Disclaimer: Brandt’s thoughts and opinions are not my own. This chapter contains sensitive material, reader discretion advised.
The sun had just risen, as Clementine stared off blankly into space while picking at a block of cheese.
Brandt made his way into the kitchen shortly after, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
“Morning peaches!” He smiled, planting a kiss on Clementine’s forehead.
“Morning, Dad.” She smiled back.
“So… I wish you didn’t have to work tonight. I wanted you to drive me to prom, Ms. Loveland is chaperoning tonight…” Clementine added, “I can tell you’re starting to like her, aren’t you?” She asked.
Brandt chuckled humorously and took a seat on the stool next to Clementine.
“Honey, let me explain something to you, the best I can.”
“There are two types of girls in the world; girls you fall for, and keep around for a long time, and girls you only spend a little time with, just for fun. Tonight girls.” Brandt explained.
“Gracie is what you call a tonight girl, and that’s all daddy’s lookin’ for right now baby girl. None of that drama and commitment.” He continued.
“They’ve all been tonight girls since mom’s left, huh?” Clementine sighed.
Brandt paused for a second. “There was one..” He said aimlessly.
“Things were…. complicated, sweetie. I was dipping my spoon in someone else’s honey, it was best things just stopped when they did. Believe me.”
“Who was she? Have I met her?”
“Nah, it’s no one hun, just finish your… cheese.”
“I wish I could see you go to prom, though…” Brandt added, holding Clementine’s arms. “But I already know you’ll the most beautiful girl there. And tell that kid to keep his hands off of you, got it?”
Clementine laughed. “Dad, stop!”
“I mean it.” Brandt said, “I don’t want a repeat of last time. I ain’t running no brothel. At least not for free.” He laughed.
Prom day was finally here and my family was chaotic enough to prove it. Aunt Persephone and Uncle Bo swarmed around Birdie and her boyfriend Callan with a camera and bucket full of tears.
I sat next to Uncle Barry on the armchair while waiting for my sister and Clementine to get ready in Salem’s room downstairs.
Their dates arrived not much longer, as Irving waited on the couch next to Matt.
Amidst the chaos of everyone’s eyes being on Birdie, Clementine silently made her way up the stairs.
As my eyes wandered aimlessly around the room, Clementine in her beautiful turquoise gown caught my eye, making me do a double take.
I quickly stood to my feet.
“Wow, Clementine!” I exclaimed, as she shot Matt a sweet smile and wave.
“What do you think?” She asked.
My tongue was in knots as I tried to think of something friendly to say, something not accidentally romantic.
“W- We almost match!” I said.
She frowned a bit, which was not the reaction I was going for.
“Yellow, I’m so sorry, I promise I didn’t plan it!”
I covered my mouth and stared for a second.
“No, I didn’t mean it like that, you look perfect.”
“Hehe, thanks Lo!” She giggled.
Everyone sort of just gathered around as Clementine shouted for Salem to hurry up.
“Salem, come on! You look gorgeous, we’re going to be late!” She yelled.
Salem made her way up the stairs, as Clementine giggled with excitement.
“Doesn’t she look perfect!?” She squealed.
The adults reacted strongly in tears and gasps. I didn’t really understand the big deal until I realized she was wearing my mother’s dress.
Birdie pushed through, making her way to Salem.
“I just want to say, that your hair and makeup looks fantastic!!” She enthused.
“Thanks Birdie, for complimenting yourself.” Salem said.
“I know, I did a great job!”
“Oh come here!” Birdie said, throwing her arms around Salem. “You’re almost as pretty as me, I’m so proud of you!”
When we arrived to the gym turned prom wonderland, we were blown away by the transformation!
We were greeted by the chaperone, Ms. Loveland, who was looking lovely as always.
“Welcome to Wonderland!” She smiled.
Before Ms. Loveland even finished greeting us, Matt was already excusing himself.
“Hey, I’m gonna go say hi to my friends, I’ll be back later.” Said Matt, as a group of his popular friends waited behind him.
Matt scurried along to sit with his friends. I found it pretty rude that he just ditched Clementine, pretty much, but deep down inside it was nice to not have him around.
I tagged along with Salem and Clementine and a small group of friends, and got something to eat before we enjoyed the party.
I couldn’t complain about the fun I had, but it wasn’t really as exciting when Matt was back in the picture. Every time he came around it really brought the mood down for me. He just rubbed me the wrong way, I guess.
