"SURPRISE!" Everyone shouted as the lights flicked on. I stood there gazing at the sea of excited faces looking back at me. Behind them hung 2 large banners reading, Happy Birthday and Congratulations. Blue and white for congratulations and hot pink and mint for the happy birthday. There were bulldogs wearing a blue sweater with the Yale logo on it, as well as party hats, exploding confetti all over the walls. As I approached the nearest table that was overflowing with gifts, I noticed the table confetti contained bulldogs, diplomas, graduation hats, happy birthday, party hats and balloons. Combining the themes together. The presents also had both colors appear on them. I smiled in delight at the heaping pile.
"How did you know?" I turned to my friend Jamie who had brought me to this surprise soiree. "I only found out about Yale last week! I thought only my parents knew."
I see them approach us. "We had the banner made months ago, honey. We were so sure you were going to get in. And you did!" My father puffs out proudly as my mother nods enthusiastically, her eyes full of happy tears.
"It just happens to coincide with your birthday. Why not celebrate both? I think the décor goes, don't you?" Jamie commented.
I nod, happiness pooling in my own eyes. I've never had a surprise party before and I feel touched at the care everyone took in being a part of it. I face the crowd. "Thank you, everyone." I'm bombarded by balloons that fall from the ceiling suspended there beforehand. It's all too much for me and I burst into tears. "I'm touched." I manage to choke out as a line forms so everyone can greet me with hugs or congratulations. In this small-town people show up.
The music starts softly in the background so we can talk over it. I lose track of how many people I've hugged. I'm in a daze. My parents lead me to the front of the room and my own special table where they bring me pizza. Along the backwall are at least 10 different pies, so everyone has something they like. I feel like the whole town is here. I peer around the room looking for Sam, my boyfriend but he's nowhere to be found. For the first time all night, there's a twinge of sadness. Of course, he's not here, he wouldn't be allowed. Not at the country club.
"Don't worry about him, Kat. Try to enjoy yourself." Jamie whispers in my ear as she slides into the seat next to me. She's been my best friend for years, encouraging me to go my own way, as have my parents. Even though there are clear lines drawn in this town, we somehow managed to make it into the good one. The accepted one, even though we're not sure we belong.
"Easy for you to say." I mumble under my breath. We'd had a fight yesterday when I told him about Yale. I loved him but I wasn't going to stay here and get sucked into the stupid politics of the have and the have nots. "There's so much more out there Sam. You know that. You've seen some of it on your bike. Why don't you come with me? I know you could get in if you applied yourself. You're so smart. I just don't understand you sometimes." I frowned.
"That's the reason I can't go. You don't understand. You'll never understand because you're part of the glitterati." He spat back in my face.
"You know me better than that. Help me understand. Is it loyalty to the Cobras? Because what have they ever done for you really?" I bark at him.
He gives a cry of frustration and hops on his bike, spewing dirt and rocks at me as he sped away. We'd been at our favorite spot by the river and I walked the 3 miles back to town by myself in the fading light.
Jamie was right of course; this was a party for me. I push all thoughts of Sam out of my mind, stuff some pizza in my mouth, and put on a happy face. "That's my girl." She whispers in my ear.
People start dancing as the pizza whittles down. Pretty soon the cake arrives. After a rousing rendition of happy birthday, I blow out the candles and then cut it. My mother hands me a large slice of the marble cake smothered in chocolate and motions for me to eat it. I do, stuffing the cake in my mouth hoping to numb the pain that the 1 person I want here is not. We'd had fights before, but nothing like this. He never left me stranded somewhere and always texted the next morning to apologize. Even if it was my fault. I hadn't heard anything from him since last night.
The DJ stops to change the track and I think I hear the sound of a motorcycle. Could it be? I rush outside. There's nothing there. I sigh and head back in to try and force myself to enjoy the activities. Arthur asks me to dance. He's been after me since the day I joined the country club. He was nice enough sure, but my heart was set on Sam.
There's a faint rumbling again, this time I'm sure I hear it. With a loud bang, Sam bursts through the double doors on his motorcycle, engine revving. He comes to a stop before me dancing with Arthur, and flips the lid on his helmet up. His eyes twinkle mysteriously and he holds out his hand. "Did you ever doubt me?"
I smile and without hesitation unstrap the extra helmet jamming it on my head, not caring about my hair. "Let's get out of here." I whisper in his ear as I get on. He gives a nod and we peal out, the faces of the other people shocked and in awe.