A handsome young man who I recognized as the quarterback from the Rooks’ football team was down on one knee while holding several red balloons, some of which had the word “Go to prom with me?” written on them, and Corvina was in tears, but I got the sense that she wasn’t crying from happiness… “Is that a no?” the young man inquired with a worried expression on his face.
“I…” Corvina began to reply but then trailed off.
“Aye means yes!” one girl who was observing the even gushed.
The young man perked up, “So, you said yes?”
Corvina disputed that, “No!”
“So, you’re saying no?” The young man grew dejected again.
“No, I didn’t say that either! I don’t know what I’m saying!’ Corvina fretted.
I had a number of other things to do, so I really didn’t want to get involved with this teen drama unfolding in front of me, but I could see a lot of hurt brewing inside of both of them, and it pulled at my heartstrings enough to compel me to do something to fix whatever issue plagued them. I requested, “Hey, Corvina! Come here! Let’s talk for a minute.” We walked to an empty part of the hall, and then I quietly asked her, “You don’t like that guy?”
Corvina, still watery-eyed, answered me, “No, that’s not it at all! I always thought he was handsome, but Hudd is a true part of the establishment! He’s popular, rich, and just everything I was rebelling against! Now, the rules are different though! We used to run in different circles, but ever since the FAUK club took over, I maintained my individuality by dressing super girly. But since these fake goths are the new norm, I embraced this behavior previously used by the status quo. So, just trying to be unique, I started acting like one of the people I can’t stand! I became one of them! But I always thought after this was over, I’d go back to my old self again. If I got out with him, that won’t happen!”
“Who says that you can’t be your true self?” I challenged her.
“If I join the popular girls, when they do become popular again, I can’t return to my gothic roots! I gotta keep up with the Joneses, I can’t be different in any way!” Corvina lamented. “I know, right now, it’s what I want ‘cause we are the counter-culture, but if the FAUKers drop off the face of the planet, as they should, then I’ll be forced to live in a world that I despise!”
I rationalized to her, “Okay, first of all, this is a prom-posal, not a wedding proposal! It’s just one date! If he isn’t what you want, you can dump him any time you want! Secondly, if he tries to change who you really are, he isn’t worth keeping around!”
Corvina probed, “But what if I do like him and everyone else wants me to change myself?”
“Screw them! You’ll be dating the king of the popular kids, which would make you the queen! And the queen gets to decide the rules!” I said with a wink. She clearly hadn’t considered that point until I brought it up, and she seemed to take it under serious consideration. As for me, I was still a new teacher, and I never had any siblings, so I had no experience giving out advice to kids! Yes, I had a leadership position at the marketing firm I worked at for over a decade, but we never discussed much about our personal lives! It was a little difficult to share stories about your significant other when you’re never around to see them! I wonder if I divulge the details regarding my ex, could I have saved myself from the years I wasted on her? … Anyways, obviously, I didn’t have the best background for doling out pearls of wisdom, and yet I somehow managed to give them out in spades with her! I internally gave myself a pat on the back for the remarkable job I did today when I never imagined that I could pull something like this off!
“Aww, she’s gonna say no!” Hudd hung his head low. “I knew I wasn’t good enough for her!”
Corvina spun around real fast when she heard that! She croaked out, “You don’t think you’re good enough for me? What, are you high?”
Hudd contemplated this notion. “Hmm… I’m not sure! There was this party over the weekend, and I figured since it’s the off season…” He saw the discerning stare I was giving him, so he beseeched me, “Please don’t tell coach Jackson!”
“Well, he is a friend of mine, so…” While I inwardly debated whether or not I should tell Fletcher about his star players’ allegedly illicit use of his break, Hudd’s eyes enlarged in panic. I would have been shocked if he was still under the effect of whatever he did, and as far as I know, his scholastic reports were still very positive, so I certainly didn’t want to cause Hudd any unnecessary trouble, and Fletcher had enough trouble of his own, so I reconsidered revealing this news to him. “Well, the baseball team is a real hassle right now, so I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that! But, for the love of god, don’t say anything else incriminating in front of me! Actually, you tow should go off campus and talk! It sounds like you two have a lot to discuss!”
