Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chapter 13: Bright Lights

For the first time in a long time, Kate was happy to hear the sound of the alarm clock going off the next morning.  She grabbed the rosary and the pamphlet from her bedside table drawer, dressed in a hurry, and headed downstairs to grab some breakfast on her way out the door.  Tonight was her very first date, and her very first date with Kevin.  She was too excited to think about much of anything else.
Her mom was in the kitchen sipping coffee when Kate barreled into the room.  She smiled at her daughter, noting the flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes.
“Do you know what Kevin likes to eat?” her mom asked.  “Think he’d be okay with Pizza?”
Kate looked at her mom in bewilderment. She hadn't even thought to ask him what he liked to eat. It had never even occurred to her.  “Oh, Mom, I don’t know.  I didn't think to ask,” she said, panic creeping into her voice.  “What should I do?”
Her mom smiled reassuringly. “I’m sure it’ll be fine, Kate.  Do you see him before school?” she asked.
“Yes, usually,” Kate said, “why?”
“Well, why don’t you ask him what he’d like to eat and then call me at lunch to let me know,” her mom replied.
Kate felt relieved.  It was a simple solution to the problem.  “I can do that,” she said as she poured herself some cereal.
She ate quickly, kissed her mother goodbye, and headed for school. Kevin was already there when she arrived.  She headed straight for him.
“What do you like to eat?” she asked.
“Pretty much anything that doesn't eat me first,” Kevin replied, “Why?”
“My mom wanted to know if pizza was okay for dinner tonight,” she said.
“Pizza would be great,” Kevin said.  “Like I said, I’ll eat just about anything that doesn't eat me first.”
“Have you heard from your dad?” Kate asked.  She realized that she was being so very thoughtless.  What if he didn't feel like going to the movies anymore?
Kevin’s face fell for a moment as he shook his head no.
Kate slipped her hand in his for comfort.  “We don’t have to go tonight if you don’t feel like it.  I’ll understand,” she said.
“Kate, staying home and worrying won’t help my dad any.  The best thing I can do is keep praying and keep living.  Besides, I think I could use the laugh,” he said, squeezing her hands gently.
“I prayed the rosary last night,” Kate said proudly. 
Kevin smiled at her.  “What did you think?”
“It takes a long time,” she said honestly, “but I slept really well last night.”
“Yeah, I always sleep better when I pray the rosary before bed,” he said. 
They talked for a bit longer before the first bell rang.  “Lunch?” he asked her as they walked to her first period class.
“Can’t. Have to go home for lunch today,” she said.  “See you after school?”
“I’ve got practice, unfortunately.  I’ll see you at six, then,” he said, as he headed off to his own class.
“See you at six,” she said, heading into class to take her seat.
The day flew by and before she knew it the lunch bell was ringing.  She headed out the door as quickly as she could so she could get home and call her mom.  She made it home by 12:20, and fixed herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as she dialed her mom’s number.  The phone rang and rang and all she got was voice mail.  She made a face but left a message for her mom letting her know that Pizza would be fine.  She hoped her mom would get the message.
She put her violin in the hall closet and wolfed down her PB&J sandwich before heading back to school.  If she was lucky, she might get a chance to spend a little bit of time with Kevin before the bell rang again.  She got there just in time to catch a glimpse of him before it was time to go back inside.  She sighed in frustration as she took her seat.  It was amazing to her that he’d become such a big part of her life in such a very short time.
The last half of the day seemed twice as long as the first, even though it was only two class periods long.  She could hardly wait for the final bell to ring so she could get home and start getting ready.  She had to force herself to take notes in history class just so she could keep her mind on her lessons.  She felt like shouting for joy when the final bell rang, and even considered just taking her books home with her instead of storing them in her locker.  However, the two textbooks weighed 25 pounds each and she didn’t really feel like carrying all of that home with her.
There was an envelope in her locker when she opened it up.  Just like all the other envelopes, it was plain and brown and simply had her name on the front.  She tucked it into the front of her backpack and headed home in a hurry.  She still had 3 hours and 15 minutes before Kevin would be there, but she wanted everything to be perfect for him and that would take time.
She washed the table and then grabbed a table cloth out of the linen closet, shaking it out and laying it carefully across the table.  Then, she took down her mother’s good china and the silverware that went with it and began to wash and dry the pieces they would need.  It might seem silly to pair good china and silverware with pizza, but Kate wanted only the best for him. She set napkins beside each plate and then took down the crystal glassware to begin cleaning and drying it. She set the table and then headed upstairs to shower and change.  It was already 4:00 pm.  It took her 30 minutes to dry and style her hair, 15 more minutes to put on makeup, and 45 minutes to decide what to wear. By the time she was done, there was only 30 minutes left. 
She headed downstairs to help her mom finish getting everything together. Her mom had chopped up a couple of heads of lettuce and some tomatoes already.  Kate chopped up some cucumber, bits of celery, and shredded the carrots to go on top.  Her mom set the salad bowl on the table just as the doorbell was ringing.
“Hi, Kevin,” she said as she opened the door.  He looked nice in a suit and tie, and he handed her a small bouquet of flowers. 
“Wow, thank you!” she said, stepping back so that he could come inside. 
“I hope you like them,” he said, suddenly shy.
“I love them.  They’re beautiful,” she said as she took his hand and guided him toward the kitchen.  “Come meet my mom.”
Her mother was standing at the counter when Kevin walked in.  “So you’re the young man Kate’s told me so much about.  I’m glad to finally meet you,” she said.
 “I’m glad to meet you, too, Mrs. Devries,” he said.
The twins came in, looking ravenous, but stopped when they noticed the new face.  “Who’s this?” they asked in unison.
“Kate’s date,” her mother answered. “Be nice, boys”
The two looked at one another and shrugged as they took a seat at the table.  Kate, Kevin, and her mother joined them.
“What would you like to drink, Kevin?” Kate's mother asked. “We have lemonade, tea, water, or soda.”
“What kind of soda do you have?” he asked.
“Coke, Root beer, or Sprite,” she offered.
“Coke, please,” he asked.
After the drinks were distributed, the family settled in to enjoy the meal.  Everyone except Kate took turns asking Kevin questions about his family, where he’d grown up, his siblings, and his parents.  It was quite obvious to Kate that they were more or less interviewing him to see whether or not he measured up. 
At a quarter until 7, Kevin and Kate left the house to head to the theater.  The walk wasn’t far, but they wanted to get there early enough to get a good seat and order refreshments.  It felt nice to be alone again. 
“Sorry for the inquisition,” Kate said, “I wasn’t expecting that.”
Kevin smiled down at her, “Oh, Kate, don’t worry about it. I’d be worried if they didn’t want to know anything about me.”
“Really? Do your parents do this for your sisters?”  Kate asked.
“I imagine they will when my sisters are old enough to be dating,” he said.  “They’re too young right now.”
“What’s old enough for your parents?” she asked, curious.
“At least 16,” he replied.
“I’m only 15,” she said.
“Well, lucky me that my parents aren't setting the rules for when you can date,” he said with a grin.
They got to the movie theater and ordered their tickets then went inside.  They still had 10 minutes before the show began.  They paid for their popcorn and sodas and took their seats once the theater opened.  Kate felt like the luckiest girl in the whole world.
The movie turned out to be both funny and thought-provoking at the same time.  At the beginning of the movie, the director did a really good job of showing them to be 2 dimensional, stereotypical out of touch rich people with no compassion or understanding of what life was like for the rest of humanity, but surprisingly by the end of the movie you saw the vulnerability and the reality of the people underneath the masks they’d carved.  She liked that it wasn’t a “rich guys are evil” kind of movie, but was instead a movie that showed the common elements of all humanity.
She and Kevin discussed the funniest parts on the way back to her house, and the deeper message behind the film.  It was nice to have someone who was as interested in plots and subplots and themes and meanings as she was to talk things over with.  She really enjoyed the time she spent with him.
Too soon, they were back at her door and it was time for him to go home.  She wondered if he would kiss her.  To her surprise, he gave her a hug and kissed her on the cheek.  She wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting, really, but that wasn't the kind of kiss she thought she’d be receiving.  She wondered if she’d done something wrong.
“Thanks, Kate, for being my first date.  I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?” he said, reaching for her hands.
Kate looked at him for reassurance, and his smile was still as bright as ever. He didn’t seem upset or disappointed. Maybe, she thought, he was just nervous. “I’ll be waiting,” she said as she watched him turn to go.
She slipped inside the door only to be met with a barrage of questions by her mom and the twins.  She spent another two hours telling them about the movie and the details.  By the time she was done it was late, and she was tired.  She went upstairs to pray the rosary, making sure to offer it for the swift return of Kevin’s dad, and then headed to bed.  She forgot all about the envelope in her backpack.
The next morning, she went downstairs for breakfast as usual.  Her mom had the envelope in her hands and was looking it over.  “Mom?” Kate asked. “Why’d you take that out of my backpack?”
“I didn't, sweetheart.  I found it on the floor of the hallway while I was tidying up this morning,” she said handing it to her.  “Note from your new beau?” she asked.
“Yes,” Kate replied quickly.  It wasn't a lie, exactly.  Kevin was the one who gave these to her, but it wasn’t the whole truth either.  Kate felt a little guilty hiding things from her mom.  She stuck the envelope beside her plate and the two ate together.  The twins were sleeping. They were scheduled to start working overnights tonight. 
After Kate finished breakfast and helped clean up, she grabbed the envelope and headed to the basement to read it.  She didn't want her mom accidentally walking in as she was reading it, and the basement was the only reasonably private place left in the house.

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