“Hello.” She said in a timid voice that sounded louder here because there was no background noise.
Kris’ head jerked up as he stood quickly: “Hell, Beth, I didn’t hear you coming.”
“I followed you. You seemed angry. Are you okay?”
“Why?” a frown creased his forehead, “You pity me because I’ve been dumped for some dippy little surfie?”
Beth sat on the settee next to his, “I never pity you. You’re really lovely.”
“I’m sure your date is waiting for you.”
She looked at her hands: “I have never been asked to any of these dances. I came to this one because I have the wardrobe.”
He studied her for a moment before he sat down and his anger melted, “Why not?”
“There’s something wrong with me I suppose.”
He touched her shoulder, “There is nothing wrong you. People just don’t notice you because you’re a quiet achiever.”
“Or they just don’t see me and walk straight into me.”
He smiled: “Yeah, I’ve seen that happen. What’s with that?”
“They need glasses?”
He stood as the music started up. It could be heard on the breeze, “Would you care to dance?”
Smiling she took his hand and stood. He held her close and she could smell his aftershave. The wisps of hair floated around her face as they slowly danced. His right arm around her waist, hold her gently against him, her left hand near the back of his neck. The music from the ballroom played on. The moon set the scene in all the shades of blue and dark shadows framing the Roman baths. But in the distance was a sound and it was becoming louder. It sounded like a radio station.
“And welcome to the beginning of another beautiful day. This is Tom Willings sayin’ Good Mornin’!” The sound of The Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Under the Bridge’ took over from the voice.
Beth rolled over and slammed her hand down on the reset button on the alarm and murmured as she stretched: “Shit! Just when I was starting to enjoy myself.” She pushed back the covers of her bed and sat up. Looking outside, she sighed and flattened out the mass of unruly red hair. It was raining again; not good studying weather. Pushing herself out of bed, she readied herself for class; which Kris Bowler also attended: psychology.
“How sickening.” The redhead mumbled. As she folded the flyer, he glanced in her direction and threw her a half-grin. She smiled back and packed up her stuff, finished her coffee and left. He had begun to pack up his notes too as she walked past.
Beth joined her at the window and laughed: “My god, she’s still talking; that poor guy.” They saw Kris sitting in the mottled shade of a line of willows near the middle of the court outside their dorm. He was using his bag as a ‘desk’ to study. As before, he was trying to concentrate with a little brunette blabbermouth sitting next him and failing. He looked up at their window and held Beth’s gaze long enough for Liza to notice. She punched him playfully in the arm and he laughed, kissing her.
Beth felt her cheeks burning as she quickly looked away from the window, “He’s never looked at me for that long.”
The blonde hesitated, “Well, yeah, but you turned away too soon. He looked back up here when Liza took off.”
She spun: “You’re lying.”
“Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”
“No, I know so.”
Two days before the ball, she drove home and found her twenty-first dress and tried it on. It totally surprised her when it fitted.
“Well, if I get my make-up and hair done… I may as well go.” She muttered inspecting it in as she stood in front of the mirror. So, she packed the dress into its bag and took it back to the university with her shoes and stockings.
“We’ll go to Mum’s house and get our hair done and I’ll do your make-up.”
As they arrived, the sun was setting on the campus. The whole place looked like it had stepped back into the days of old with all the girls dressed in ball gowns of all kinds and colours. Nearly everyone wore the wigs and many had heavy make-up and the masquerade masks held up to their faces to really go with the theme.
The curved grey staircase was lit; as on that particular Saturday night turned the clock back. The two approached the staircase and
But then, suddenly this seemed all very familiar; too familiar. All that needed to happen was Kris to have his heart broken and she witnesses it.
“Stay away from me!” He turned and strode out of the hall with his cloak flapping after him. She watched him walk quickly out onto the balcony and down the other set of the curved staircase.
The Baths were cloaked in shadow and the light of the full moon. A Weeping Willow grew at the far end of the setting with a gazebo next to it. Marble benches surrounded the black water as the sentinel columns closed in the Baths. It was what gardeners called a ‘room’. Normally, she liked it; but tonight it looked really creepy and she didn’t really want to be here.
About halfway down, she saw him sitting on a marble bench with his elbows resting on his knees, head down, his hands were clasped together.
“Kris?” she asked timidly.
His head jerked up in fright: “Oh, hell,
“I saw what happened. I wanted to make sure you didn’t hurt yourself; seeing how things were with… you know.” She didn’t want to mention Liza’s name and start him yelling.
“Yeah, well, don’t get too close I might make you hate me too.” He looked down and kicked an imaginary rock.
She smiled: “How could you do that?”
“I saw you tonight… you’re beautiful. But I’m sure your date’s waiting for you.” He mumbled and stood, “I’ll take off home.”
“What date? I didn’t know I had to bring one.”
He turned around, “This was a couples dance. You didn’t see that on the flyer?”
“What I saw was a turn of the century … oh no.” she blushed and was thankful for the darkness. Beth sat down and felt like she had been duped.
“Have you got the invite?”
“Yeah.” She pulled it from her pocketbook and unfolded it, “There you are.”
Kris walked to the nearest working lamp and read it: “I see what’s happened. You got a fixed one. Somebody played a joke on you.” He looked at her, “They gave you an invite so you’d show and be the only one here without a date.”
“Who would do that?”
He refolded the invite and gave it back, “Well, Liza hates your guts and does nothing but talk about how stupid and alone you are. I keep on defending you; reason being… well, I like you.”
“You pity me because I’m never asked to one of these things and finally when I do show up, I out-dress them all.” She turned to leave when he reached out and touched her arm, “Kris, I’m leaving because it’s not a funny joke and I’m humiliated.”
“I was embarrassed tonight too.” He smiled, “By the very person who wanted both of us out of her life.” The music started in the ballroom. Both of them looked toward the building and listened for a moment as its sound drifted on the breeze.
He smiled, “Would you care to dance?”
“I would love to.” She grinned.
Just like in her dream, they danced by the Roman Bath in the moonlight. The scene was no longer creepy; instead it was romantic and the music was perfect as they could just heard it on the breeze. She smiled as they danced: “You want to know something?”
“What?” his voice sounded soft in her ear.
“I dreamt of this very night two weeks ago. Everything that happened in that dream has happened here. Well, except the duped invite. And there was just one main flaw.”
He chuckled: “Let me guess. Just when you were getting into enjoying yourself with me, the damn alarm went off.”
Kris looked at her: “I’ll let you in on something.”
Her gut cooled.
“Your alarm isn’t going to go off. This night is actually happening and I’m about to kiss you because I want to.” He whispered in her ear, “Is that okay?”
“That’d be fabulous.” She answered.