I am standing at the sink in the kitchen cleaning the dishes from mom’s and my homemade macaroni and cheese dinner when I hear the doorbell ring. I glance over at the clock without removing my wet hands from the sink. It’s 7PM, so it can’t be Brandon. Mom begins to wheel herself around the counter.
“I’ll get it,” she says.
I watch her propelling herself forward with her hands on the wheels. She is very slow, but she’s moving.
“Alright,” I say.
The doorbell rings again.
“Coming,” my mom says from around the corner.
I stand still to listen. After a few moments, I hear the door being unlocked and opened.
“Hi Brandon. Come in,” my mom says. “Reese is in the kitchen.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Lane.”
As I’m turning to grab the towel to dry my hands, Brandon walks into the kitchen. He is dressed more nicely than usual. Instead of a t-shirt, he is wearing a dark navy polo under a brown leather jacket. Black tennis shoes have taken the place of flip flops. And his hair is actually styled.
“Hi,” I say. “You look nice.” I smile. He does look nice.
“Thanks,” Brandon says. “I borrowed my dad’s jacket.” He grins at me. “I know I’m early, but I thought we could run to Kmart and get some cheap candy before we go to the theater.”
“Oh, that sounds great,” I say. “I’d love to get some Junior Mints or Raisinets.”
“Great,” he says. “Are you ready?”
“Um, yeah. Let me brush my teeth and get a jacket.”
“Ok. I’ll be outside.”
I nod and walk down the hall past my mom, who is smiling at me. I don’t want to keep Brandon waiting. I pass the bathroom into my room. My t-shirt and flip flops no-longer seem worthy attire for our trip to the movies. I open my closet and stare at my clothes for a moment before pulling out my blue ruffled top. I take off my t-shirt and pull on the top. I look at myself in the mirror. The blue makes my eyes stand out, or so my mom says. Then, I slide that closet door closed and open the other side. I don’t really have any nice shoes. Maybe I can convince Mom to take me shopping this weekend. I slide my feet into a pair of black ballet flats. Then I grab my olive green jacket and turn to walk back to the bathroom.
When I walk outside a couple minutes later Brandon is standing beside his mom’s minivan waiting for me. She smiles at me as I walk toward them.
“Hi Reese,” Mrs. Matthews says. “You look very pretty!”
I smile and try to keep from blushing.
“Thanks,” I say. “I heard we were going to Kmart?”
“Yeah, it was Brandon’s idea.”
“Alright,” I say.
Brandon motions for me to slide into the middle seat of the van. Once I’m seated, he slides in beside me.
“You can sit in the front if you want,” I say.
Brandon smiles at me. “Naw, this is fine,” he says.
Mrs. Matthews starts the car and drives us around the corner to Kmart. Brandon and I run in. I grab the biggest bag of Raisinets they have, and a box of Junior Mints. Brandon grabs sour gummy worms and an Abba-Zaba. When we get to the checkout, I pull out my wallet, but Brandon stops me.
“I’ll get them,” he says.
“Oh, are you sure?” I ask.
“Yeah, no problem,” he says. “I just got my allowance so I’m set.” He takes the candy from me.
“OK, thanks,” I say. This sure feels like a date. He’s wearing nice clothes, sitting beside me in the car, and now he’s buying my obscenely large bag of candy? Why didn’t I grab the smaller one? I feel bad that he’s spending $10 on candy for me. But by this time Brandon has checked out, so we walk out of the store and back to the minivan.
When we pull up to the theater, it is 7:20 and there is quite a line to buy tickets.
“Do you think we’ll make it?” I ask.
“Well, I figure we’ve got an extra 10 minutes because of all the previews they show,” Brandon says. “We’ll be fine.”
“OK, kids,” Mrs. Matthews interjects. “I’ll be back in a couple hours. Have fun.”
“Thanks,” I say.
“Thanks Mom,” Brandon says.
Mrs. Matthews smiles at us and pulls from the curb.
Brandon and I join the line and wait. After ten minutes of awkward conversation, we get up to the front of the line.
“Two for The Wedding Caterer,” Brandon says.
“What? I thought we were going to see World War 3.0,” I say.
Brandon just smiles. “Would you rather see that or Michael Vartan?”
I smile back. “The Wedding Caterer it is!”
Brandon purchases the tickets and then holds the door for me as we walk into the theater.
