Beverly's dress was nothing special. Its simple design was only made slightly unique with the slit that went just above her knee. It didn't have beads sewn into a rose design, as the dress of the girl next to her, or rhinestones covering most of the torso of the body like the dress on the girl on her other side. However, Beverly, standing in the dress her mother had spent hours sewing, was the most beautiful. It would have been a waste to take her long black hair and try to place it into a fancy bun because it looked perfect down. She did not need a make-up artist to use expensive acne dust all over her face because she was beautiful without it. Her olive eyes were lit with excitement, smiling from joy, a feature that none of the other girls could believe, but couldn't help but admire. Her older sister's heels were still stylish after three girls wearing them to prom and covered her toes so no one could see that she was the only girl up there without a pedicure. Everyone admired her as she stepped forward to accept her crown winning prom queen, especially Harris, the one boy she wished would be standing next to her.
Harris, Beverly's best childhood friend and boyfriend stood out in the audience with his blonde shag and tan that one can only acquire by spending every spare moment outside. His blue eyes sparkled with happiness as Beverly blew a kiss in his direction. He was the only male in the room with out a suit jacket or tie on, and his worn green shirt wasn't buttoned all the way to his neck or tucked in. However, this was how everyone expected him to arrive to prom. A boy like Harris, from the poor side of town, could never look as good as Gabriel, the school's quarterback and prom king. However, Harris smiled like he was standing next to Beverly.
"How is it that the most beautiful girl in school is dating an insensitive, repulsive boy like Harris?" all the girls asked one another. It was not that they found Harris ugly, but quite the contrary. They found him beautiful, but he was poor and he wasn't ashamed of it. Beverly tried everything she could to hide her social status.
As soon as the dance between the prom king and queen was over, Beverly raced from Gabriel's arms to Harris. Harris' embrace made every fear she had fade to nothing and she stood there for a minute, not even swaying to the music, allowing Harris to caress her hair.
"Let's get out of here," Beverly whispered into his ear finally.
"Bev," Harris reasoned, "you just won prom queen and now you want to leave? You've been looking forward to this night since you were five. How could you want to leave?"
"It's not the amazing experience I thought it would be," Beverly responded now that she had pulled Harris off the dance floor. "I want this night to be special. All these people are ruining it. I want it to be just you and me. We could go to my Dad's apartment and spend the night fooling around."
"All these people ruining it are your friends," Harris said, "how about we spend another half hour to hour here, and then, if you still want to leave, we can go. But don't forget, this is supposed to be one of the most wonderful days of your life."
"Congratulations Beverly," a few girls remarked as they passed by to the food table.
Beverly's face flushed red. She had forgotten that standing on the stage, everyone in at the whole dance saw her. She was the only one who didn't see herself as the goddess Venus in the flesh. She was also one of the few who didn't see Harris as the Pluto, god of the underworld.
"Let's dance," Harris said, "you know you want to."
"I do," Beverly said. Harris led her to the floor followed Harris's lead in dancing. It wasn't the grinding every other couple was doing. Bev and Harris were much more apt to simply move to the music, kick their feet, and Harris would spin and dip Bev at appropriate times.
Beverly and Harris didn't actually leave until the dance was over. Most of the other couples had tickets to the after-Prom activities, but Bev and Harris couldn't afford those, and didn't really want to spend that much time with their classmates. They jumped into Harris's car and drove to the apartment that Beverly lived in with her dad at the moment. Her dad was out, he worked the nightshift as a grocery store assisstant manager, and wouldn't be home until just before noon.
Harris sat on the small living room couch while Beverly went to change out of her dress. He kicked off his shoes and socks and lied down for a minute. When the lights suddenly dimmed, Harris sat up and looked at the light switch, where Beverly stood wearing a bathrobe and debatedly anything underneath.
"Bev," Harris said, his voice sounded distant to him. They always joked about fooling around, but never really did, at least, not in the sexual way. Their fooling around included watching old movies while eating ice cream and playing games with Harris's little brothers and sister.
"Come on, Harris," Beverly said in a sultry tone. She took a step backward, and reached for Harris's arm when he was close enough. She pulled him into a passionate kiss and held his kiss as she backed into her room and to her bed. She unbuttoned his shirt and then unbuckled his belt. Once she had him down to his boxers, she untied the robe, exposing her body only in lacy lingerie.
