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School Reunion 1 - David and Suzanne
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Author:

Genre:

Cert:
Ken Orford

Modern Fiction

PG

This is the first story about  events surrounding and people involved in a  school reunion. Individuals, incidents and events wil crop up in each of the stories.

Suzanne looked again at the open overnight bag on the bed. She had mixed feelings about the event tomorrow, but David was obviously looking forward to it. After all, he’d talked of hardly anything else since the e-mail arrived a month ago and nothing else at all for the last week. His bag was already packed, zipped up and ready to go, sitting quietly minding it’s own business by the front door.

What to wear during the day tomorrow and for the return journey the next day wasn’t a problem. What the hell should she wear at the “event”? The invite had said “Smart Casual”, whatever that means. It’s okay for blokes, they just stick on trousers and a shirt and they’re sorted, but for women … oh God. If you dress too smartly, too posh, people will think you are trying to show you’re superior. On the other hand, too “casual” and people will think you’re a scruffy oik. A year ago she would have had no second thoughts about it. Her confidence was high and she would have been relaxed in a long black evening gown or in a sack tied with string. Where had that confidence gone? In the end, she decided to delay the decision and squeeze three options into the bag.

Alarm set, door locked and car loaded she climbed in the passenger seat of David’s pride and joy, his Audi S4. David was two years her senior, so he would have left primary school twenty-two years ago, but like all men he was still a little boy at heart. The toys were just bigger and more expensive. It was only three months since David had traded in the old style A4 for the new, sporty and exciting S4. She looked across at David as he concentrated on driving through the Friday evening traffic, and wondered why she had the feeling that given half the chance he’d also trade her in for something more exciting.

That was one of the reasons she was dreading the weekend. In his gabblings over the previous week David had mentioned several old “girlfriends” as well as boys he remembered. Of course, anyone from Primary School couldn’t be called a real old girlfriend, but … Suzanne had read all the stories about broken marriages and shattered relationships from when Friends Reunited came on the scene. She realised that if David felt as unsure of their relationship as she did at the moment, then some girl that used to have buck teeth and a flat chest, but now had an hour glass figure and shining blue “come to bed” eyes, might just be the catalyst he needed.

She was quiet, thoughts bouncing around her head, all the way to David’s mother’s house where they’d stay until Sunday, but she was quite sure that David never noticed. He was his usual talkative self, and seemed to ignore the fact that her responses were all monosyllabic. It was late when they arrived, and David’s mother, Diane, greeted them, gave her a lukewarm hug and said it was past her bedtime but there were some sandwiches for them. They snacked and then went to their bedroom. David pulled her gently towards him, smiled down at her, brushed a lock of her shoulder length, natural blonde hair that had the gall to cover her face, and asked her why she’d been so quiet. She just shrugged too busy enjoying his arms around her, the taste of his lips and the welcoming stubble of his cheek. Even the familiar smell of his deodorant reassured her.

His smile melted her, as it had done since they’d first met. She desperately wanted him. She wanted him to make slow, tender love to her. To reassure her by his actions that he didn’t want to trade her in for a more exciting model. The kiss was every kiss they’d ever shared – comforting, familiar, warm, tender. Nice.

“NICE! Oh my God!” she thought. “Kisses shouldn’t be nice. They should set your heart pounding. They should leave you short of breath. They should be anything but comfortable. Hmm, time to change …”

She unravelled herself from his arms, and putting on her best mischievous smirk, she suggested he go to the bathroom while she unpacked and hung up their stuff.

“And I’ll see what interesting bedtime clothes I packed …”

With that she hung up the three outfits she’d brought – still no nearer to a decision, and when he came out of the bathroom she went in to get ready to inject some excitement. She probably spent a little bit longer in there than she needed, but in the end, looking at herself in the mirror, she knew the extra few minutes had been worth it. She looked hot! The bedroom light was off, just leaving a bedside lamp on, and the first thing that struck her was the slow, steady breathing of someone in a deep sleep. 

