softly, brushing a loose curl behind her ear affectionately.

“Thanks!” she replied, planting a quick kiss on my waiting lips.

“Cassie?” I asked tentatively.

“Yeah?” she replied, looking up at me from under long dark lashes, her eyes glimmering in the dim light.

“Will you marry me?” I pulled the ring box out of my pocket, and opened it, revealing the sparkling diamond tucked into a bed of eggshell-colored silk.


She said no.


But that’s not all she said. Onto the end of that simple answer she tacked on, “But ask me 5 more times.”





Join the Discussion

This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

WordsForAVoice said...
Jan. 18, 2011 at 11:16 pm
i totally understand what you're saying. thanks for the feedback! it would be great if u could check out my other fiction story, it's called "Innocence and Rain"
 
WordsForAVoice replied...
Jan. 18, 2011 at 11:17 pm
woops that was supposed to be in reply to iamAbel. my bad!
 
nikkie39 replied...
Jan. 19, 2011 at 11:16 am
well wat im going too say iz dat dis story iz excellent i wuz so into this story kinda but its good
 
iamAbel said...
Jan. 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm
Really good! I both loved and disliked the ending at the same time, haha. Disliked it because it was kind of odd to go from high school to mid-twenties, and i would have liked more detail in between :). Still, really cute story!
 
emilysbreakfast said...
Jan. 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm

pretty impressive story!

at first i was afraid it was only a drawn out cliche, especially because im not a fan of broken up stories, but something kept me reading, and it was worth it because the ending was perfect! It really did work well as an essay, like something you'd read in a magazine (:

 
WordsForAVoice replied...
Jan. 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm
thanks! and thanks so much for reading my work! it means a lot
 
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