"I love you, Harris," Beverly said, pulling him onto her. She smiled as Harris ran his hands over his skin and undressed her from what little clothing she had left. Finally, he pulled off his boxers and Beverly could hardly contain her excitement.
"I love you, too," Harris whispered into her ear.
The two woke the next morning to the front door closing. They were still in each other's arms, and still without clothing on. The door was still slightly ajar.
"Oh God," Beverly said as she fell from the bed and reached for her robe. She barely had it on when her father opened the door to her room the rest of the way to check up on her.
"What in God's Hell are you doing here," he roared seeing Harris sitting on Beverly's bed and Beverly clutching her robe to keep it from falling. She had a panicked look on her face, so he assumed the worse. "Did you push my daughter to have sex with you?" He began toward Harris with fire in his eyes.
"No, Daddy," Beverly yelled. "Don't hurt him. He didn't do anything wrong."
"Don't lie for him, Bev," her dad yelled, slapping her.
"How dare you," Harris yelled, jumping from the bed, forgetting he was naked.
Beverly's dad punched Harris. He then pushed Beverly out of the room and closed the door so she wouldn't have to see what he did to Harris.
"Stop it, Daddy," Beverly yelled, pounding on the door as she heard the sounds of Harris being thrown around and punched brutally. She was sobbing by the time the door opened minutes later. "How could you?"
"Get dressed," her father said, handing her a bundle of clothing. He pushed her into the bathroom and waited for her to emerge. When she came out, she only saw Harris for a second before her father pushed him harshly out the door.
"He didn't hurt me, Daddy," Beverly said. "I swear, he didn't make me do anything I didn't want to."
"That's fine," her father said. "But if I ever catch you with him again, I will kill him."
Beverly didn't see any of the outside world until Monday when she was back at school. Between everyone congratulating her again for winning Prom Queen, and people asking her where she had been all weekend, Beverly had trouble finding time to even look for Harris. She found him outside during lunch smoking a cigarette. His face looked quite bad and Beverly began to cry just seeing him.
"I'm so sorry about what he did to you," Beverly said. She hugged Harris, who embraced her.
"It's fine," Harris said. "You know if he hadn't taken out his anger on me he would have hurt you. I'd rather be beaten to a pulp than allow you to be hit once."
"Don't say that, Harris," Beverly said. "Don't lie. Please, it just makes the pain worse."
"I'm not lying," Harris said. "I could never lie to you, Bev."
Beverly looked up, and saw that Harris looked sad. She got on her tip-toes and kissed him. She gently kissed each and every bruise on his beautiful face. She stood on her feet again and asked. "Why do you look so sad then?"
Harris looked at Beverly, and kissed her forehead. "I love you, Bev..."
"There's a 'but,' isn't there?"
Harris nodded. "I don't want you hurt. For your protection, I can't date you anymore."
"No, Harris," Beverly cried, shaking her head. "Don't say that. It'll be fine."
"I'm sorry Bev," Harris said. "You'll do fine. There isn't a guy in this school who wouldn't give up his worldly possessions to go on one date with you. You can do so much better than me. Think about it. In ten years, I'll be a cashier at Wal-mart probably. I don't have the money or access to go to college. You have that scholarship money. You'll find a successful man to date and marry and when you come to the reunion in ten years, you'll be happy you didn't stay with me because I'll be balding and with a huge beer-belly."
"I don't care, Harris," Beverly said. "I love you. I don't love anyone else."
"I love you too, Bev," Harris said. He stepped away from her. "It's because I love you."
A tear dripped down her cheek as Harris stomped out his cigarette and walked back into the school.
Six months later:
"Beverly," a voice called out and there was a knock beside her door. Beverly turned around to see Gabriel in the doorway of her dorm room. In the last few months, she had been on several dates with him. He had introduced her to the world of expensive restaurants and dates that weren't cut short to baby-sit the siblings.
"Hey, Gabe," Beverly said setting her pencil down. "What are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to let you know that I'm going home in a few weeks for a weekend," Gabriel said walking in and closing the door behind him. "I wanted to know if you were interested in joining me."
