When Stars Align
Becky and I are in an exclusive relationship. We've been dating for most of our senior year at UT. We are so compatible that it's scary. We will graduate together in less than a month. We both have jobs lined up here in Austin. We can see a diamond ring just around the corner. The stars have aligned for us.
On what proved to be a fateful Wednesday evening, she announced that she had to cancel our usual Saturday-date-night due to a "prior commitment." One star waved goodbye fell out of alignment.
A day later, the stars watched as I answered a call from my cousin, Larry. By a huge coincidence, Larry lives in Becky's home town. She knew who he was, but he wasn't in her circle of friends. She knew he had a band and she had enjoyed their music at numerous dances, but she had no other connection to Larry.
I was surprised when I heard his voice. "Hey favorite cousin, what're you doing Saturday night?" he asked. He said his band was scheduled to play for prom that night and his drummer had just broken his arm.
Larry knew I'd played drums all through high school. I even played some gigs with his band. Since I'm unexpectedly free Saturday night, I agreed to do the gig.
So, on Saturday evening I found myself driving to Becky's hometown while she was honoring her "prior commitment."
Before the gig got underway, I was nervous. By the end of the first number, my jitters were gone. As I continued to get more comfortable, I began to scan the crowd. My heart jumped out of my chest when I saw Becky. She was out there dancing.
I didn't have a good view from the stage. They were dancing near the back of the room. While I couldn't see them very well, the eye of my soul told me it was her with another guy. That was bad news. When she made a trip to the women's restroom which was located behind the stage, any remaining doubt was gone. It was her.
My heart shattered. The stars were grabbing hands in an attempt to remain in some semblance of alignment.
As I drove home after the gig, my anger began to boil. What part of "exclusive" did she not understand? In my anger, I pulled over and sent her a text message. I wrote, "Under the circumstances, I think we should cool things down."
She answered, "What in the world are you talking about? What circumstances? What does 'cool things down' mean? What did I do?"
I replied, "Was it fun going to prom again? Aren't you a little old for that? I guess you and I have different definitions of 'exclusive.' I wish you a nice life, Becky, but it won't be with me."
I turned my phone off and resumed my drive away from hell. The stars were in complete disarray!
When I turned my phone on the next morning, I saw six missed calls and at least a dozen unread messages. All of them were from Becky. As I was in the process of deleting her messages, she called me.
"Hello, cheater," I quipped.
"Honey, we need to talk. I need to explain what happened. Can I come over?" she asked.
"I'll be getting some breakfast at the coffee shop in about a half-hour. If you decide to show up, I can't stop you."
When Becky sat down next to me, I could see that she'd been crying. Her face looked like a wrinkled garment.
Her first words to me were, "How did you find out?"
"Becky, is that all you have to say? Is that the only thing that's bothering you; that you got caught? Well, I caught you because I was there. You were too busy with your 'date' to notice me playing drums in the band. Larry had me sit-in for his injured drummer. I saw you, Becky. I saw you and I saw him.!"
"No wonder you reacted this way, Phil. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that you would ever find out. I can't believe this! What are the odds of you showing up there?"
"If that's all you want to say to me, I think it's time for you to move to another table, Becky. Never mind, I'll move."
As I rose from my chair, she grabbed my arm. "I said I wanted to explain, and I do. Please, let me. You said you saw me and you saw him. Did you really see him.?"
"Wait, Becky, you're not seriously trying to tell me that he was some sort of apparition! How naïve do you think I am?"
"It's nothing like that, Phil. His name is Marvin. He was my next-door neighbor for many years. Answer me, did you get a good look at him? Did you really see your competition?"
"If you're referring to your dancing partner, or should I say your 'date,' I saw him."
"You got a good look at him then?", she asked.
"Good enough to see that he was a guy and you were being very attentive."
"I'm guessing that you didn't see him very well, Phil."
"What does that even mean? I saw him well enough. I know cheating when I see it, Becky. What more do I need to know?"
She grabbed her phone. "First, Marvin and I have been good friends forever. I want you to see a close-up picture of Marvin and me." She handed me her phone saying, "This was taken last night at the prom."
I examined the picture. It was Beauty holding hands with the Beast. I nearly dropped the phone. I was startled. I was in shock. There's no way to sugar-coat it. Marvin was horribly disfigured. His face, arms, and hands were just wounds held together by scars.
As I was digesting what I was seeing, she switched the display to a clipping from her hometown newspaper. It described the fire that destroyed Marvin's parents' house. It described how he warned his parents as he ran towards his little sister's bedroom. He wrapped her in blankets and held her protectively to his chest as he ran directly through the hungry flames.
He saved her life. She suffered only a few minor burns, but the fire would not be denied. The flaming beast unleashed its wrath on Marvin.
Becky sobbed, "One day when I was visiting him during his recovery, he jokingly told me that he had probably ruined his chances to get a date for prom. I told him that lots of girls would want to go with him because he was a genuine hero. He said that he didn't think they were looking for a hero. They just wanted someone handsome. He wasn't joking anymore.
"It was then that I promised him that I would be proud to be his prom date. That was months before I met you, Phil.
"Marvin called me just before I told you that I needed to cancel our date-night. He told me that no one would go to prom with him. He asked me if I meant it when I said that I would go with him. I saw no choice. I had to keep my word. I had to say that I'd go with him. I just couldn't add my rejection to his misery."
"Becky, why didn't you just tell me what your 'prior commitment' was all about? Did you think I wouldn't understand?"
"Phil, I thought about telling you, but I didn't want to come over as a goody-two-shoes braggart. I remember being taught in Sunday school that we should do our good deeds in secret. More importantly, I never dreamed that you would ever find out. It would be a secret just between Marvin and me."
My disappointment, anger, and jealousy were gone. Those things were replaced with a tremendous sense of pride in my girlfriend.
"I'm so proud of you, Becky. You did good, girl. You did very good." I didn't mention that I remembered something from Sunday school about not hiding your light under a bushel.
"Thanks, Honey. I just knew that you would understand."
I did understand. I understood that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this woman.
God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. All is right with us, too. More importantly, all is right with the stars. They are in perfect alignment!