Let me set the scene…this is an excerpt from Heather’s memoir about her life with Hank. Part of this is in The New Ever After, but the rest is only right here for your eyes only! Enjoy!
***This is fiction! Even though I used some names from my real life, there is NO TRUTH to this excerpt! It has not been edited either. My editor is probably cringing!***
Hank asked me to the prom as we passed each other on the steps between third and fourth period one day in school. I said no and rolled my eyes at him. We were having one of our “off” periods. Lauren, his sister and one of my best friends, had told me he was going to ask me. I had been avoiding him as much as possible but I couldn’t help passing him on the steps. I wanted to go to prom with Jason and was determined to hold out until he asked me, which he did later that day.
The day of the prom Lauren came over and helped me do my hair and makeup. I was always useless with that stuff. She told me Hank was going with Amy and I was shocked. She was the I’ve-got-it-all girl. She was smart, cute, athletic and popular. But not too popular. She could hang with all the cliques in school. As soon as Lauren told me that, my hackles went up. I don’t think I had any inkling what hackles were but as soon as I got that feeling in my stomach I knew that’s what they must be called.
“Are you serious? She said yes to Hank?” I asked.
“That’s rude! He is a pretty good catch even if you said no to him.”
Of course, Lauren was right. I was just determined to beat him down.
My dad brought me my favorite Mexican pizza from Taco Bell to eat before the pictures. Jason came to pick me up and my parents’ followed the limo over to Karen’s house for pictures. We took the pictures and got in the limo. I was all over Jason. I channeled all of my jealousy into hooking up. One of the other guys in the limo had his big brother get us a party ball of beer. I drank it too quickly and ended up puking my Mexican pizza out the limo window. The limo driver pulled over and Jason bought me a toothbrush at 7-Eleven. I was tipsy at the prom and acted like a jerk to Hank. I walked right up to him and started questioning him.
“How’d you get her to go prom with you?”
“I asked her, Heather, and she said yes. Have you been drinking?”
“You stink and your eyes look crazy.”
“Thanks. Maybe I’ll tell Amy what a slobbery kisser you are and how bad your breath is.”
Jason led me away from Hank at that point but my spiteful words stayed with me. I’ll never forget how crushed Hank looked and I’m not sure how he found it in himself to forgive me.
I didn’t see him all summer. I avoided being anywhere I knew his crowd would be. I still talked to Lauren so I got little Hank updates but I didn’t see him until I came home from college over Thanksgiving break. It was the first time I had seen my high school classmates since the summer. Elizabeth’s parents were away and we all got our beer of choice, Schaefers, and went over to her house. I sat on the green velour couch with Bobby and Frank exchanging stories about our first months away at school and away from each other. Every time someone new walked in they were greeted with cheers and hugs. An hour after I got there, Hank walked in. Bobby and Frank got up and high fived him. Our eyes met. I froze. I had had enough Schaefers to have a pretty good buzz. Hank walked through the crowd and plopped himself down right next to me. His breath smelled of beer and chewing tobacco.
“How’s UVA?” he asked.
“It’s great. How’s Tech?”
His eyes looked right into my soul. I missed him. I missed the comfort of always having him around. He was everything I had dreamed of since I was a little girl. I missed walking over to his house and watching sports with him for hours. I missed the taps of the pebbles he used to throw at my window when he wanted me to sneak outside. I missed his slobbery kisses. And apparently he felt the same way…
“Heather, we’re supposed to be together. We’re supposed to live in your mom’s house with her dog.” He took a breath and spit some tobacco into the empty can he was carrying. And I hoped he wasn’t dreaming about having my mom live with us too.
“We’re supposed to get married and have kids and they’ll go to the same schools we did. Our girl will go to UVA and our boy will go to Tech.” He spit into his can and looked right into my eyes. “Why don’t you want me?”
I sat there and looked at him. If I didn’t know him and crave the comfort of him, I might have been turned off by the tobacco. But I was attracted to our history in spite of it and he was pretty hot, there was no denying that. The people that surrounded us as we sat on the couch seemed like they were in a different world. I could see Elizabeth doing a keg stand in the kitchen. Bobby and Frank had moved to the dining room table and were playing quarters. Hank and I were in our own world. The way it had been so many other times in our life. And I couldn’t answer him because I did want him and I didn’t know how to tell him. I couldn’t answer him because I wasn’t brave enough to tell anyone how I felt. I had sunk myself into the pattern of random college hookups that were devoid of feelings and words. Drunk Hank was asking me for words and they wouldn’t come out. So I reached over and kissed him because I knew this could be one of those moments that defined the rest of my life. As I leaned over Hank sucked in, swallowing all the saliva from his mouth, reminding me I had called him a slobbery kisser. And I only let him get to second base as we sat on the couch in a room filled with our drunk old friends.
It did turn out to be a defining moment. It was the moment we realized we would be together forever…or until 10:47 a.m. on the day he died leaving me all alone.
Now go tell your friends to read Tripped Up Love while they’re at the beach this weekend! xo