"My roommate doesn't have her key," Beverly said, but then looked at Gabriel. "Home?"
"Yeah," Gabriel said. "Visit the family and a few others will be there. So, what do you say?"
"I'd love to," Beverly said. "I'll have to call my mother, so she can have a bed ready..."
"No need," Gabriel said. "You can have a room at my house. We have plenty of room." He lifted an eyebrow and smiled slyly at her. "What do you say?"
"That sounds wonderful," Beverly said.
"Come here, Babe," Gabriel motioned for her to approach with his head. Beverly abliged. "I've been so stressed lately," Gabriel said, pulling Beverly onto his lap. He kissed her neck and reached under her blouse. "These tests are really hard and there is so much studying to be done."
"I think you've done a bit more than study," Beverly said, not moving but not prompting Gabriel to continue what he was going at.
"I'd like to do some not studying right now," Gabriel said pulling Beverly to lay on the bed. He climbed on top of her and took off his shirt. "What do you say?"
Beverly laughed, but agreed to his request. Gabriel was one of the best things to ever happen to her. He showered her with gifts and as far as she knew he was loyal to her. Also, he came with a trust fund.
Several minutes later, Gabriel and Beverly were under the covers on her bed. He moved quickly and roughly, but Beverly was used to this. It didn't really hurt her too much, and at the same time, her whole body tingled with pleasure.
When it was over, Gabriel kissed Beverly again and dressed himself. He was satisfied for the meantime. He left the room and closed the door so Beverly could redress in privacy. Beverly knew something was wrong with their relationship, but she didn't say anything. Just once, Beverly wished that he wouldn't leave within three minutes of having sex.
"He'll be back later tonight for some more," her roommate said as she walked in. She must have passed Gabriel in the hall or stairwell.
"Yeah," Beverly said, sitting at the desk again. "But he's good to me."
"Please tell me that you at least used protection this time," her roommate said.
"It was so quick I didn't even think about it," Beverly said smacking her forehead.
"You're going to get pregnant one of these days," her roommate said. "I wouldn't be surprised if you already were."
Beverly looked at her roommate. She knew that she was only trying to look out for Beverly's well-being, but it still hurt.
Beverly went to Walgreens a little later. She got a new bottle of shampoo and pregnancy test. Sure enough, Gabriel came back to the room a little before ten, looking to have sex again. He was drunk this time, and quickly rushed Beverly to sex. She didn't have time to think about protection before he got her undressed and under the covers.
"What are you staring at?" her roommate asked walking into the room a few days later.
Beverly couldn't speak, so she just held up the box of the prenancy test. It was true, she was pregnant. "Well?" her roommate asked.
Finally, Beverly found her voice. She just needed tears to come with it. "What am I going to do? I've ruined my life, and after I worked so hard in school to get this scholarship. I can't go back to my old life. I lived in a shit place and only one of my sisters has been able to get out of it by marrying a middle class man."
"There's always abortion," her roommate said. A look of horror came over Beverly's face. "Or you could give it up for adoption."
"But I will have to no doubt miss school," Beverly said.
"Take a semester off," her roommate said. "That's all I can say. By the way, when are you going to tell him?"
This question bothered Beverly even more than the fact that she was pregnant. She decided that she would wait until they were back in their hometown. However, when they were there, she couldn't bring herself to do it. She had seen a doctor, and had confirmed her pregnancy, but she couldn't tell Gabriel on the first night as she had planned.
The next morning, she woke early and walked the five blocks to the local drug store. She grabbed a bottle of Advil and brought it to the pharmacy counter to purchase.
"Beverly?" She looked up hearing the voice of Harris. He smiled seeing her beautiful face. "I didn't know you were in town. You should have called me."
"Well, actually," Beverly hesitated a moment. "I'm here with Gabriel."
"Oh," Harris said.
"I didn't know you could work here unless you were going to be a pharmacist," Beverly changed the subject.
"Well," Harris said. "I've been taking night classes and will become a full time student next semester. It turns out my final grades were a lot better than I predicted and I talked to a few colleges and found one that would actually give me money, so I've been working my ass off since to make money and take classes. I'm doing fairly well, actually."
