Sharon insisted that she could. Sharon had taken her shopping and she’d bought a skirt that was too short and too expensive and Sharon had given her a pair of high-heeled shoes to borrow. “You are going,” Sharon said, “You’re going to hold your head up high. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Except she did.
Brandi had a failed marriage. She and Greg had been high school sweethearts. He had been captain of the football team and she had been the homecoming queen and a cheerleader. They were better than everyone else in the school, they knew it and everybody else knew it. The summer after graduation, she’d ended up pregnant, with Jena. They’d gotten married and by the time their tenth reunion rolled around, they were still the “it” couple. She’d worn tight jeans and he’d looked handsome in a tight t-shirt. She knew everyone admired them, just like high school. Jena had been ten and cute with long blonde pigtails. She’d been older than any of their classmates toddler-aged children and that only added to Brandi’s smugness. She was past all that mess with diapers and hideous diaper bags.
Besides that, they’d had money. Greg worked for his dad’s construction company and even though it wasn’t technically theirs, they’d lived in a house provided by his dad and drove a truck the company owned. No one at the reunion knew it didn’t belong to them. It had been wonderful to have everyone envy her still. Her life had been a little empty. It was
sort of boring to be a mother and she was not cut out for housework so it was nice to be Brandi, the cute popular girl, again. If only for a weekend.
Things hadn’t been great in the subsequent years though. Greg started drinking and then gambling and then his dad fired him. Neither Greg nor Brandi thought that was possible.
Then there was Debbie, the cocktail waitress he had decided was the love of his life and he had left Brandi. It would have been much better if she’d left him. He was the one with problems and no job. Why did she wait around for him to leave her? Because she loved him. Well, she had. Now she only felt white-hot anger when she thought about him.
After high school, Jena had gone to junior college for a semester but dropped out. She never went to class. Now she was working as a flagger, holding up signs for her grandfather’s construction company. She said it was great for her tan.
So Brandi had nothing to brag about at the reunion. That was for sure.
She stared in the mirror. She had highlights in her hair that she couldn’t afford and acrylic nails on her fingers that she couldn’t afford.
She’d be paying for this reunion for months. Eying the wrinkles starting around her eyes, she considered that she should have gotten Botox but her credit limit wasn’t high enough.
Brandi sighed and gave herself one last forced smile in the mirror and headed to her car. She’d been practicing smiling for her new job, she was a receptionist at an orthodontist office. The computers were confusing and the assistants yelled at her because she kept double booking but she hoped if she smiled enough, she wouldn’t get fired.
It didn’t take long to drive to the hotel where the reunion was being held. A banner hung across the door of the ballroom. “Welcome class of ’93.”
Brandi pulled down her too short skirt that hiked up when she walked, took a deep breath and entered the room.