The movie hadn't started yet, but the screen had turned blue because no one had pressed play. Nancy began to laugh hysterically, breaking the tension in the room. Soon George and Bess joined her. Hannah looked uncertainly from one girl to the next.
"No, no Hannah. It wasn't the movie," Nancy managed after forcing her laugh to subside, "We haven't even started it yet!"
George took one unconfident step toward Bess. Bess leapt the rest of the distance between the two and scooped George into a long hug. "I'm sorry, George. Forgive me?"
"Of course!" she replied.
"Did I miss something?" Hannah set the outrageously large bowl of popcorn in Nancy's outstretched hands.
Nancy shook her head, "We're just being girls!"
"Hmm," Hannah eyed them warily. As she walked out she muttered to herself, "I let three eighteen-year-old girls in the same room after a breakup. Next thing I know they're all crying. You'd think they all lost…Hmph." She smiled remembering what it was like to be eighteen and with her friends.
Nancy, George, and Bess were still in tears, but these were tears of laughter. Hannah had indeed picked the right movie: Ghostbusters. The girls spent the rest of the day watching comedies like Ruthless People, The Blues Brothers–one and two-My Cousin Vinny, Big Business, Trading Places, and countless others. They laughed until their sides hurt.
When Nancy looked out her window and it was dark, she sighed. "I wish you guys didn't have to leave. Nighttime is the loneliest time."
George looked at Bess and then cleared her throat, "Yeah, well duty calls." She rushed an open-mouthed Bess out Nancy's door.
It was ten minutes after Bess and George had left and Nancy was already feeling extremely lonely. She thought back to yesterday…
"Ned! It was so sweet of you to do this!" Nancy cried, truly surprised. It was Nancy and her boyfriend Ned Nickerson's seventh anniversary. He had set up a candlelight dinner on his living room floor. "I mean look at all this!" she exclaimed softly, looking around at his hard work. He had candles of all colors and sizes placed randomly about the room and a meal that he'd prepared himself sitting on the floor.
Ned had called her and told her to dress up as if for a formal occasion. Next he had picked her up his dad's dark blue Camaro as opposed to his banged up Toyota. He was wearing a tux, also his dad's.
Nancy could still remember him opening the door for her…and the way he smiled at her. He looked so… happy.
She smiled as she stepped into him. She breathed in his wonderful scent. The scent that was only Ned's. She let her eyes close as he leaned down to kiss her lightly on the cheek. He laughed.
Oh, that laugh, she closed her eyes. A single tear fell against her will.
"Hey, beautiful," his low voice sent chills up her spine still.
And he was so close, she thought.
"Ready for your surprise?"
"What? You're picking me up in your dad's car. Isn't that it?" she teased. And then his hand was wrapped around her back and she leaned back for the sweet kiss that she knew was coming. Her arms found their way to the back of his neck. They stood there in front of the open car door. Finally, Ned pulled away. Nancy was breathless. He hadn't kissed her like that in a while. She blushed a little at the thought that her Dad might be watching. Catching the drift, Ned handed her a cloth and waited for her to get in before closing the door. He walked over to the driver's side and got in.
"What's this for?" Nancy looked at him confused.
Playfully he looked at her, that twinkle evident in his eyes. He started the car, "It's a blindfold."
"Alright, I'll play along," she smiled.
The drive was short. Nancy felt Ned park the car and then she heard him turn it off. "Where are we?" She reached up to take her blindfold off.
"Not yet," he put his hand on hers, "Wait here." She heard his door open and shut. She giggled when she felt a draft on her right as her door was opened.
"Ned!" she let him help her out. When he shut the door, she asked, "Where are we?"
"Now if I told you that what would have been the point of the blindfold?" Ned purred. He led her around the car, up two or three steps, and then through a door. They made a few lefts and rights and finally, they were still. "Okay, now just stand there until I say so."
"Ned!" she protested, crossing her arms.
"Sing a song," she could hear the smile in his voice and his feet as they shuffled about the otherwise silent room.
"You heard me! Sing a song. I need you to distract yourself until I'm ready. Absorb yourself in the song and sing it as loud as you can!" his voice was far off as if in another room.
"I can't believe this," she mumbled, smiling. What is he up to? she wondered.
Before she could ask what song he wanted her to sing and as if reading her mind, he said, "It doesn't matter what song, just sing!" this time his voice was coming from the other side of her.
"Fine," she sucked in a deep breath. "Umm…" She thought for a second and then started to sing the first song that came to mind. "Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmothers house we go…"
"Can't hear you!"
"OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS, TO GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE WE GO…"
"That's more like it." Nancy sang at the top of her lungs. She sang childhood songs that randomly popped into her head. She sang for about five minutes when suddenly she felt strong arms wrap around her waist and his body pressed firmly behind her. He kissed her neck.
"Ned!" she laughed.
"You have the most beautiful laugh," he said quietly, almost regretfully.
I should have known then, Nancy chided herself, but I was too…too…
"You can take it off now," he whispered in her right ear.
