Part XIV: Drive By?
It had been three years since Laura Watson had joined an Arts college in a town neighbouring hers.
She stayed at the hostel in the campus and travelled back home once every week to see her parents and friends. To her despair, though, her boyfriend, Michael Hudson, was far away from both her hometown and her college, and they rarely got to meet, except on public holidays; even then, they did not get much time for one-another.
She knew he would be graduating from his Masters course this year and that chances of them meeting up might be a little higher than before…
’Unless, of course,’ she thought, a little anxious, ’he already found someone else and doesn’t want me anymore...
’Snap out of it, Laura! He did call you just yesterday and tell you that he loved you and missed you too much!!
One Saturday, when she just packed up to make her routine visit, her phone rang with “Drive By” that she had kept specifically for Michael. She smiled and, without as much as sparing a look at the screen, she answered it.
“Hello, my Prince!”
“Hey, my Princess! How are you doing?”
Despite being so used it, his voice still sent shivers of excitement and love down her spine.
“I’m fine, Mickey. I didn’t get sick in a matter of one day, you know.” She hefted her backpack onto her shoulders, picked up her room keys, and walked out the door.
“Yes, yes, I know,” Michael’s voice came through as she slid the key into the lock and turned it. “I just wanted to make sure.”
“Mickey, if you’re worried about me, don’t – please! You know I can take pretty good care of myself!”
“Like sliding down the staircase instead of walking down?”
Laura’s cheeks heated up at her classic butter-toes experiences. “Well, I can be careful when I put my mind to it!”
“All right. Princess, I’ve got to go now, I’m sorry. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
“Yes, okay. See ya!”
“See you soon!” A beep sounded, indicated that the call had been cut.
Standing at the top of the stairs, Laura sighed. ’How I wish he’d be there when I go now,’ she thought. ’I wish I had some kind of power to make him be… Then again, controlling him should never been an option! I’m just lucky to have got him in the first place!’
She slowly made her way down, greeting everybody she knew on the way and even out of the gates. Practically the entire college knew about her lifestyle and had a deep respect for her.
Once outside the gates of her college and safely on the bus she usually took, her mind began wandering back to the past, on the first day she had met Michael. He had appeared rather reserved; nonetheless, she had fallen a little for him. Hence, no matter what wrong he had done to her ever since, she could not help but forgive and let go. She knew somehow that, in spite of his outward appearance, he actually had a soft inner self that she determined to find and finally succeeded.
She held back the tears that had suddenly accumulated just inside her visual sense organs, as his handsome, perfect face flashed in her mind.
She just wished that life would go back the way it used to be before Michael had graduated.
Their date the day after his graduation party had been the most exciting and lovely treat for her. Her best friend, Robert Matthews, had later begged and begged her for details, till she had at last gave in and told him. Jonathan Smiles, too, had congratulated them on becoming an official couple.
Her thoughts were interrupted abruptly by the conductor shouting out the name of Laura’s destination. She hurriedly got up from her seat and left the bus.
She made her way inside the street that she got off at and her eyes met a familiar sight.
However, what she did not expect was the love of her life standing in front of her gate!
Laura instinctively ran towards Michael and threw herself into his widespread arms, tears automatically rolling down her flushed face.
Then, breaking away from him abruptly, she hit him on the chest.
“Why, Mickey, why?!” she cried, happiness and anxiety take her over. “Why didn’t you tell me anything?! – I mean, we even spoke just before I started!”
He shrugged, the same mischievous smirk on his face, just like she remembered – and loved. “If I had, it wouldn’t have been a surprise, now, would it? And, the last I checked, my girlfriend absolutely loved surprises!” He winked at her.
“Well, this…this is different!” she cried, even though she knew in her heart that it in fact was not.
Michael put an arm around her shoulders. “Come along, now, I’m taking you on a date!”
“All by ourselves?! No Bobby and Johnny!?”
“Nay, not this time, although… I have their permission!”
“Oh well, I suppose it’s all right, then.”
“Come on, Princess, have you never been on a date with me.”
“Oh yes, numerous times. It’s just that…it’s been so long since our last, so I was afraid if you had any new things up your sleeves that I was to be ‘surprised’ about!”
He gave her a very comical look that set her off into peals of laughter.
However, when they reached the Dolls Café, a refreshed feeling of romance filled the air. They paused at the door, just before going in, and breathed in deeply.
Then, Michael turned to Laura. “Shall we go in?”
She beamed at him. “Sure!”
After their little snack, Laura was surprised to see her boyfriend take her back the way they came!
“We’re going back?!” she asked in dismay.
“Yes!” replied Michael, as though it was the most logical thing in the world. “Is there any problem?” he added as an after-thought.
Laura hesitated. “Erm…not really…” she managed to breathe out. In reality, though, she was disappointed that they did not spend any more time alone. Perhaps Michael could not afford it…
The couple soon made it back to the Watson residence. Michael, seemingly oblivious to Laura’s feeling of disillusionment, opened the front gate and let her enter, before following her and closing it behind him. Then, he led her up to the porch, where both her parents sat on lounge chairs, apparently chatting. The air around them was serene and pleasant.
As the two adolescents approached, though, they stood up with a smile. Laura, instantly forgetting her misery, ran up to hug them both tightly.
“Mama, Papa, I’ve missed you!” she cried, tears of joy running down her cheeks. “How have you all been?!”
“We’re great, sweetheart,” her father told her. “We missed you, too!”
Laura broke away and wiped her eyes. “Mama, I saw your article the other day about adoption – and I thought you wrote rather well!”
“Thank you, dear,” replied her mother with her usual kind smile. “It was my very first… then again, I had memories of you growing up. That’s when I realised that adoption is something that’s quite rare in our locality and I just thought I should write about it in our magazine.”
“Now then,” said her father, backing away a little. “If all our greetings are done, Laura, Michael has something to say to you.”
Mrs Watson giggled as if at some memory and nodded her head. She, too, backed away from her daughter.
Laura turned back to Michael, her first and only love so far, expectantly.
“What is it, Mickey?” she asked him.
“Well, it’s just…” He stepped towards her and, before she could think of anything to say, he was kneeling down in front of her, her hands in his! He took in a deep breath and began: “I know I’ve not been a very good friend – or boyfriend – to you, Laura, but I want you to know that, ever since you came into my life, it’s never been anybody else. Although I was in denial, I still knew that, somewhere in the back of my mind, I needed you to help mend me and bring me back to my old life. And, I must say, you’ve done a better job than anybody could ever have expected from you, seeing as how you seemed to hate me at first.”
At this point, Laura was having mixed feelings—she wanted to giggle and cry at the same time.
Noting her feelings, Michael chuckled. “Yea, I know I’m irresistible!” When she pretended to glare at him, he smirked and went on: “All right, I won’t waste any more time on elaborate, poetic words and say just this: Laura Grace Watson, will you do this unfortunate soul a favour and agree that it’s about time you married him?”