Speaking of rubbing the wrong way, whenever he did feel like coming around, he had his grubby hands all over Clementine, and ignoring it seemed impossible. Clementine even let him, for the most part!
….But finally he got too touchy-feely and Clementine put a stop to it. Matt just huffed and walked away. He was gone, but I still didn’t feel any calmer. It upset me that boys my age couldn’t just be gentlemen, instead they had to be gross pigs. It’s guys like Matt who give men in general a bad name!
Later on, I left Clementine and Salem on the dance floor while me and a few other students watched the crowning of the prom king and queen.
It was no surprise that Callan and Birdie won, they’re just perfect together! I could only dream about one day having a love like theirs.
I took out my phone and began taking pictures to document this moment. I knew if there were no photos, both Birdie and Aunt Persephone would have a meltdown. I didn’t mind it though, it was sweet!
Birdie looked like a graceful princess stepping back and forth with Callan ever so gracefully. I was truly all smiles.
“Boo!” Clementine shouted, grabbing my arm.
She gave me quite the surprise, causing me to jump back, and step on a rather tall gentleman’s toes.
“I am so sorry, sir!”
Clementine covered her mouth to contain her giggles.
“Dude why are you calling me sir?”
“I’m sorry, s- erm.. bro… umm… I’m sorry.”
He looked at me as if I were an alien, and walked away angrily.
“Have you seen Matt anywhere, Lo?” Clementine asked worryingly.
“Nope. Can’t say I’ve been looking for him either.” I muttered.
“Then can you help me? I need a favor.”
“Sure, what is it?” I asked.
“I don’t want to look like an idiot by walking into the boys bathroom, can you check for me?”
“I dunno, Clem..”
Clementine and I made our way through the halls towards the boys bathroom.
I was a bit nervous. What was I supposed to say if I found him?
I ventured in and was immediately taken aback by what I saw/heard.
Yep. That was definitely Matt. You could recognize those obnoxious cowboy boots any where. And apparently he required umm… oral company when using the restroom…
I must have reacted out loud without knowing it, because he was suddenly moving around frantically, trying to pull up his pants… Or whatever.
I quickly went back to the hallway, and apparently my behavior gave everything away.
“He’s in there, isn’t he?” Clementine asked.
“What was he doing?”
“Clem, you don’t want to know darlin, let’s just go back and enjoy ourselves, without him.”
“NO, Yellow. I do want to know.”
I made a painful face and looked into her eyes.
“Who’s with him?” She asked, seemingly knowing once more.
“Clem. Who cares. Forget him, let’s go.”
“I’m going in there, move.” She ordered.
“No, no you’re not, I won’t let you. You don’t need this.”
“Yellow, move!” She shouted.
“…Matt?” She cried.
Matt stood there caught red handed, with a classmate, Jennifer Bridges standing behind him shamefully.
You know, I wanted Clementine to realized how much of a loser Matt was, but this isn’t what I had in mind.
Clementine threw her face into her palms and began crying hysterically.
“I really liked you, Matt, why would you do this?” She wailed.
“Oh, come on Clementine…. I thought you were mad at me, I’m sorry! Don’t cry, please?” He begged.
Clementine only cried harder and ran out the door before I could stop her.
I was about to go after, but I stopped, and looked at Jennifer, who looked fairly guilty.
“Oh, and Jennifer…. You’re so much better than this.” I said, before walking out.
I ran through the halls in search of Clementine, but she was no where to be found.
After running past her for what I assumed to be the third time, I was stopped in my tracks by the sound of her crying.
“Clementine, what are you doing up there? Get down from there!”
“No.” She mumbled.
“Fine then, scooch it, I’m coming up.”
“Why are you letting that douche-head get to you?” I comforted.
“…My dad said to me today… he said that some girls are worth a man’s time, and some girls are just known as a ‘tonight girl.’ I’m nothing but a tonight girl.” She sobbed.
I could feel my heart wrenching with pain. How could a girl like Clementine ever refer to herself as something so degrading?
I firmly grabbed her shoulders and twisted her towards me slightly.
“NO.” I demanded. “That is NOT what you are…You are a beautiful, intelligent, brave young lady.” I said. “Not some, sometimes girl, or whatever you call it.”
“Yeah? If I’m not one of those girls, then why didn’t you ask me to prom?” She said, as her breathing and tears intensified.
