This was the latest story accepted by Reedsy. I personally did not think it was one of my best efforts, but it does convey a message about the power we put on love. There are times when our dreams are sometimes better than the reality we live in, but sometimes not. You be the judge on this story...
Power of Love Times Five
Tonya DeGrasse did not have a healthy self-image as she was always noticing little things about herself that she considered unappealing, such as a lazy left eye, a bulge here or a sag there, her teeth were not as white as everyone else or her fingers were too stubby. What was evident was that she was in her second year of college and as of, yet she had never had a serious relationship with someone else. She even attended a lesbian meeting but found that she was not attracted to other women even though the speakers made some good points, Tonya was just not interested. But then she was not really interested in the opposite sex either for tha tmatter and from her observations the feeling was mutual. As the holidays approached, she began to get that old feeling in her gut, the one that started in junior high when all her friends were hanging out and having sex while she was stuck at home constantly thinking about it. What did it feel like? It was supposed to be wonderful, but how would she ever find out?
“Still not getting any?” Clairise would ask during lunch in the cafeteria.
“Hussssh.” She would shush her friend.
“Princess, we got to get you some.” She would say with a straight face. Clairise, like Tonya, had limited experience with those of the opposit sex, but she also had an attitude that scared them away. Her lack of action was by choice or at least Tonya thought so. “Patula has herself a hunky co-ed.”
“She does?” Tonya perked up a bit.
“Yeah, but he’s got himself four other girlfriends he’s seeing on the side that she don’t know about.” Clairise leaned in so no one else would hear. “And Wanda is researching love potions again. She wants to drop some into Lane’s Monster.”
“You think he’d start catching on.” Tonya looked at them sitting together and wondered if Wanda had done it. Lane was always drinking those instant energy drinks that tasted bad to begin with. Lane was a tall dorky kid who kept trying out for the basketball team due to his size, but he did not have the athletic ability to make the team. Still Wanda, a round girl of average height was trying to use magic because her mother was a professional psychic who spent her life studying the zodiac and other magical tricks, she would use to extoll money from her customers. Lane had no clue what was going on as he was the perfect foil in most cases.
So there they were Tonya, Clairise, Patula, and Wanda seeking the joys of what none of them had experienced even though Clairise carried on like she did, the sad fact was none of the five of them had experienced the joys of intimacy. While maturity had a lot to do with their lack of success, none of them was willing to give up what they needed to give up achieving that intimacy they sought.
Tonya went back to the dormitory where some of the girls were talking about who they would be sneaking off with before the holidays. The place was abuzz with excitement as the first-floor bathroom was filled with girls combing their hair and setting off a noxious amount of hairspray since this was the Big Holiday Bash Dance. Tonya had no interest in going knowing that she’d be alone if she went so she went back to her empty room where she could hear the electrified commotion. Suddenly Latricia came in wearing a very stylish dress and her hair combed out and braided behind her back smelling of lilac. She applied even more perfume that made Tonya’s head swoon and said, “Aren’t you going to get ready, girl?”
“I’m not going.” She sighed.
“The heck you say.” She looked honestly astounded that her roommate had made such a choice.
“I don’t have anyone.” She pretended to be reading her Biology textbook.
“Hey, I’ve got some boys who’d be looking.” She gave Tonya a look of derision, but Tonya flipped a page. “It’s up to you.”
And then she was gone leaving Tonya alone in the room. In a few minutes, the entire first floor of the dormitory was silent. All of the anticipation had moved onto the auditorium for the Big Bash leaving Tonya in its wake. The tears were big, and the sobs came from a deep part of her.
Unable to stand the silence, Tonya wandered out into the commons. It had begun to snow, but it wasn’t quite sticking, not yet. In the middle of the commons was the statue of an angel bent at a funny angle with a stone expression of sorrow. She sat on the pedestal of the statue despite the fact the stone was wet from the snow.
“I wish I had someone. Someone who belonged to me.” She felt tears rolling down her round cheeks. “What is wrong with me? What is it that makes me the ugly duckling? I wish I were beautiful.”
They say magic is not real. But there was something about that angel, stone she may be, that brought about a certain celestial condition where stars aligned, and miracles would mix in with the snowflakes that were falling upon her.
“Are ya ready?” Her older sister Meredith asked when she pulled up in front of the dormitory to take her sister home for the holidays.
“Yeah.” Tonya rolled her heavy suitcase with wheels.
“Mom and dad are having a spat.” She rolled her eyes, “Figured I’d better warn ya.”
