Six: Friday Night Lights
Katrina stood at the edge of the bleachers as her braided hair was flowing behind her. The wind picked up every now and then with a vengeful force behind it. Katrina’s mismatching eyes glanced from the track to the locker room as a few men walked in and out from time to time with bags over their shoulders and new clothes on their bodies, but she only had an interest in one sandy blond-headed boy. She fiddled with a strand of hair that remained out of her braid; her breath coming out in white puffs as the cold August night grew more rigid. Her sweater looked baggy over her frail body, no bust nor curves, though she did not mind. Her long legs stood straight as her jeans fit smoothly, covering any possible bare skin from the crisp, night air.
Katrina sighed as she moved her legs to keep them from freezing up on the spot. After minutes of simply waiting, in boredom, for the boy, her eyes spotted the person she was searching for, Henry Wagner. His baby blue eyes spotted Katrina, a smile lighting up on both their faces. Henry hurried over, his backpack swinging up and down filled with old track clothes; Katrina made a mental note of his wet hair as his newly put on clothes stuck to his skin, outlining a well-sculptured body. It took a moment before Katrina ran down the bleachers and they embraced in a hug. Truth be told that they both held mutual feelings for each other, but neither one of them had the guts to make a move - until today that is.
“How are you, Kat?” Henry said smiling, his pearl-white teeth shining as Katrina chuckled. They walked to her car as her eyes moved from Henry to the ground in anxiety.
“Good enough I suppose, unit seven has been giving me a headache along with my mum constantly badgering me about every little thing possible.” Henry laughed a bit as Katrina’s face lit up in a big red blush - she silently cursed her inward awkwardness due to the lack of dating experience in high school.
“That’s how moms are; we both know damn well that we would be worried sick if our moms didn’t call in at least three times a day.” Katrina agreed with the statement with a laugh, she didn’t deny that she didn’t love her mom’s constant bickering.
And so the night went on, the two were constantly exchanging jokes and comments while they made their way to a small, local cafe. The young adults seemed to fit like two peas in a pod, they were similar enough to the point where they agreed on multiple topics, but they were different enough to where they could learn new things about each other --- so much so that they could continue to grow as friends, and maybe even more. The topics changed constantly throughout the short ten-minute car ride, but each time it ended in an awkward story or newfound fun fact.
As the pair arrived at the cafe, Katrina parked and Henry hustled out of the car before Katrina even had a chance to unbuckle her seatbelt. Like an old-timey gentleman, Henry got to Katrina’s side of the car and opened it for her. Katrina giggled as she grabbed her purse and stepped out in the brisk air. She removed a lingering strand of hair from her face as Henry closed the car door behind her.
As the two started walking into the restaurant Henry and Katrina exchanged comments about what they wanted to get and bickered on who was going to pay. Many comments were made, and so were many threats, but in the end, Henry got the last word in.
“I am going to pay because your birthday is in two days and I won’t be there to celebrate, final. No takebacks and no more room for arguing.” Henry finished with a smile, and there was no room left for argument as Katrina put her hands up in surrender, a small smile lighting up her face. She really didn’t want to pay anyway. They quickly ordered and sat down at a table near the corner of the cafe, closest to the freeway.
“I take it this past week has been difficult, I can just tell by the bags under your eyes.” Katrina let out a gasp and immediately went to touch her under eyes, she wondered if her panicked last few days were wearing on her that obviously.
“You aren’t wrong, it has been even more stressful than I would have imagined.” Katrina paused for a moment, wondering if it were proper to mention her recent run-in with a woman threatening to kill her and the strange donation of money from someone she had never heard of. She decided against it as worrying Henry was the last thing she would want to do; he already had enough on his plate as it is.
“But, I think it is just the upcoming exam and my dad. His health is just deteriorating so quickly, and his treatments are getting more expensive.” Katrina wasn’t lying, but she was only telling a half-filled truth --- if only he knew what the last few days were like for her.
“Do they have any idea on his prognosis? If he has, well, much time left?” Katrina cringed at those words as her throat tightened up. She had not spoken to her father much as his ill health left him busy most of the time. All she knew was his prognosis wasn’t sparkling and that the cancer had metastasized to multiple other major organs.
