The Reunion (3)…

You can find earlier excerpts from The Reunion here

Three weeks later, on a Friday after work, Jen pulled her shoulder length, carefully highlighted hair into a messy bun on top of her head, loaded her little King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Jack, and his crate and dishes into the back of her car along with her suitcases and garment bag and began the drive home.  Pulling away from her little townhouse in the Chicago suburbs, she headed toward Route 80 and the semi-boring drive through the small hills of western Illinois that led to the flat and treeless terrain of Iowa.  She stifled a yawn and thanked her lucky stars for the Starbucks sign up ahead.  She still had several hours of driving left before she got to her destination, the little town of Brim, Iowa, nearly smack in the center of the state.  And after moving to Chicago, she’d heard the “Idiot Out Wondering Around” acronym for Iowa more times than she could count and it always annoyed her.  Or embarrassed her, if she was really being truthful.  But really, at 38, wasn’t it time to stop feeling like a little girl from the country? 

Pulling off at the exit, she opened Jack’s crate and snapped on his leash so he could sniff around and find just the perfect spot to do his business in the little grassy area behind the strip mall.  His yips and plumy tail wags reminded her that he thought now was the perfect time to feed him his carefully measured cup of doggie chow which he promptly inhaled as quickly as she poured it into his dish.  Five minutes later and he’d done his business for the evening.  After cleaning up after him and a quick trip to the restroom herself, Jen was soon smiling her thanks at the hunky, much too young for her barista who made her a tall, no fat, no whip mocha, expertly crafting a heart in the foam on top.  With a flirty wave, she got back in her little SUV, savoring the chocolately coffee while pulling back out onto the highway. 

Tuning the radio to MY93.9, the home of the 80s and 90s, she sang along with Rachel Platten’s Fight Song and let her mind wander to growing up in Brim.  To a young girl with bigger dreams, it had sometimes seemed like the most boring place on earth.  And growing up in such a small town meant even though everybody knew who you were and looked out for you, they also knew every good and bad thing that ever happened in your life.  Like the debacles of gym class and being picked last for every team.  Or having Ms. Sinclair, her third and fourth grade teacher, always seating her next to the class clown because she was so well behaved and such a calming, studious influence.   Just once, couldn’t she have sat next to a popular boy?

High school had been just as painful in its own way.  Sure, she’d had friends like Sue Esther and Ruthie who lived down the street from her.  They studied together and went to the movies and sometimes to a school dance, but they were both chubby girls, too, and Jen wondered if she’d stayed friends with them because, of the three, she was always the thinnest and looked even smaller by comparison.   Had she really been that shallow?  Well, yes, she’d been a teenage girl trying to get through life…  But she was never a cheerleader or on the pom squad, too shy to even try out for the debate team.  She liked English and history; math and science, not so much.  She thought 4H would be sort of like a riding club, but it had turned out to be about all kinds of farm animals.   And, of course, more of the kids from the outlying farms had joined than from the little town where she lived. 

Then there was her prom date.  Or lack of a prom date.  It wasn’t like she’d been going out with Brian Walsh and he wanted to take her to prom.  Her mom and his mom were friends from working at the library together for years and had thought it would be so nice if their children went to the dance together since neither one had a date.  Brian was friendly enough when their families got together for barbecues in the summer, as talkative as any teenage boy would be with a girl he obviously had no interest in.   He didn’t seem to have much interest in anything other than shop class and fixing cars and woodworking. But one day he strode up to her locker and very seriously asked her if she wanted to go to prom with him.  His dad said he could borrow the car so she wouldn’t have to ride in his pick up.   And his mom said to let him know what color her dress was.

So Jen and her mom had driven into the city to find a flattering long dress in a coral pink and she had her hair and nails done and was kind of excited/nervous about going.   She was ready by 7 p.m. on the dot, waiting by the front room window, with her mom and dad poised to take the required pictures.  Then Brian had called with some lame ass excuse that he’d had to work at the last minute at the Burger Barn/Video Store.  On prom night.  Jen had never known if he’d chickened out or really had to work, but she knew her mom and Mrs. Walsh hadn’t seemed to be such good friends after that night.  Brian had called the next day, but Jen was too mortified to come to the phone and her mom hadn’t pushed her.

By graduation she’d earned enough scholarship money to convince her parents to let her go away to college where nobody knew her name.  And then she’d begun the process of reinventing chubby, bookish Jennifer Meyers into the woman she was today.

 

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20 responses

  1. VictoryInTrouble | Reply

    I like her backstory. Great job! I’d say she deserves some fun! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It ends on an upbeat, but it leaves me sad. I guess that’s a sign of good writing. Looking forward to reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Linda, glad you liked it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh gosh – the embarrassment of those school days stay with us.. It’s taken me a long time to throw off some of those feelings… of not being ‘good enough to be part of the ‘in crowd’.. Reading this reminds me that actually I always was ‘good enough’… Lovely writing!

    This piece also reminds me of some lovely moments with the 3 King Charles Spaniels that we had over the years… Thank you x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, my sister lost her king Charles spaniel in the fall and is planning on getting another this summer. They are so adorable! Did yours have heart problems? I understand they are so common for that breed…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes – our first one was called Charlie and he died when he was 9 of heart failure.. he simply dropped dead on our doorstep. We originally found him as a stray way back in 1981 and it was the first time we’d actually ever seen a King Charles Spaniel although they became much more popular a few years later.. Such characters! xx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. For sure, my sister’s dog lived to 12, guess he was lucky, but had heart problems the last two years. His name was Reginald! She’s thinking Sebastian for another one…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. 12 is pretty good for a King Charles although my last on (which was the BEST surprise Xmas ever from my husband), lived until she was 16 which was definitely on ‘borrowed time! Sebastian – very cute! xx

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Wow, 16, that is very good for any dog, really! It’s so hard to let them go…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I know – we were lucky! x

        Like

      6. ps – I’m sorry about your sister’s loss.. it’s very sad when they go as they are so much part of our families..x

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great writing and loved finding out more about her story. Look forward to more. 😊

    Like

  5. Every time we moved my Dad said we could be anyone we wanted to be so I liked reinventing myself. I wasn’t chubby but I wore rather thick glasses and didn’t usually have popular friends. By getting contacts I felt more confident and outgoing. Your character comes to life in this excerpt, part 3. You are really a great writer adding just enough to paint a picture and leaving off enough to intrigue us. Take care, Dee! ❤ xo

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! ❤

        Like

      2. I see Brian on her horizon!! Am I right?! xo

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is so good! Looking forward to more. xo

    Liked by 1 person

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