Authors: Brenda Maxfield
Someday You’ll Laugh
by Brenda Maxfield
Published by Astraea Press
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
SOMEDAY YOU’LL LAUGH
Copyright © 2013 BRENDA MAXFIELD
Cover Art Designed by AM Design Studios
Telling my love story has been a delight! It’s only fitting that I dedicate this book to the two amazing children who are the second part of the story: Bethany Ashabraner and Nathan Maxfield.
Don’t vomit in the middle of your wedding. Good advice all around. Too bad I ignored it.
My story didn’t start with vomiting, but it did begin with a good gut wrench…
The low sun flamed from the sky even though the time was edging toward nine-thirty at night. I squinted into the glowing horizon and my heart squeezed. I held back the tears.
“Just ten months,” Greg whispered to me. “It’s not so long.”
“Only forever,” I answered. I hadn’t let go of his arm for the past thirty minutes.
He shifted his weight and settled onto the park bench. “We need to talk.”
“We are talking.” I joined him, stretched my legs, and dipped the toes of my shoes into the loose gravel at my feet.
His face had gone serious, and I knew I wasn’t going to like what he had to say. He gazed over my shoulder toward the playground equipment as if observing interesting twists of fine sculpture.
I still held his arm, but now I released my death grip. My fingers remained bent, stuck in a clutched position. “What is it?”
“I think we should see other people.” His words dropped like bricks, gaining speed as they crashed on my ears.
My mouth fell open and I jolted to my feet, tripping over a stone which protruded from the loose rock circling the bench. I skittered a bit, and regained my balance. “See other people? What do you mean?”
“Sit back down.” Greg pulled on my arm and coaxed me onto the bench again. “California’s a long way from here, and I think it’d be a good idea to keep our options open.”
I sat like a wooden toy, stiff and unmoving. I knew I was staring at him, I knew my face was revealing too much, and I knew I wanted to deck him.
“I take it you’ve given this a lot of thought.” My voice sounded so pinched, I hardly recognized it.
“Not a lot. Some, though.” Was it my imagination or did he look like he wanted to crawl under the rock I’d just tripped over?
Our ten months together during my senior year of 1973 evaporated into a depressing mist. I stood. “Fine. If that’s the way you want it, sounds good to me.” I coughed to try and cover up the bitterness in my tone.
He rose beside me and his blond hair fell over his eyes. He pushed the strands aside with an absent-minded flick of his hand. “Don’t be that way. It’s a good idea, and it’ll be much easier on us. Long distance relationships are hard.”
“How would you know?”
“Everyone says so.”
“Fine,” I repeated. “Now to make sure I have it straight — we’re both free to see other people, right?”
He nodded, but I thought I detected a kernel of doubt beginning to grow. His brows crinkled and his blue eyes narrowed.
I went on. “Okay. I guess we’re both on the same page then. You leave in a couple hours for college in California while I stay here in Washington. And we’re both free to date other people. Are we going to communicate at all, or are we stopping that too?”
I deserved a medal. My voice poured out words as if reciting the latest cookie recipe, not closing down a relationship that had cruised along for the better part of a year.
Greg’s eyes stayed focused on mine. “We can write. I think it only takes a couple of days for a letter to get here from California. I won’t be able to call much, being a poor college kid you know.”
“Oh I know, speaking as one myself.”
“You’ll write me, won’t you?”
I raised my chin. I could keep up the ruse for another few minutes. “Of course. We’ll both write. It’s a plan.”
I leaned over and kissed him. I didn’t give him time to kiss me back.
“Safe travels,” I said and smiled with warmth I didn’t feel. If he was dumping me, I was going out with class. I made certain the look in my eyes matched my smile, then turned and walked away, swaying my hips as if there were no tomorrow.
Eat your heart out, Greg Johnson.
Eat your heart out, but good.
I walked the entire way from the park to my house, which was about a mile. I must have looked like a wind-up doll, my face forward as if forging a path through a jungle. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Baber twins teetering on their beginner bikes with training wheels. The mailman walked by, with his bulging shoulder bag, stopping at every box to cram in letters and bills. The ice-cream truck dinged its way behind me even though it was already September and time for him to pack it in for the winter.
My heart pounded out an uneven beat of anger. There was sadness inside me somewhere, but the anger and growing nausea were doing a masterful job of covering it up.
So be it.
Keep our options open, indeed.
My bravado lasted all the way into my house and up the carpeted steps to my bedroom. I dropped onto my twin bed, tucked under the slanted ceiling, and grabbed the tissue box off my dresser, prepared to wail.
But it didn’t happen. I lay there, dry-eyed, staring at a framed photo of Greg and me at the beach. I studied every millimeter of his face. The usual ache of longing and desire bubbled forth. I wanted his face back. I wanted him back.
My sister passed by my door on the way to her room. “Hey Brenda, when did you get in?”
I looked at her tangled brown hair, freckled nose and hazel eyes. She was way too cute for her own good.
“I didn’t. I’m not here, and you don’t see me.”
“What a weirdo,” she snapped. She walked into her room and slammed the door.
I sat up and grabbed my journal and pen off the seat of my desk chair. I scrawled my angst in loopy cursive writing, feeling better with each word recorded. By the time I finished, I’d come to the conclusion Greg didn’t really mean it, he still loved me dearly, and we’d ride off into the sunset after we both finished college.
