Champagne


Two days and four pizzas after Celina moved out, she decided to really celebrate. Standing in the wine-and-beer aisle of the grocery store, she decided to get a bottle of champagne. She had those beautiful old glasses her mother had given her; why waste them by drinking orange juice from them? Grocery-store champagne probably wouldn't be the highest-quality--but then she had never had any before, so she wouldn't know the difference. So she bought a bottle that was not too cheap, but not too expensive, and took it back to her apartment.

That night, she fixed dinner for herself--the first time she had done so since she had moved. It was nothing fancy, just some Hamburger Helper and a small salad, but she ate it as though it were some expensive, exotic concoction invented by a French chef. When she had eaten her fill, she stuck the leftovers in the refrigerator and got out one of the champagne flutes. She wrestled with the bottle until the cork came out with a loud pop. And then she poured her long-awaited first glass of champagne. It tasted amazingly light, flowing over her tongue like sunshine. The bubbles tickled her nose. She hadn't expected them to be so small. She smiled and took another sip.

One sip turned into two, and two sips turned into another glass--or two--or three. A warm glow seemed to surround her, and her thoughts became less focused with every drop of alcohol. She mused about life on her own, what her family was doing, and Billy.

Billy. To him she'd always been "that girl over there"; to her, he'd always been special. She studied the picture her mind produced just as carefully as she had always studied the reality. Short sandy hair just brushed his thin eyebrows, which hovered above grass-green eyes as though a new question were always on the tip of his tongue. His full lips smiled often, if not at her. And the way he kept the top button of his shirt unbuttoned, revealing collarbones both prominent and beautiful, never failed to gain her appreciation. Billy.

She'd never told him how she felt, always stopping just short of saying the words. Now, with her thoughts scattered by the champagne, she decided that it was time. She looked up his number in the directory, picked up the phone, and dialed. It rang three times before he answered.

"Hello?" He sounded oddly groggy.

"Billy?"

"Yeah. Who's this?"

"Celina."

"Celina who?"

Her heart sank a little, but she replied, "Celina Brown. From college?"

"Oh." A pause. "What do you want? It's three in the morning."

"Oh." She hadn't realised how late it had gotten. "Er, I just..." Her courage failed her again. "Never mind. It was stupid. I'm sorry I woke you."

"No, wait. If you're going to wake me up at this hour, please tell me why."

"I... I... I was just wondering if..."

"Yes?"

"Ifyou'dliketoseeStarWarswithmeFridaynight," she finished in a rush.

"Huh?"

"I wondered if you might like to see Star Wars with me Friday night."

"Oh. Uh, sure. Pick you up at six, okay?"

"Sure. I-- Billy, I'm really sorry I--"

"Never mind. See you Friday." There was a soft click as he hung up.

Celina put down her own phone. She had done it. She was going out with Billy.

She jumped when the phone rang moments later.

"Hello?"

"Celina? It's Billy."

"Uh, hi."

"Listen, I almost forgot--do you mind if my girlfriend comes with us? She's going to college in California, you know, and she'll be back for the weekend."

Celina was crushed. She should have known--it had been too good to be true. Why hadn't she realised he was dating someone? He'd never even thought of her that way. She should have known.

"Celina?"

"Yeah. Um, listen, I just remembered--I promised to have my parents over on Friday. So I guess I woke you up for nothing. I'm sorry." She hung up before he could say a word.