In getting into bed she made as much racket as she could. She bounced on the bed as she sat down, but all to no avail. David might as well have been drugged. He was completely out of it.

“So much for excitement! God I must be really rubbish in the sack if he can’t even stay awake for ten minutes for me!” she muttered to herself. Her confidence was draining away. Disappointment, mingled in with her growing fears about the way their relationship was heading, meant she lay awake for some time before her breathing matched David’s and she drifted off to sleep.

The sun was shining through the curtains when she woke. Realising where she was, she reached over to David for her morning cuddle, and hopefully a little more. But his half of the bed was empty. As Suzanne lay there she could hear voices – David and his mum were obviously chatting over coffee in the kitchen. She got up, but on her dressing gown and went to join them.

David was in an animated discussion with his mum about some family thing, and maybe that was the reason she got a minimal response to her “Morning, sleepy boy!” accompanied by a hug and a kiss. As she poured herself coffee, she couldn’t believe it as Diane changed the conversation to the School Reunion tonight. As if it wasn’t bad enough that David had talked of little else for the past few weeks. Suzanne didn’t pay much attention as they talked about various people who were going. Then something Diane said stopped her in her tracks:

“I bumped into that nice Jenny Hartley the other day. The one you used to call your girlfriend. She asked if you were coming and I said ‘Of course you were’. She said that almost everyone would be there and they’d arranged for the disco to play lots of 80’s music.”

Suzanne cut in before David could reply:

“Sorry! What did you just say?”

“I said that Jenny mentioned just about everyone was going.”

“No, about the disco.”

“Oh yes, they’ll be playing lots of music from when David was at school.”

Suzanne looked at David. David looked back at her, obviously trying to work out what the issue was, and when it was clear to her that he had no idea, she continued:

“I thought it was a smart casual buffet and drinks do.”

“Yes, it WAS”, said David,” but they e-mailed everyone this week saying that because they’d had lots of people wanting a disco, they’d changed it.”

“And you didn’t think it worth mentioning that to me?”

And as David opened his mouth to reply, Suzanne gave him no chance and ploughed on:

“So that perhaps I could have put some suitable clothes and shoes in?”

“Well I…”

“Don’t worry!” Suzanne was in full flow now, ”I was wondering what we’d do today. Now I know, I’m going shopping!” The “I’m” made it quite clear that she would not be requiring David’s company on the trip.

“I’m sorry, just slipped my mind I guess.”

“What I find astonishing is that you’ve talked about nothing else all week, and forget to mention to me the most important thing about it! No, it’s been all Stuey, and Stinky Ian, and Jenny and Rachel and God knows who else.”

Then the truth of the situation dawned on her. She wasn’t really mad at him over his forgetfulness; she was used to that by now. No, it was just the whole Reunion obsession capped by his falling asleep last night when she wanted fire and passion. She rather sheepishly apologised, kissed him on the cheek, called him a forgetful idiot, and smiled:

“Well, I needed an excuse to buy some new glad rags and shoes.” And breakfast continued on a slightly strained but more even keel.

Suzanne got showered, dressed and agreed to meet David at lunchtime in town. She was still miffed that David hadn’t mentioned the change, but more concerned that it was just completely thoughtless. As she strolled round the shops looking at what to wear, it was dawning on her that in some ways this weekend was a kind of “make or break” for them. She really liked David, and had enjoyed most of the eighteen months they’d been together. Since they’d moved in together over a year ago, they seemed to be moving steadily and agreeably towards a more permanent, long term relationship.

But just recently the cracks had started to appear as they moved from the new and exciting to the more routine. As she flicked through the clothes racks – trying to decide on a dress or skirt and top, she was immersed in her thoughts:

“Is it the same for everyone? That all relationships lose their gloss, sparkle and excitement? That they change and become more routine and ‘comfortable.’”

If that were the case, then she could see why people, men and women, had affairs. It wasn’t because they loved their partners less, just for the adrenalin, and the tight feeling in your chest of something different and exciting.

