The Magic Ring - a short story by L. A. Cargill
The Magic Ring
by L. A. Cargill, November, 2011, all rights reserved
Prom night is always so special to girls. They love the dress up. Sometimes it's the first time ever to get real makeup and hair-styling, not to mention the wonderful prom dress! Ah yes, the dress of their dreams. They've been shopping for that special dress since Scooter was a pup.
A mother's dreams, a father's bewilderment; this is what prom night is for young parents of even younger boys and girls. How did this happen? How did time go by so fast? And what of the lost ones? The young teens who never got to go to their prom nights? Either through death or misadventure, these unlucky ones never experienced the joy and tragedy of a night of magic that lives forever in the minds of the still innocent. The innocence never lasts long enough.
This is a story of one couple living the prom night dream. They have spent so many years looking forward to this one night, this truly magic night. They might lose their virginity. They might have already lost it. Things will appear so different when they grow up.
Linda Carson is a lovely young lady. She's been a moderate success at high school. Mostly B's and a few A's sprinkled around. She wants to go to college next Fall. She's been accepted at a couple of nearby institutes of higher learning. As is most of the teen community of her mid-sized town, she is thrilled at the end of boring high school and is ecstatic to be on the Prom Committee. This year's theme is a Moonlight Serenade or a Walk in the Clouds.
Linda and her friends have been working so hard to make prom night the most special, most memorable night of their young lives. Wouldn't you know it, it will be...
Strangely, no one asked Linda to the big event and she either was too focused to notice or forgot to accept one of the few invitations. She wasn't all that mortified, though. She knew she would encounter other "singles" there and she was responsible for seeing to the various projects that make prom night work. So, no question, she was going. The dress was laid out and ready. The most gorgeous shoes ever completed her ensemble. Proms sometimes resemble wedding days, and may be the precursors for wedding rituals. Linda had something white, something blue, something borrowed and something blue.
About two hours into the festivities, Linda noticed a most handsome and eligible young man in a sort of old fashioned sport's letter jacket. She didn't know who he was, but he seemed to fit in and be comfortable with the crowd. Perhaps he was an alumni who had graduated the year before.
Their eyes met. Linda felt like reality shifted. It seemed that everyone else in the room shrank away and the only two people left on earth were herself and the boy in the jacket. She had to stop serving punch and go over to meet him. Now she could understand what everyone meant by chemistry.
"Do you come here often?" she asked.
He just smiled and took her hand. They walked through the crowd to the back of the gym and went outside where he led her down a path to the small duck pond behind the school grounds. She felt amazingly safe with this guy but was infinitely curious about him.
He took her in his arms and softly raised her chin for a kiss. Again, she felt like the night shifted somehow. Something just wasn't right. She shivered and he took off his jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. She put her hands in the pockets and felt something very warm. It was a class ring. She started to take it out to give to him but he put his finger to his lips and shook his head no.
They stood together for a while without speaking. Linda took a few steps toward the water and turned around. The boy was gone! He had totally disappeared. But he must have been there! She still had his jacket on and the ring was still in the pocket. What was in that punch?
She returned to the dance and her eyes swept the room for the mysterious man. She could not spot him anywhere. She walked around and asked several friends if they had seen him or knew who he was. No one recalled seeing someone wearing that jacket. All night long she kept hoping to run into him again. She wanted to return the jacket and ring. The night ended without a clue of who this guy was.
The next day, Linda went to the school library. She found the shelf where all the yearbooks were kept and she pulled out the current year. She sat down at a table and pulled out the ring. The initials inside read T. J.
She turned to the photo gallery and went to the J's. Lot's of Jones and Johnsons, but no sign of the handsome face she had gazed upon the night before. She got up and went to the shelf again to replace the yearbook and she thought, "oh what the heck, maybe he was an alumni just checking in."
She retrieved yearbooks for the last five years and took them to the table. She was about to give up hope when she found him in the last place she was going to look, the yearbook from five years ago. His name was Terry Johnson. The photo showed him wearing the exact same jacket that she had in her hand. She looked closer at the ring. Sure enough the date was from five years ago. Why hadn't she noticed that before.
She took the yearbook over to the librarian who had been working here for years. She wanted to know if she knew anything about this "T.J.".
She asked, politely enough, about the boy in the photo. A sad look came over the librarian's eyes.
"Oh yes, I remember Terry very well. Or at least the story of what happened to him. At the prom that year, Terry disappeared down by the lake. They found his jacket and ring lying on the shore. Rumor was that he drowned himself over a girl or trying to save a girl. Something like that." she said.
"This jacket?" Linda asked.
"Well, it does look very much like that one. Where did you get it?"
"From him. Last night. At the prom."
"Well, that's just not possible. Mr. Johnson is buried in the town cemetery. I attended the funeral myself." the librarian replied.
Lind drove over to the cemetery. She had to see this for herself. She found the grave. She also found something else. The ring that had been in the jacket pocket was now laying on top of Terry Johnson's headstone.
She laid the jacket on top of the grave and said, with a tear in her eye, "I hope you find peace some lovely and magical prom night away from the lake and perhaps with the girl you are trying to save. Nice knowing you, T.J."
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© 2011 Austinstar
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