“It could be better,” Katrina mustered up as their meals arrived. Katrina got a simple chocolate croissant with a side of scrambled eggs while Henry got a large cinnamon roll with chocolate sauce sputtered on the top. Two cups of hot chocolate were served on the side as Katrina licked her lips, excitement bubbled in her stomach. She never treated herself to such an expensive meal; she decided to stick with a cheaper cafe that did not cause such a dent in her scholarship funds.
Katrina took a sip out of her hot chocolate as she quickly savored the sweet-tasting treat. She could feel Henry’s eyes on her as he happily dug into his cinnamon roll looking like a little kid who just got home from the candy store. As she put her hot chocolate down the two stirred their conversation in a different direction and soon chatted about how difficult this final exam was going to be. It was coming up in a few weeks, and Katrina was sure that there was no way she was going to pass, she simply was overwhelmed head to toe in all these other --- issues. Her head was pounding, even during this entire meet-up, as little thoughts swirled in her mind like a tornado spiraling throughout the midwest plains, one thought to pursue another at a machine gun’s pace.
She continued to be dazed in and out while listening to Henry rant about some sort of topic where she would add in a few comments to make sure that she appeared intrigued. She had not fooled him in the slightest, Henry was soon snapping his fingers as Katrina stared out the window in deep thought.
“Pardon, what were you saying?” Katrina replied as her eyes were brought back into focus and she stared right at Henry, his facial expression looked more or less panicked.
“You aren’t okay. I know you are quiet and introverted, but you look truthfully just --- awful.” Katrina felt her chest tighten up as she simply glared at Henry, she was in a mixture of anger, for being called ugly, but also hopelessness as he saw through her long stares and uninterested replies.
“I’m more or less sleep-deprived,” Katrina whispered as she rubbed her eyes in agitation; she had been fighting sleep this entire afternoon with coffee and sweets, but to no avail did she look anymore energetic.
“Kat,” Henry whispered as he put his hand on top of Katrina’s resting arm on the table, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up with shock, but she didn’t mind --- oddly enough. Before resuming their conversation Henry met Katrina’s gaze and he smiled at her with his set of glimmering pearls,” I worry for you, just know that I am here and you can tell me anything if you need to.”
Katrina’s face lit up red as a small smile graced her youthful face; she had no words to return as her fingers entangled their way into his. Her heart was pounding quickly as his grip tightened, the two sat there as they let the sound of the cafe’s background music chime throughout the room uninterrupted, both were simply admiring the small moment of tranquility that would be hard to come by once again.
Katrina stood outside her front doorstep as the sun had long set and the moon, nearly full, glimmered like a dazzling star in the night sky. There were no clouds to be seen as stars sparkled brightly like individual little gemstones hidden within Californian mines. A small bit of frozen air had drafted over the area which brought the temperatures drastically lower and nearly frosted over the entire forest.
Katrina shivered as her simple sweater was not warm enough to unthaw her entire body. Henry had gone to the car to grab something before he had to leave, and Katrina was both curious about what it was and excited with unlimited possibilities floating in her mind.
It had only been a second or two when Henry returned with something behind his back; Katrina wanted to look around and peek at what he held, but she restrained herself and peered at Henry with eagerness blooming in her eyes. Her heart was racing at the speed of a thousand stallions and her legs limbs were ready to jump out of her skin with excitement.
“Since your birthday is coming up I went searching for what I thought would be the perfect gift. It took me a while to find and I had to get it specially done because --- it is something quite unique.” Henry’s face was starting to heat up and Katrina could see the nerves hidden within his baby blue orbs. Henry revealed what was behind his back and Katrina gasped to see a tiny black box with a little gold bow tied around it.
“Before I give this to you, I have a question.” Katrina’s breath got caught at the top of her throat, small little butterflies entered her stomach as it seemed that her body naturally fidgeted on its own will. Henry undid the ribbon and opened the box to reveal a small golden ring with the letter ′K ′ embedded in the band. The ring looked to be solid gold with a little silver border at the top and bottom; Katrina could not find words as she stood still and simply gazed at the gorgeous ring.
“Katrina Monich, will you be my girlfriend?”