Minerva was nervous.
She stretched her lips wide, trying to get the lipstick on without smearing it halfway to her ear. Finished, she leaned back and inspected the results. Doable. She supposed. Now she just needed to do something about her hair. At least she still had it, she encouraged herself.
She didn’t know why she’d even entertained the idea, didn’t know why she’d listened when Lizzie brought it up. Who the hell cared anymore what her aging classmates were getting into? Really, Minerva (never Minnie) had no interest whatsoever in what those old coots were up to.
Well, almost none.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see those old cheerleaders? She bet they were all alcoholics now. The jocks? Probably fat and long since balding, vainly trying to cover their bald spots with comb-overs. Chess club? Millionaires, probably, trying to compensate for the fact that they never had and never will have any recognizable people skills.
Minerva sighed in mild frustration and set down the curling iron. If that was so, if she was so sure she knew how it was all going to turn out, then why was she even doing this?
The answer was simple, really. Fletcher.
“Fletch! You old dog! Look at you!”
Fletcher turned around. “Bob!” he exclaimed, engaging in the hearty backslap that masculine men will do rather than the more feminine clinging hug. Fletcher leaned back, grinning from ear to ear. Bob and he had had good times, all right. Good times.
“How are you, old timer? Still throwing ’em back, I see?” Fletcher gently ribbed his old friend, eyeing Bob’s fledgling beer gut wryly. Bob grinned fit to split his face and dug an elbow into Fletcher’s own slightly-less-than-washboard stomach. “You asshole, look at yourself. What have you been up to?”
“Not much,” Fletcher replied casually. No need to get into details. “How about you?”
Bob started talking, just like he used to, rambling on and on about he and his wife, their house off High street, their children and their newest grandchild, and even their dog Rascal, for God’s sake.
“And how about you, sport? Where’s your lady?” Bob’s neck craned as he searched out Fletcher’s assumed companion.
“Nope,” Fletcher replied shortly. He considered mentioning Beth, the short time they’d had together, summing up their childlessness with a casual shrug and easy grin, but decided against it. Why? Why bring up old pain? Beth was long gone, and he missed her, but didn’t want to bring her into this room, with these already old memories.
“Is that so?” A crafty look entered Bob’s eyes. Fletch wondered for a minute what he was thinking before Bob landed a meaty hand on his shoulder and drew him away from the wall. “Come on, man! Let’s grab a beer, old time’s sake, what do you think?”
What was she doing here?
Her carefully ironed dress, which had looked at least passable in her dressing room mirror, covered in its faded red flowers with little green leaves and sensible knee-length, looked merely faded and old here amongst all the preening, caked on makeup and glossy, wrinkled lips. It seemed that the entire female population of McCarthy High was determined to try to make people forget that they were all almost seventy years old.
Ridiculous, Minerva thought scornfully, with a touch of scorn born of intimidation that she refused to feel, after all these years. Come on, old girl. You’ve experienced life and death and children and grand children. You’ve seen the Parthenon. You’ve stood at the base of the Eiffel Tower. What the hell do you have to be nervous about? Especially from these wizened old biddies?
Snorting disdainfully at her own silliness, she strode up to the bar, affecting a confidence that she didn’t exactly feel. Not yet, anyway. She figured one of those mo-jee-toe thingies that her daughter was so fond of would help her along considerably. The bartender handed her a green colored drink with bits of…something…floating in it in a wierd-shaped glass. Minerva was investigating this strange drink doubtfully when her isolation was rudely intruded upon.
“Minnie? Minnie!” The high pitched voice in combination with her hated nickname made Minerva wince. She turned, and sighed inwardly. Jeanne. She should have known the silly bitch would find her. Jeanne had never missed a chance to rub Minerva’s nose in her “nerdiness”, to mock her quiet love of books and her far-away expressions when the daydreams took her.
“Hello Jeanne,” she responded quietly, and allowed Jeanne to hug her amidst a cloud of overpowering perfume and “classy” air kisses above each cheek.
