Author's Note: On the off chance that anyone from my school reads this, fuck you.
Ashley, Becca, and I were in bed, Becca still snoring softly behind me. Ashley was slowly waking up. I hated being the only one awake. I climbed over Ashley to get out of bed. "No. I'm not in the mood," she mumbled sleepily and as soon as I was out turned over and curled up with Becca. They were so beautiful together. Damn, I was a lucky man.
After exiting the bathroom, I went to the kitchen to make breakfast. At about six thirty on a Saturday morning, I don't normally get any phone calls. That's why I was surprised when I heard my cell phone ringing from the living room. It only took me a minute to find it where it had fallen between the couch and the side table. I looked at the Caller ID and was a little confused when it had a Columbus, Ohio area code, but was neither my mum nor my sister, both of whom still live in the area.
"Hello," I growled into the phone, not out of anger, but my already deep voice is a lot deeper in the morning.
"Hi. Is this Will," a female voice said from the other end. For some reason, the voice sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it.
"Yes, it is."
"Hey, Will! This is Brandy Estep! From high school!"
"Brandy! Wow! I'm surprised to hear from you! I haven't seen you since graduation. How are you?"
We caught up with each other briefly. It turned out that she was doing well, just as I had hoped, since she was one of the few people from high school that I actually liked.
"So, what's up, Brandy? Not to be rude, but why are you calling me at six thirty in the morning?"
"Oh, shit," she said. "I got your phone number from Steve and I didn't realize that you were two time zones behind! I'm so sorry."
"That's okay," I replied. "I was awake anyway, so no harm done."
"That's good. Anyway, I was just going to tell you that I'm in charge of our class's fifteenth reunion in a few months and I was wondering if you could come? You haven't been to the five year or the ten year and since you stopped coming onto the school website, I figured this was the best way to get ahold of you and ask, since I can't find your address."
God. High school reunion. I made a mental note to kill Steve the next time I was home visiting mum. One of my best friends in high school, even though he was a year behind me. Friend of a friend kinda thing. In a snap decision, I told her that I'd come, even though I had absolutely no desire to do so.
"Great," she exclaimed. We exchanged information, such as addresses and email addresses. I got the details of the reunion and told her that I'd be there with bells on. I heard the sound of someone asking for 'mommy' in the background and then she said she had to go. "It'll be good to see you again, Will. Take care."
"You too, Brandy." With that, I closed my phone and sat on the couch, wondering what I had just done.
"You did what," Ashley asked loudly when I got around to telling her later. "Baby, you hated high school. 'Every single minute' of it, you said."
"I know, I know," I replied. "But in that instant, I realized that something I needed from high school was closure. Things were so bad and there was so much that I should have said to people back then. Maybe this is my chance to do that."
"Fine," she said. "When is it and where are we going?"
"It's at the end of May and baby, as much as I love you and all, this is something that I have to do alone." I put up a hand to cut her off. "Seriously. This is something that I have to take care of by myself. If I show up with one, or even two, of the most beautiful women in the world on my arms, it'll be like I'm rubbing it in someone's face. Not that that sounds unappealing, at least if you or Becca are concerned," I said with a grin. She smirked and shook her head. Becca walked in and smacked me in the back of the head.
"I heard that, mister. Don't worry. I'll take good care of her while you're gone."
"Oh, I'm sure you will, pumpkin." I pulled them both to me on the couch and we all snuggled there, happy to be all together.
April rolled around and I put a little more effort into my workouts, though my new job kept me in pretty good shape. I started running a couple of miles a day, Becca joining me occasionally. The best part about it was the showers afterward. It didn't take long for Ashley to see the benefit and start coming along.
Taking time off was easy, since I was the boss at my new job. I just put the most capable guy in charge while I was gone and that was that. I even threw in a couple extra days to see my mum while I was there. The night before I left, Ashley came up behind me while I was packing and wrapped her arms around my waist.
"Will, I don't like the idea of you going to this thing by yourself. And I don't just mean because you'll be gone. You always told me you hated high school and almost all of the people there. Why would you want to go back and see them?"
"I had a few friends, so I'm hoping I'll see them. Plus, there are things that I need to tell people that I should have said fifteen years ago, but didn't."
Ashley nodded. "But what about the guys who kept pushing you around? You said if you ever saw them again, you'd kill them. I don't want to have to bail you out, buddy."
I laughed. "Don't worry, kitten. I won't kill anybody. If somebody wants to try to pick up where they left off, they'll have to deal with these this time around."
I turned and flexed my arms, which had gotten quite a bit bigger since I quit my office job and started at the new place. For a laugh, I started doing the Hulk Hogan pose-down bit from when I watched wrestling as a kid. Ashley laughed and I pulled her into my arms, kissing her softly.
Ashley and Becca took me shopping for a new suit to wear to the reunion. The tailor brought out a couple of nice looking pieces in colors I liked. Ashley complained that they showed off my butt too well. We ignored her and Becca tried to get her to shut up. After a couple of hours, we found something that looked good, but was casual, at least in terms of suits. Something easy going to fit my personality. That was one of the reasons I quit my office job, though only a small reason. Wearing suits all the time made me uncomfortable.
