a woman using binoculars while sitting on top of a motorhome


28 days of Flash — 23 of 28 — Omniscient POV practice

Katie turned her RV into the parking lot of the Stardust Convention Center an hour before the start of her 30th high school reunion. She parked in the back of the lot, out of the way but where she could see the doors. She popped too much popcorn while she waited for Jayne.

She hadn’t seen Jayne since graduation, which seemed weird given they remained close, especially since social media became an everyday thing. Each still knew everything about the other’s life — how Jayne’s mom died an alcoholic, how Katie’s dad wasn’t really her dad, and how, too, she was fired from her job, lived in her RV, and taught golf lessons. Jayne was still teaching fifth grade, just like she’d said she would. They also knew the small things about each other, like how Katie liked Hawaiian pizzas and Jayne always knocked five times on a door, shave-and-a-haircut style. They both loved fry sauce and hated reality TV and attorneys.

Katie sat in the driver’s seat, waiting. Jayne was perennially late and Katie was always early. Katie munched on some popcorn and watched the parking lot like it was a silent movie.

She recognized Cher, the class secretary, as soon as she stepped out of her car, and Marcia — class treasurer — got out of the passenger’s side of Cher’s roadster carrying a box, probably for the registration table. Those two were always together, just like Katie and Jayne.

Then Rob the class president pulled up in his Hello-I’m-a-realtor yellow Hummer.

Jayne pulled into the parking lot about ten minutes before the cocktail hour was scheduled to start. She recognized Katie’s RV from the photos on her Facebook page. She was awash with dread. Katie was the one person from high school that she never quite knew how to shake, and social media made it even more impossible. Today, Jayne drank a shot of vodka before leaving, all because she promised to go with Katie.

All those times Jayne was bullied and harassed for being friends with Katie, having to defend her strangeness. Nothing felt less comfortable than walking up to Katie’s RV and knocking, but that was exactly was Jayne did, holding her breath, hoping she wasn’t there.

From the convention center, Rob looked out the windows from the registration table and saw Jayne heading for the RV. For a moment, he wondered if the RV was Jeff’s, and if he had brought his collection of mushrooms and herbals. But Jayne? No way. His one date with Jayne 32 years ago ended when he pulled out a cigarette — a CIGARETTE — and Jayne excused herself and never came back. But that was Jayne, avoiding conflict at every turn.

“Hey Cher,” Rob asked. “Do you know who’s in the Brady Bunch Wagon out there?”

Cher rolled her eyes and said, “Probably Katie.”

“You mean Hate-y,” Marcia chimed in. “She Hate-y everything, right? She’s never been to a class reunion. Why now?”

“Who knows,” Cher said. “She got fired a few years ago. Probably slept with all the guys at work until she slept with the wrong one, same as high school.”

Rob’s eyebrows pinched together. “She did?”

“Come on, Rob,” Cher said, rolling her eyes.

“I knew she slept with me. And Jason Holcomb.”

“Sleep with the principal’s kid and you find out fast who isn’t your friend,” Cher said.

She didn’t just sleep with guys, Marcia thought, setting out the name tags. They had a record number of people RSVP this year — at least a third of the class. Marcia read the names on the tags and wondered who else had slept with Katie, too.

“Well, I never slept with her,” Cher said as she fanned a set of programs out on the table.

“You don’t think Jayne would’ve,” Rob began.

“Jayne? When would she have had time?” Cher said. “She was always saving bees or wolves or something, wasn’t she?”

“Well, she’s in that RV right now,” Rob said.

Cher squinted as she looked out the window. “It ain’t rockin’.”

She sat down at the registration table and smoothed her dress. Marcia copied her.

In the RV, Katie hugged Jayne and offered her a glass of sparkling cider, which Jayne accepted.

“I knew you probably wouldn’t drink real champagne, what with your mom and all,” Katie said.

Jayne half-smiled. “I drink sometimes, but only when I feel I need a little courage.” She walked down the center aisle of the RV. “This is nice.”

“It keeps me going. Doesn’t tie me down.” Katie took a sip. “You’re sure dressed up.”

Jayne smiled. “It’s a party, right? Don’t people still dress up for parties” She threw her head back and drank the rest of the cider. “Shall we go in?”

Katie tipped her head to the side. “I thought we’d just stay here and watch everyone. Same as the dances, right? I got here early so we have a perfect view of the whole scene.”

Jayne froze, staring at Katie. Her mind processed the dozen or so dances when they sat in Jayne’s 1981 Plymouth Horizon and watched their classmates file into the gym in shiny dresses and rented tuxedos. Jayne always acted like she didn’t want to go to the dance, that it was so beneath her, but hanging out with Katie was the only thing that kept her from sitting in her room and crying all night. No one ever asked her to go.

“Just like old times,” Katie said. “I made popcorn.”

Jayne couldn’t figure out how to say no.

The only badges left on the registration table were Jayne’s and Katie’s. Everyone had their own guess as to why.


About Christine Wilcox Anderson

Writer, former corporate communications exec, and perpetual student of life on this rock.
%d bloggers like this: