Of Bribes & Broken Hearts

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    Zoe

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    Of Bribes & Broken Hearts

    Post by Zoe on Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:45 am

    “Wait a second.” I recounted James’s proposal, quickly analyzing this psychopathic offer of his until I came to a conclusion of what he was asking of me. “You are bribing me to be your prom date?” It was the most absurd offer I have ever been presented with, and let me tell you, there have been many. Sophomore year, Benny Chavez thought that giving me frozen yogurt coupon and a pair of old iPod headphones was tantamount to me writing his midterm essay for U.S. History. Then Zane Karnovich once promised me violin lessons in return for putting an obscene photograph in the school yearbook. I guess the guys that I have gone to school with for the past four years have made me out to be some sort of favor prostitute. However, throughout all of my under-the-table deeds and deals, I have never been bribed to take a boy to prom.

    James stared at me, his wide brown eyes practically begging me to go along with this ridiculous plan. He gave me that irresistible puppy-dog pout. I came rather close to believing that the boy was going to drop down to his knees and begin to plead for my cooperation. Lucky for him, however, he did not have to. Because for some reason even more outrageous than the plan itself, I said, “Fine, I’ll do it.”

    Now allow me to explain. James Sherman was my long-time right hand man. He was my comrade, my amigo, my partner in crime. Needless to say, we were best friends. At least, we were best friends before his life was taken over by the demon by the name of Cecily Walton. She was your typical perfect blonde with flawless skin, long legs, and a voice squeakier than Minnie Mouse herself. Dance team. Advance classes. Expensive clothes. Cecily was the epitome of your “perfectly, average all-American girl.” Except she was exceptional in all ways, except lacking the personality department, which is how things always work out. The guy that you are totally in love with falls in love with a girl so incomparably beautiful yet insultingly bland or stupid, leaving you wondering what she could possibly have (other than everything superficial that a girl could insecurely wish for) that you are so unfairly lacking. But yes, my best friend was put under Cecily Watson’s spell for four months of what they considered “love.” During those few months (which I like to refer to as the “Dark Ages”) I was just a pile of forgotten Polaroids in the back of James’s closet. Because who needs a best friend- someone who is caring, thoughtful, honest, and loves you the way you are- when you have a visually appealing, though creatively inept girlfriend? These are the questions that will haunt me throughout my life.

    So of course, Cecily got bored. Because that’s what pretty girls with the magic ability of making men bow down to her feet do. Girls like Cecily go through guys like cans of Diet Coke, tossing each next victim back to where he began, assuring to leave behind a little piece of poison known as jealousy.

    And thus our story begins. Broken-hearted James here is tearing himself apart thinking of a way to win back his former perfect lover, and with prom right around the corner, it would seem easy enough to ask her to accompany him. However, vixens like Cecily assure that they never see a day that they are dateless to an event. So after invitation after invitation, Cecily agreed to be Lawrence “The Landslide” Larsen’s prom date, an agreement that was made a mere nine days after the tragic breakup with James. Ouch. So as if his heart hadn’t been wrenched and bruised enough, James was left without options… And without sanity. Something had given him the eccentric idea that cursing Cecily with the poisonous jealousy she had left him with would lead her to come crawling back in no time. And somehow, that theory implanted the oh-so brilliant idea of James taking another girl to prom as a tool to win his “true love’s” affection back.

    That was what prompted James to take me to Starbucks that afternoon. He bought me a Grande Chai Tea latte, told me he liked my “daring ensemble” (a black sweater dress paired with red tights, ankle boots embellished with a long chain with a red elephant pendant dangling a few inches below my chest and my hair twisted into a French braid) today and said, “So, Ruthie… I have two tickets for the Phantom of the Opera Farewell tour…” and soon enough he had offered me a ticket in exchange for me to play his little game to win back his darling Cecily. And I had so idiotically agreed.

    Little did I know at the time what I had gotten myself into. I was very aware of my forever pent-up romantic feelings for James, and I should have known the heartache that came pre-packaged along with being his fake date, a mere tool in his plot to win back his ex-girlfriend. I still failed to fathom why she was so important to him anyway. The Jersey Shore-watching, cheerleading, bottle-blonde ditz that she was could hardly be Nolan’s ideal concept of attractive. He was one of the most intelligent, creative, and thoughtful people I have ever been so blessed to be acquainted with. Such brilliance and beauty should be paired with something equally wonderful and cultivated instead of being smeared with such an obnoxious, intolerable representation of shallow teenage “charm.”

    Anywhoo, it was plain to say that I was paining myself for that one, unforgettable night with James, even if it just meant a few badly-focused snapshots on the porch and one awkward slow dance as his thoughts wandered to Cecily and her steroid-pumping football date despite the fact that I would be the one wrapped up in his tuxedo-clad arms. Yet here I sat, completely aware of the disaster I had allowed myself to become entangled in, discussing James’s “Operation-Steal-Back-The-Ex.”

    “Well first off,” I said, pushing a limp lock of brown hair behind me ear as I leaned over James’s blueprints. “This operation needs a better name.”

    James gave me a penetrating glare as he said, “Ruthie, it is the plan that counts. Not the name. Besides, I think it sounds cool, anyway. Sort of like we’re undercover Russian spies fighting to keep an international secret under wraps.”

    “I would hardly call using your best friend to get back your ex a Russian spy mission.”

    James just glared at me again and returned to mapping out his plans, which were not exactly what I would call very “thought-out.” He had settled with the notion that having me as a date was simple enough to send Cecily into a rage of jealousy so severe that she would emotionally erupt like a volcano and soon enough come crawling back to James with every intention of clawing my eyes out. If you ask me, I would say that Cecily has moved far from on and would be too ditzy and drunk to see past the tip of her nose, not that she would be able to see anything assuming her eyes would be shut most of the night as she would presumably engage in sexual acts of ecstasy along with her footballer date and any other promiscuous male on the dance floor. But of course that’s just a theory.

    So we moved on to planning our outfits. James, of course, suggested I wear something incredibly unforgettable and breathtaking so that not only will he have the “most enviable girl at the prom” on his arm, winning all the jealousy of the male student body, but Cecily will begrudge the day that she broke up with James, only left to wonder how perfect she could have looked at prom with the perfect hair, perfect dress, and perfect date.

    But of course, I argued that that was much to shallow of an approach; something that I would expect the little tramp herself to try. James and I did, however, decide on a vintage-1940s theme with a red and ice blue color palate. There was a pair of totally fabulous baby blue heels (embellished with a large red heart on the toes) that I have been waiting to wear. I’ll pair them with a sweet, vintage-inspired red dress and James will don a classic black tux with a red shirt underneath with a pale blue bowtie and boutonnière. We will stand out among the satin-and-sequin skin-tight, floor-length dresses and traditionally boring black and white suits. James believes that there will be no way for Cecily to miss us on the dance floor. I believe that there is not a single, minute thought about prom that James can configure without it having any relation to Cecily.

    Then suddenly the tuxedo-shopping was over, the limousine service-hunting in the past, the dress-sewing finished, and the waiting was over. It was prom night.

    I was standing all nervous and anxious before the front door, wearing the strapless red dress that I had made myself out of a soft, almost like a thin denim material. It had little heart-shaped buttons all down the front and an ice blue ribbon around the waist. It poofed out and fell right above my knees and looked perfect with my long brown curls, falling over my shoulders. James had slipped a pretty blue flower corsage onto my wrist and I pinned his matching boutonnière to his coat pocket.

    A million overly-cheesy pop songs about perfection and love played in my head and the butterflies in my stomach fluttered along to the romantic melodies. I wanted to smack myself for feeling so silly. I cannot let myself slip into this endless, lovey-dovey chasm of romantic dreams and high hopes, setting myself up for heartbreak. I wasn’t that stupid.
    Oh but I was…

    A million photo flashes later, we were riding in a limo and soon enough we were walking into a grand hotel lobby greeted by a million compliments which we returned.

    “Oh you look so great!”
    “No, you do! Really!”
    “Your hair is amazing!”
    “I love your shoes!”
    “Thank you so much!”
    “You two are the perfect dates!”

    And so then I became lost in the swirling maze of compliments, horrible dance music, sparkly dresses, and the rest of the fluff and flair that went along with the prom experience. It was as if I was wearing rose-tinted glasses, living in a dream for the two short hours that I spent with James in the dining room and soon enough on the dance floor. For those two hours, Cecily did not exist. All that I knew was that James was standing before me and I was safe in his arms. We were swaying back and forth in perfect harmony and the world could have ended around us for all I knew. James’s arms were wrapped around me, his hands resting low on my back, mine around his neck. We were so close together in such happiness, I couldn’t have imagined anything I would want more than that moment. His eyes, locked on mine throughout the entire song, were staring back at me, so entranced and focused… I never looked away. It was beauty, it was perfection, it was magic, it was love.

    Then it happened so suddenly, I was nearly convinced it was a dream. James leaned in closer to me and before I could react, our eyes were closed and our lips were together. That very moment had surfaced time and time again in dream after dream. I had long awaited the moment that James and I collided and connected in such a way that after four years of friendship we had never before.

    Then the dream quickly became a nightmare. James had pulled away slowly and romantically, though his eyes were focused on something over my shoulder. He then spoke the words that I will never forgive.

    “Sorry. Cecily was right there and she was heading in our direction so I did the first thing that came to my mind. She doesn’t look too happy. Thanks for doing all this, Ruthie.”

    The emotions of happiness, joy, and romance that I had bubbling over with had morphed to anger, jealously, hatred, and pain. I had so stupidly led myself to believe that tonight was not about what it had been planned for. Somehow I had gotten the thought into my naïve mind that for just one night, I could be the girl that consumed James’s mind, heart, and soul. I had believed that for once I was in his arms, where I belonged. But I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    And so I ran. I tore myself away from the scene like a scared little child and left James behind on the dance floor, stranded in the middle of his plan to win back his girl. I ran right out of the ballroom and down the staircase, into the lobby and right out the doors into the outside eating area. The cold April air stung my skin, but I was so numb with my intoxicatingly painful emotions that I could not feel a thing. I could barely hear, my heart was pounding so loudly in my ears that it was practically a faint echo in the back of my mind when Zane Karnovich said, “Ruth? Are you all right?”

    Reality rushed back to me along with the biting cold, reminding me that this was life, not a dream or a nightmare.

    “Um…” I failed to gather the right words. What was I supposed to say? I’m so not all right, Zac. I just made a total fool out of myself after being kissed by the love of my life, and then getting thanked for helping him win his ex girlfriend back. And then I ran away like pathetic mouse being chased by the malicious cat that is my love life. Yeah, no.
    “Ruth?”

    I stared back at Zac and his two dates, Annie Valdez and Nikki Johnson. He was the mysterious type that didn’t believe in dating or revealing certain secrets about himself like the fact that he is a closet violinist (Though we all found out a few years ago thanks to his freshman sister). All sorts of girls were clawing other females’ eyes out to get a temporary place on Zac’s arm even though the kid didn’t believe in relationships. Thus he brought two wonderful, yet pathetically willing, girls to prom with him. He was a caring friend though. Like at times like these.
    “I’m… I’m fine.”

    For those of you that for some reason are unaware, When a girl says “I’m fine,” chances are, she’s not. Lucky for me, Zac already knew this.

    He turned to his dates and muttered, “Excuse me for a moment, ladies,” with this quiet drawl he had and faced me once again. He looked at me with eyes that told me he wasn’t going to accept “I’m fine,” and said, “No, you’re not.”

    And then I found myself spilling my guts to Zac Karnovich. I revealed that I have loved James since I could remember and that I agreed to assist him in his dirt deed tonight and how I ran away and what brought me to the spot that I stood, sharing these sad details with him. I told him what I had not told another soul because the only soul I could share such personal things with was the soul that did not love me in return.
    Zac listened intently, nodding occasionally, sometimes throwing in an, “Oh I see,” or a “Mhm…”
    I finished with, “And now I really don’t know what to do. I can’t face James now.”

    Zac replied with a curt nod and said, “Well, Ruth. If you really, truly are in love with James, then you should tell him. And if you ask me, now is the best time, if not the only time. You can’t just run away from life like this. So I want you to run back upstairs into the dance and tell him.” Zac gave me a sincere, encouraging smile and with a wink, he added, “You are far better than Cecily, anyway.”

    “Thank you, Zac.”

    And so I did. I ran right up into that ballroom to find James standing alone, leaning against a wall beside a group of seated couples. It was almost as if he was waiting for me to come back instead of secretly spying on Cecily from a distance.

    That was when time slowed down once again and James and I were the only two people left in existence. I inched my way across the dance floor in his direction, unsure of what I was about to say, but knowing I was about to say it anyway. The dancing bodies around me blurred together until they practically disappeared into the night and soon enough I was face to face with James. And then I said it.

    “James… I can’t lie anymore. I didn’t agree to come with you tonight to help you win back Cecily. I came with you tonight because I hoped that for once it would be just about us. And I don’t mean it like how it’s just about us when we’re hanging out watching movies and stuff. I mean just about us, together. Like… in love. I’m kind of in love with you, James. I have since I can remember. I hoped that once this Cecily thing was over, you’d suddenly feel the same way. I hoped that tonight, that when you kissed me, you loved me back.”

    James stared at me for a moment, wordless, shocked probably, and completely, utterly unable to formulate a response. I didn’t expect him to. But what I really didn’t expect was the answer I did receive.
    It was so ridiculously timely that it is still hard to believe to this day. But at that precise moment after I had spilled my most deep, dark, dear and personal secret, Cecily saunters up to James in her tight prom dress and overly-done sparkly makeup, flashing me an insincere, toothy grin and asked, “Can I speak to James for a moment? Thanks.”

    And with that, Cecily wrapped her claw-like fingers around my best friend’s arm and pulled him into the crowd. James didn’t say a single word of apology. He just looked back at me with eyes so unreadable that I was hardly able to believe it. That was the last I had seen of James Sherman. We were no longer best friends after that day. He couldn’t show his face to me after that, and I couldn’t bear to look at it.

    I was bribed into coming there that day and the only thing I got out of it was a broken heart.
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    IZZY

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    Re: Of Bribes & Broken Hearts

    Post by IZZY on Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:03 pm

    oh zoeee, I loved that:)

    it was tragically heartbreaking, thoo

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    Zoe

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    Re: Of Bribes & Broken Hearts

    Post by Zoe on Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:21 pm

    Thank you, Izzy!
    Ahhh I just had to write something sad for once. I need to make some corrections though. Haha I kept jumping back and forth between the name Zane and Zac and forgot to change them all! Hahaha.

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