I’m hiding in the ladies room because I can’t believe my best friend Jane has talked me into coming to our twentieth high school reunion. I don’t want to be here without Tommy. I practically burst into tears at the sight of his old locker earlier. I can still feel his presence in our old school's hallways.
We had been married for ten years when he had died in a car accident. I still feel a bruise in my heart every time I think of him.
“Hey there,” Jane burst in the ladies room. Her cheeks were flushed from dancing. “Aren’t you coming out? You can’t hide in here forever, Allison,” she said.
Sighing, I reluctantly left the safety of the ladies room, and wandered into the gymnasium. It was decorated with purple and gold balloons, our school colors. The lights had been dimmed and there were candles on each table. I stood by the buffet, hoping I blended in with the salad and roast beef, and that no one would recognize me.
I had to admit the whole effect was dazzling as I watched couples dancing with each other. I wished Tommy were here. He hated to dance, but he would have done it for me. I was startled out of my thoughts by a deep voice beside me.
“Hi, I’m Steve Henderson. You look really familiar.”
I turned and found myself looking up into the most intense pair of dark blue eyes I had ever seen. This was Steve Henderson? The Steve Henderson I remembered was the class brain with the pre-requisite pocket protector and taped together glasses. He couldn’t have weighed more than ninety-eight pounds back in high school.
He had certainly filled out since then, I thought. I also had read somewhere that he was now Dr. Henderson, having discovered something to do with quantum physics, or some such thing. Way over my head since my VCR has been stuck on 12:00 since Tommy died and I don’t know how to set the clock in my car for Eastern Standard Time.
“Actually, I was hoping Allison Moore would show up,” he continued. “I always had a crush on her in high school, but was too scared to ever approach her.”
“Really? Why?” I asked. I was curious to hear what he was going to say, so I didn’t tell him he was talking to Allison.
“I was shy and nerdy. She was a cheerleader and Tommy Moore’s girl. I could hardly go up to her and ask her to go on a date. The closest I got was asking her to dance at our senior ball. She turned me down. It took me weeks to recover,” he said chuckling.
“You were at the senior ball?” I hadn’t remembered seeing him, or that he had asked for a dance. Of course, I had probably been so wrapped up in Tommy that I hadn’t paid attention to anyone else.
“I was there. I hate to admit it, but I took my cousin. This is going to sound strange, but I feel as if I know you. They should’ve handed out name tags,” he answered.
“They did,” I smiled. “I just decided not to use mine.” I reached in my purse, pulled out my name tag, and stuck it on my dress.
“Do I ever feel like an idiot. I should have recognized you. I guess it’s the dim lights. I heard about Tommy, Allison. I’m sorry. I know how it feels to lose your spouse. My wife died three years ago of cancer.”
I reached for his hand. “I’m so sorry, Steve.”
“Thanks. Are you here with someone?”
“My friend Jane. What about you?”
“I came alone. My feeling sorry for myself because my wife died routine was wearing thin on me.”
“I know the feeling." He’s right, I thought. It was time to stop feeling sorry for myself because Tommy had died. That wasn’t going to bring him back.
“The answer is, I would love to dance with you,” I said, taking a deep breath and holding my hand out to him.
Steve led me around the dance floor. As he held me close and nuzzled my hair with his cheek, it occurred to me that my twentieth high school reunion was the perfect place to be.
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