Ghost Stories and Tall Tales of the American South

Country Road

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High school prom date goes very wrong. Written by Lanny Gilbert

Greg bit his lip as he walked silently down the old red clay road back toward home. It had been mighty dry lately, so any passing cars would stir up the clay dust and he’d have to stop to wipe the dust and sweat from his eyes before continuing on his way.

As he walked, his mind wandered to the events of Friday night, just one week ago…

Greg pulled up to Laura’s house in his Daddy’s new Pontiac, which he had polished till he could see himself in it and no wax circles were left. He felt so proud and excited as he walked up to the front door and knocked.

Laura, looking radiant in her prom gown, had answered the door and invited him in with a smile that melted his heart.

“Hi, Greg”, she said as he passed her and went into the house, turning slightly away as he tried to sneak a kiss. “Wait till we get away from here before you start that stuff. Anyway, my Mama wants to take some pictures before we go. I hope you don’t mind. I tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted. Why don’t we sit down for a minute until she gets here with the camera?”

“Ah, that’s OK” Greg said, taking Laura’s hand and helping her to sit. “Your mama is real nice and I don’t mind at all. Just as long as I’m with you, everything is fine.” Nothing was going to spoil this night.

As if on cue, Laura’s mother walked into the room carrying her instamatic camera.

“Hello, Greg,” Laura’s mother said. “My, how handsome you look tonight. And, my daughter..” she said, smoothing Laura’s hair. “She looks just like a movie star. OK. Y’all hold still. Let me capture this moment.”

Greg and Laura smiled up at the camera, which flashed and whirred as the picture came out the front.

“Hold on, let me take another one for Greg to keep.” Click… Whirr…

Greg took the picture from Laura’s mother and slid it into his inside jacket pocket. As he did so, he stood and took Laura’s hand.

“Ready?” he asked. Laura just smiled and stood.

“Ready and rarin’ to go!” Laura replied, as her mother blushed slightly at her daughter’s racy tone.

“OK, Mom,”, Laura said as she and Greg were headed out the door, “We’ll be back by midnight, or Greg’s daddy’s Pontiac will turn into a pumpkin and Greg will probably get a whuppin’!”

Greg escorted Laura outisde, opened the car door, helped her inside and then got in the driver’s seat. He had never felt prouder than at that moment as they sped away toward the prom and unspoken promises of what might lie ahead.

Greg stopped walking and reflected for a moment on the day that he’d asked Laura to the prom. He’d had a major crush on her since 7th grade, but never had the courage to do anything about it. She was always friendly toward him, but seemed to always have a boyfriend. Now they were juniors, she was not dating anyone that he knew about, and he wanted more than anything to take Laura to the prom. It was just last month when he’d asked her, but it seemed a lifetime ago…

He’d seen her in the hallway at school. She was standing by her locker talking to some friends. He waited until they left before he made his approach. He’d spent extra time combing his hair and checking his face this morning, knowing that he’d be asking Laura THE question today. Screwing up his courage, he began walking down the hall toward her. She saw him first.

“Hi, Greg. What’s up?”

“Oh.. Nothing.. Just happened to see you and I thought that I’d.. umm…”

“Greg? What’s wrong? Your face is all red!”

“Uh. Laura… you know that the… uh.. prom is coming up next month and I was wondering if you were doing anything and if not, then maybe you might consider… uh… possibly going with me to… uh… Dang it!! I’m messing up… Just give me a minute.”

Laura felt her face turning red, but looked at Greg and said, “Are you trying to ask me to the prom?”

Taken aback that Laura would actually understand his stammering, he replied a little more confidently, “Well, yes. I’d love to have the honor of escorting you to the prom.”

“Well, in that case, I’d love to go” Laura said. “OK… Let’s talk later… I’m late for class. I think we’ll have a great time.” And with that, she walked off and Greg felt for all the world like he could fight a circle saw barehanded and spot it the first few licks.

