“The Unlucky/Lucky Girl”: A Valentine’s Day Short Story

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Valentine’s Day is ideal for romance, though things may not turn out how you expect.

Jesten Richardson, Assistant Editor

    “Are you kidding me?” Aurora was really getting tired of hearing her brother’s voicemail. She was also really getting tired of standing out in the cold. And, of having to pace to keep warm. And, of seeing the unashamed way that Mary and Art exchanged kisses in his car across the parking lot. Yes, she was extremely tired of that. But, her pride wouldn’t allow her to look away. Stupid Valentine’s Day.

    She tried the number again. “Hey. This is the Phil-man. Sorry I couldn’t catch you, but I’m probably doing something really important.” Like sleeping, she thought with a sigh. Having a college-age brother was about as useful as having a pet. He was good for companionship and entertainment but not much else. Also, he ate a lot. It was ridiculous, honestly, how much food their parents had to keep stocked in the fridge for him. And, it was undoubtedly his. Their mom had a habit of labeling things. She did it with Aurora’s stuff too.

    “Do you need a ride, Ror?” Apparently the kissing had ceased. Art looked at her with that lopsided grin that she had adored for the last three weeks. Now it made her angry as he leaned his head out the car window. She wanted him to hurt like she did. Clearly, he didn’t feel a thing. It was something that she had overlooked while they were dating, but now she wasn’t so generous. She didn’t give him her best smile in return. She gave him a few words about how she felt about him and stalked off in the direction of the school. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to get back in. She knew that she was giving up her chance of warmth and the comforts of home. But, frankly, she found the look on his face a worthy trade.

    Aurora yanked on the door handle and pretended like it was budging. Then came the obnoxious buzz of Art’s car racing off behind her. She smiled. At least one of her problems was solved. Unfortunately, she still didn’t have a way home. Unfortunately, the only car left in the student parking lot didn’t have a driver. Where could the driver be? Would that person take her home if she gave him or her all the money in her wallet? 10 dollars would be enough incentive, wouldn’t it?

    “Did you need in here?” She turned her head, and there he was. The one student beside herself that hadn’t left school yet. And, of course, it was Brooks. The school’s favorite linebacker in the fall. The school’s favorite point guard and baseman in the spring. An athlete. Of course, it had to be an athlete.

    “No.” She didn’t look at him when she said it. She looked at her feet. “Thanks.”

    She expected to hear his heavy footfalls in the snow. It didn’t happen. She looked up. He looked at her. His eyebrows drew together. He tilted his head a little. “Someone is coming for you, right?”

    Why did he care? “Of course. They’re just late.”

    The concern stayed. “You’re sure?”

    She glanced at her feet again. “Absolutely.”

     He still didn’t leave. She still didn’t look back at him. A few seconds passed. A few more. Her eyes crept to his face. He had an admittedly nice face. It wasn’t sharp, but it wasn’t soft. Goldilocks would have liked it. She would have liked his eyes too, since they idled between blue and green. His lips were moving. “…if you want to.”

    How embarrassing? She could feel her cheeks turning pink. Hopefully, he would think it was an effect of the cold. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

    “If you’d like to get out of the cold while you wait, my cars right over there.” He pointed. “I’m not in any hurry.”

     Aurora wasn’t sure how to respond. She was suspicious –a popular teenage boy not in a hurry on Valentine’s Day? She was also freezing. She could see their breath in the air as they stood there staring at each other. A shiver racked her body, but she didn’t say anything. He was waiting for her reply. She was waiting for him to drug her and drag her to his car. She predicted only unpleasant outcomes for this situation. “I’m sure they’ll just be a minute.”

    “Suit yourself.” He walked to his car. Got in. Started the engine. Sat there for a moment. Didn’t leave. Why didn’t he leave?

    “I’ll be fine,” she told herself. She called Phil again. Got his voicemail. Called again. Got his voicemail. Called agai…

    “No one’s coming, are they?” Brooks cranked up the heat once she was inside. The radio was already on. Apparently, he liked country music. Gag. Thankfully, it wasn’t up too loud. “Why are you still here?”

    Aurora didn’t answer. She twiddled her thumbs and pretended not to hear. The reason was uncomfortable, and he couldn’t make her tell it to him. She probably wouldn’t tell it at all. She didn’t really need to. Art would do it. He wouldn’t have any problem doing it.

    “Any time now.”

    She sighed.

    “Let’s start easy here,” he said. He turned the radio down so low that it became a buzz in the background. “I’m Jonas. What’s your name?”

    It was odd that he had chosen to use his first name. It was odd to hear his first name in general. All the sports fans and posters in the hall called him Brooks. Maybe it was an athlete thing. She didn’t know. She tended to avoid anything athletic. “I’m Aurora.”

     “Like the princess?”

    Aurora sighed again. Looked at him out of the corner of her eye. “Like the princess.”

    He saw her looking. The side of his mouth nearest to her pulled up. An eyebrow must have been raised before, because it fell now. “So, your mother likes Disney then.”

    With a disconcerting passion, Aurora thought, picturing all the dvds neatly arranged in her living room. And, then there were the collectibles. And, the themed birthday parties every year. “More than Dad, I think… does your mother love boy bands or storms?”

    “So there’s a sense of humor under all that mysteriousness.” The smile grew. His hands were resting on the steering wheel. It made her wonder if he really wasn’t in a hurry or if he was just trying to be nice. She assumed it was the previous. She didn’t know boys like him to be nice. “It’s a family name actually. But, my mom does seem to enjoy those other two things a lot more than she should.”

