After checking into the Coral Reef Inn, Jessie decided to grab lunch. The excited woman could not wait to explore all the local haunts she frequented when she was younger. After checking Google, the hungry lady decided on Pier 29 on Ballena Bay. She loved the little isle It was the perfect place to stretch her legs after her flight.
The young woman had flown out for her ten year class reunion. She could not wait to see her old high school friends. She knew Jenn and Trish would be there. Both still lived on the island. Jenn taught math at their rival high school. Jenn married her college sweetheart, Ryan, and the two lived in a painted lady on Santa Clara. Trish remained happily single and worked for a law firm in San Fransico. She lived in a little one-bedroom cottage behind her parent’s massive Victorian home on the east side.
Of course, Jessi could have stayed with her childhood friends, but Jenn and Ryan were renovating their home with two children, two-year-old Spencer and five-year-old Haley. She laughed and told Jenn, “I love you, but I think I will skip the chaos.”
“Wise move. Make sure you get a room with two queen-sized beds. I may just crash with you this week!” Jenn laughed.
Trish offered her the pullout couch, but Jess knew her friend’s place would be littered with law books and case notes as she often took her work home. Trish chuckled when Jess declined. “I know, just say it. I am still a mess.”
“But you’re a lovely mess, my dear friend.” Jess honestly told her friend.
The trio would meet later for drinks and catch up on all the latest news. In the meantime, Jess wanted to explore. After finishing her shrimp and veggie salad, Jess sipped on her Pinot Blanc. She sat on the patio facing the marina. She could smell the saltiness in the air. The seagulls cried as they flew towards the shoreline. In the distance, the San Francisco skyline loomed across the bay. The sea breeze caressed her bare arms, and it all reminded her of the boy she missed.
In high school, she spent many hours at this marina. She worked part-time for the boatyard for Jonathon’s dad. She answered phones, filed, and helped with the billing. Jonathon. She pictured the tall, lanky teen. He was a year older than her. His long wavy sun-streaked locks reached just below his shoulders. Since he worked at the boatyard with his dad, his tan remained year around. She wondered about his boyish face with the spattering of freckles. Did he still look the same? She still remembered his warm brown eyes with a touch of gold. When he smiled, his eyes smiled too. His face was an open book, and a person could easily discern Jonathon’s current mood with just one glance. She could still picture his emotions: his joy when his dad surprised him with his sailboat, his heartache when his mom died, and his sadness when he discovered she had been accepted into Columbia. Although he tried to cover up his emotions, she witnessed how his pride had changed to sorrow when he realized they would be living on separate coasts.
“It’s only four years. I will be back before you know it. I will come home for holidays and summer breaks,” Jess told her love on that day so long ago.
Jonathon tried to smile, but it did not reach his eyes this time. He pulled Jessi into his warm embrace and softly murmured, “I love you.”
Jessi sighed at the memory. It was the beginning of their ending. She tried to shake off the sudden gloom that overpowered her. Jonathon was in the past, and she needed to focus on her present, like her two best friends she would meet later that night.
That evening, the three women gathered at the Preacher’s Daughter on Park. They ordered three BLTs, and each ordered an adult beverage.
“I am excited about the reunion this weekend,” Jenn told her friends, “I wonder if Danny will be there,” she gushed.
“Jennifer Lynn Andrews! You’re a married woman. Do you still crush on Danny Myers?” Trish scolded.
“Oh, come on. You know Danny was fun to look at. We all had crushes on Danny,” Jenn laughed.
“True,” Trish sighed, and the three women giggled like teenage girls, just like when they were in high school.
The three women adored each other and looked forward to their weekend plans. Suddenly, Jenn sighed loudly, wishing she didn’t have to leave on Tuesday.
“What’s up, girlfriend?” Trish asked her friend. Both women looked so concerned Jenn laughed.
“Oh, I’m fine, “ Jess explained. “I just wish I could stay. I miss this, the three of us hanging out.”
“Well, the Bay Area reports the news too. Have you thought about checking out the newspapers here?” Jenn asked her old friend.
“Ya know, I have thought about it off and on over the years but always pushed it to the back burner because I have been so busy at The Seattle Times.”
“Jon still lives on the island and works with his dad at the boatyard. His dad made him a partner in the business.” Trish blurted out without thinking.
Jenn kicked Trish under the table and gave her a dirty look. Jessi’s heart skipped a beat at the mention of his name. She still missed him after all these years. And while she dated after they went their separate ways, no one quite measured up to her old flame.
Her friends witnessed the sadness that crossed her eyes. They knew she never quite got over him.
“Well, that’s definitely old news!” Jess protested. She lied and told her friends, “I closed that chapter years ago.”
