It was a crisp fall day and Spencer Nolan was noticing just that fact as he rode his motorcycle to school. The leaves were festive colors of orange and yellow and red and they were at that perfect stage where, when tread upon, they released the most delightful crunching sound.
Spencer slowed as he reached the parking lot of M. Watson High School. He parked his bike and took off his helmet. As he turned to go inside, he noticed ominous dark clouds in the distance, no doubt warning of an impending storm.
“Spencer!” At the sound of his name, Spencer looked away from the clouds and saw his longtime girlfriend, Mandy Roswell, waiting for him at the front door.
“Hey Mandy.” He slipped his arm around her thin waist as he reached her.
“Spencer. I need to talk to you.” She hesitated. “After school, okay?” She kind of squirmed under his arm.
“Alright babe. Is everything all right?” He peered into her clear, blue eyes.
“Yeah, yeah. I have to go to class.” She replied quickly. He gave her a concerned look and released her as he reached hi homeroom.
As she began to walk away, he called after her, “I love you.”
Mandy looked back, smiled weakly and replied, “I love you too, Spencer.”
Spencer followed her lean figure with his eyes until she rounded a corner and disappeared from view. He turned and took his seat. Right next to Misty Roswell, Mandy’s identical twin. Both girls had big blue eyes and short, straight, very blonde hair, but that’s where the similarities ended. While Mandy took on the typical schoolgirl prep look, Misty preferred the ‘scene’ style. Today she had plastic dinosaur jewelry, skinny jeans, pink converse, oversized eyeglasses and to top it all off, she was wearing hot pink, fake hair clip-ins and pigtails. Misty noticed him looking and flashed him a too bright smile.
“Like it?” She asked.
“Well, it’s different.” He answered honestly. “But not bad. It’s very… you.”
“Okay, I’ll take that.” She laughed good-naturedly and turned to the front.
“Hey Misty. Do you know what’s going on with Mandy? She seems really upset.”
Misty turned reluctantly and gave him a sympathetic look. “Of course I know, but you know I can’t tell you.” She frowned. “I don’t know how you’ll take it. None of us saw it coming.” Her frown deepened and as an afterthought she added, “Everyone would have thought that, out of the two of us, it would have been me, what with my crazy fashion. It seems to fit my stereotype better.”
Spencer opened his mouth to ask what the heck she was talking about when their teacher entered and immediately began the lesson. Spencer anxiously waited until class was over and then rushed to corner Misty. He hoped to find out what she meant, but when she saw him coming, she quickly disappeared into the hallway’s surge of students. With Misty’s hints spinning through his thoughts the whole time, Spencer’s day seemed to drag on and on. What could it be? Was Mandy cheating on him? Was her family moving? Was she sick? Was she going to die? His speculations became increasingly worse as his class drug on.
When his last class finally came to a close, he was overcome with a terrible sense of dread and as he walked outside, the ever-darkening sky only served to darken his mood.
He caught sight of Mandy standing alone by the gym and drawing near to her, he imagined of every step as a beat in a death march.
“Hey Spencer.” She grabbed his arm and pulled him into the empty gym. “How was your day?”
“It was okay.” It was miserable.
“Good, good.” She put her hands behind her back and stared down at her shoe tracing a line on the floor. He knew that gesture well. She did it before every kiss goodnight. She was waiting. She was nervous. So was he. He could see as she visibly gathered her courage and looked back into his eyes.
Here it comes. He thought, bracing himself.
Spencer’s mind stopped working. “What?”
Mandy’s gaze locked back on her shoes and stayed there this time.
“I am… a lesbian,” She faltered. And then more firmly “I like girls.”
Spencer’s mind began to sputter to life, but only minutely. His only focused thought was She’s not going to die! “Oh Mandy! That’s great.” He stopped. Not the best reaction. She gave him a startled look and he hastily tried to backtrack. “Well… Uh. Not great, but at least you’re not going to die…”
“Spencer, what are you talking about?” She knit her eyebrows together.
“Well I was trying to guess what might be wrong and I thought that maybe you had a terminal illness or something. You scared me, Amanda.” He sighed.
“Oh. I’m sorry.” She said relieved. She looked up as if a new painful thought occurred to her. “You do realize it’s over, though, right?”
“Oh.” He echoed her. He hadn’t realized.
“I’m sorry, Spencer.” Her eyes began to well up and she looked over her shoulder at the basketball team filing in for practice. She hated public displays of emotion. When she looked back, she had regained her composure and she met his eyes. “I do still love you, just not that way.”
Spencer nodded once and realizing there was nothing more to say, turned to go. He walked to the door and then glanced back at her. She sat with her knees to her chest and her head down sobbing. His heart lurched. “I’m glad you aren’t dying, Mandy.” He hesitated and added, “And I still love you, too.”
When he walked outside, it wasn’t raining yet, but the wind was fierce. Spencer’s jacket whipped around him as he walked to his bike. He didn’t know much about motorcycles except how to ride them, but he did know that his old one wouldn’t fare well in heavy rain. He mounted his bike, fastened his helmet and sped out of the parking lot. He wasn’t angry at Mandy for being… he couldn’t make himself think it. At least not yet. But what she was, but he was upset their relationship was over. He knew it didn’t make sense but emotions rarely do. He clenched his teeth and sped up. He couldn’t think about his break up if all his concentration was being used keeping his bike upright in the wind. Just as he finished his thought, all at once, the heavens opened up and the rain began to fall in torrents all around. The roads became slick very quickly and Spencer flipped on his headlight hoping it would show him his way through the dense sheets of water. Unfortunately, the light only reached about two feet in front of him until the rain essentially solidified and blocked all of even the smallest hints of illumination from reaching its destination. Spencer broke his concentration when he realized he probably missed his turn and as he felt his bike fishtail, he also realized he was still going way too fast. With this in mind, he gripped the handlebars tightly with both hands and struggled to slow the speeding bike. He cursed loudly as a wet leaf stuck to his helmet over his eyes and shook his head furiously. The bike was still going dangerously fast and Spencer was trying to avoid having to let go with one hand. The leaf wouldn’t budge and Spencer began to panic, realizing that the road he was on ended abruptly at a massive ditch. He cursed again, reached up and deftly wiped of the leaf only to see the end of the road speeding to meet him. He screamed, punched the brake and turned a hard right all the while knowing it wouldn’t help. His speeding bike slid into a bump in the road and both Spencer and the bike were suddenly airborne. The last thing he thought as he flew off his bike was Thank God I wore my helmet! And then the world went black.