The suit was a dark gray color, with the jacket loose enough around the shoulders to be comfortable without looking sloppy. The pants had to be adjusted due to the fact that I wasn't the 'typical' shaped man anymore. I was more muscular in the arms and shoulders, not to mention the thighs and my butt. I was hardly a guy who needed custom suits, but we had the money and this was a one time occasion. It didn't hurt to put down a little extra cash on it.
The night before I left, the three of us snuggled close on the couch, holding each other tight. I liked being away from my girls about as much as they liked me being away. I promised, for the fourth or fifth time, that I would call as soon as I got to Columbus and when I was leaving Columbus, not to mention when I would get to the airport back in town. Like I wouldn't have done it anyway.
The visit with mum went well, mostly with her wanting to 'baby' me since I was the youngest of the two of us. I helped her around the house and the yard, even calling in a favor to get the local franchise of the company I worked for to come out and pick up some trash for a discounted rate. It was good to be the boss. After that, it was time for the reunion. I made my way there easily. It's pretty easy to find Nationwide Arena when you're downtown. I got out of the car and walked through the entrance, heading up to the large room that had been rented for the reunion.
I took a deep breath and straightened my jacket for like the eighth time, even though it was fitted. Checking my watch, I realized I was a couple of minutes early. Not really a big deal. I made sure to put my cell phone on vibrate and then walked through the door.
I stepped into the short line quietly. The woman in front of me didn't even turn around. When I got to the table, the lady from the Arena asked for my name. I gave it to her quietly and she handed me a name tag with my name on it. I stuck it to my jacket pocket and headed to get something to drink. On my over to the drink table, I noticed a small group off to one side talking quietly. Five women and two men, none of whom I recognized from this distance. I didn't make eye contact with any of them as I got a cup of punch and then made my way to the far side of the room from everyone. I figured that if tonight was going to be hard for me, I was going to make it at least a little bit difficult for everyone else.
I turned a folding metal chair around and faced the window. For a couple of minutes, I simply sat and looked out at the lights of the city I was born in. It had been a while since I had been home and it was nice just to see how much things had changed in the fifteen years since I graduated high school. I got momentarily optimistic and thought that maybe not everything about this city sucked. It took me a few seconds to register the reflection of a smaller woman standing a few feet behind me. I couldn't tell who it was, since it was dark outside. As it was, I could barely make out her outline.
"Nice night for a reunion," I said as I took a sip of my punch. I hadn't bothered to turn around.
"It is," she replied. As soon as I heard her voice, I knew who it was.
Tracy Bell had been one of the hottest girls in school. I our sophomore year, she started dating this guy who was a grade ahead of us. He made her miserable, making her stay really, really skinny. A bunch of people told her to dump him because of the health issues, if nothing else. Of course, none of us really liked the guy. She wouldn't though, because she was 'in love.' How you can be truly in love when you're fifteen, I'll never know. But then, I was a guy, so I was just completely in lust at fifteen.
Anyway, they got married right after Tracy graduated and she got pregnant. She ended up having a miscarriage due to the health problems brought on by her low weight. Her husband blamed her and left her. That was the last thing I heard about her. I looked her over as I turned around. She looked pretty good. She had obviously put on some weight, which filled her out pretty well.
"Hi, Tracy," I said with a smile. "You're looking pretty good. Even hotter than high school." She blushed. It was cute.
"Will," she asked, looking at my name tag. "i didn't recognize you! We didn't know who you were, so I came over to see. Wow," she said. "You've certainly changed, too! And all for the better, I might add."
"Nah," I said, taking another sip of red punch. "I just grew into my body, is all. Not like you. You look amazing. Please. Sit down," I said, indicating a chair.
She laughed and sat down. "Thank you. It only took me a few years of therapy and exercise to look this way."
We chatted about this and that. We were both married, her having a child, where I did not. She had a son who was going to be ten in a couple of weeks. Her husband had decided not to come so that he and their son could have a 'boys night out.' After a few minutes, I loosened up. We told stories about various jobs and such things. One thing that had changed since high school was that I had become a pretty good story teller. I realized in the middle of a story that we had attracted a group, mostly people I didn't like, but once I started talking, it was hard to shut me up.
So it went for a while. People would come up and talk to someone else, recognize me, not believe it was me, and then we would end up talking. There were more women than men, some of them wives that had come with husbands. I flirted with some, throwing in more charm than I would have ever dared in high school. Being married has a great way of doing that, making you feel bulletproof to that sort of thing.
See, in high school, I was the ninety-eight pound weakling. When I was a junior. Freshman year, I weighed about eighty pounds. My glasses were large and I got a haircut about every six months. I had no friends. Well, except for one guy who actually had the sense not to show up to this thing.
His name was Dave, but we, his friends, called him 'Keebler' or 'Keeb' because he was small and had slightly pointed ears like a Keebler elf. Pretty much my only friend throughout school that was in my grade. great guy who went on to be the district manager of a local supermarket chain. I didn't see him much, but we always picked up where we left off when we did.
