School was very awkward to say the least.
Felicity and I earned quite a few stares for an entire week and I know it’s because rumours of her being pregnant had circulated the town. She was wearing a baggy shirt today to hide her almost four month baby bump, but that didn’t stop the staring or whispering. She seemed uncomfortable, but Felicity was a confident, outgoing person and I knew that despite what people thought of her right now, she would keep going. When I told her about what my dad had offered to do for her, she’d broken down crying and I had to spend the next hour on the phone consoling her. The thing about Felicity and I is, our friendship extends past us and into our families.
As we walked through the halls to go home for the day, I felt someone grab onto my hand and I jumped, trying to yank my hand away but they held firm, but I was met with the cheeky gaze of Phillip and I relaxed. He laughed at me.
“I am not jumpy, just hyper-vigilant!” I defended. Felicity laughed at me. Phillip just held my hand a little tighter and I let him. It felt nice.
“Hey, check it out.” Felicity said, pointing ahead of us. Some students were hanging a banner over the cafeteria entrance that read, SENIOR PROM TICKETS NOW ON SALE.
“Wow. Prom. I completely forgot.” I stated. Felicity glared at me.
“The biggest event of the year and you forgot?”
“Wouldn’t graduation be the biggest event, technically?” Phillip asked. Felicity laughed and patted his chest.
“Silly, silly boy. Prom is the one night where we can all get dressed up and look amazing and dance and have a great time! We get to let our hair down after such a long time of hard work.”
“It’s a dance, Flick.”
“It’s a tradition!” she hissed.
“It’s lame.” I said.
“I don’t care what you think. You’re going.” Felicity crossed her arms.
I rolled my eyes. “Whatever.”
Felicity glanced at her phone screen and sighed. “I better get going if I’m going to get the bus.” She said, blowing me an air kiss. “See you!”
I shook my head at her and Phillip chuckled. “She’s certainly spunky isn’t she?”
“You have no idea.” I sighed.
“You didn’t drive to school today?”
“No my dad had the morning off so he offered to drop me off and Felicity had a free period this morning.” I said.
“So how are you getting home?”
“I was going to walk.”
“In this weather?” Phillip looked shocked. I shrugged.
“It’s not that far.”
“Yeah, okay, you’re not doing that.” He said, dragging me out to his car. I got in and he started the car. We drive from the school, but he went straight past my street and I pointed over my shoulder uselessly.
“You missed my street.”
“I’m kidnapping you.”
“Oh okay.” I said, sitting back. “Where are we going?”
“We are going on our first date.”
“Are we now?” I smirked.
“You’re extremely confident.”
“Part of my charm, my dear.”
I laughed outright. “So where are we going then?”
“Well, I like a girl who’s a little competitive so I thought I’d test that.”
“And how are you going to do that?” I asked, looking at him while he looked at the road.
I grinned. I loved bowling. Felicity hated the very idea of rental shoes so refused to go with me, and my dad had very bad memories of the place. He broke a toe once. So it’s fair to say I hadn’t been bowling in a while.
“Sounds like fun.” I smirked evilly. We had to drive a fair way to get there, but eventually we pulled up to the glowing bowling alley, lights flashing and loud music playing from the inside. It was dark and the fluorescent lights lit up our lighter clothing. We paid for one game and our rental shoes. I went to go pick a ball while Phillip set up the screen with our names. When I sat down, Phillip got up to go pick his own ball.
“Prepare to be amazed.” He said when he got back. He really was so confident. Sometimes it was arrogant. But right now it was just charming.
I watched as Phillip stepped up to bowl and he knocked down eight pins. He bowled again and missed the last two. He sat down next to me and gestured for me to take my turn. I heaved my ball up, and took a breath. I walked towards the lane, lined the ball up and let it go. My green ball rolled down the lane and stuck all the pins down.
“WHOO!” I stuck my hands up in the air and turned around to face Phillip. “Striiiiike baby! Oh yeah!”
I skipped over to him, a big grin on my face. He looked a little surprised, but got up to take his turn. He got a spare and we continued on. I think that Phillip was under the impression that he would have to go easy on me, expecting me to suck at bowling. How very wrong he was.
“I just don’t understand this.” Phillip said, dumbfounded but also awed after I got my fourth strike. “Melanie absolutely sucked at bowling.”
“I’m not Melanie.” I said simply. “Not all girls are the same you know.”
Phillip grinned and pressed a kiss to the tip of my nose. “You’re really something, you know that?”
I giggled and blushed. Then I mentally smacked myself for being such a girl.
We finished the game (I won) and then went for ice cream. We decided to sit inside the parlour because of the cold November air. Phillip and I were playing the question game again.
“Okay, tell me something that not a lot of people know about you.” I said.
“I speak fluent Spanish.” He replied casually. Wow. Didn’t expect that.
Phillip nodded, licking his lips to catch the ice cream there. “My mother is half Latina.”
“I knew that, I just didn’t know you could speak another language.” I smiled. “That’s so cool. I wish I could do something like that.
“You don’t have a secret talent?”
“No. I don’t think so.”
“Everyone is good at something.” He said.
“Well I’m quite good at sewing.” I said. “My grandmother taught me before she passed away. I used to sew little doll dresses for the girls in the hospital. And I’d make superhero capes for the boys. I haven’t been able to do it in a while though.”
“How do you do that? Find the time to be so generous?” he asked as he finished his ice cream.
