1986: Gracie and Mike
By Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Published by Orange House Press/Stacey Wallace Benefiel at Smashwords
Copyright 2010 Stacey Wallace Benefiel
This is a bit of back story that was cut from Glimpse about Zellie’s mom and Avery’s dad when they were teenagers.
Fresh from the shower, Grace toweled off and then picked up a small glass bottle of tea rose eau de toilette from her dresser. Spraying the perfume in the air, she let the scent mist down onto her. With that done, she turned on her FM radio.
“...this is Ragin’ Robbie Coleman and I’ll be takin’ your requests and dedications all night long. This next one goes out to Gracie from Mike. Time After Time.”
Grace shrieked, wrapping her arms around herself as she twirled across the room. Standing in front of her full length mirror, she raised her left hand up in front of her long, lean body. She imagined an engagement ring on her finger sparkling in the May evening light.
She was happy for once. Not only was her amazing and gorgeous boyfriend Mike going to ask her to marry him tonight after the prom, but nothing in the letter she’d received from her dead, crazy mother had come true .
Grabbing her robe from a hook on the wall, she threw it on. She went back to her dresser and opened the music box that sat atop it, brushing her fingers over the faux red velvet lining in the lid.
The letter had been hidden there for almost three years. Nothing had happened and nothing was going to happen. No visions of Mike’s death or anyone else’s. If something were going to happen, it would have by now. Her mother had been wrong in ever thinking that Grace had abilities too. She didn’t need to take the letter out, she’d memorized it the first and only time she’d read it. Nothing had happened and nothing was going to happen. Her heart picked up speed, just for a moment. She slammed the music box closed and focused on her reflection in the mirror. She raked a brush through the tangles in her long auburn hair. Nothing had happened and nothing was going to happen.
Grace glanced at the hot pink digital alarm clock on her bedside table. Her best friend Becky would be over soon so they could get ready together. She pulled a flask from her robe pocket and took two short burning sips. Rock and roll.
On that warm May night she and Mike left the prom early and headed outside of town to his parents’ cabin at the base of Mt. Scott.
Grace rolled the window down on the passenger side of his red pickup and stuck her head out, letting her long auburn hair fly around her. Their future was all planned out. Tonight, they would get engaged. They would get married in August and Mike would work for his father at his insurance agency. She would go to school at Central Oregon Community College to be a grade school art teacher. They weren’t big dreams, but since the death of both her parents, she’d already had enough drama to last a lifetime. She wanted the rest of it to be simple.
Mike turned onto the gravel road that led to the cabin, but stopped about half way there and pulled off to the side.
“What are we doing?” Grace said, drawing her head back into the car. “I thought we were going up to the cabin.”
A huge grin spread across his face. “We will, but I want to take you someplace first.” He got out of the truck and began rummaging around in the back. After a few minutes he came around to her side and opened her door. He was holding a lantern. “Come on. Let’s go for a little walk.”
Grace slipped her hot pink, dyed-to-match satin pumps on. She’d taken them off the second they had gotten in the truck. “It’s not too far is it? I can’t walk in these dumb ass shoes.”
“No, not too far, I’ll give you a piggyback ride if you want.” Mike turned his back to her and motioned for her to climb on.
Grace hiked up her prom dress and got on his back, wrapping her legs around his waist. She hooked one of her arms around his neck and reached for the lantern with her other hand. “Here, give the lantern to me. I suppose it’s the least I can do.” Mike handed it to her, staggering a little bit as he kicked the truck door closed.
“Giddy up, Mikey,” she said, jabbing him in the thighs with her heels.
“Watch it.” He laughed. “Hold the lantern up so I don’t fall and bust both of our heads open.” He stepped down off the shoulder and onto a dirt path that had not been visible to her from the road.
Mike carried her up the winding trail, flanked on either side by pine trees and boulders, careful to not snag her prom dress on anything. “We’re almost there.”
Grace didn’t say anything. She nuzzled into his neck and peppered him with light kisses.
They rounded a corner and came into a clearing. Mike stopped at the edge of a large wool blanket and lowered Grace and the lantern down onto it. He took off his shoes and sat down on the blanket beside her. Next he retrieved a book of matches from his pocket and began lighting the five other lanterns that encircled the blanket.
