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Authors: Tracy Krimmer

The Right Equation

BOOK: The Right Equation
11.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Title Page








Thank You!







A Short Story

By Tracy Krimmer

Copyright 2014, Tracy Krimmer

All rights reserved.


Cover and book design by Tracy Krimmer.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblances to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.









Not one thing changed in the high school after fifteen years. Polk High's linoleum floors still scared me, the lockers taunted me, and the gym terrified me most. When the event invite popped up on my Facebook page, I initially ignored the notification. I wanted to click "No," refusing to attend my reunion, but my thoughts wandered to the few friends I lost touch with, those I didn't find online, and wanted to reconnect with. I contemplated the decision for an entire week before I clicked the big "Yes" button, overlooking the fact not only was it my fifteen year reunion with my class but a costume party. Coming up with a clever outfit always stopped me from attending costume parties, and now if I wanted to see anyone, I needed to force myself to come up with one, which I somehow managed to do with two days to spare.

I entered the gym in my costume, self-conscious as though I stood in only my bra and underwear. The committee did a wonderful job decorating the gym. Streamers fanned out from the center of the ceiling to every side of the room, a mixture of reds, yellows and oranges, gentle twinkling lights accenting each line. Round tables with white linen tablecloths rested underneath the lights, carved pumpkins as centerpieces. Throughout the gym, fake headstones with lame names like Al B. Dead and Ben ScaryMore sat alongside statues of zombies and witches. The reunion committee went all out with a fog machine rolling the white cloud across the dance floor and tables.

A quick scan of the room registered a few familiar faces - most I cared to forget. Tim Westfall, star quarterback, managed to squeeze his beer gut into his old uniform, ripping up the arms, and drawing cuts on his face. I ran my fingers through my hair as I recalled the numerous times on the bus he spit at me. Kristen Garrett pretended to be my friend for a week, before spilling some of my biggest secrets to all her friends. It didn't surprise me she came dressed in a tight black number with a tail. She stood next to Tim, flicking her head back in laughter at something he said, which I doubt was even funny. Disappointed I didn't recognize anyone I cared to catch up with, I found my name tag at the unmanned check-in desk and decided on a seat in the back.

The last reunion I attended, my ten-year, could be described as uncomfortable at best. I arrived, anxious to run into one person in particular, Will Odenberg, my study partner senior year. Nothing happened between us, as much as I wanted it to. We sat together in the library every day the entire year while I tutored him in Algebra and he helped me with science. After a long year of hitting the books, I managed a B in my course and I guided him to an A. Besides tutoring, we only exchanged a few words all four years of high school. I waited for Will to show up. He never did, and I never found out why because no one bothered to talk to me. Not a soul.

Even if Will didn't attend this soirée, I promised myself not to leave without talking to someone, as long as said person didn't tease me in high school for my love of numbers and my braces, though confronting those bullies
cross my mind. I made a decent salary because of those numbers, and my once crooked teeth were now straight and close to perfect as I could hope.

The music choices by the DJ in the opposite corner sucked, in my opinion. The speakers blared songs such as
Monster Mash
and the
Addams Family
theme song, or instrumental heavy metal. I didn't even realize that type of music existed. Still, I managed to find myself tapping my fingers and feet to the beat.

After two lame songs played, a familiar face who didn't torment me through my high school years caught my attention.

"Tammy!" I waved to my old home economics classmate as I approached her at the now occupied registration table. I couldn't forget the straight black hair of Jenny Wildes or huge brown eyes of Stacia Cheeler. I hated most of the popular clique Jenny and Stacia belonged to, but a few I remembered as decent people, those being two of them. Jenny stood out in her Elvira costume, right down to the cleavage spilling from her dress. Stacia's amber, braided hair fell over her shoulders, a successful Pocahontas. I offered only a smile, though, as I approached Tammy in her witch outfit.

Right away I noticed the name tag. "Tammy Reynolds? As in Matthew Reynolds?" All through high school, Tammy dated one boy exclusively, and it wasn't Matt. Eric Dixon and Tammy met their first day as freshman, and dated ever since. Upon graduation, when we parted ways, they were still dating. I didn't recall her ever exchanging two words with Matt in high school.

She pressed the tag against her black top. "Yep. We've been married nine years and have three beautiful daughters. I'm sorry...I can't place you."

Cue the embarrassment train because I was conductor. Tammy and I weren't best friends, but we weren't strangers either. Sure, we last saw each other fifteen years ago, but besides my now short hair and long-gone braces, I looked pretty much the same. "Penny Radcliffe. Home Ec?"

Tammy tipped her hat. "Penny? I didn't recognize you. I'm sorry. It's your costume. Who are you supposed to be?"

I forgot my costume made me a little hard to place, uncertain if it was intentional. I spray painted my hair a mix of white and gray, styling it so it almost stuck straight up, and fixed a bushy mustache above my lip. "I'm-"

"Albert Einstein," a male voice I'd remember anywhere said behind me.

I whipped around to see a dapper Will dressed in a smooth suit smiling at me.

"Will! You made it!" I went in for the hug, wrapping my arms around him, lifting up my toes so my head rested next to his as we embraced. His dark hair didn't show any shades of gray yet, and, most importantly, his eyes grabbed me like they did in high school. Will didn't have normal, run-of-the-mill eyes. No way. His eyes brought any woman to her knees. The color wasn't quite hazel, maybe more like a honey, and their transparency made them most beautiful. The light tone of the iris attracted me, and his smile lit me up inside. His black hair complimented his cream suit jacket, a sky blue tie around his neck. Obscuring the top of his hair, which I hoped still had a bounce to it, was a newsboy cap, completing his outfit. "You're Gatsby, aren't you?" I asked as I pulled away.

