Home > On a Tuesday (One Week #1)(10)

On a Tuesday (One Week #1)(10)
Author: Whitney G.

PS—NO.

—Charlotte

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Peer Assignment (Change)

It’s a guarantee.

PS—I personally think this conversation would be better over the phone. You should give me your number.

—Grayson

She didn’t respond.

Half an hour passed and she never sent me another email.

Before I could email her about something else, I felt someone tapping on my shoulder.

“Yeah?” I turned around to see one of the girls who had been dancing with Kyle. “What’s up?”

“Um, Kyle just passed out in one of the hot tubs. Should we call 911, get your coach, or just let him lay there until tomorrow?”

Jesus Christ.

CHARLOTTE: NOW

Present Day

Pittsburgh

“WHERE ARE YOU HEADED again?” The police officer shone a light on my license. “Try to keep your story straight this time.”

“The University of Pittsburgh,” I said, forcing a smile, as he narrowed his eyes at me.

“Are you aware that the speed limit on this stretch of highway is only sixty-five miles an hour?”

No shit. “Yes, officer.”

“Really?” He crossed his arms. “So, can you explain to me why you were going ninety? And not only were you going ninety, can you explain to me why you were driving in the emergency lane?”

I didn’t really have a good reason for driving in the emergency lane. Well, minus the fact that the emergency lane was freshly salted, and the regular lanes were still coated in a light layer of snow and ice.

“Miss?” He handed me my license. “I need you to answer me. Now.”

“I’m just really late and I don’t want to miss my college-class reunion. Or the fireworks. They promised fireworks.”

He gave me a blank stare. Then he looked up at the sky.

“Fireworks?” He took his ticket pad from his back pocket and shook his head. “In the snow? And a college-class reunion on a Tuesday? Okay, Miss.”

“No, please.” I couldn’t afford another speeding ticket right now. I still owed the State of New York one thousand on a ticket I’d received last month. I leaned over and opened my glove compartment, pulling out a blue and gold envelope that I’d received months ago.

“I’m not making the reunion up,” I said, handing the invitation to him.

He mumbled the printed words out loud to himself, and I realized that I’d memorized every word on that page within minutes of it arriving in my mailbox.

Hail to Pitt!

As a member of the BEST class that has ever graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, we cordially invite you to a Night to Remember! Our seven-year class reunion! (Yes, ‘seven,' because it didn't take us ten to net four Pulitzer prize winners, twenty-eight Fulton Scholars, fifteen Olympic athletes, and hundreds of other distinguished honors that set our class far apart from the rest!)

The official date & time, ticket & fireworks information, & location are inside!

We hope to see you there, Charlotte!

And as always,

Hail to Pitt!

HE SIGHED AND RETURNED the invitation to me. “Tell you what, Miss Charlotte. I’m going to let you off with a severe warning today, but only because I went to Pitt, too.” He placed his ticket pad in his back pocket once more. “But because I don’t trust you to drive the speed limit the rest of the way, I’ll follow you.”

I didn't get a chance to say, "Oh, that's okay," or "That's not really necessary" before he stepped away. And I knew telling him the truth—that I wasn't planning on going to this reunion at all, that I was planning to get off at the next exit and drive back to New York City, wasn't the best thing to do now.

Sighing, I tossed the invitation onto the seat and turned on my radio.

“Start driving!” He called out over his car’s speakers. “And move to the actual highway lanes!”

I steered my car onto the real part of the highway and set the cruise control to exactly sixty-five miles an hour. My heart was pounding against my chest and my palms were sweating against the steering wheel.

Just go in, take a few pictures, and leave right after the cop goes away.

I’d gone back and forth about this reunion for a long time—writing out the pros and cons, even making spreadsheets for all the possible scenarios that could happen. Each time the pros outnumbered the cons, but I was never happy with that result, so I always tried another tracking method, hoping for a negative.

I also wasn’t sure whose bright idea it was to host the reunion on a Tuesday, but that counted as strike one in my book. Strike two was the one-hundred-dollar ticket fee for a ‘gourmet’ menu of popcorn and local chocolates. Strike three should’ve been the “seven-year” time-stamp instead of the usual, ten-year one, but even I knew that our class was full of overachievers and record-setters the second my freshman year began.

I didn’t even know who would be attending tonight, since all the “close friends” I’d once made had drifted away long ago. Every now and then I’d catch glimpses of their lives through my Facebook newsfeed—clicking “like” or “love” in exchange for a phone call or a “How have you been?” text message. Occasionally, I’d even comment: “Your kids are adorable!” “Merry Christmas!” “Happy New Year! PS—Your kids are adorable!”

There was only one person I knew I couldn’t bear to see again, and I was hoping like hell he wouldn’t be there tonight.

Please don’t be there tonight.

Ten minutes later, I pulled my car through the university's campus—noticing that it looked completely different from seven years ago. Everything was more modern, and where there was once a block full of student unions, there was now a series of gray, steel cafés. The only thing that seemed to be the same was the Cathedral of Learning—the massive beige monolith that towered over every building on campus.

I circled the parking lot a few times, passing by a few empty spots in hopes that the officer would stop following me and I could bypass this thing after all.

“Park your car!” He yelled over the speakers and I pulled my car into a space right out front.

Is he really going to watch me go inside?

I turned off my engine and grabbed my nude heels from the backseat. I slipped them onto my feet and pulled out my compact to re-check my make-up. As I added a new coat of red gloss to my lips, I spotted the officer in my rearview mirror. He was tapping his watch and daring me to take any more time.

I secured the top buttons of my navy-blue coat and stepped out of the car, giving him a short wave and a smile.

He pointed to the cathedral and I turned around, walking slowly to the door.

Just go in, take a few pictures, and leave. Fifteen minutes at most, Charlotte. Fifteen minutes.

I pushed the doors open and was immediately greeted with thousands of blue and gold balloons that lined the deserted hallway. There were several shiny golden banners with the words, “Hail to Pitt! Class of 2010!” and “Go, Panthers! Go!” hanging high from the ceiling. The only sign of life was a red-haired woman at a table in the middle of the hall.

Confused, I walked over to her. “Is this where the reunion is?”

“Yep!” She looked up at me and smiled. “What’s your name?”

“Charlotte Taylor,” I said. I started to ask if I was the only person who’d bothered to show up, but the sound of loud laughter and cheers suddenly came from the far end, and I realized everyone was in the ballroom.

“Oh, here you are!” The woman handed me a folder and a name badge. “Charlotte Taylor. So, you’ve kind of missed the meet and greet social part, but you’re just in time for the class presentation and special speech. There’s an open bar at the back of the room with a few chocolates left, if you’re interested. And make sure you sign the ‘I Was Here’ book. UPMC is donating one hundred dollars per signature to the university’s new health research center, and we would all greatly appreciate that.”

“I’ll be sure to sign it.” I placed my name badge on my coat and set a fifteen-minute timer on my phone. Then I headed straight into the ballroom.

   
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