Brandon and I are sitting in the middle of our row with our feet propped up on the bars in front of us. I can hear Brandon chewing on his Abba-Zaba but I don’t dare look at him. Reese Witherspoon and Michael Vartan’s characters are kissing. I know that my face is bright red. I didn’t think about how embarrassing it would be to see a movie like this with Brandon until the lights began to go down. I looked around the theater and noticed that the only people in the theater were couples and groups of senior adult women.
I glance over at Brandon to see if he’d noticed, but he just smiled at me and flipped his hair.
“I think this movie is going to be awesome,” he said.
“Oh yeah?” I said.
“Yep. Totally.” He smiled at me and ripped open his bag of gummy worms.
I glance over at Brandon. He’s got a chunk of Abba-Zaba in his mouth, but he smiles at me even so.
I smile back. I look down at the arm rest between us and look at his hand. I wonder what it would be like to reach over and grab his hand. Would his hand be huge compared to mine? Would it be warm or cold? I bet he has nice, warm hands. I push that thought away and look back toward the screen.
Brandon and I sit still while the credits roll and the other people in the theater walk out.
“What did you think?” I say.
Brandon turns toward me slightly. “It was cute,” He says. “I liked Michael Vartan’s dog. It was awesome.”
“Yeah, it was a cute dog,” I say. “The agility training was cool too.”
“Did you like it?” he asks.
“Yeah, I did,” I say. “The end made me feel all fuzzy inside.” I smile. I love it when movies do that.
“Fuzzy?” he asks as he stands up.
“Yeah. You know, when a movie ends all cute and happy, I like it,” I say. I stand up too.
“Alright. Fuzzy. Got it.” He motions for me to go first toward the aisle.
Mrs. Matthews is waiting in the minivan when we exit the theater. She smiles and waves at us. She waits until we’ve shut the van door and buckled up before speaking.
“It’s cold out there,” she says. “It makes me thankful we can go home to a warm house.”
“Yeah,” I say. “And warm flannel pajamas.” I smile.
“Flannel pajamas?” Brandon asks. He’s sitting beside me again.
“Oh yes,” I say. “They’re mint green with ice cream cones all over them. My mom taught me how to sew and I sewed them all by myself.” I stare at him with a slightly challenging expression. I know my pajamas might be a bit childish, but I don’t care.
“Awesome,” Brandon says. He smiles.
I relax back into my seat. I’m thankful that he doesn’t think me kiddy for having pajamas with ice cream cones all over them.
“I wish I had waffle pajamas,” he says.
All three of us laugh at this.
“I’ll have to see if I can find some waffle fabric,” Mrs. Matthews says. She smiles at us in the rear view mirror as she pulls the minivan away from the curb.
“So how was the movie?” she asks.
“I really liked it,” I say. “I might go see it again.”
“It wasn’t bad,” Brandon says.
“I’m glad,” Mrs. Matthews says.
We drive the rest of the way in silence.
Once we pull onto our street, I sit forward.
“Mrs. Matthews, you don’t have to drive up to my house. I can get out and walk from your house.”
“Oh that’s okay Reese. I don’t mind,” she says.
“No, really. It’s fine,” I say.
“But it’s so cold. It’s no trouble,” she says.
“Well, okay,” I say. I sit back.
Mrs. Matthews drives the minivan four houses past her house to mine. She makes a U-turn and parks in front of the walkway.
I look past Brandon toward the front door. The porch is dark, but I can see a light in the hallway through the blinds in the window.
“Thanks, Brandon,” I say. “The movie was great. And thanks for the ride, Mrs. Matthews.” I smile at her.
“Any time,” Mrs. Matthews says.
I unbuckle and open the door on my side of the minivan.
“See you,” I say to Brandon as I hop out of the van. I slide the door shut and begin walking around the front of the van.
Mrs. Matthews rolls down her window and leans toward me with a smile.
I stop walking to hear what she has to tell me.
“You know, you two look so cute together,” she says.
I control the urge to take a step back as my face heats.
“Aw, Mom,” Brandon says, but I can hear the grin in his voice. I can’t look at him.
My stomach flips.
“OK.” I don’t know what else to say. “Good night.”
I walk around the front of the minivan as quickly as I can. I can hear Brandon sliding open the door on his side of the minivan.
“Wait, I’ll walk you to the door,” Brandon says as I step onto the sidewalk.
“No, that’s okay,” I say.
Without looking at him, I run to my front door and pull my keys out of my purse. I open the door, throw myself inside, and slam it before I can think better of it. I lock the dead bolt before I peep through the peep hole. Brandon is standing beside the van looking toward my front door. Mrs. Matthews must have said something because he turns, shrugs at her, then gets back into the minivan. He slides the door shut and the minivan moves off down the street.