I shook my head, while I wiped her tears with my thumb. My hand almost uncontrollably stopped at her neck, as I held her face in my hand.
“Oh, Clementine. Don’t you see? That’s the exact reason I didn’t ask you. Because I could never be with you forever, and you’re not the kind of girl that you can be with for a while and break up with later on down the road. No, you’re a forever girl.“
“Yes. Really. And you make it… SO hard to not want to make you mine.”
Without realizing, we stared at each other long enough before it hit me that this is the part in movies where the man passionately kisses the woman.
I took a deep breath and bit my lip as I leaned in closer.
“CLEMENTINE!??!” Salem’s voice pierced through the halls, as my romantic moment came tumbling down like a poorly stacked pile of bricks.
Clementine and I both jumped off the trash can before Salem saw us.
I guess Clementine had returned to reality, because she began crying hysterically once more.
“Salem!” She shouted, running to my sister.
She grabbed Salem like a rag doll as she heavily weeped into her shoulder.
“What the hell is going on? Yellow, what did you do?” Salem asked confusingly.
“It uh… Wasn’t me, we caught-“
“It wasn’t him, it was Matt, He was in the bathroom and I-” Her muffled cries were not comprehensible at this point as she continued wailing into Salem’s shoulder.
Salem seemed to understand her fairly well. “Okay okay, calm the fuck down.” She said, her voice surprisingly comforting despite her not so clean choice of words.
She slowly pulled Clementine off of her.
“Stop crying, and I’ll literally break his nose the next time I see him, deal?”
Clementine giggled at her promise.”Dank you.” She sniffled.
Clementine then pulled us both in for a hug. “I don’t know what I’d ever do without you crazy Darlings!”
About a week had gone by, and there was only a few days left of school until summer began. I found myself in the nurses office yet again for having an ‘upset tummy’. So I may have exaggerated a bit, but there’s just too many kids in my class, and I was ready to go home!
“Ohhhh… I think I’m gonna die….” I groaned.
“You’re not going to die, kiddo. Just get some rest.” The nurse said.
I lied on the cot staring at the wall, thinking of all the things I’d rather do at home, like watching paint dry. Seriously why is it so much work to go home?
The intercom kicked on as the principal began reading the morning announcements. He sounded rather melancholy, instead of his usual cheerful self.
“Star Football Player, straight A student, friend, son…. I regret to inform you that Crestview has lost a student over the weekend who was near and dear to our hearts. Matt King was loved by many, hated by none. There will be a candle light ceremony for him this afternoon on the football field at 5:00 PM. Grief counseling will be available in the counselors office, please ask your teachers for a hall pass if you need a shoulder. Thank you students. May you rest in peace, Matt King.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I was shocked by the news of Matt’s passing. My mind began replaying the dramatic events that took place during prom, until the sound of the school nurse pulling her chair out slowed the thoughts down a bit.
She stuck a thermometer in my mouth as she held her hand to my forehead. I tried focusing on the themometer, hoping that maybe I could alter the results with magic. Salem does it all the time, and gets away with it.
“Nope, no temp, pumpkin. Sorry but we gotta send you back to class.”
As much as I didn’t want to go back, I figured I might be able to find out what happened to Matt when I got back.
I followed the nurse to her desk as she signed me out. My mind was so full of questions, I just couldn’t wait to get the answers.
“What happened to Matt King?” I blurted.
“OH.” She groaned. “The poor kid. A robber or something snuck into his house and murdered the poor boy when he was sleeping! Just awful, I’m tellin’ you.”
“That’s… that is terrible.” I stammered, not really knowing what to think.
“I know dear. Such a shame, such a shame. The poor boy had his entire life ahead of him! Too young, if you ask me!”
“Didjya know him? I can write you a pass for grief counseling, if ya want?” She asked.
“No, that won’t be necessary, ma’am, but I could use some more rest…”
“Can you get rid of that damn thing now? It’s making me so nervous.”
“Candy, will you just relax? We have an alibi. Everything will be fine.”
“No, YOU have an alibi. I’m at home right now watching fight to the plumb-bob.”
“You know, Murder accomplice was never in my assistant’s contract.”
“Well… You’re getting paid extra. And it’s not murder, it’s revenge. That little pig broke my baby’s heart.”
“….Can you get rid of it now?”
“Fine, pull over, I’ll throw it in the ditch.”
“That was for you, Clementine.” She said, throwing the bloody knife on the ground in front of her.