K Is For Kissbyvelvetpie©
Inspired by Sue Grafton’s alphabetical series.
“That will be perfect. Thank you.”
Teri Downs smiled at the attendant, watching as she gathered the white lilies and wrapped it in plastic. Kelly would like the bouquet. Lilies had always been his favorite. She sighed, trying to fight back another wave of tears. Today was his seventh anniversary. The seventh anniversary of the accident that had landed him in the hospital in a coma. Seven years. Had it really been that long?
Kelly Turner was a nerd. Everyone who went to Whitesfield High knew that he was but no one really said anything because Kelly was a native. They remembered the quiet kid who drew detailed airplanes in kindergarten, the fourth-grader who could zero in on you like a missile in dodge ball games, the eighth-grader who won the National Science Fair and finally, the proud senior who created the school’s computer lab and ran the Senior website.
Teri had never been a nerd. The daughter of the town’s largest and most successful realty owner, her matriculation through school consisted of gymnastics, ballet classes and cheerleading practices. She managed to get good grades most of the time, until she hit Chemistry. To her, the periodic table of elements was a puzzle that was missing several pieces and she nearly blew up the lab with an incorrect measurement.
She had been crying in the back of the class when Kelly had approached her. “Uh, Teri?”
She glared at him through bleary eyes. He was well over six feet tall with wavy dishwater blond hair and green eyes that looked larger than they were because they were behind thick glasses. He looked extremely uncomfortable.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” She sniffled, dabbing at her nose. “I’m such a dumbass! Mr. Harnsworth is going to fail me for that.”
“You didn’t do it on purpose, Teri. I’m sure he’s had things like this happen before.”
She nodded, slipping down from the stool. “Yeah, maybe.”
“Well, I’ve gotta get going but I just wanted you to know that if you need some help, I’d be glad to tutor you.”
“Really? Oh, that would be so nice!” She gathered her books, turning to him. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know your name.”
“Kelly. Kelly Turner.”
“Thank you, Kelly. I’d appreciate all the help I can get!”
“I know you have practice after school. How about I meet you at the track?”
Teri felt her smile melt. Kelly was a nerd. Her fellow cheerleaders wouldn’t let her live that down. “No, that wouldn’t be good.” She saw a flash of hurt in his eyes. “I-I have to shower after practice, you see.”
“Oh.” His response was so quiet that she knew he’d guessed the real reason behind her reluctance to meet there.
“Can I meet you in the computer lab instead?”
“Sure.” He got up, heading for the door. “I’m there most of the time anyway. See ya.”
Teri had felt like shit that day. Sure, Kelly wasn’t on her same social level but he was a human being. She hung out with her friends and went to practice as usual, showering afterwards. Her best friend, Cindi, snapped her with a towel, making her howl in pain.
“So what’s up?”
“I’ve got a tutoring session.”
“What? You need a tutor for something? You’re a brain, Teri!”
“Not in chemistry. I’ve got to pass that class or I don’t graduate!”
Cindi snickered. “Just show the principal your tits and I bet you’ll pass with flying colors!”
“You’re sick!” Teri laughed. “I wouldn’t touch that old codger with a ten-foot pole!”
“I would.” Cindi winked, hefting her changing bag. “I’ll call you later. Then you can give me the rundown on your ‘tutoring’ session.”
Teri threw a towel at her retreating friend, then grabbing her own bag, she headed down the hallway towards the computer lab. She found Kelly sitting next to another kid, pointing something out on the monitor screen. The kid nodded and furiously began to pound the keyboard, typing like mad. Kelly just sat back and laughed.
“See? I told you you’d get it if you tried!” His smile wilted when he turned and saw Teri. “Oh, hi.”
“Hi.” She said brightly. “I’m here for our tutoring session.”
“Cool. Let’s sit at the big table over there.”
An hour later, Teri was greatly surprised to find that she understood some new things. The weight that she had felt about her shoulders was beginning to lift, all because of Kelly’s expertise in making complicated things very uncomplicated.
“You did pretty good, Teri. You’re not a dumb as you think you are.”
She laughed with a small smile. “Thanks. I hope Mr. Harnsworth thinks that.”
“He will. Give him a little of time.”
“Well, I’ve got to get going. My mom will be here to pick me up in a few minutes.” Teri smiled up into his bespectacled eyes and on an impulse, she planted a kiss on his cheek. “Thanks a bunch, Kelly. See you again tomorrow?”
“Sure.” Kelly waited until she left before raising a hand to touch the wet spot that her lips had left. “Tomorrow.”
Tomorrow turned into a week and then into a month and Teri studied hard, learning the fine points of chemistry. She re-did the experiment for Mr. Harnsworth, happy that nothing exploded this time and pulled a high C on the mid-term. She was just a few points away from a B and that made her work harder that ever. Kelly noticed the change in her. Each day that she spent with the technicalities of chemistry, she became more relaxed and more confident in herself. And each day, she left him with a kiss.
The day before finals, they went to the library for the last tutoring session. Teri was surprised to see him reading a book on lilies and smiled when he tried to hide it as she approached.
“Kelly … “
“Okay, okay!” He shoved the book across the table to her and she sat, examining it. “Happy now?”