“Is that really true? Oh God, how depressing. Maybe it was just her, and most people slipped into the subtle change of the relationship, into the ‘comfort’ zone quite happily.”

The worrying thing was that she didn’t know what was wrong, just that it all didn’t feel quite right. But she felt determined to try her hardest to make it work; to keep their relationship alive and vibrant. .She forced the thoughts of her and David out of her mind, and concentrated on the task in hand. The outfit she picked had to be good. She wanted to make an impression with David’s old friends, to be accepted by them, so that she became part of the circle and not an outsider. So that she, Suzie, became one of them, and not “David’s partner, whatsername?” She knew she was going to have to try really hard, but not be too pushy, so the outfit was crucial.

As she walked from one shop to the next she noticed a hair and beauty salon, and on the spur of the moment, she went in. They’d had a cancellation for the afternoon, and so she booked the slot.

Clothes-wise, she finally decided on a little black dress – well you can’t really go wrong can you? This was shorter and lower than either of the two in the wardrobe back at the flat (well, a girl can’t have too many LBD’s, can she?), so if that didn’t stop David’s eyes from straying then nothing will. She bought some shoes with a heel an inch higher than the highest she had. They looked brilliant, but she knew she’d pay for it in the morning! She was already starting to feel like the new, exciting model her head had convinced her that David craved.

She met David and they had a great lunch together. Great because David didn’t mention the reunion at all. They talked about the things that two people familiar and at ease in each other’s company talk about. Halfway through, smiling, laughing together and with David stroking her hand, she was beginning think her worries were all in her head. David wanted to see her shopping, but she just smiled:

“Nope, your penalty for being an inconsiderate boyfriend and forgetting to tell me is that you’ll have to wait. But I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.”

And with that she winked and licked her lips, making David all the more curious and asking questions like “is it short?” – she knew David loved her legs. In the end, he realised he wouldn’t get anything out of her and asked what they were doing this afternoon. Suzanne looked at him and smiled:

“Well I don’t know what you’re doing but I’m not finished yet. In fact, I’d better get going!”

And with that, she gave him a peck on the cheek, thanked him for a brilliant lunch, and said she see him about five.

“Christ! How much more shopping can a woman do?”

With a huge grin, she feigned an incredulous look.

“That’s a question you should never ask a woman. And besides, who said anything about shopping…”

She disappeared out of the bar, leaving David puzzled, and admiring her legs … and other notable attributes as she walked confidently through the door. David got himself a coffee and sat and thought about Suzie. She was everything he’d ever wanted in a woman. She was clever, funny, looks that could have got her a modelling contract if she’d ever had the inclination, and she was sexy as hell. But… was there a but? Nothing he could think of, so why wasn’t he rushing to ask her to marry him? Doubts, about what he wasn’t sure, and something else. A fear. A fear that there might be something better. But right now, he couldn’t think of anything better.

“Hi, I’m Rachel, the senior stylist. What did you have in mind?”

Suzanne looked at her. Rachel was about her age, attractive enough, with immaculately layered and tastefully highlighted shoulder length dark brown hair. Unlike Suzanne’s wavy blonde hair, Rachel’s was dead straight. But it definitely suited her.

“You know the blonde one in Girls Aloud?”

“You mean Sarah? Wow, you mean you want to do what she did?”

“Yep, I want a new me. And I think that haircut is spectacular – so let’s do it!”

A short while later Rachel was snipping away with a growing pile of blonde hair around her, and amidst the usual chat about holidays, jobs and life in general, she asked Suzanne if the haircut was for anything special?

“Just to surprise my boyfriend really. I think he’s looking for a new model, so I thought I’d change my looks to save him the trouble of looking. What about you? Married?”

“My divorce is just about to come through.”

“Sorry to hear that.” There was genuine sympathy in Suzanne’s voice.

“Don’t be. He was a dick head and we were just too young. I’ve got a five year old, so it makes getting out difficult, but I’m going out with some old friends tonight, and I’ve got high hopes. Yeah, there’s a guy I used to know. Not seen him for years … so you never know.”