“Are you warm enough?” He removed his pale grey tux jacket and put it around her shoulders.
“Thanks.” She brought the jacket closed at her chest. A few feet away a creek bubbled and shimmered in the moonlight. Grace cleared her throat and turned to Mike. “I have a feeling I’m going to be downright hot in a few minutes.”
Mike reached over, pulling Grace to him, then on top of him, kissing her deeply. Sitting up, Grace shrugged the jacket off, felt behind her and unzipped her prom dress.
He brought his hands up, signaling for her to stop. “You’re awesome, Gracie Loughlin, but patience is not one of your best qualities.” Mike slid his hand under her thigh and into his pants pocket. He pulled out a small black velvet box and flipped it open.
Grace smiled, ecstatic. She slipped the engagement ring onto her finger and bent down to kiss him. “That’s Gracie Adams to you.”
As Mike lifted his mouth up to meet hers, she was overcome with the scent of a forest fire and the thing she had put from her mind, the thing she thought would never happen, did.
In his eyes, Grace saw the future. A hand pointing a gun at an older Mike. His horror-stricken face as he’s shot. Slumped over his desk, Grace standing behind him, screaming. Her hands up in front of her face. She looked so much like her mother.
Something was happening and something was going to keep happening until he was dead. Mike was going to die and she knew how. Her heart raced again, so fast this time she could hear it. Panic overtook her. They were done. She had to break things off with Mike to prevent him from dying. She wanted to wrench her stupid aching heart from her chest! There wasn’t going to be a wedding. No simple content life. She gasped for air.
“Gracie, are you okay? Are you having second thoughts? It’s okay if you are.” Mike held her face in his hands, searching her eyes. They had gone blank.
“What? No, are you kidding?” Grace broke eye contact with Mike and started unbuttoning his shirt. She was going to have this one last night with him in the life that she had never wanted to share with anyone else. “I love you. More than I will ever love another person on this earth. Don’t ever forget that, okay? Promise me?”
“Okay, I promise. I love you too. Come here.” Mike brought her closer, rolling her over onto her back. As he slid his hand up her thigh, she was already deciding how she was going to leave him.
“I don’t understand,” Mike said, pulling his truck over in front of Grace’s house. “What do you mean you saw me die? Please explain this to me, Gracie. I don’t understand what you’re saying to me.”
“Mike...” She was still wearing her hot pink prom dress. Her underwear however, had gone missing sometime during the previous nights festivities. Grace drew her knees up to her chest, pulling her dress down over them until it hit her ankles. She started again. “Mike, when we were kissing and I looked into your eyes, I had a vision. I saw you being shot. It was like I was there. I was there. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but please trust me. If we get married, if we stay together...you will die the way I saw you die and I can’t live with that. I cannot let that happen.” Grace turned from him and looked out the window. Her Aunt Hazel was watching from the front window of their white two story house.
Mike leaned forward, resting his head on the steering wheel. “Gracie, you know that I trust you, but who’s to say that I’m going to die the way you say I will? Where’s the proof? I feel like this is some messed up plan you have to get out of marrying me.”
She snapped her head around and grabbed him by the shoulders, forcing him to look at her. “I love you. I want to marry you and be with you forever. I can’t. This is how it has to be!” Grace flung the door of the truck open and ran barefoot to Mike’s side. She whipped open his door and took his hand, dragging him toward the house. “You want proof? I have proof. I have proof that what I’m saying is true !”
Mike stumbled across the lawn. This wasn’t happening. They’d had their life all planned out. It was going to be perfect and simple and now it was all going straight to hell.
They burst through the front door of the house, running past a stunned Aunt Hazel, and up the stairs.
Grace slammed her bedroom door behind them and locked it. “Sit down on the bed. I have something to show you.” She went to her dresser and opened up her jewelry box. She pulled the inside of the faux red velvet lid down, exposing a secret compartment. Inside were several light green pieces of paper that had been folded many times. She handed the papers to him. “Here, read it.”
Mike stared up at her, her outstretched arm pushing the papers at him. Tears pooled in his eyes. This was it. Why he had asked for proof? He held out his hand accepting the papers from Grace. He took his time unfolding them.