He was simply going through a patch of confusion.
The poor guy.
The next morning, I grabbed my alarm clock off my bed stand and held it in front of my face. Six thirty. Greg was already well on his way to Southern California. He and his friend Don were carpooling in a clunker station wagon — a reject from Don’s folks. If they drove nonstop, they’d make it there by breakfast early the next morning. I shoved thoughts of their safety from my mind. I knew Greg sometimes watched old movies until the wee hours, so he was used to staying up all night. Don was often with him, so they’d be fine.
I’d also shoved Greg’s and my last conversation from my thoughts. My mind was blissfully empty.
For the moment anyway.
Mother was all sympathy and sweetness to me at breakfast. She cooked egg on toast, my favorite, and even produced a glass of orange juice, an unheard of luxury for a family with four daughters on one policeman’s salary.
“How was Greg yesterday?” Mom asked, setting a piece of crispy toast on my plate.
“Excited about college?”
She globbed the white sauce full of chopped boiled eggs onto my toast, then pulled out the chair beside me and sat. “I’m sorry he’s leaving. I know you’ll miss him.”
I shrugged in what I hoped was a nonchalant manner. “It’s fine. We’re going to write, and we’ll both make new friends.”
She studied my face for a moment, and then stood back up. “I must say you’re handling this well. I’m proud of you.” She squeezed my shoulder, walked to the sink, and started scraping plates to be washed.
Yep, that was me — the one who handled everything well.
I thought about calling Greg’s mom to see if he and Don had made it safely to California, but rejected the idea. I didn’t know her well, and I always got the feeling she wasn’t one of my fans. Greg’s family was miles more conservative than mine, and I think it rubbed. For one thing, my folks allowed me to go to movies and dances.
Shocking, I know.
I’d enrolled in our local community college. My plan was to complete my first two years there and save a boatload of cash while living at home for free. Then I’d transfer to a four-year college to finish out my degree in elementary education.
Classes started Monday. After sitting around for four days working to keep my mind from wallowing in thoughts of Greg, I was more than ready. Lower Columbia College sprawled lazily over a good chunk of land smack in the middle of town. When I arrived, I grasped my schedule in one hand, balanced my books in the other, and wandered into my first class: The History of Western Civilization.
A few pairs of eyes gave me the once over. I found an empty desk-chair, the hooked-together kind, and sat down. The prof had the longest legs in The History of Western Civilization. He leaned his gray head over the slide projector and fussed with the focus.
I looked up to see another student waltz in with books tucked neatly under his arm. His energetic blue eyes grabbed my attention. He scanned the room for a place to sit, and finally snagged the desk-chair by mine. A little thrill zinged inside me until he yanked it as far away as possible, while still keeping it in the confines of the room.
He plunked down with a satisfied grin. Was I giving off an offensive odor or something? I resisted the urge to smell my armpits.
In the words of my sister,
The professor got his slide in focus and, after a brief greeting, droned on about Mesopotamia. I took copious notes all the while checking out the annoying guy sitting miles from my desk. When Grasshopper Legs finished his lecture, I took my time gathering my things. I wanted to be the last one out. For some perverse reason, I planned to follow the guy who thought I had B.O. to see where he went.
He made a beeline to the Fine Arts Building. How convenient — that’s where I was headed. I’d signed up for choir since I knew how to sing and knew there wouldn’t be any homework. Maybe this guy was a wild
He pulled open the glass door and was nearly trampled by a chunky girl. I saw him say something to her and when I saw her face, I wanted to coil into myself. What was
doing here? Since when was
a student at LCC?
I didn’t have time to hide. She saw me and intense displeasure curled her fleshy upper lip.
“Do you go here?” Her voice oozed disgust, and she completely blocked my path.
“Well Sharon, fancy meeting up with you.” I tried to duck around her into the building, but no go.
I cringed at my crummy luck. Knowing Sharon attended LCC might have steered me to a different school. She’d had a crush on Greg for years and when he went for me, she came unglued. She never confronted me directly, but I’d heard about it plenty through the grapevine.
I’d tried to be nice to her — no lie. I fluttered around offering lovely words and even lovelier expressions. She wouldn’t have it, so I gave up and went about my life. Forking out phony flattery had turned my stomach anyway.
“I suppose Greg got off fine.” Sharon put her hands on her hips as if facing a bull.
“He should have gotten there a few days ago, right?”
I wasn’t about to admit I hadn’t heard a whisper from down south, so I clamped my mouth shut.
She grabbed my forearm. “I know we haven’t exactly been friends, but I do care about him and would like to know if he’s safe.”
She inhaled deeply, and I saw she had been legitimately worried. I chastised myself for my stinkola attitude.
“Please tell me you’re not joining choir,” she continued, hands still planted on her pudgy saddle-bags.
Okay, U-turn on the stinkola attitude.
“Wouldn’t miss it,” I said, my tone sticky-sweet. I pushed by her and looked for Room 105. First door on the left. I walked into the cavernous choir room and sat in one of the chairs strewn across a wide set of risers. As soon as I settled myself down, I looked across the room directly at B.O. guy. He tossed a smile my way, and I swear it had a wicked edge.
Sharon came in a few minutes later and took the chair next to mine. Was she kidding? I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye, but her face was turned away.