“Well…I don’t want to look back on my life and wish I had done something more to help people. I figure, by helping these kids then I’ll have contributed to making the world a better place because, God willing, those kids will grow up and remember what I did for them and pay it forward. Kindness breeds kindness.”
Phillip put his chin in his hands, leaning his elbows on the table. “You’re amazing.”
I blushed. “Thank you.”
“My turn.” He said. “Where did your parents get the name Rhea?”
“They didn’t.” I replied.
“What do you mean?”
“Rhea isn’t my real name.”
Phillip blinked. “But, I’ve known you since we were little! You’ve always been called Rhea.”
“For short, yes. I legally changed my name when I was sixteen. I got my parents’ permission.”
Phillip sat back, slumping against the seat but that didn’t make him any shorter. He still towered in the chair. “Well, what’s your real name?”
I chuckled. “Does it matter?”
“Yes! I’m curious.”
I just laughed at him and didn’t answer his question. “Why did your parents name you Phillip? It’s an old fashioned name.”
“After my grandfather.” He replied simply. “My father and he were quite close. Are you going to answer the question?”
“No.” I replied simply, grinning cheekily. Phillip glared at me and I laughed.
“Dogs or cats?” he asked.
“Dogs. They’re kind and loving and loyal. Cats seem like snobs to me.”
“You had a dog when you were younger didn’t you?”
“Yeah, Toby. He got cancer and we had to put him down.” I said.
Phillip scrunched up his nose. “Jeez I’m sorry. But I guess he went peacefully, right?”
“Yeah.” I nodded.
“Sometimes I think we’re kinder to our pets than we are to each other when it comes to disease.” Phillip said suddenly. I picked up my spoon and started fiddling with it.
“How do you mean?”
“Well, when a dog gets cancer or starts to get too old or is hit by a car, we don’t want them to suffer through surgeries and procedures that may not work.” He explained. “But when it comes to humans we have to suffer and die on our own. We don’t get that option of a dignified and painless death.”
“You support legal euthanasia then?” I assumed.
“Yes. I think we have all the right to do what we want with our own bodies, and that includes letting ourselves die.”
“Some people believe that euthanasia could be abused.”
“That’s why I thought perhaps if they create a law saying, I don’t know, that before someone can obtain a legal euthanasia they have to have a proven medical disease that is terminal and have a psychological exam before to make sure they are aware of the decision they’re making.”
“You’ve thought about this a lot.”
“Yes, I have.” He said. “My grandfather, the one I’m named for, died of lung cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation didn’t work. We watched him waste away to nothing. He couldn’t breathe on his own, he hardly ate…he just wasn’t himself anymore. He died a broken man and I don’t think others should suffer the same fate if there is a better option.”
I stared at Phillip. This was an entirely new side to him and it was a surprising as it was lovely. It was nice to see him care about something so deeply. If anything it made me like him even more.
“I’m sorry about your grandfather.” I said gently. Phillip smiled tightly and sighed.
“This isn’t really something we should be talking about on our first date.”
“It’s fine. We’re getting to know each other. People aren’t all happiness or all sadness, but a mix of both. It’s unrealistic that people have had all good experiences. Besides, I’ve known you for years. I know a lot about you anyway.”
“That’s true.” Phillip said, smiling genuinely now. He glanced at his watch. “I better get you home.”
“Okay.” I said, getting up from my seat. We listened to the radio on the way back, fighting over when to change the station to avoid a particular song. He pulled up to my house and walked me to the door, which made me nervous. What did I do now? Invite him in to face my father? Say goodnight and then just slip inside? Should I kiss him? Give him a hug? Oh god, oh, god, oh god…
“This was fun, but just so you know, next time we go bowling I’m totally going to kick your ass.” Phillip said, hands in his pockets. I laughed.
“Keep telling yourself that, Kingston.” I said. We were silent then and I looked at my shoes, tucking some hair behind my ear. “Do you want to come in?”
“I have to get home. Mom will kill me if I’m late for dinner.” Phillip said sadly. I nodded.
“A mother’s wrath is a terrible thing.”
“Tell me about it.” Phillip shuffled his feet and I shivered in the cold air. I felt hands slide over my cheeks and tilt my face up. Phillip kissed me and I really enjoyed the feeling of his hands sliding into my hair. He was so tall that I couldn’t pull myself against him, so I just wound an arm around his waist and used the other to grip his jacket. He smelled like cologne and tasted like mint ice cream. This was probably the most blissful moment of my life.
After a few moments he pulled away and smiled down at me, kissing my forehead and saying goodnight. He retreated to his car and I slipped inside my house, a dumb smile on my face. I wandered into the kitchen and sat on the bench. My mother was washing the dishes, trying to act casual.
“Mom, didn’t you forget something?”
“What?” she asked. I pointed to the sink.
“Water. You forgot to put water in the sink.”
I snickered. “Busted.”
“Okay! I took a peak! But it’s just too cute! I couldn’t help it!” she cried defensively. I continued to snicker. “He’s so handsome now. I bet he’s a good kisser.”
“Mom!” I cried, scandalised.
“What?! You’re not going to tell me the details?”
“No! God no!”
“At least tell me if it went well.” She said, putting her hands on her hips expectantly. I smiled.
“It went really well mom.”
“Good. That’s all I wanted to know.”I shook my head at her.