Kelly needed a quick excuse to get out of there. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t understand how balloons and crepe paper could be so stifling. She thought it would all be ok, but she wasn’t ready after all. She found an emergency exit door at the back of the reception hall, and the fresh air and sunlight hit her like smelling salts, waking her up and allowing her to breathe again. The heavy bass of the music was smothered behind her. There were two people standing by the wall smoking, so she flashed a quick smile at them.
Pacing back and forth, she tried to decide what to do. Could she go back in there or should she just stay outside in the bright sunlight? She could see Joey coming out of the back doors. He shielded his eyes from the sun to look around the parking lot. As soon as his eyes spotted her, he walked briskly in her direction.
He looked so good dressed up like that. They had never been to anything formal like this before. Mostly he wore t-shirts and jeans, but he looked really nice in his dark suit. His hair was combed and he was shaved nicely. He could have been going to work in an office. The idea of it almost made her laugh out loud.
“Hi, Joey.” She said almost shyly.
“Hey babe. Whadda doin’ out here?” He asked.
“It was just so hot and crowded in there, I couldn’t breathe. I barely know anybody, so I came out for some air.”
Yeah, it’s not my kind of scene either, but we should get back before anyone asks for us.” Joey said grabbing her hand.
“You go ahead, I’ll be there in a minute or two. Cover for me.” She smiled.
He turned around and headed back. One of his friends handed him a can of beer on the way in, and they started laughing.
She liked the way her dress sounded like cellophane when she walked. She liked feeling like Cinderella. But walking in those shoes in the gravel parking lot was hard. Her ankle kept twisting if she stepped wrong, so she walked up to the sidewalk and pretended like she was a model. Cars honked as she passed, and she waved like a princess out on a stroll.
She had almost forgotten that she had tucked the money her mother had given her inside her bra since her dress didn’t have any pockets.
She saw a taxi parked across the street at the bowling alley, so she walked in to find the driver. She found a man sitting at the food counter drinking a Coke.
“Sir, is that your taxi?” She asked pointing towards the door.
“Well, I was just thinking that the freshest air is by the ocean. How much would it cost to have you drive me there?”
“That’s at least 130 miles away. It would take over 2 hours. I’d have to charge you about $250.”
“Ok, then, I’m ready to go,” she said pulling a few bills out of her bra.
He got up and grabbed his hat off of the counter just as she realized she didn’t have to hold the bouquet anymore.
Maybe she would call Joey later.