“Thanks, Mister Fenmore!” Corvina smiled gratefully to me as did Hudd. I returned the gesture, but then I ushered them to vacate the premises. Hudd grabbed Corvina’s hand, and they scampered towards the exit.
I nearly ran into the balloons he utilized, so I called after them, “Hey, you guys forgot something!”
Hudd told me, “Nah, I shouldn’t take it out of here! I found it after class, and since no one seemed to be using them, I decided to take some to ask Corvina to the prom! I’m shocked they didn’t come looking for them!” The two of them stood there staring at me as if they got the impression I had more to say, but I didn’t, so once again, I gestured for them to scat.
After they were out of sight, my curiosity peaked about the balloons that Hudd had stumbled across. Nobody was coming to collect them, so did they not want them anymore? I hypothesized that another prom-posal had gone wrong, so the person who had bought these originally abandoned them after their loss. There were a few blank ones, so I got an idea of how to use them for myself! I took some into my classroom, and then I dug out a marker to write “Marry Me Phoebe” on the surface! I was supposed to meet up with her as well as the others shortly, so it seemed like the best audience to do this in front of! I grinned as I savored how I pictured she would react to this stunt, and then I stored the balloons there so I could dash off to run another errand prior to the onset of our meeting.
When I entered into the shop room, Fletcher was in the process of feeding something into a strange machine while Phoebe, Ellie, Ginger, Aleck, and the teacher who occupied this class stood by and watched. A lot of sparks were flying, so no one noticed me standing there with a bouquet of balloons and a giant, old book in my arms! The sparks emitted from that contraption prompted the shop teacher to persuade Fletcher to stop, and the others instinctively backed away in a swift manner! When Fletcher finally caught on to the scenario, he pushed the power off button and inquired, “Am I doing it wrong?”
“Have you ever seen any tools that work correctly emit sparks like that?” the shop teacher replied. Fletcher had to mull over that question for a beat.
“Did it do anything to the key? I mean spoon!” Ellie posed to the shop teacher.
The shop teacher held the spoon up so everyone could see it. “I don’t understand it! It should’ve been severely damaged, but there’s not even a scratch on it! As a matter of fact, it appears a little cleaner somehow!’
Aleck, who ended up close to the doorway that I was standing in, espied my gimmick, and I fully expected him to bring it to the others’ attention so I could go through with the ritual. My heart raced as I anticipated the long-awaited moment, but my hopes came to a screeching halt when Aleck darted to the door and started to shove me outside! “Connor’s here! He needs to talk to me about something!” he relayed to the others.
“No I don’t!” I protested. I couldn’t comprehend why he didn’t want this proposal to occur! We had all gotten along like family, and everyone supported my relationship with Phoebe, so why wouldn’t he want us to get married?”
“Yes, you do!” Aleck insisted. I wanted to object some more, but then I recognized that I trusted him like he was one of my relatives (Really, I trusted him more than some of them if counted Blaise!), so if he was preventing this occasion from commencing, then he more than likely had sound logic for taking this action! I relented to his wishes and decided to hear him out because, even if he was going by an incorrect conclusion, he still meant well, and I became very interested in what he so vitally needed to discuss with me…
As soon as we exited the area, I hissed, “Why did you do that?”
I braced myself for whatever emotionally devastating tidbit he intended to reveal to me, but to my astonishment, he enquired, “Where did you get those balloons?”
“Some kid used it for a prom-posal.” I didn’t’ want to argue with him, but I failed to see why this topic held any urgent significance! “I took it ‘cause he didn’t want it anymore. He was concerned about the person he nicked it from coming back to find them.” A thought then struck me. “Wait, did you run into the student who lost them? I’d be happy to give it back later! Well, I guess they couldn’t get the marker off. I’ll pay them back for it, I swear!”
