2 Jul
2010
Posted in: Happiness Project
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Short Story: The Hayfair Ball

As part of my Happiness Project, I’ve been attempting this month to cultivate creativity. This is a short story I wrote as a way to practice explaining situations in my head with words. Feedback welcome!

There were a couple of youths in Hayfair that night who didn’t have dates to the Ball.

One of them, a sandy-haired fellow named Brian, asked around, and after determining that the girl he’d been pining away about for quite some time, Sheila, did not yet have a date, he set out about trying to secure her as his.

It was a very small town, and he didn’t walk far before reaching her parents’ house, which was modest-size but well-kept. He hung around the sidewalk in front of the house for a few minutes, almost walking away, before he summoned up his courage to walk up the front path to the porch and ring the bell.

To his startlement, Sheila herself answered. (He had been rehearsing his speech to her pa.)

“Hi, Brian,” she said in a confused voice. “May I help you with something?” She was looking more over his shoulder than at him, per se.

His voice cracking, Brian squinted a bit as he said, “I have come to ask you to attend the Hayfair Ball with me. Would you consider it?” to which she replied, after a bit of a jolt. “Oh! I wasn’t planning on going…” and begin to squirm quite a bit, and to fidgit with her nails quite a lot.

He swallowed hard and said, “I think it would be fun. Of course, I’d buy you some flowers to pin on and we could go and see everyone in their dresses and the like.”

He thought he had presented a pretty good case, so he was more than surprised when she said, quite unmoved, “Oh, Brian. I appreciate the offer. But, I really am not that interested in going. You are a nice guy, so I’m sure you’ll find a date to it.” Then she smiled a bit, but only a bit, to show him that she was being firm but kindly. “Thank you for asking,” she added hastily, seeing his red face as he turned to leave, mumbling back at her, over his shoulder, “Okay, well, then bye. See you at church.”

*****

Now it so happens, as it often does, that Brian had someone who loved him. Her name was Margaret and she was a good friend of his. She was the one he naturally went to look for consolation from when things didn’t work out with Sheila.

“Is there something wrong with me? Maybe I said the wrong thing.” he moaned to his friend, as they sat on her front porch, watching the small children on her street ride their bicycles. She smiled, a smile that made him feel better right away. “Of course not.”

“Why don’t I have a date to the Ball, then?” he asked, shaking his head.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” she said, in her soothing voice. “I, myself, don’t have a date to it.” She turned a bit red as she said this, and searched his face for a reaction.

“A great gal like you? Chuck didn’t ask? Well, he’s a fool, then. I know a ton of guys who would’ve been glad to have you as their date,” he proclaimed.

She sucked in her breathe and after a beat, but only a beat, blurted, “*We* could go.”

“Ah, you don’t have to do that for me,” he said, shaking his head and smiling. “I know how you feel about getting all dressed up uncomfortable.” (At this point, Margaret cursed herself silently for using this excuse for saying no to Eddie Ickson when he had asked her weeks ago. “Stupid, stupid excuse!” her brain admonished itself.)

“Anyways,” he continued, “It’s Sheila’s loss. If she only saw how much I care for her. She’d be begging to go.” He stood up off the porch, signaling to Margaret that he was leaving, and she did the same, brushing off her hands on her apron. “See you at church,” he smiled. She opened her mouth, but closed it again, not knowing what to say to his turned back.

Margaret sat back down on the front porch swing, and gave him a little wave as he walked away. Then, she stared at the front porch planks as she silently and slowly swung, imagining the cracks between the boards growing large enough to swallow her young body whole.

A bee buzzed, and she was startled enough to suddenly remember that she had left the kettle on inside for too long.

So, what do you think?