I’m carrying so many bouquets I can’t even open the door to my old beat up car. My boyfriend Max rushes to help me, and we laugh as I dump the flowers, adorned with ribbons and cards, into the back seat. He then opens my door, pausing to kiss my lips. We grin at each other and he places his hand on my bare knee as we cruise down the road. The windows are open and the warm spring air flows through the car and blows loose petals from the bouquets onto the dashboard, out onto the pavement.
“Kelsey, you were unbelievable tonight,” he says. He reaches into the backseat for the bundle of yellow roses he handed me just an hour ago.
“You may not have your yellow Beetle Bug yet, but I can still buy you yellow roses,” he comments. Max thinks it’s ridiculous that my dream car is a VW Beetle. And he thinks it’s weird that once I can afford one, I plan to keep yellow roses in the bud vase on the dash.
I steal a glance at him out the corner of my eye and grin. I can still feel the heavy caked-on stage makeup on my lips and cheeks, and even though I just gave my last performance on our high school’s stage, the sadness hasn’t hit me yet. I’m still riding the high of belting out my notes, dancing my heart out, and swelling with pride when the audience rose to their feet. I feel beautiful, I feel loved, and I’ve never been so happy in my life.
We party late into the night with my cast mates and Max’s fellow orchestra members. His hands are in my hair when we say goodnight at the crack of dawn, and we stifle our laughter when I drop him off at his parents’ way past curfew.
Weeks later, he writes in my yearbook, “My love – you are going to do such amazing things. When you make your Broadway debut, I will be there with yellow roses for your yellow VW Beetle.”
I kiss him for the last time one week after graduation.
Eight years later, I am standing outside the stage door of the biggest theater in Pittsburgh. I haven’t made it to Broadway yet, but I’ve just finished my first touring performance in my hometown and am surrounded by old friends, former classmates, and starry-eyed little girls. I sign autographs, accept flowers, and leave lipstick smudges on cheeks.
The rush of performing stays with me as I take pictures and share hugs with every last person who came to see me, and my feet don’t even ache in my three-inch heels as I tap my way to the parking garage where my brand new yellow VW Beetle is parked in a dully lit corner.
I stop dead in my tracks when I spot the giant bouquet lying against its windshield.
My heart begins to pound as I lift the card from among the delicate yellow petals. My fingers are shaking as I read the words scrawled on the tiny card, “Kelsey — I always knew you’d make it. Congratulations.”
I wipe the tears from my eyes as I inhale the sweet scent of the stunning flowers, then take a shaky breath and get into the car.
I place a single rose in the bud vase and put the car in reverse, pausing for a moment to collect myself before I drive. I stare at the shining engagement ring on my left hand for what seems like an eternity before heading home to Jake.
Stacy Alderman has had her writing published by Heart and Humanity, HerStryBlg.com, and The Mighty. She self-published two novels in 2016 and blogs about mental health on WordPress at Quirky, Confused, & Curvy.
When Stacy’s not writing or reading, she’s probably watching Penguins hockey or (thinking about) traveling. She lives with her husband and fur kid near Pittsburgh, PA.