“Thanks.” She said in the passenger’s seat.
“Marty is giving me hell about child support again.” She never seemed to stop complaining, but since Marty and her got a divorce a year ago, it seemed that there was nothing good left in the world. Mom and dad had fought for over thirty some years about things that no one would ever think to fight about, but it seemed unless there was something to complain about, neither of them were happy. Her brother Julian and his wife Norissia had flown in from Chicago and had a big blow out as well.
“Peace on earth, good will to men.” Tonya said to herself.
“Don’t start with that goodie good crap.” Meredith shot her a glance to warn Tonya good cheer would not be welcome.
Indeed, walking into the large house, she had grown up in, she could hear her mother and father squawking about his Christmas bonus while Julian was already drinking while his wife Norissia sat on the couch with the television on watching one of those reality shows.
“Hey there sis.” Julian walked over and gave Tonya a big hug and kiss on her cheek. “Merry Christmas.”
“And to you as well, Jules.”
“We aren’t talking.” Julian pointed to Norissia who had not even acknowledged the fact that Tonya had walked in.
“There’s my brilliant daughter.” Her father stood at the top of the stairs.
“Toni, there you are.” Her mother sounded surprised that she was here. Hugs and kisses were exchanged. When all the proper social protocol was complete, Tonya told everyone she needed to get to her room and take a shower. No one would question that, but she needed some time alone.
The stars were busy getting in position as she stared out her window as the snow began to stick. Tomorrow would be Christmas Eve which was once a big deal in the DeGrasse household. There were so many family traditions that had been either neglected or forgotten that Christmas just did not have the same spark it once had when she was a child. Her sister was divorced and had to deal with three children who never seemed happy, her brother and his attractive wife seemed like they lived on Venus and Mars and her mother and father hadn’t agreed on a single thing since the Kennedy Administration it seemed and even then, she felt one of them was lying.
On Christmas they would pile into her father’s SUV and they would go to church, but they would manage to miss the grace that was supposed to pour out over them like it once had. Marty once loved her sister in this fairy tale romance while Julian met Norissia working at the bank where they shared a secret language of love that had somehow lost its meaning.
Trudy, Elma, and Jacob sat in the game room playing video games without taking a break. With all the gore and violence being displayed on the flat screen television, Meredith did not seem to mind since these games were the perfect babysitter.
“Did he just shoot that guy’s head off?” Tonya asked when she got brave enough to sit with her nephew and nieces.
“Sure did.” Jacob laughed, “Awesome graphics, eh?”
“Sure, sure.” Tonya had to leave since the game appeared to be one big bloodfest.
Unable to take it anymore, Tonya walked outside. Before she had gone a block, she saw an old classmate, Chuck. Back in school, Chuck had been awkward and a bit of an oddball according to his other classmates. Tonya remembered him as a big galoot with a good heart.
“Tonya, how have you been?” Chuck was no longer a galoot. As they sat and talked, they found out they had a lot in common. Chuck was set up to open an investment firm after getting his business degree.
Stars began to align.
“I have a question for you.” He said suddenly and before she could stop him, he was on his knee in the snow. “I would consider it an honor if you would be my wife.”
“Oh my.” She could not believe her ears. “Chuck, I need some time to think it over.”
“I understand.” He nodded as he stood up. “I have been thinking about you since you went to college.” Chuck was a year ahead of Tonya, but as he stood there, she began to think about the possibility. She watched him walk off and when he got to the stoop of his house, he turned and waved.
Stars aligned again as she walked when suddenly she saw another classmate, Rollins who was a bit of an introvert when they were in school. He was smart, but he never really said anything, well at least until now.
“Long time.” He held out his hand.
“Yes it has been. How have you been?” She asked. He invited her to sit on his porch with him. They talked for quite a while and she found she had a lot in common with him.
“I have missed you so much.” He admitted, “I was wondering…”
He kissed her gently and in a voice that was soft, he asked her to marry him. He suggested they should just run off and elope.
Run off and elope. Ever since reading Romeo and Juliet in school, she had fantasized about running off with someone, it was so romantic.
Like Chuck before him, she told Rollins that she would have to think about it.
As she continued to walk, she saw a shadowy figure walking toward her. At first she was frightened, but then she saw it was Bartholomew who spent most of his time in detention.
“Hey there kitten.” His smile was crooked and evil, “How have you been?”
They walked while he told her of his adventures in juvie and then working with a couple of the extortionists out on the streets. There was something about a bad boy she found exhilarating. Standing in the bad part of town, he said, “Why don’t you come with me? Together we can rule this stinking town.”
