As it happened with every time they had a long weekend, her students were reluctant to get into their normal pace. Her first class was slow, only this time Olivia was out of her game as well. Her mind was plagued by her fight with Noah, Emilia’s unusual presence in her life, and Michael’s warning that he wasn’t going to give up on her.
Ironic how Michael’s meaning of the word you was so different from Noah’s you want to get married. One was filled with hope and a whole lot of feelings she didn’t want to analyze, while the other was tinted with dread and recrimination.
Thankfully, everyone seemed to go back to their normal selves by Tuesday, and now all of her students were nervous about delivering their project advance and their big test on Wednesday. Camie had dropped by during last period on Monday to give her the outline of her project. Even though she felt bad about it afterwards, she kept hoping Camie would tell her about Michael. At least to give her a heads-up on how her uncle was planning in courting her.
Not that she would allow the situation to get that far. It would take considerable effort but Olivia was aware there was just so much rejection a guy could take from a girl. As long as he didn’t touch her again, they would be fine.
Noah called or texted her, and although they had gotten back to normal, the possibility of him missing Tracy’s wedding hung in the air like a foul smell. It was childish of her to be making such a huge deal out of this, but the whole marriage deal had made her more sensitive.
Olivia still harbored the hope that Noah would come up with some sort of solution to what she immaturely saw as a huge problem. She hadn’t mentioned it on purpose so he wouldn’t feel pressured. Even though Emilia had offered to be her date, Olivia wasn’t quite sure how she would look talking to the air and dancing by herself during Tracy’s wedding.
Today was Thursday, and since she had a free period, she decided to finish grading her students tests so she could use the afternoon to read the project advances and have comments and corrections ready by Monday.
Emilia was stretched on one of the couches they’d bought for the teacher’s room last year, humming to the songs coming from Olivia’s laptop. Fortunately, they were totally alone, so she was able to crank up the volume higher than usual.
The sound of her Iphone had her looking at the screen and seeing Noah’s picture flashing across it. With jittery hands she touched the screen and pressed answer. Even before he began to speak, Olivia knew she would have to make do with her dead friend to the party this Saturday.
“Hey Ollie, how’s it going?”
“Fine. Grading some tests. How about you? How’s work going?”
“Slow. Some suppliers are unwilling to compromise so I’ve been jumping from meeting to meeting. I have two more scheduled for later today and three for tomorrow morning.”
“Oh that doesn’t sound so good.”
“It doesn’t, but it’s just a matter of saying the right thing or showing the right attitude before we can all walk out happy. Listen Olivia, about Tracy’s wedding, I’m sorry but I’m swamped and I won’t be able to make it.”
When Olivia remained quiet, Noah pressed on, this time with a hint of remorse accompanying his words.
“I really tried to go back for it. I know how much this means to you.”
Knowing this was the reason for his call didn’t make the disappointment less hard. Because she was at her workplace, she tried to act as the mature twenty-eight year old woman she was. When Noah said he did everything he could it was nothing far from the truth. Still, part of her wanted to hang up on him.
However, what came out of her mouth was what she really felt and she couldn’t just ignore.
“Noah you promised! Don’t do this to me, please.” She winced when she heard the whining tone.
It was like throwing a spark at a fuse. In a second, Noah’s remorse immediately turned into outright frustration and his voice got louder over the phone.
“I can’t believe this, Olivia. You think I’m having a good time over here? I’ve been to meeting after meeting, I’ve been working till freaking two in the morning every night because I still have to do my other part of the job. I’m sorry if your friend’s wedding isn’t a priority for me right now. God, you’re being so immature.”
And maybe she was. God, what the hell is wrong with me?
This time Emilia didn’t counter back. She just lay on the couch, pretending to be somewhere else and not in the middle of a lovers quarrel.
Bitting the inside of her cheek, Olivia tried to salvage the situation with Noah, again.
“I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just, I…..”
Ignoring her feeble attempt at an apology, Noah cut her off.
“Never mind. I have to go, I’ll talk to you later.”
Just when she thought they were going to hang up all weird on each other, he seemed to take a couple of calming breaths before trying to fix things between them.
“I promise to come back soon. I really regret I won’t be able to see you all dressed up and looking as beautiful as ever. I’ll make it up to you, Ollie. Take care.”
Afraid to say something else that would spoil his heartfelt attempt to ease things, she just said. “I’ll miss you.”
Eager to get back to work and shake off this feeling of self-pity weighing down on her, she got up quickly to gather her stuff. Barely conscious of the movement around her, she decided to head to her classroom before her last class of the day began.