I was in the middle of a conversation when I saw her walk in. Kandi. That was her real name. I had known her since we were four years old, because my mum used to babysit her. A lot of other people thought we were brother and sister. I didn't realize it until much later, but she was my first love. She was the first girl I kissed. We were five at the time. High school reunions were supposed to be about catching up and screwing the people you wouldn't or didn't back in high school. I wasn't going to cheat on Ashley, but if I had been going to, it would be with Kandi.
I excused myself from the table and went to get more punch. I gulped down a cup and then got another, turning to see if I could find Kandi. I spotted her saying hello to all of her old friends. Taking a few steps that direction, I suddenly felt fifteen again. Unsure and uncertain about anything. I laughed at myself and took another few steps toward her when I saw Tracy point to me and say something to Kandi. Kandi looked over her shoulder at me, so I smiled and waved. She simply turned away. Not even a brief smile. Honestly, I was crushed.
I swallowed the rest of my drink and threw the cup away. Walked into the bathroom, I leaned over the sink with my head down. After a couple of deep breaths, I splashed a little cold water on my face and dried off with the hot air dryer. "To Hell with this," I said to no one. I tore off my name tag and walked out of the bathroom, ignoring everyone who even looked at me as I headed for the exit. I could feel the anger climbing into my cheeks.
"What's the matter, Will? Girlfriend giving you the cold shoulder?"
I should have kept walking. I shouldn't have stopped and turned around. But I did. It had been said loud enough to get the attention of other people so, in that 'typical guy' kind of way, I had to respond to save face.
"Shawn, honestly, as much as I'd love to trash you, I'm not really in the mood. Maybe in another five years." I hoped that that would get the point across and get him out of my way. No such luck.
"Aw, poor little Will," he said, getting up. "The girls still don't like him and he's still small enough to get his ass kicked." He was still tall, around six two or three. He had gotten fat, too.
"Seriously, Shawn. Out of the way." The group around us was getting larger.
"See, Will, the problem with you is that you can't control your mouth. You talk bigger than you are. That's why I always smacked you around in school."
"Really," I said. "And here I thought it was because you were a big asshole with a tiny dick." A chuckle flittered through the crowd.
"That's exactly what I'm talking about right there. I mean, I'm twice your size and you talk like you own the place. Maybe you need an ass-kicking as a reminder."
I stood there and stared up at him for a full ten seconds before I spoke. "Well? What are you waiting for?"
"You said I needed an ass-kicking, so I'm waiting for you to start. Or maybe you need your buddies to do the work that you can't do yourself." He blinked at me. "I bet you have to call your friends over when you can't get your girlfriend off, huh? See, Shawn, you may be twice my size, but I'm twice the man you are. So, you start swinging whenever you're ready.
I took off my coat and handed my glasses to Tracy,, who happened to be standing to my right. All through school, Shawn had pushed me around. Picked on me. Beat me up. I had never stood up to him. Until now. That feeling of helplessness, of never being able to get away from him, came rushing back. My hands were shaking less than I would have thought they would.
"Come on, Shawn. Hit me," I said as I pushed him. "What are you waiting for? Hit me, you little bitch!" He was so startled, he fell backwards into his chair. "Just like I thought. Stand up to a bully in a fair fight and he's too much of a chicken-shit to do anything. I'm leaving." I collected my jacket and glasses from Tracy and smiled at her. Shawn tried to say something and I told him to shut the fuck up.
"No," he said, still confused. "This isn't how this is supposed to be."
Walking across the room, people parted in front of me. I was halfway to the door when I stopped, turned back around, and walked back to the center of the room where shawn was still sitting in shock.
"I forgot," I said. "There are two things I've wanted to do for a long time. The first is to give a big 'fuck you' to pretty much everybody in the room. I have hated you for so long, it's ridiculous. Look at you all. Still here in the same city, married to people you went to school with, and with kids you never wanted. There's three words for you people. Pa. The. Tic. At least a few of us got out of this city and did something with our lives. You all? You suck. And you," I said, pointing at Shawn. You are the most pathetic piece of shit here. You had to make yourself feel like a man by pushing me around, making me feel miserable. Y'all are lucky I didn't have access to guns, or I might have been the first Columbine. Starting with your sorry ass," I said, putting my index finger in the middle of Shawn's forehead. And none of you did anything about it, other than pity me. Well, fuck you all. And, if I've offended anyone with my words, then kiss my ass because I honestly couldn't give a shit. The other thing is this."
I walked up to Tracy and put my hand on her neck, pulling her into a deep, passionate kiss that was filled with 'what-might-have-been's. She was startled, but didn't object. I pulled away and smiled at her, Tracy smiling back. As I walked through and away from the crowd, I realized someone was standing in front of me. It was Kandi.
"Will, I'm sorry about..."
I stepped around her and just kept walking. I immediately called Ashley to tell her I loved her and that I'd be home soon. When she asked if I was okay, I said that I was and that I had taken care of the old business and a couple of other things that had popped up. I was going to be fine.