"I have to go soon," Beverly said, looking at her watch.
"Right," Harris said. He scanned the Advil and then took ten percent off. "You're worth my employee discount."
"Thanks," Beverly said. She paid for the pills and smiled at Harris. She still loved him.
That night, she finally found the courage to approach Gabriel with the news. She sat him down in the living room and sat in a chair across from him. "Gabriel," she said, "I'm..." She stopped. She felt dizzy just from this. Finally, she blurted as quickly as she could, "I'm pregnant." She felt sick after saying this.
"You're what?" Gabriel asked, standing.
"Pregnant," she repeated.
"Not funny, Bev," Gabriel said. "Where did you get an idea that it would be funny to joke like that?"
"It's not a joke, Gabe," Beverly said. "I'm serious. And it's your child."
"No," Gabriel said. "It's your child and your problem."
"Gabe?" Beverly whimpered, but Gabriel pushed her out the door, literally.
"Keep away from me," Gabriel said.
Beverly walked to the closest bus stop and sat crying. She hoped the next bus would be one that could take her home, but it wasn't. The driver told her that the bus she wanted didn't even come to that stop. She'd have to go downtown and take a different bus from there.
Beverly didn't have enough money for that even on her. She decided to walk home, even though she knew it would take her a good hour. As the sun set and it began to get really cold, her speed increased. She was passing though a bad neighborhood, and the bums and gangs were all eying her. When one whistled at her, she broke into a full sprint and heard several sets of footsteps following her.
She wasn't more than a block away from her mom's house when the boys surrounded her. She screamed as one came forward and the next thing she knew, they all looked behind her and ran off. Beverly turned around, expecting to see a rival gang, but saw, instead, a young boy she knew very well. It was the oldest of Harris's brothers and a friend of his, both on the football team at their school. The other boy held a baseball bat, which explained the other boys running off.
"Beverly?" Harris's brother, Chad, asked. "What are you doing here?"
"Wishing I was three months in the past," Beverly said. "Is Harris home?"
"School," Chad said. "But he'll be back in the next half hour. Poor kid has to bike because of the gas prices."
"Can I come in?" Beverly asked.
"Yeah," Chad said. She approached and Chad's friend wiggled his eyebrows at her. She was used to Chad's friends from when she had been over every other day.
Beverly watched TV with the boys until Harris came through the door twenty minutes later. She approached the stunned Harris with caution.
"Hello," Beverly said.
"Should I be worried?" Harris asked. "I thought you were with Gabriel."
"I was," Beverly said. Understanding came to Harris's face, but it wasn't the sympathetic understanding she had expected. It was more of a disappointed understanding.
"Beverly, it's sad that something happened between you two, but I've been beat up enough times in your name," Harris said. "I am not going to sit here all night making you feel better just to be smacked around tomorrow when Gabriel finds out. And, knowing you, you'll just run back to his arms as soon as you can."
"It's not like that at all, Harris," Beverly said. "He threw me out of his house. I'm pregnant."
"And that is supposed to make me more sympathetic?" Harris asked.
"Harris," Beverly cried, "I still love you. I never stopped loving you. Have you?" Harris didn't answer. He looked at the ground instead, avoiding her eyes. "Have you?"
"No," Harris said.
"Then why can't I be with you?" Beverly asked.
"It's dangerous," Harris said. "For both of us. I'm doing well in school for once."
"And I'm a wreck," Beverly said. "It's not bad for both of us. It's not bad at all. We'd both be happy. And, you always did fine in school. The reason you're doing better is because you aren't spending time with me."
"Beverly," Harris said, "that's not fair. I'm trying to improve my life and you're trying to bring it down."
"Tell me you're not doing it for me," Beverly said.
"I'm not," Harris said. "I'm doing it for myself. For once, I am doing something for myself."
Beverly wiped a few tears from her eyes. "I love you, Harris."
"I love you, too, Beverly," Harris said quietly.
Beverly walked to the door. "I don't believe you," she said as she walked through the door.