Greg saw an old familiar stump in the woods by the side of the road and walked up to it to sit down for a moment. As he looked around, he remembered walks with his Grandfather through these woods when he was just a kid and life was simpler. He’d learned a lot from those walks; how to track a deer, how to hunt rabbits in the snow, what berries were edible and how to find your way home if you got lost by following a pasture fence. He felt a little lost inside as he remembered the day after the prom…

He’d been in town, sitting in the Burger Hop at lunchtime with a couple of buddies, telling each other lies about what they’d done at the prom. He and Laura had a good time, but a couple of almost sister-like good-night kisses were as far as he’d gotten. Wasn’t prom night supposed to be the night that… well, you know.

His heart had skipped a beat as Laura unexpectedly walked into the restaurant with some of her friends. She looked toward him, but seemed to look right through him, like he wasn’t there. He was a bit puzzled at that, but kept on eating and joking with his buddies.

Laura and her friends got their food and sat down 3 tables away from Greg and company. Greg fingered his class ring, the one he’d saved for 2 years to buy, stood and walked to Laura’s table.

“Hey, Laura. Can I talk to you just a minute?”

“Sure, Greg”, she said. “have a seat,” pointing toward an empty spot in the booth next to her.

“Um… this is kind of… uh… personal. Could we just go outside for a second?”

Laura looked at Greg uncertainly, then turned to her friends and said “I’ll be right back.”

Greg and Laura walked outside the restaurant. He looked around to make sure that no one was listening or watching, swallowed hard, and then began to speak.

“Laura… last night was awesome. I was wondering if, maybe, you’d consider wearing my ring. I want us to go together. I want to keep you next to me and if you’d wear this ring, then no matter where you are, I’ll feel like I’m right there with you.”

With that, he held out the ring to Laura and attempted to put it on the index finger of her right hand. Laura curled her hand slightly away from Greg, lips trembling, and Greg could swear he saw a tiny tear in the corner of one eye.

“Greg, first of all, I just want to say I had a really good time last night. Honest. But I can’t date you right now. My old boyfriend Tom -remember him? He moved away when we were in 8th grade? Well, anyway, he’s moved back and we went out Thursday night before you and I went to the prom on Friday.”

Greg’s mind reeled. “How could you go out with him, and then turn around the very next night and go to the prom with me?”

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” she said. “I know that you’ve had feelings for me since middle school. Feelings that, I realize now, I can’t return. I’m sorry, Greg. I can’t wear your ring. I really had fun at the prom, but I want to get back with Ted. I’m sorry for the way things turned out. I really am. Plus, we’ll always have the memories of that night.”

“You mean you used me to get to go to the prom, don’t you? Just go on, go back with your friends and Tom, or Ted, or whatever his name is,” Greg said, feeeling the anger and sting of rejection rising inside him.

“I still want us to be friends, Greg. But I don’t see how that can happen, with you acting this way. I’m going back inside now.”

Laura went back to sit with her friends and Greg stomped away from the Burger Hop, just wanting to be alone.

“Go away,” he’d told his buddies when they caught up to him asked him what was up.

Greg stood up from his seat on the stump. As he stood, a picture fell from his shirt pocket and landed on the ground. The picture that Laura’s mother had taken of he and Laura in their prom best.

He picked up the picture and carefully brushed away the loamy soil from the woods that had collected on it.

“Wow, Laura,” he said out loud, gently running his finger over her face in the picture. “You were so beautiful that night. This is how I want to remember you. Not like this morning, with you staring up at me with those lifeless eyes from the bottom of the river. I’m real sorry for what I did. I really did love you.”

Wiping away tears, Greg put the picture back in his pocket, stepped out of the woods onto the dirt road and kept walking toward home, oblivious to the sirens in the distance as their insistent screams drew closer.

– THE END –



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4 Responses to “Country Road”


MARIO:

SHE KILLED HER???!!! WOW..

jeh:

climax of story was unpredictable

Sunshine:

I so don’t get it……

Sunshine:

Wait now that I come to read it again, DID HE KKKIIILLL HER?????

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