    Aurora actually laughed a little. It seemed to surprise both of them. It wasn’t as if what he had said was all that funny, but it felt like the kind of joke you would share with a friend. The easiness of it made the moment slightly less awkward.

    “Are you ready to explain yourself now?” Suddenly, she was uneasy again. Jonas wasn’t someone she knew very well. What if he told someone and it got spread all around school? Then again, he’d have to beat Art to the point. Maybe it would be better to know that Art would be deprived of his bragging.

    Another sigh. “Do you know Art Turner?”

    All traces of joking left Jonas’s face. He turned the music the rest of the way off. Turned his entire attention to her. “I definitely know Turner.”

 

(Continued from newspaper)

     Really everyone knew Art. He was somewhat notorious at their school. He was an infamous player, but it didn’t impede him any. She’d known it when she had fallen for him. But, she had still fallen. She’d hoped that she would be the one that made him give it all up. He was the first boy to show her any attention. The first boy to call her pretty. What a joke? She should have known that it wasn’t real. “He broke up with me today for some bogus reason. Something about his needs not being met. And, he’s got a new girl already. Mary Davis… I really thought that he liked me.”

    Jonas didn’t look surprised, which only made her feel that much worse. “So, you didn’t expect to need another ride when you came to school this morning.”

    She felt a tear slip out of the corner of her eye. She wiped it angrily. She would not cry for some scumbag, no matter how charming. “No. I definitely didn’t.”  

    “And, there was no else to ask?” Jonas’s hands had tightened around the wheel. He was fuming. She didn’t exactly understand why? “Parents? Guardians? Siblings? Friends?”

    Confession time. “I couldn’t ask my friends. They’ve been warning me for weeks about Arthur. I couldn’t ask Mom and Dad. They’re traveling for work right now. That left my brother, Phillip. He seems to be sleeping off a party.”

    Aurora expected Jonas to ask about the name thing again. That’s why she’d tried to get it out of the way early. Everyone asked. What kind of mother names her children after love interests in a movie, after all? He didn’t ask. He was too busy shifting the car into gear and checking the mirrors.

    “What are you doing?”

    “What it looks like.” Jonas said. “I’m taking you home.”

    “But, I didn’t ask you to.”

    He looked at her like she was crazy. Absolutely bonkers. “But, you need me to.”

    The car started a slow crawl up the hill that ran between the school and the road. The tires squealed, but Jonas didn’t need to react. His shoulders were already tense.

    “It’s really okay,” Aurora said. “Phil will come eventually.”

    Jonas didn’t listen. “Address?”

    She gave it to him.

 

    “Thank you, Jonas.” They were outside her house. They had made it without a scratch. They were about to part ways. But, she didn’t want to leave. Not yet. The heat in the car had warmed her, but that wasn’t the only thing that had. They had had a lot of time to talk on the ride home thanks to the snow, multiple red lights and the broken gas gauge on Jonas’s car. It had all been an ordeal, but it had given them both the chance to learn more about the other. Aurora had found out that Jonas adored his older sister and dad, despite their sarcasm and always pushing him to be better. Jonas had found out that Aurora adored her mom, despite her craziness and OCD tendencies. Aurora had found out that Jonas was putting all his hope on an athletics scholarship. Jonas had found out that Aurora was putting all hers on a music scholarship.

    He’d been more interested in that than she would have guessed. “What do you play?”

    He’d taken several wrong guesses before she answered. “Saxophone, flute, clarinet…”

    “And, you band kids say we’re showoffs.” He’d nudged her playfully. “Maybe you could teach me a few things. We can trade skills.”

    The thought of it, along with his wiggling eyebrows, had made her laugh.

    Then, the car had stopped and they’d had to get out and push. Her socks were still wet, but the moment when he had fallen face-first into the snow had been worth it. He seemed to have felt the same way when she did it.

    “How’s the face feeling?” Aurora asked now.

    He laughed. “Like it needs a hot shower and some hot chocolate. Yours?”

    “Same.”

    “I guess we should probably get on that then,” he said. He unlocked the door on her side. Turned the country music up again. But, not too loud. “Would you happen to need a ride tomorrow?”

    “Only if your girlfriend doesn’t need one,” she replied. They hadn’t broached the subject since then, but she was sure that he must have one. He was too chivalrous and popular and charming not to. Not to mention handsome. That small, smug mouth and those sleepy-looking eyes had grown on her over the car ride.

    His eyebrow rose. “Odd. I didn’t think that I had one, but I’m sure she won’t mind. Imaginary girlfriends seem to be very understanding in these situations.”

    Aurora’s smile probably got a little too wide at that comment, but she didn’t care. She wasn’t going to pull an Art and jump right into something, but it was nice to know that there was someone that wasn’t like him at all, yet so much better, that wasn’t taken. She put her hand on the door handle. Opened the door. Felt the cool air rush in and sting the tip of her nose. “I’ll definitely have to accept then.”

    “Alright.” He reached for the volume knob, but didn’t take his eyes off of her. “See you then, your majesty.”

    “Shut up,” she replied. But, she was beaming as she went inside. And, even the sight of her brother digging as clueless as ever through the refrigerator and the sound of her mother’s voice on the phone asking about her Valentine’s Day weren’t enough to break her good mood.