Willow Springs Senior Prom
“Malone,” my voice cracks as I let some of my nervousness shine through. What I’m about to ask is big. “I know you’ve been worried about what’s going to happen when school starts in August. How we’re going to see each other, how we’re going to keep this going. I have a plan.”
“Oh really?” she lifts her eyebrow at me. Her green eyes sparkling in the moonlight of the night.
An hour ago, we left the prom after being crowned King and Queen. Instead of going to some after party where people are going to get too drunk to remember their names, we’ve come out to our dock. Sitting here, with our feet in the creek, the frogs and crickets singing, with her by my side is my favorite place to be. “Oh yeah,” I bite my lip as I shrug out of my tuxedo jacket and roll my sleeves up my forearms.
“What are you planning?” She asks as she watches my forearms flex as I move around. They’re one of her favorite body parts of mine, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t use them to my advantage sometimes.
“You’ll see,” I reach into the pocket of my dress pants, closing my fingers around the ring there. I’m nervous, sweat is pouring off of my forehead, and my heart is pounding like I just ran a mile. I wasn’t even this nervous in last year’s state championship game. “You know I leave for Tuscaloosa in two months. When I go,” I reach out, gripping her chin in between my thumb and forefinger. “I want you to go with me. I’ve never loved anyone like I love you, Mal. There’s no one else in this world who gets me the way you do. Most girls wouldn’t be as supportive as you are, they’d hate spending time at the games, but you do it and you don’t complain.”
“I love you,” she interrupts me. “If that makes you happy, it makes me happy,” she grins.
“Which is why I want you to know I’m going to take care of you,” I get up, pulling her up with me.
As she stands in front of me, I go down on one knee. Pulling the ring box out of my pocket, holding it open for her. “Malone Fulcher, please do me the honor of being my wife. I know it’s not much, but as soon as we’re able, I’ll upgrade it. I’ll make sure you have everything you’ve ever wanted baby. It might not be easy, but we’ll be together.”
My hand is shaking as I wait for her to answer. Tears drip down her face and she nods her head slowly. “Yes, Slade! Yes, I’ll marry you, I’ll be your wife! I’ll be so proud to be your wife. Did you ask my daddy?”
“Yeah,” I pull her into my arms, kissing her passionately. “I did, and he gave me his blessing. He knows I’ll take care of you. It might be hard,” I play with the bodice of her dress. “But once I get my contract to play professionally we’ll have everything we ever dreamed of.”
“I believe you Slade,” she wraps her arms around my neck, squealing as I pick her up, carrying her to the bed of my truck.
The tailgate’s down and there’s a blanket already spread out. There, under that starry sky, I promise with everything I have to be everything this woman needs. I promise to love her, provide for her, and to be with her always. And she does the same for me.
“Something came for you in the mail,” Mama tells me three days after Slade’s proposal. “It looks like something official from the University of Georgia.”
“They must have put me on some sort of spam list,” I tell her as I throw my stuff down from my part-time job at the Diner. Usually when I get home all I want to do is take a shower, call Slade, and see how his day has gone, but today I have a different plan.
Grabbing the huge packet with my name on it, I sprint up the stairs, slamming my bedroom door shut, before locking it. My hands shake as I walk over to my bed and have a seat. On a whim last year I applied to this school. If anyone cared enough to ask, it’s the school of my choice, but it’s not the school Slade was offered a scholarship to. Truthfully I never thought I’d get in, and this is probably just a packet telling me they’re sorry, they can’t accept me.
Part of me wonders if I should open it. Whatever’s in this packet won’t make a difference. Will it? I’m engaged to Slade, I wear his ring on my finger, and we’ve got our parent’s blessing to go live together in Tuscaloosa come August. Whatever this says shouldn’t even be a factor.
I throw the mail down for all of five minutes, but then curiosity gets the better of me, and I wonder if I’m good enough to be accepted. I’ve worked hard my high-school career, gotten great grades and done extra-curriculars, but honestly, Slade’s been my focus. He’s needed my attention with the crazy schedule he keeps.
“Just open it Malone.”
Sighing, I rip open the envelope and anxiously scan the document.
Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into the University of Georgia’s Public Relations and Marketing program for the fall term, because of a late drop in the class. Please find your admissions information and return it as quickly as possible to get you processed.
We hope to see you in August.
University of Georgia Admissions
“Holy fucking shit! I got in! I actually got in!”
My excitement lasts for mere seconds as I realize that I can’t accept the admission, and I can tell no one I got it. Tears swimming in my eyes – because this has been my dream since my eighth-grade year – I pick up the papers, head to my desk, and put them in a drawer.
They stay there for an entire forty-eight hours, until I can’t take it anymore. At midnight, I get up, while the house is asleep, fill out the information and run to the drop off post office in town, dropping it when no one can see me.
It’s the single-most cowardly act I’ve done, but it’s one I can’t stop, and one I know I could possibly live to regret.