“No, no, no! Listen, those balloons didn’t come from a student…” Aleck informed me.
Now I felt completely confused. “Were they a teacher’s then?”
Out of nowhere, Damon’s ghostly form manifested next to us, and he bitterly admitted, “They’re mine! Well, sort of…”
“You mean… these are…?” Somehow, I couldn’t’ get myself to utter that full sentence, but I knew the truth. Disgust filled my veins as it set in, and once it fully saturated within me, I exclaimed, “Ugh! I don’t wanna use these anymore!”
“Good! Then I’ll take them back!” Damon attempted to seize the bouquet, but his phantasmal fingers floated right through them! “Dammit! Why’d that witchy girl have to get a ride from Roxy? She might’ve made herself useful for once!”
Aleck read what I had written on the balloons, and he gasped, “You were gonna propose to her?” I nodded. It was kind of strange to acknowledge this with another individual! As often as I preoccupied myself with this ambition, I hadn’t actually voiced it out loud to anyone until this instance! My nerves threatened to rumble as I prepared for Aleck’s opinion on this concept, and I knocked on wood that he wouldn’t disapprove of my objective… To my relief, he cracked a huge smile and celebrated, “Dude!” He excitedly slapped my hand as he shook it, and then enthusiastically regarded me, “Congratulations!”
I was so thrilled that he acclaimed the premise of our union, but his fervor caused a shard of disappointment to hit me as well. “Thanks! But don’t revel in joy too soon! I still gotta ask her…”
“Oh man! I’m so sorry!” Aleck sympathized with me as he eyeballed the fear monger balloons. “Did you wanna…?”
“No, no! If Phoebe found out that I used a monster’s hide to get engaged, I doubt she’d be so on board!” I truly did not want to destroy this romantic plot I cooked up, but I felt sure that I would shorten my odds of persuading that woman to agree to be my wife if I went through with it in this manner, so I didn’t see any alternative other than to decimate the balloons immediately!
Damon strove to convince me otherwise, “What’s the big deal? That boy got a date to the dance with them, so why not use them to seek her hand in marriage?”
Aleck glimpsed at me to gauge my opinion, and I gave him a curt nod to indicate my agreement on carrying on with the destruction of these unholy novelties. Ignoring Damon’s cries of opposition, Aleck took a pen out of his pocket and popped them one by one! It totally hurt my ears, I did not think that one through enough! We peered at the remains as they fused together and reverted to their original form, but before we could behold its disappearance…
“What’s going on over here?” The hall monitor rounded the corner and gazed at us suspiciously.
“Nothing!” I lied as Aleck and I jumped in front of the fear monger’s corpse to obscure it from the hall monitor’s viewpoint. “We were just…” I struggled to unearth an excuse for the pair of us to be hanging out in the hallway in such an unusual fashion.
The hall monitor didn’t seem to believe me, but thankfully, he didn’t appear upset about it. He leaned in close and whispered, “Did you get rid of the…?”
Aleck assured him, “Yup! All ninety-nine of them!”
“There were ninety-nine red balloons?” I surmised with a discernable amount of amusement.
“Don’t even mention that song to me!” the hall monitor snapped. He shuddered and added, “It doesn’t help that the creepy clown used them before murdering his victims!” I almost brought up the truism of his phobia stemming from a fictional character, but I bit my lip since he showed signs of vacating the vicinity. “Thanks, guys!”
We both shouted, “No problem!” as he walked away. We gazed at each other animatedly and hollered, “Dude!”
Talking in unison entertained the both of us, but the rest of the Ghost League joined us with less gleefully expressions on their faces. Ginger irritably addressed Aleck and me, “Dudes! What are you so pumped up about? This method of getting rid of the key fizzled out miserably, and we have no other clues on how to do it!”
“That’s not true!” I disagreed as I showcased the large tome in my hands.