Jenn and Trish glanced at each other. They knew their dear friend still missed her first love. And both women fretted over this bit of news.
To change the subject, Trish told Jess, “I have an idea! I will have my new intern search for jobs at local papers! She can scour ads for apartments too! Where do you want to live? Sausalito… San Francisco…”
Before Trish could finish, Jess and Jenn smiled at one another, and in unison, they proclaimed, “On the island!”
“Are we really doing this?” Jenn asked. “Am I moving home?”
“It’s time,” Trish remarked.
The three women spent the rest of the night planning on Jessi’s return and, of course, what they planned on wearing to the reunion the following evening. The night flew by too quickly, and before they knew it, Jenn and Trish dropped Jessi off at her motel.
The next evening, Jessi finished her makeup and slipped into the little black dress she had saved for special occasions. Yesterday, while shopping at Southshore, she found a pair of black high-heeled shoes with the brightest red soles. It was love at first sight, so she purchased the pumps. It would be a cute addition to her reunion ensemble and a fun reminder of her trip to her island home.
Jessi had just slipped on her shoes when Jenn called her. “Okay, Cinderella, your carriage awaits.”
Jessi laughed, “I’m leaving now.”
The lovely lady in the black dress stepped out of her room and spotted Jenn’s Pilot. She quickly walked to the car, excited about the evening’s adventures. Trish rolled down the passenger window and whistled. Jessi stopped, twirled, and then curtsied as her friends laughed. The trio was happy to be together once more. Jess climbed in the back seat while scooting over an assortment of books and toys. She smiled and wondered if she would ever have a family.
“Hey Jenn, I will be the designated driver tonight, so you can get your party on,” she told her friend.
“No drinking for me, at least not for the next nine months,” Jenn told her girls.
Trish and Jess started talking and laughing at once, excited about the news. “When did you find out,” Trish asked.
“Today,” Jenn replied. “I haven’t even told Ryan. We planned on stopping at two.” Jenn chuckled.
Jess didn’t know Ryan well and asked Jenn, “Will he be okay with the news?”
Laughing, Jenn replied, “Oh yeah. We have always enjoyed surprises. I am just waiting until we can have a moment of peace. Then, I want to plan a night out and celebrate our happy new addition. So, ladies, you have a chauffeur for the weekend.”
Jess and Trish started planning Jenn’s baby shower on the drive to the O Club. Jenn asked Jessi, “Does that mean you really plan on moving home?”
“Absolutely! I miss my girls, and I need my little family. So Trish, you better have your intern start looking for jobs and apartments on Monday.”
“Wahoo! I’m on it,” Trish excitedly replied.
Once the ladies entered the club, the three were greeted by old pals, and they quickly joined a table with some of their favorite classmates. Quickly, the trio ordered drinks, Trish ordered a craft beer, Jess ordered a glass of Zinfindel, and Jenn ordered her favorite soda, a Dr. Pepper Zero. A DJ had set up in a corner and played dance music. People were laughing and talking, and couples were beginning to dance.
The three of them decided to dance too when one of their favorite high school songs began to play. A slow dance began to play when the song ended, and the girls took their seats. Then, suddenly, the music stopped. It was interrupted by a new song, “Just a Kiss,” by Lady A, and Jessi’s heart lurched. It was their song, Jonathan and Jessi’s song. Trish and Jenn sat across from Jessi and began smiling when suddenly, a familiar voice asked, “May I have this dance.”
Trish laughed and blurted, “Well, look who crashed the party. Aren’t you attending the wrong reunion?”
Trish’s distraction gave Jenn a moment to compose herself. She immediately recognized Jonathon’s voice when he asked her to dance. Turning around, she took his offered hand, and the two made their way to the dance floor. The couple slowly danced in silence, afraid to break the spell of being in each other’s arms once again. When the song ended, Jonathan asked Jessi, “Can we talk.”
Jessi nodded her answer. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to a corner table.
“I was an idiot,” Jonathon began. “I should have never pushed you away. After my mom died, I thought I was losing you too. I didn’t want to drag out the waiting like we had to with mom. She deserved better; the pain was awful. I felt like I should end it quickly, for both of us. But I was wrong, Jess. I haven’t stopped thinking about you since you graduated from high school. I tried dating others, but they weren’t you. So when I heard about your high school reunion, I contacted the committee and asked if I could crash. Jessi, I want you back. Please forgive me. I will never push you away again.”
Jonathon gazed into Jessi’s eyes, silently pleading. Jessie took a deep breath before she asked, “Promise?”
“Promise!” Jonathan shouted. He jumped from his chair and scooped her up in his arms. “I promise I will hold onto you forever.”
Writing prompt: Write a short story that ends with a promise.
Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash