“What makes a love story a good love story?” the teacher asked her students. A few girls raised their hands up high; however, everyone else stayed still in their chairs and waited for the girls to answer the question. This is how it usually was for the class: only a few girls – the keeners in the class who participated. Every once and awhile a boy or girl here and there would raise their hand to answer. Other than that, everyone else would casually lean back in their chairs and barely pay attention to the teacher’s questions. It almost looked like a choreographed routine: the teachers would ask a question, the five girls at the front would immediately raise their hand and sit up straight and everyone else would slouch back and roll their eyes.
This time the teacher had been hoping that it would be different. She thought the question was so much different from what the class usually focuses on, that at least one new person would raise their hand to answer…except none did.
“Jennifer, do you have an idea?” She was a tall young girl with long blonde hair that reached her mid-back. Jennifer cleared her throat and began speaking.
“I think that a good love story has to include three important factors: an inner-struggle for feelings, an obstacle that has to be overcome and a huge confession of love from one of them to the other.” Jennifer smiled and almost instantaneously, all the girls next to her sighed with a smile as well. The teacher was amused at the contrast between the students in the back with a bored look in their eyes to the girls in the front row with a hopeful and gooey-eyed look in theirs. Even though she hated putting the students on the spot, the teacher decided to ask someone to speak from the back. She noticed Jason, an athletic boy with dark brown hair that swept over his forehead looking down at his legs, which usually meant he was staring down at his phone.
“Jason, how about you?”. Jason flinched when the teacher called his name and sat up in seat. He kept one hand on his thighs to hold his phone that he had been texting on moments before. As the teacher had expected, Jason had a confused look on his face.
“I’m sorry, how about me what?” The whole class laughed – and yes, it was the whole class. Since Jason was one of the popular kids in his grade, whenever he spoke the whole class would pay attention.
“What do you think makes a love story a good love story?” The teacher gave a playful smirk as she repeated the question for Jason. The rest of the class turned in their seats to face Jason who sat at the very back of the classroom.
“Well I guess…wait do you mean like a love story in movies? Or like in real life?”. A few laughs came from some of Jason’s peers as he asked the question, but the teacher ignored them and answered the question.
“Hmm… That’s a tough one…” Jason turned to his friends who sat next to him and in front of him. All of them reflected the same blank face that he had.
“Jason, would you consider your parents’ story of how they met a good story?” The teacher asked because she could tell he was having difficulty answering the question. She was so fascinated at the attention that was on Jason at the moment. The class was never this focused when she or any of the girls in the front row spoke.
“Umm…sure, I guess?” Jason and his friends around him laughed as he finished his sentence.
“Why don’t you tell us about how they met?”. The teacher knew that this was completely off topic but classes had been extremely draining on both the students and the teachers lately. She figured that the whole class could use a break from English Literacy and could use a story. The teacher, of course, knew that Jason’s explanation of his parents meeting would be a simple answer like: they met in a bar and got married; however, she figured it wouldn’t hurt anybody to hear that.
“Okay sure, I guess. My mom was twenty five and was working at a bar to pay off her student loans. She’s a dentist now, but at the time she had just been fired and needed something to help pay the bills…
FLASHBACK TO JASON’S MOTHER…
“Joanna, when does your shift end?” My best friend Christy asked me as I wiped off the gin and tonic that an earlier customer spilled.
“Perfect!” Christy said with enthusiasm and as she did I knew exactly what she was going to say.
“What?” Christy has such a fun personality and I love her, but we’re incredibly different. She loves going to clubs and partying until dawn, whereas I like to spend my time at home watching movies in my pyjamas.
“You want to go to a club, don’t you?”
“Yes! And you’re coming with me!” Christy stated firmly.
“I’m sorry, Christy, but I’ve been up since seven. I just want to go home and get to bed.” Christy stood up from the stool and walked right to the door and out of the bar. I stood there for a few seconds confused at what had just happened but then went back to scrubbing the table. A few minutes later Christy returned to the bar with Tim and Mike.
“Can I get you anything else?” I turned back to the two customers I was getting an order from. They both shook their heads and I took their menus and walked over to Tim and Mike.
“Joanna! Come out with us tonight,” Tim stated.
“Guys, I would love too, but I’m so tired.”
“But we never see you anymore!” Mike said as he followed me around through the bar as I put the menus away.
“I see you guys everyday here.” I turned around to face Mike and Tim and stared at their expressionless faces. I knew that they were just trying to get me to go out with them, which meant they’d say anything to make it happen.
“Okay, I give up. Here’s your five bucks back Christy.” Mike handed Christy five dollars and walked over to our regular table.
“Christy! You paid them to try to convince me to go clubbing with you?” Tim gave Christy her five dollars too and followed Mike to our table. Christy sighed and walked over sit with Tim and Mike at the table. “Christy, I see you everyday. We can have fun doing other things other than partying.”
“You never do anything fun anymore Joanna. In twenty years you’re going to look back and think: why didn’t I go out more? Why didn’t I enjoy my youth more?” I looked at Tim and Mike who were both nodding their heads in agreement with Christy. “You need to live your life more.” I couldn’t believe Christy, she was being ridiculous.
“Christy, just because I don’t go partying every night doesn’t mean I’m not living my life.”
“Really? What did you do last night?”
“I was working late,” Christy gave me that look she always gives me when she knows she’s right. “But! When I got home I read my favourite book again!” After I said that I realized how much lamer that sounded then I thought it was in my head.
“Come on Joanna, please!” Christy put her hands together and pouted her lips. I started laughing but was stopped when I saw Mike and Tim both give the same pleading look. I couldn’t believe what I was going to say.
“Fine! I’ll come clubbing with you guys tonight.” Christy gave out a loud scream and gave me a hug. I turned around and continued working.
When my shift was over I took a cab to my apartment and got changed for the club. Once I was ready Christy, Tim and Mike came over and we all took a cab to Christy’s favourite club: ‘Okay.’
The moment we entered the club the music blasted my ears and the lights flashed everywhere.
“How far is it?” I faintly heard Christy say. I shouted back a clear ‘what.’
“HOW FUN IS THIS?” Christy repeated this time much louder and made the words clearer when she spoke them. I shook my head and Christy sighed. I didn’t understand why Christy liked clubs so much. They were loud, dirty and gave you headaches. Christy took my hands and started dancing around and trying to get me to dance, without success. Christy motioned to the bar and we all started walking there. On our way, a big group of people walked right in front of us and one person accidently shoved me backwards. Without meaning to, I bumped into another man from the push and in doing so, the drink he had fell all over me.
“I am so sorry!” the man yelled to me.
“No, I am so sorry for bumping into you.” He shook his head and pointed to my white t-shirt that was now covered in green sticky liquid. He placed his hand on my shoulder and urged for me to follow him. We both went outside the club to the entrance. Right when we stepped outside the club, I sighed with relief. There was no music blasting my ears and flashing lights.
“I am so so sorry about that,” he said in a normal voice.
“No it’s okay, I’m really sorry I bumped into you.”
“No don’t worry about it.” He smiled at me and now that we were in better lighting I noticed that he had extremely bright blue eyes. Which was particularly odd because he had dark brown hair. He made a concerned look as he looked back down at my shirt. “Let me buy you a new shirt.”
“No, please, that’s completely unnecessary.”
“I insist. What store is that shirt from?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Please? It would give me an excuse to leave this club anyways.” I didn’t want to say yes because I’d feel bad making him buy me a shirt, but at the same time I did want a new shirt and more importantly, I wanted to leave this place. I thought about Christy, Tim and Mike, they’d be so angry if I left. I shook my head again because I barely even knew this man anyway.
“You don’t have a choice. You can either come with me or stay here but I’m going to buy you the nicest white t-shirt out there.” He turned around and started leaving. I couldn’t believe what I was doing, but I followed him.
“I didn’t think you’d leave,” he said to me as we walked out the door to the summer evening day.
“I hate clubs so I figured why not.” He looked down at me and smiled. He must’ve been a few inches taller than me. He was wearing a black t-shirt with navy blue tight jeans.
“I hate clubs too. They’re so loud and terrible things always happen. Like me spilling a drink on you, which by the way I’m really sorry about.”
“Don’t even worry about it. It led to me having a good excuse to leave that place. If anything, you did me a favor.” It was still a bit bright out and oddly enough, there weren’t many other people out.
“My friends forced me to come to the club tonight, I usually hate it,” he said to me. I couldn’t believe it.
“The exact same thing happened to me tonight. They don’t even know I left.”
“They probably won’t notice you left – when we bumped into each other I saw you were making your way the bar?”
“Yes. The only way I would’ve made it in there for much longer would be if I had alcohol in me.” He laughed when I said that even though I hadn’t thought it was that funny.
“Yeah you know that drink I spilt on you? That was something called vodka-limeade.” I started laughing. Then for a moment we were both silent, until I felt a raindrop fall on my face.
“I think it’s starting to rain,” I said and almost on cue the rain started pouring down.
“It’s not much farther. Want to run?” I nodded and we both started running in the rain until he stopped in front of a Michael Kors store.
“You’re joking right? I’m not going to let you buy me a Michael Kors shirt. It’s too expensive,” I said although, he just laughed.
“I need to repay you for my actions and try to argue you all you want, but I promised you I would get you a new shirt. So you can stand here in the rain but-”
“Seriously, I can’t let you buy me a shirt-”
“Attention New York city! I am going to buy,” he paused from his shouting speech and looked over to me who was chuckling and covering my mouth from embarrassment. “I never got your name?”
“I am going to buy Joanna a new shirt from Michael Kors because I owe it to her and if anybody tries to stop me, well then,” he pointed his hand to my shirt, “I can ruin your shirt!” He turned around and starting walking into the store before I stopped him.
“What’s your name?” I asked. I hoped he couldn’t tell I was blushing. A few people had stopped and were staring at what was going on. It’s funny, while we were walking nobody was there; however, when he started yelling it seemed as though millions of people appeared out of nowhere.
RETURN TO REALITY…
“And after that they dated and then got married,” Jason finished. The whole class was paying close attention to Jason.
“That was a lovely story Jason.” The teacher said, incredibly impressed with the way Jason was able to explain the story. All the girls had that same gooey-romantic look in their eyes, including some of the boys. After a long pause Jennifer spoke.
“Wait, that didn’t have an inner-struggle for their feelings, an obstacle they’d have to overcome and a huge confession of love from one of them to the other.” The teacher sighed and was going to speak to Jennifer, although Jason spoke first.
“Actually I think it did. Inner-struggle was when my mom was deciding whether or not to go out with my dad to buy the shirt, obstacle was when it started raining and they had to start running, and big confession was when my dad confessed he’d buy my mom a shirt.” The whole class couldn’t believe their ears; Jason had talked back to Jennifer. Jennifer was never wrong when it came to school, so the fact that Jason had proved her wrong shocked the class. Even the teacher couldn’t help but smirk.
“Ms. Heather, that doesn’t count does it?” Jennifer said after a moment of staying completely speechless.
“Actually, yes it does Jennifer. Jason was right and nevertheless, that wasn’t their whole love story it was just how they met therefore those factors don’t necessarily have to apply. However, Jason has shown us that for the most part, they actually were there.” The teacher looked at Jason and smiled. The whole class turned to the teacher and back at Jason and began smiling too.