“Minnie, how truly wonderful to see you! Why, you haven’t changed a bit, you sly girl you. What’s your secret, you must tell me, you simply must!” Before Minerva could resist, Jeanne had threaded her bony arm through Minerva’s plumper one and she was being pulled away from the bar where she’d intended to slowly build up her courage via the application of a considerable amount of alcohol. Then maybe asking someone, discreetly, of course, if they’d by chance seen Fletcher Molloy.
Jeanne’s voice flowed past her ears and over her head as her mind drifted. Fletcher.
Did he remember her? Did he ever really think about her? She supposed not, it had only been that one summer, after all. True, it had been a hazy, golden summer of parties and protests and shining dreams shared in the middle of the night after steamy, fumbling lovemaking…but still, only one summer. Why should he remember or even think of her? Fifty years later?
Minerva gave herself a shake and tried to return her wandering attention back to Jeanne’s voice.
“…and I told Bob, ‘Honey,’ I said, ‘We simply must go! How can we resist seeing everyone again after all these years? How simply fascinating!'” Jeanne’s voice was just as gushing and perky as it had been back in high school, when she didn’t care one way or the other whether poor, dumpy Minerva with her nose in a book all the time was even alive.
“Oh look!” Jeanne’s voice got even more perkier and gushier, if that was possible. “There’s Bob right there! You remember him, right? Bob Solomon?” She fluttered her skinny hand in front of her face, affecting a girlish embarrassment, but Minerva suspected it was just a way of showing off the enormous rock on the third finger of her left hand that looked like it should be too heavy for her skinny arms to lift. Minerva sighed.
“Oh and look! Isn’t that Fletcher Molloy?” Jeanne’s eyes slid sideways, eyeing Minerva speculatively. “You remember him, don’t you? Didn’t you two have a little something going on over the junior year?”
At the mention of Fletcher’s name, Minerva snapped back to the present. Fletcher! What? But she wasn’t ready, this was so sudden…she fought the urge to check her hair, to break free from Jeanne’s death grip on her arm and run to the bathroom…and then, it was too late. He was standing in front of her, shaking Jeanne’s hand as Bob Solomon slipped an arm around Jeanne’s skinny waist, proudly dropping a noisy kiss on her perfumed cheek as she giggled like a girl. She had finally released Minerva’s arm in order to shake Fletcher’s hand and Minerva grabbed the opportunity to step back. Could she run?
Too late. Fletcher’s eyes turned to her, and he stilled. Good lord, but he was still a beautiful man. A little wrinkled, a little softer, but damn, she thought she felt her knees wobble as the smile on his face grew even wider.
“Minerva,” he said.
“Fletcher, hello,” she managed.
Bob and Jeanne had turned to a nearby couple and were chatting animatedly. Fletcher’s eyes were still on Minerva. God, she was just as beautiful as he remembered, in that quiet, studious way that he had so loved. Why hadn’t he ever looked her up? Before Beth…before the pain started. He considered this carefully, then discarded the idea. Why second-guess the past? Beth and he had had good years, years he wouldn’t trade for anything, but they were over, and now here he was, with Minerva’s hand still in his, looking into her beautifully soft brown eyes and grinning like a maniac.
“What’s your drink?” Afraid to look like a staring idiot, he leapt upon the first thing he could think of, just for something to say.
“A mo-jee-toe, I think,” Minerva held the glass out and inspected it with the air of a skeptic told that cough syrup was really candy. “I’ve never tried it before, but my daughter says they’re better than just about anything else, so I thought I’d try them.”
Fletcher’s grin widened. Still same old Minerva. “A mojito, huh?” giving it the proper pronunciation. “How about I go get one too and we’ll give it a whirl?”
Minerva laughed at her hopelessness, and took Fletcher’s proffered arm. Suddenly she was very, very glad she’d listened to Lizzie. “Okay. Then you can tell me all about that tattoo on your arm and where you’ve been for the last fifty years or so.”
Fletcher thought about avoiding the topic of Beth all together, but then suddenly decided he wanted Minerva to know. Then he wanted to take Minerva to dinner. Then he wanted to meet her family. Then…
He pulled her close as they made their way to the bar. He was suddenly glad he’d come, too.
Come on, now.
This week’s topic was also an audition, so make sure to check out the audition blogs too and show your support! Good luck to everyone!
Topic: High school sweethearts reunite at their 50th class reunion.