She could see it. Power and notoriety, two things she had always wanted. He was bad, but she liked a bad boy. Once again, she told him she would have to think it over.
“Don’t take too long on it, doll. I have a lot of obligations.” He kissed her before disappearing in an alleyway.
Could this really be happening to her? It seemed too unbelievable, but she continued where she saw Howard walking slowly toward the bus station. She sat with him at the station where he told her the tragic news that he had terminal cancer. He was going to a clinic where they would deliver the bad news that he did not have much longer to live.
“I was wondering when I come back next week, if we could go down to the courthouse and get a marriage certificate so I could spend my final days with someone I could love.” His eyes were watery, and his voice nearly drew tears from here since she could not stand to see someone suffer so.
“I will have an answer for you when you return next week.” She said as she watched him get on board the bus.
“I shall be waiting.” He managed a smile and just like that he was gone.
What was happening? Four of her former classmates at high school had asked to marry her. The stars were magic beyond anything she had ever experienced. After some thought, she thought she would return home before anyone else asked her. What would she say? How would she choose? What a dilemma she was in it seemed. Maybe if she could talk to her brother, he would know what to do. When he was younger, all sorts of women used to come around asking about him. Would she choose Chuck who had a good heart, or would it be Rollins who would run away with her, or would it be the bad boy Bartholomew or would her sympathy take over and marry poor Howard who was dying of cancer.
“Aren’t you Tonya?” She could hardly believe her eyes as Kenny came walking into the street. Kenny was the boy every girl wanted to be with if for no other reason than he was just plain cool.
“Yes, yes I am.” She answered.
“”Girl-irl, you are looking fine.” He shook his head. “Let’s say we go to the party over at Freddie’s.”
She was dumbstruck and did not know what to say, but he took her hand and the next thing she knew there was loud music, all sorts of spirited beverages and some funny smelling cigarettes that did not look like cigarettes at all. Kenny who had a reputation for his hands when he was with a girl, did not play that game with Tonya and instead, he looked at her with his big brown eyes and said, “Girl, I have a confession to make. I have always been in love with you. If I was with you, I’d never need another. I know this is sudden, but Tonya DeGrasse would you marry me?”
The music stopped and suddenly everyone was looking at them as Kenny went down on one knee.
“Kenny, I don’t know what to say.” She could not believe what was happening.
“Say yes.” Kenny begged.
“Yes!” She said immediately.
“Yes? What on earth are you yessing, sleepy head?”
When Tonya opened her eyes, her sister, not Kenny, was standing there with her hands akimbo staring down at her as if she lost her mind. Five of her classmates had asked her to marry her. While they were in school, none of them would give her the time of day.
“You been reading John Green again?” Meredith asked, holding up one of the books discarded on the floor near her bed.
“Yes.” Tonya sighed as she got out of bed.
“You’ve been asleep for over ten hours, sleepy head.” Meredith shook her head shamefully at her sister.
“No, that can’t be right. I was out walking and when I was walking…” She started.
“No baby sister, you came up here and that was all she wrote.” She threw her head back and laughed.
Putting on her robe, Tonya walked barefoot down the stairs and opened the back door. The new fallen snow covered everything. Not a single footprint ruined the virgin snow and then she realized that the whole thing was nothing, but a stupid dream of want and desire. Nobody wanted to be with her. And certainly, nobody in their right mind wanted to marry her either.
She heard mom and dad fighting about the blow-up Santa in the front yard. When she came in, she heard her sister yelling at Marty on her cell phone while in the kitchen Julian was making toast while Norissia was playing one of those video games with the kids bragging how she used to get top score on Grand Theft Auto. Love did not exist in the DeGrasse house and if it did, Tonya reasoned it was nothing like she had read about in her books.
She could hardly wait to go back to school after the break. When she opened the door to her room, she saw an envelope. Removing the card there was a note asking her out for a pizza on the college strip from some guy named Daryl who claimed to have been watching her with interest. He left his cell phone number and when she text him, he agreed to going out with her that evening. They were both big fans of John Green and when the time was right so was the moment, she had been waiting for all her life. He was gentle and made sure she was comfortable with what they were doing, and it turned out to be so much more than she had ever hoped it would be.
She was glad, even though it was just a dream, she did not agree to marry any of the five guys. Even though the stars can be a powerful force, love is by far much more powerful than magic can ever be, otherwise writers would not be wasting their time writing