"Whoa," she breathed in.
"Well, do you like it?" Ned stepped in front of her. He spread his arms out as if to say 'Ta Da, Look what I did!' A grin like no other spread across his handsome face.
"Ned! It was so sweet of you to do this!"
Nancy turned onto her side, facing away from the door. She didn't bother to wipe the few tears that came as they slid down her face. She felt her nose running and reached for a tissue, but she was out. She just used her sleeve.
They ate the dinner that Ned had prepared; well, they tried. After about the fourth bite, Ned laughed and said, "I can't eat anymore!"
Nancy laughed with him, "Oh, it's not that bad…" she raised her fork and let the mushy pasta fall back to her plate. "Okay," she chortled, "Maybe it is." They had taken their shoes off and were sitting on the cool wooden floor across from each other.
"I think my mom left something in the fridge. I can heat it up…"
"Don't bother. I think I'm good," she giggled again.
"Okay," he took their dishes back into the kitchen, which was just to Nancy's right. The couch was in front of her and to the left. When Ned came back in, he held out his hands and helped her to her feet. He kissed her long and deep.
"Wow, Ned, you really know how to charm a girl," Nancy whispered, pressing her forehead against his.
Suddenly, he pulled away. He leaped to the couch and grunted as he pushed it backward. Next, he moved the coffee table and foot rests. Nancy just watched in amusement as he cleared a large open area in the middle of the room.
"Ned, what are you doing?" she suppressed another laugh, holding one hand to her mouth and the other at her stomach. She was wearing a navy blue gown that just barely fell to the floor. Some of her hair was pinned back in a silver clip that had been her mother's. It was curled in a tumult of messy banana curls. She wore a single diamond bracelet that her father had given her for her eighteenth birthday, the long earrings that Bess had given her for prom, and the golden locket that Ned had given her on their first date. It didn't match, but Nancy never cared about matching. She loved that necklace and she was going to wear it tonight, just like every other night.
Ned turned on his small radio. It had a CD function and that's what he put it on. He skipped a few songs and came to one in particular. Then he walked stately up to Nancy and bowed deeply. "May I have this dance?" he asked in a mock serious tone.
"Yes," she followed along in his game.
Oh, what a fool I was! Nancy beat her fist into her pillow and felt more tears heat her face. How many nights will I spend like this, she thought suddenly. She tried to dry her tears, but only caused more tears to flow as she drifted back into the memory.
"Yes," she followed along in his game, "You may, my good sir." She held out her hand and he took it. They danced for the first song and at the next one to come on she gasped. "You remembered?"
"Oh, that hurts," he faked a pout, "You think I would forget?"
"No," she rushed, "I just didn't think…I almost forgot myself." He put one hand behind her back and took one of her hands in his other. She placed her free hand on his shoulder and they danced to the same song that they had met dancing to…
It was her first dance. She was in Junior High and at the moment thinking that she would kill Bess for making her come. George had flat out refused, which had really left Nancy with no choice. She was still miffed, though. Bess had been dancing all night with an endless line of guys waiting to ask her. Nancy stood by the punch table, extremely annoyed. She was bored, and felt left out. I'm leaving, she finally decided, she won't even notice.
The song that had been playing was ending. Just as she turned to go, she bumped into someone. "Oh, excuse me," she muttered.
"You're not leaving, are you?" Nancy turned to see a tall, guy with sandy blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
"Uh, actually I was. Why?"
"Oh, nevermind," he looked down, a sadness in his voice.
"Oh, come on, why?" the curiosity that she could never control, kicked in.
"Well, I…" he turned away to hide an oncoming blush, "I've just been standing in that corner all night," he pointed, "wondering if I could…heghm," he cleared his throat and then looked at her, "It's just that I finally gathered the guts to ask this really pretty girl to dance and right when I go to ask her…"
"She turns to leave?" Nancy finished.
"Yeah," he cleared his throat again, "Hey, just forget it."
He started to walk away. She felt sorry for the guy…and curious too. She reached out for his arm, "Wait, what's your name? How come I haven't seen you before?"
"Uh," his eyes widened at her touch. He fumbled for words as he realized that she was actually still talking to him, "Well, I just moved here from Chicago. My dad got a press deal and…"
"You wanna dance?" she asked as a new song started. It was Love Story by Taylor Swift.
Oh, why couldn't I just leave it alone? Me and my big mouth, my ever-present curiosity, Nancy thought, I could have just walked away. We'd never have been together, I'd never be here…but then is it better to not have loved at all and have missed all the good times that we had. Nancy was caught in between the two ideas. She thought back to yesterday again.
They had danced to their song and then she asked him, "Ned, is everything alright?" He looked shocked. "Well, you're acting strange. I mean, all this…" she waved her arms indicating the intricately planned date. He looked lovingly at her. He smiled his crooked smile. He tilted his head to one side.
"Oh," Nancy took a step back, "Oh no… Ned?"
He pulled a small, black, velvet box out of his pocket. He opened it up and stared at the ring inside.