The big day has finally arrived. Mike is looking forward to meeting Sarena in person. Meanwhile, he’s got a field trip to drive for. He enjoys the concert, but is a little taken aback when one of the mothers recognizes Big Mike. Fortunately, she doesn’t make an issue of it. She wants to offer him a modeling gig, but he says he has to check with Sarena first.
“Oh, I hope she doesn’t mind,” she said with a sigh. She wiggled her fingers at my chest like she wanted to touch it. “Cause—oh, my God!” She squealed real quiet on that last word.
I chuckled, shaking my head. She went back to her friends, shrugging.
“Not who I thought,” she said all disappointed as she sat down. When they weren’t looking, she winked at me.
We loaded the kids back on the bus and drove back to the school. The kids were still talking about the concert. Pretty impressive for a bunch of fifth graders. One of the teachers came up to me after the kids tromped off the bus. The chaperones and other teacher led them back to the room. She lingered.
“What did you think of the concert?” Miss Parker is attractive in a mousey way. She wears those dresses that cover from chin to ankle and always has her hair pulled back in a braid.
“It was great. I didn’t realize how much I missed that. Been gone from the City a long time,” I said quietly. I was actually feeling kind of homesick all of a sudden.
“I imagine we seem pretty backwater here,” she said, dropping her eyes.
“No, not really. There’s a lot here, but I don’t take advantage. I should start. I’m thinking of picking up another degree.” I shrugged. “School’s not too bad, right?”
She laughed, tossing her hair over her shoulder. I caught a glimpse and it occurred to me that she was flirting! Holy cow, where did these women come from all of a sudden? I wanted to laugh, but it would have hurt her feelings.
“I need to get the bus back, Miss Parker. I don’t mean to rush.”
“No, it’s okay. I understand. Thanks again, Mr. Reuben. You always take such good care of us.”
I realized I had driven her class more than once on trips. I hadn’t really thought about it until that moment. I gave her a hand down from the bus and waited until she was on the sidewalk, safely away from the vehicle, before I pulled away from the curb. She waved kind of sadly after me. She was a pretty woman, but shy and inhibited. She could do a lot to fix herself up and she would be a really good looking girl.
I checked in the bus and headed home. About halfway there, I turned my phone back on to find more than one message from Sarena.
“Hi, there. I guess you’re still at work. It’s three and we’re almost to Cheyenne! I’ll see you soon. Be safe!” The rest of the messages were similar and at 15 minute intervals.
I was listening to the last one when the phone beeped in my ear. I picked up the call.
“Mike? Hi!” It was Sarena. “You’re done?”
“Just heading home. I need a shower then I’ll be over.”
“Great! I’ll tell the parental units. Thirty minutes?”
“I’ll bathe fast, twenty.”
“I can’t wait to see you.”
“Me either.” I sighed contentedly. “It will be good to see you in person.”
“Yes, it will. Hurry up.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can. See you in a few!”
I don’t think I’ve ever bathed and dressed so fast. I picked up my clothing and made sure the place was neat. If there was any chance at all that Sarena came home with me, I wanted it to look nice. I wasn’t holding my breath. Ma tends to dominant my time when she’s around. But if Chester could distract her, if Sarena could misdirect her. . . . Please, God, I prayed for the first time in years. Please, God, let that woman come home with me! Then I realized that was not only selfish, but sinful and recanted the prayer part. But I didn’t renege the feelings.
I pulled up at the motel in less than 20 minutes. I asked for them in the office and walked up to their rooms. My mother won’t stay on the ground floor, don’t ask me why. She also has to be on the end of the hall furthest from the elevators.
I was just about to their door when my phone rang. Laughing, I answered Sarena’s call.
“Hi, yourself. Are you here yet?”
I stood in front of her door with a smart assed grin on my face. “Open your door and find out.”
Seconds later, the door flew open and she was there with the phone pressed to her ear. Squealing like a little kid, she flung herself at me. Her lips descended on mine, as I held her six inches off the floor, when the door next to us flew open and Ma flung herself at me. I nearly dropped Sarena. Ma didn’t even notice.
“Chester!” She yelled. “It’s Mikey!”
© Dellani Oakes 2014