She was half the way to her mother's house when she heard Harris's footsteps coming after her. "You're not being fair with me," Harris said. "Everything has to be for you or it doesn't count. I can't be a multifaceted person.Idon't have to doeverything for you or nothing for you. I am improving my life, but it's not for you. I'm doing it for me and my family. I am the only father my siblings have had. Please, don't ruin this for me."
"How am I ruining this for you," Beverly asked, turning to face him now that she was in front of her house.
"Because if you don't appologize, the only thing I will be able to think about everytime I sit down to study or when I'm in class will be you," Harris said. "Professors will not be impressed with essays explaining that I couldn't correctly answer the questions because my ex-girlfriend was invading my mind."
"Then why won't you take me back?"
"Maybe I need a few years away from you," Harris said. "To appreciate you more. I've never dated another girl in my life. Maybe I'd like to."
"You want to shop around?" Beverly asked, voice trembling.
"You make this so difficult," Harris said. "You're a drama queen, did you know that?"
"I am not," Beverly snapped. She turned toward her door, but Harris turned her around.
"Bev, I do love you," Harris said. "I just need a break."
"You've hada six month break," Beverly said.
"I need a longer one," Harris said. Beverly wiped a few tears from her eyes. She turned back toward the door, but stopped when she felt a hand around her wrist. She spun around the pulled Harris into a deep kiss before he could react. Just as she suspected, Harris couldn't resist. He embraced her and ran his fingers through her hair as always. She deepened the kiss and he didn't resist.
Finally, Beverly pulled away. "It's late," she said. "My mother doesn't even know I'm here, so I have to go."
She opened the door and heard Harris curse. "Damnit, Bev. You just had to do that? You couldn't let me be for once?"
"I'll call you tomorrow," Beverly said.
"I'll be at work," Harris said.
Beverly did call Harris, but he was already gone. She left a message for him to call her back, but he didn't and she had to evenutally leave. She had to leave again for her school and Harris still hadn't called her back.
Another six months later:
"How does it feel to have completed a year of college?" Beverly's mother asked when Beverly arrived at home. She was only a month away from delivery of the baby.
"Not as good as it would feel if I wasn't pregnant," Beverly said. She sat down on the couch.
"Guess who just got home yesterday from a semester at Roosevelt?" her oldest sister teased. Beverly stared at her sister. "Harris."
"Did you see him?" Beverly asked. Her sister nodded. "Did he ask about me?"
"In a way," her sister said. "He did ask me to give you something."
Her sister ran off for a second and returned with a package. Beverly opened it to see a book. "He wanted you to be one of the first with a copy of that. He wrote it, but it hasn't been released to the market quite yet."
The cover had apicture of a girl who looked a lot like Beverly. It was titled, A Girl I love, and Beverly smiled. He did love her, and he wrote abook about it. Beverly began reading it at once. She had known that Harris was an eloquent writer, having read his essays and notes before, but she had never seen him as a writer. The book was fascinating, and Beverly felt like she was reliving the time she had spent with him. It covered their whole lives, from when they were little kids through high school. It even had their latest conversation. He had made himself the bad guy of the conversation.
The book ended, "If she would take me back, I would be the happiest man upon this Earth. However, to wish such a blessing upon myself is asking for Jesus to have saved himself over God's people. I threw her to the wolves, twice. I could never love another with an eight of the love I have for Beverly. The next time I see her, I will smile. I would be lucky if she would just smile back."
"Beverly," she jumped at the sound of his voice. She turned to see him standing just behind her.
"Harris," Beverly said, standing and walking to him. "I can't believe you wrote this."
"I did that for you," he said. "It all true; the ending, that is."
Beverly wiped a tear as it slid from her eye. "Did you really expect that I wouldn't love you? Of course I love you."
"Then," Harris said, taking a step closer and taking her hand. He kneeled and pulleda small box from his pocket. He opened it to reveal a ring with a small diamond. "Will you marry me?"
"Anyday," Beverly said nodding. As Harris slipped the ring onto her finger, shecried, but she had never had a wider smile than right then. "You don't even care that I'm pregnant?"
"You'll let me act as the dad, won't you?" Harris said.
"I love you, Harris," Beverly cried, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Never let me go, you hear me. Never let me go."
"I'd be insane if I thought about it."