“Well, good luck. I think your hair is gorgeous, and you really wouldn’t know you’re a mum. I don’t see how you can fail. I hope it goes well.”

They chatted on until Rachel announced that was it! Finished. Suzanne almost didn’t recognise herself in the mirror. It had been fifteen years almost, back when she was competing at gymnastics, that her hair was last this short.

“Well Rachel, what do you think? Honestly.”

“Honestly? Forget a tip, I think I’m so proud of how good it looks I’d do it for free if the salon were mine. I love it, and your boyfriend will too.”

“For that, you’ll definitely get a tip.”

She paid up, thanked Rachel again, and set off to face the moment of truth with David. His mum answered the door and, not recognising her straight away, started to ask what she wanted. Then the jaw dropped, and she uttered a non committal:

“Goodness, that’s a change!”

Pleased with the effect, if not the comment, Suzie headed for the living room, where she could hear the drone of the football results. David said “Hi” without looking up as she plonked herself down in the chair across from him.

“How was shopping mark two?” he queried still studying at the Championship results, then he looked up. Double take.

“Christ almighty!”

Suzie just smiled a questioning smile.

“That looks bloody fantastic! My God, it’s like I’ve got a new girlfriend!”

“Yeessss” was all that Suzie could think. She wanted to punch the air. Success.

“Well, how about a hug and a first kiss for you new girlfriend then?”

David said something about knowing what he’d rather do, but his mum might interrupt them.

“What time are we leaving?”

“About half seven,” David still hadn’t taken his eyes off her hair, and kept touching it.

“Easy tiger. You wouldn’t do that if you knew how much it cost. Right, that’s two hours – I’m off to get ready.”

David was about to protest that two hours was ages even for her, but in the end just shook his head and smiled. In the event, she was ready at seven thirty-five and David had been lying on the bed for ten minutes watching her put the finishing touches to her make-up.

“Right, I think that’ll do,” she announced.

“It’ll more than do, you look absolutely gorgeous.”

She came close to him and whispered he looked pretty good too, and he suggested – only half in jest – that maybe they skip the reunion.

“If you think I’ve just spent two hours making sure I look this good, so you don’t run off with any of your old girlfriends, only to have you rip off my clothes and mess my hair in a torrid hour of sex, then … hey, sounds good to me.”

He kissed her softly, smiled and said:

“Come on new girlfriend, let’s go boogie!”

There was already a decent crowd when they arrived. The thing that struck Suzie immediately was the variety of shapes and sizes of men and women. It was hard to believe that all these people were roughly the same age. Some still looked in their early twenties, whilst a couple looked almost old enough to be her parents.

“Well”, came a sultry voice from near the door. Suzie and David turned to see a leggy blonde with an hourglass figure just about covered by a green dress.

“I don’t need to ask who you are. Hello Dave.” She put her arm round his neck and kissed him. Lingering a bit too long for Suzie’s taste, and thus reawakening her fears about the evening. David looked suitably taken aback.

“You don’t know who I am, do you? It’s Louise. Louise Rawlings”

David’s jaw dropped open, Suzie could see he was picturing Louise as she was. Louise just smiled, and with a “we’ll grab a dance later”, she was gone into the crowd. David turned to Suzie:

“You wouldn’t believe it but she had buck teeth and a flat chest.”

“Err, well she was only eleven, remember,” said Suzie shaking her head and taking his hand. It was going to be a trying night.

David quickly found his old best mates Stuey and Pete, and they were all swapping stories about what had happened to each other since they left school. David’s dad had sent him off to private school at thirteen, so they had lost touch eventually as their circles of friends changed. Having given them both the once over, Stuey was pretty cute really, Suzie was half listening and half looking around at the “competition” when someone caught her eye.

The girl, well woman really, had her back to Suzie but the brown, highlighted hair was unmistakable. She let go of David’s hand and walked over.