"The one and only, my lady," he pretended to work the charm as the character he portrayed. "You went for Albie, huh? Love the mustache."

I touched above my lip, making sure it stayed put. "Pretty sexy, don't you think?"

Will took a step back to survey the costume in its entirety. "Despite your lack of academia in any science field, I find the choice bold."

"Bold? I'm a math whiz, remember? Fits me perfectly in that respect. I thought you might comment about how I'm dressed as a man?" Not even sure why I put the thought into his head. I didn't want Will picturing a man when he looked at me.

"Never. You're too pretty to be a man." He tipped his hat to me, and my body temperature rose.

"Okay, Albert & Jay, break it up now. We've got a party to get to." I forgot Tammy even stood next to us.

"We'll meet you at table seven," I told Tammy. After she walked away, I found Will's name tag and handed it to him. "Are you waiting for anyone else?" I didn't notice a ring as he took the paper from me.

"Only some of my old crew. I'm stagging it tonight." His old crew meant Brian Jones and Marshall Yarbrough. Did going stag mean he had a wife, or a girlfriend, and was on his own for the night? I needed more detail than that. "How about you?"

"Me?" Duh. Of course he meant me. "I wasn't even planning on coming tonight. I went to the ten-year reunion and it bored me to tears."

"Why did you come, then?"

A smile spread across his face, and in my mind I said "You" while background music played "Hum-a-na, Hum-a-na," but instead I said something that couldn't have made me sound any lamer than I already was. "I didn't have anything other plans." Way to make myself still sound like the loser I was in high school. "Do you want to come sit with me and Tammy?"

He peeked behind me. "I see a few people I want to say hello to first. Catch up in a bit?"

I watched as Will walked away, kicking myself for such a high school reaction. Being back in this school was like nothing had changed.









Twenty minutes later, I sat at table seven with Tammy, Matt, and someone I didn't recognize, even with the name tag. Many of my high school years I spent thinking I was invisible, and never stopped to think maybe I missed noticing a few people, too. I said hello and played my senility off, but the woman, with the name tag Krissy Willis, offered no conversation, and didn't try too hard at her princess outfit, in only a long gown and tiara.

"So, Matt, what are you doing now? Tammy said you have three daughters."

Matt wore a dark brown pair of sweatpants, a matching sweatshirt, with a hat with yellow strings hanging out of small cut out holes. "We do. Gladys, Vivienne, and Antoinette. They're five, three, and one, and a handful." He swiped through a few pictures on his phone. All three girls boasted blond hair, all long, except for Antoinette who's hair stood stick straight. "I'm a stay at home dad."

Wow. I knew plenty of stay at home moms, and did taxes for a lot of those moms who sold things like
Mary Kay
to supplement income, but never met a man who stayed home with the kids. I secretly wondered if he'd whip out a
business card, or better yet,
Pure Romance
. I imagined him with his surfer boy hair and broad body pulling out a dildo for housewives.

"What?" Matt said as I let out a snicker.

"Nothing. I think it's awesome. So, what is your costume, anyway?" I figured he couldn't be a turd, though he could pass for one with all the brown covering his body.

"A broom. Take it as Tammy's ride, or part of my stay-at-home accessories."

A little too much information, if you asked me. I'd rather think of Matt sweeping up the kitchen than Tammy riding him. Shiver. "How about you, Tammy?"

She hooked a chip with salsa. "Lawyer. Divorce. I actually handled Will's divorce."

"Oh?" There it was. At least there wasn't a wife. This still didn't mean a girlfriend didn't exist. Or a boyfriend? Nah. Could Tammy give me any information on it? Did a lawyer - client privilege exist for divorces? More than likely. Why the divorce? Did he leave her? Did one of them cheat? Gambling problem? Did Will sleep naked with only socks on and his ex couldn't handle it? Okay, my mind went off in a different direction than it should have. "How long since he got divorced?"

"Who, me? Four years." Will sneaked up behind me, and I pressed my hand to my chest as I jumped. "She got the house, I got the dog." He sat and straightened his tie. "Anything else I can answer for you?"

If his response was serious, yes, quite a few questions. I couldn't read his face, and he might have been telling me to screw off and stay out of his business. I stumbled to find the words, panicking I blew any chance to connect romantically with him. Thankful for the first time to the jocks who approached our table, I relaxed.

"Hey! Will! What's up, man? You didn't come last time. We had a blast!" The name tag on Zombie boy read Keith Barringer, and once I forced myself to remove the pale white makeup from his face, I could see it was, in fact, Keith. My heart leaped into my throat as I recalled our few interactions, all consisting of him referring to my braces and making sexual innuendos. No one made me feel more uncomfortable over the years than him.

Two other guys Will conversed with on a pretty regular basis in high school joined him. How many of these people did he still talk to? Did a lot of these past friendships withstand the test of time? My only real friend from high school was Melissa Hansen, and she stopped calling me after she got married on a whim in Vegas and gave birth to a baby girl only ten months after. I hoped I wouldn't run into her because, even though I considered her my best friend at the time, our lives split apart from each other, and we held no common interests.

"Sorry guys," Will answered as the men performed some sort of ritual handshake. "I had a few things going on around the last reunion and wasn't up to coming. I'm here now, though! Let's go grab a beer." He tapped my shoulder and promised to catch up with me later.

BOOK: The Right Equation
11.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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