Once outside on the hallway, she let out a cry of pain when her body collided with someone else.
Startled, it took the history teacher’s brain a while to register her best friend’s familiar voice.
“Sorry, sorry. I was distracted.”
“No kidding?” But then, Tracy caught a sight of her face and without warning pulled her into the empty music classroom she’d been coming out from to get some coffee from the teacher’s lounge machine.
Disoriented, Olivia had time to see Emilia sliding right behind her and sitting on the old piano’s stool Tracy used to teach her class.
“Honey, what’s wrong?”
There was no use in lying to her best friend, so she just blurted out.
“Oh no, don’t tell he said something more about..”
“No, no. Uhm, he called to tell me he won’t be able to make it to your wedding.”
“What? How come?”
“He is in Boston. Apparently, he was going to come back tomorrow but in the end they asked him to stay for two weeks. He’d already told me last Thursday at my parents’ and I just went all ballistic and everything went downhill between us after that. Oh Tracy, I feel so stupid. Look at me, I feel like I just found out my boyfriend won’t be able to take me to the prom. It’s not like he’s on vacation. He sounded really stressed out and all I did was act all needy.”
Exhausted, Olivia pulled one of the chairs in the room and just dropped her body down on it. Taking the chair in front of her, Tracy sat down too and studied her best friend’s features. Pressing her mouth into a thin line, she thought of what her friend needed to hear right now.
“The truth is that things have been a little off between you two for the past few days.”
“Yes, but that’s no excuse for me to act like a little kid. He’s not coming because he’s relaxing at some exotic island, he’s freezing his skinny ass off in Boston going to meetings, working up late. If I had heard someone else say what I said, I would’ve probably knocked some sense into their stubborn heads.”
“You are right about Noah having a skinny ass but I think you’ve also had your own issues to deal with. From what you told me last Thursday, I think it’s normal for you to be more sensitive. I think you’re entitled to it in a way. I don’t think you’re overreacting. You were looking forward to being with him Saturday, that’s all. Normal reaction, trust me. I just feel sorry for him.”
“What? Why?” Olivia’s eyes widened as there was just the tiniest trace of contempt audible in her friend’s tone.
“Because he’ll miss seeing you in that gorgeous dress I picked out and which makes your boobs look real good.”
Olivia snorted, relieved Tracy hadn’t taken some sort of dislike toward her boyfriend because of what she told her on Thanksgiving at her parents’ kitchen.
“I guess he will miss that.”
A smile brightened her friend’s face as an idea popped into her mind.
“I could always ask cousin Chad to keep you company at the party.”
Olivia twitched her nose in disgust and shook her head.
“Yuk, gross, groping-my-ass and undressing-me-with-his-stare cousin Chad? No, thanks.”
“Right, I forgot you were and much to your misfortune, still are, the object of his sexual fantasies ever since he met you at my birthday party.”
“In that case, I’ll make sure to steer away from him at the party.”
Tracy squeezed Olivia’s hand and offered her another solution.
“I could always ask Trevor to maybe tell one of his friends. Some are not as half as bad, considering they all went to the movies together when that new Star Trek movie came out.”
And, Tracy thought, this might be a good thing. Maybe Olivia could meet some guy and maybe she’d think better what she wanted to do about Noah. Not that she didn’t like him, he was a great guy, but something told her he was not being entirely honest with Olivia about his hesitation to take the next step.
“I think I’ll pass. I do have a boyfriend, even though he’ll be miles away.”
“I am a very good dancer. Plus, you won’t have to worry about me getting drunk and causing a scene.”
Olivia tried not to smile as Emilia`s offer resonated inside her head.
The first bell indicating the end of the previous classes rang loudly. Both women got up and before leaving the classroom, Olivia hugged her best friend and reminded her of tomorrow’s plans.
“Be ready by six tomorrow, okay? You’re mom will give you what you need to wear to go to my place.”
“Oh no, my mom is involved too?”
“Relax, I‘ve learned since I asked her to help me plan your bachelorette party that she can be pretty wild, too. So don’t you worry about her bringing the party down.”
“Fine, but if she sends us to bed before eleven then it’s your fault.”
“I will take full responsibility. See you.”
Emilia followed Olivia and surprised herself by looking forward to an all girls gathering tomorrow, even if for the first time, she wouldn’t have to fret about what to wear.
Or what not to wear. I wonder if that show is still on?
The second bell rang and all students that had last period classes hurried down the hallway, most of them shivering as without helping it, they walked right through the history teacher’s ghost friend.