“Hello Rachel,” she smirked.

The hairdresser turned with a mixed look of surprise and delight.

“Christ! What are you doing here? You weren’t in my class.” A pause, then:

“You look absolutely sensational. I love that dress, it’s gorgeous. Where did you get it?”

“No I wasn’t in your class, but my boyfriend was.”

“Oh, who’s your boyfriend? … no, let me guess.” And she started to scan the room. Suzie joined in:

“Okay, and I’ll try and guess which old flame you’ve got your eye on…”

Having looked around there seemed to be quite a few couples. A few single women in a group over there. One of them must have been the sister of the woman next her. They were almost identical, and pretty good looking. A group of guys near them, probably other halves; nobody likely looking there. She looked at the bar. There was one guy by himself there. He has quite burly, and already looked the worse for wear. No, Rachel would have better taste than that. After due consideration, Suzie decided it was Stuey, and was just about to say so when Rachel announced:

“Stu, he’s pretty good looking. Yeah, Stuart Kemp is your boyfriend!”

“I was going to say it was Stu you were after.”

“Oh no, I ….” And Rachel let it tail off, then she started to giggle. “Don’t tell me! You’re with Dave.”

Suzie looked sheepish and mouthed a “sorry”. Rachel just laughed:

“Well you’ve got something in common. You’ve both got great taste! I just want a nice bloke, who loves kids, and will bring a bit of romance into my life. And it would help if he was the opposite of my ex husband – you know, not a drunk and great in bed!”

“If I find one I’ll let you know.”

They talked for a few minutes and David came bouncing over.

“Rache! God you look great!”

He gave her a huge hug and she said a smothered “Hello Dave, do you like you new girlfriend’s hair?”

David let her go with a puzzled look:

“Yeah, I think it’s absolutely sensational… why?”

Rachel, or Rache as everyone seemed to call her, took a bow.

“You cut it?” David raised his eyebrows, and Rachel just smiled.

“In that case, you deserve an extra hug!”

They’d been talking for a few minutes when another woman joined them, Jenny Hartley that David’s mum had mentioned. “Very pretty but slightly overweight”, was Suzie’s thought, and instantly she felt guilty at being catty.

David dragged her off to go and meet a man in his late forties – Mr Wright. The year 6 teacher. As they walked over David mentioned that twenty years ago this was his second post, and all the girls had crushes on him. He could play the guitar, and was funny as well as being a great teacher. He even kept giving music lessons to some of them after they’d gone to secondary school.

Suzie expected someone much more outgoing from the description. But all the time they talked he seemed distracted. Kept glancing round and looked very nervous. Suzie watched him while David talked and she realised he kept glancing at the group she’d noticed earlier, whilst trying to spot Rachel’s long lost love.

She met more people whose names she knew she’d not remember. David was with her most of the time, and Suzie was pleased that he was the one holding on to her and not vice versa. But every so often, and it seemed increasingly frequently, he was getting dragged off to “come and meet so and so.” So more and more she was starting to be left to her own devices. But whereas twenty four hours ago she would have been increasingly worried about it, she was actually feeling quite close to David, and increasingly confident in herself.

She wandered over to the buffet and found herself standing next to a real hunk. If David hadn’t been on the scene this guy would have been in trouble. She waited for him to break the ice, and when he remained silent she decided that maybe she wasn’t as attractive as David thought she was – or maybe the guy was gay. Anyway, she took the plunge and started a conversation with a comment about curried chicken not being ideal for a disco if you had plans to get “up close and personal”. He just laughed and uttered an “I should be so lucky”.

She asked him why he wasn’t mixing in with his old school mates.

“Probably the same reason you’re not. I’m not one of them – I’m with one of them.”

“Oh, boyfriend? Husband? Which girl?”

“To be honest, I only met her last weekend, and I think she only invited me because she didn’t want to be seen without a bloke in tow. That’s her, Louise, in the green dress. I’m Andy, by the way.”