“It’s on lilies. Flowers. You like flowers?”
“Some, but I like lilies the best.” His voice was quiet. “They were my grandmother’s favorite.”
Teri never forgot that. When she got an A- on the chem final, she bought him a gorgeous, illustrated book on lilies. The look in his eyes was one that she would never forget and one that she thought she’d never see again. Pure, sincere joy. And with a last kiss on the cheek, they separated.
Prom came and went. She looked for him but didn’t see him at the dance. She didn’t know why but she missed him. Her companion, Paul Littlebrook, co-captain of the lacrosse team, was a crashing bore. Conversation with him consisted of sports and who had hotel rooms for the after-parties. His hands roamed a little too freely and she found herself escaping and riding home alone in the limo. She thought about calling him but felt silly. She knew he’d laugh at her, just as her friends had laughed at him.
News of the accident came Monday morning, the last day of school for the seniors. Kelly had been in a bad auto accident and was in a coma. Two other students were injured as well, the driver suffering two broken legs and a broken collarbone, the back seat passenger a broken arm and chipped heel. The announcement brought silence to her homeroom, then Paul spoke up.
“No great loss!”
A low rumble of snickers crept through the ‘in’ crowd while other kids broke into tears. “You piece of shit!”
Paul looked up, along with several others who were shocked to hear one of their own break ranks. “What did you say?”
“You heard me, you piece of shit! How dare you say that it’s no great loss? Do you have any idea of what Kelly did for this school?” Teri stood up, the blood rushing to her face as she released the anger she’d kept bottled up for six months. “He’s the reason your precious lacrosse team has a web page and e-mail! Did you ever think about that?” She turned to her giggling friend, Meredith. “And Meredith, who did you go to when you wanted to remove those porn sites from your dad’s computer?” All eyes bored into the cheerleader.
“Teri,” Miss Burrows gave her a shaky smile. “I think that’s enough.”
“No, it’s not, Miss Burrows!” Teri glared into the eyes of her fellow classmates, feeling something inside her break. “Kelly never hurt anyone. Neither did Shayne or Jack. They were just normal people like the rest of us!”
“They were never like us.” Paul sneered, glaring at her.
“No. They were better.”
Those had been Teri’s last words on the last day of her high school life. She had left Miss Burrows’ class and walked the long five miles to her home, a different person when she arrived than when she’d left. She graduated with everyone else but paid little attention to the fanfare. Each day before school, she drove to the hospital and brought Kelly a bouquet of lilies. Her friends all thought she was crazy and eventually abandoned her, heading off to their respective colleges.
Teri went to college, too, choosing a college that kept her within driving distance of the hospital. Each evening, whenever she could, she’d sit in his room and read newspaper and magazine articles and sometimes, just study in his presence. Therapists and doctors came and went and still she remained, steadfast in her devotion to her friend, leaving him each night with a kiss on the cheek. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and decided to continue with a Masters.
Now, she had the Masters. Her parents were happy, her friends were perplexed and she was confused. And so on this day, she bought a bouquet as usual and thought about the enormity of the seventh anniversary of Kelly’s demise.
Kelly’s parents, Bill and Edna, met her in the room, welcoming her like a member of the family since she’d visited almost every day. He looked the same, his hair cropped short to help the nursing staff keep him clean and his long body less bulky. Teri took his hand and began to talk to him, as she always did.
“Hi, Kell.” For some odd reason, she felt more emotional than usual today. Maybe it was because she had conquered the MA but she knew that it was because it had been seven years today. “I got my Masters yesterday.” She desperately looked for a response on his slack features. “I can go get a legitimate job now. But I need you. Why aren’t you waking up? I’ve been here every day and you haven’t even had the decency to say hello!”
Teri sat back, still stroking his hand. “Kelly, the world is passing you by and I know you. You wouldn’t want that to happen. You’d want to be in the middle of it all! So you have to come back!”
His eyes remained shut, his lips as warm and pink as the first day he’d been admitted here. Teri leaned over and examined his face, lightly touching his forehead, nose, cheek and jaw. He was such a beautiful friend. I don’t want to lose him. She moved forward and pressed her lips against his pale, cold ones.
Teri gave a short bark of laughter. “Well, I guess I’ll get to my studying. After all, I have a doctorate to shoot for.”
Teri opened her notebook and began to write notes for her doctorate and eventually, her eyes closed under the weight of sleep.
Teri gasped into wakefulness, her books clattering on the floor. Edna Turner stood at her shoulder, a hand over her mouth as tears ran down her cheeks. “Wha-what?”
Kelly’s luminous green eyes were open, his long lashes slowly dropping to cover the orbs in fluid. “He’s awake!”
Three weeks after his seventh anniversary of being in a comatose state, Kelly Turner decided to awaken. His eyelids blinked slowly and his head turned, his eyes meeting his mother’s, then sliding to Teri.
“Geez! Didn’t you pass that test yet?”
Edna and Teri shouted in happiness, sobbing in relief while a mystified Kelly stared at them. He was alive!
Kelly was another year in recovery and Teri was very happy to be the first person to give him a kiss and even happier to in later years, become his wife.