Suzie introduced herself, and said she thought that Louise was really hot, and that Andy was a lucky guy. Then she asked him how they’d met.

“Blind date. I split from my girlfriend a few weeks back, we’d been going out for five years. I asked her to marry me so we could have kids and ... poof … she left in a cloud of dust. Anyway, Adam my mate and his girlfriend got me to go out to make up a foursome with Louise. She wants a good time, and I want … well, someone a bit steadier. Know what I mean? Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from boring, but I’ve just kinda grown out of getting trolleyed every weekend.”

Suzie listened and interjected with questions, and jokes about ex’s. She got to like Andy, and he was right. He wasn’t boring, he was witty, and funny. And he was definitely cute. But he was also still very bruised from his recent break up. She looked at him:

“Wait here. Don’t move. Okay?” She handed him her plate of frankly unappetising finger food and headed off to the other side of the room. The person she was looking for was with a group of people that included the two sisters. Up close, she realised the younger one must still be a teenager. But God, were they alike? She grabbed Rachel, winked and said:

“Follow me. I told you I’d let you know if I found one.”

Suzie dragged Rachel over to where a confused looking Andy was standing with two plates.

“Rachel, Andy. Andy, Rachel. I’ll take this now.” So saying, Suzie grabbed her plate and left them both looking embarrassed and lost for words.

She hunted round and found David back with Stu, Ian, Jenny, Louise several others whose names she had, as expected, forgotten.

“Come on you, how about a first dance with your new woman?”

They jiggled about to “Somewhere in my heart”, sang along with “Don’t you want me” and held each other close to “Vienna”. Suzie rested her head against David’s chest and looked across the dance floor. Just then there was a crash as a chair went flying and a heated exchange by the door. Everyone’s heads swing round to see the large, overweight guy who Suzie had seen drinking at the bar heading out and another guy staring after him.

“What was that all about?”

“That was Dave, the other Dave in the class. Arsehole. I always kept out of his way. He was a bully. Looks like he was up to his old tricks, I think that’s Harry, who he used to pick on.”

Harry had picked up the chair that had fallen, and people turned back and got on with enjoying themselves. The incident made David ponder the evening. Meeting his old mates had made him realise something. Something he’d somehow lost sight of … quite simply that his best friend was in his arms. 

Suzie was smiling. She’d noticed that Rachel and Andy had joined them on the floor, and she was laughing and he was smiling. Suzie chuckled inwardly:

“I hope for her sake he didn’t eat the curried chicken or the onion rings.”

David ran his fingers through her hair, it sent shivers down her spine. Of course, that could have been the backless dress.

“I love this hair. And I love this new girlfriend. Do you think she’ll marry me?”

Suzie stopped and looked into his eyes. Twenty-four hours ago it would have been a swift “yes”.

“Ask me again in three months. If you don’t want to trade me in for new model then I’ll say ‘Yes’”.

She wanted to leave and take David home to bed, but they decided to stay a while longer. They swapped partners with Rachel and Andy, and he soon had Suzie giggling at some silly story. Louise was dancing with Stu, and didn’t seem to notice that Andy was enjoying himself without her. After a few more dances, she and David said their goodbyes. Rachel gave her a hug, whispered “thanks” and said next time, the haircut would be free! Then chatting away, arm in arm, they headed out of the building. As they walked past the door to the ladies, they could hear crying. Sobbing in fact. Suzie shrugged, probably some bloke disappeared with an old girlfriend and his wife’s just found out. She hugged David’s arm What had she been so worried about?

They walked into the cool, evening air and stopped dead. The flashing blue lights of the police car were the focus of their attention, and that of a group of smokers. David had a vision of the group, twenty years ago, huddled behind the bike sheds. The officers got out of the car and went in. David looked at her:

“Shall we go back and see what’s going on?”

Suzie shrugged.

“Someone probably just called them fearing that little fracas earlier was going to kick off into a major fight. Let’s go to bed.”


© Ken Orford, 2008



© CoolShortStories.com, 2010