Fairytale Love:Becca & BrianBy: Melanie Shawn
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Becca explained to the elderly woman seated beside her on the crowded airplane—for the third time. Then, softening her tone, she smiled as she added the obligatory, “We’re just friends.”
When Becca had boarded the plane, the woman had asked if she wouldn’t mind switching seats. She explained that she had a fear of sitting by the window and wanted to know if Becca would give up her middle seat. Becca had a fear of flying, period. It didn’t matter if she was in the middle, window, or aisle seat, so she agreed to switch. But not before she’d heard Patrick Swayze’s voice from Dirty Dancing in her head say, “Nobody puts baby in the corner.”
’80s movies and television were her all-time favorites, and whenever she was stressed or overwhelmed, lines from the shows or movies would pop in her head. She used to think she was weird because, seriously, who does that? But over the years, she’d learned to accept it and even think of it as a coping mechanism; her psyche’s way of trying to ease her stress.
“Oh well, you two sure do make a lovely couple, dear.” Nodding her head up and down, the woman smiled sweetly as she reached out and lightly patted Becca’s hand, which was resting on the laptop that sat on her lap.
Becca wasn’t sure if the woman had heard her, ignored her, or if she just hadn’t understood what she’d said. A fleeting thought buzzed through her head that she should attempt to clarify her platonic relationship once more, but Becca quickly decided that would be as pointless as asking Stevie Wonder how many fingers she was holding up.
Not to mention, hearing herself say the phrase she’d been spouting since she had been in middle school—“We’re just friends”—didn’t seem to ring as true to her as it once had, and Becca wasn’t really comfortable with lying, even if it was to a stranger on a plane.
So, instead of addressing the fact that the woman had the wrong idea, Becca turned her attention downward to her laptop screen, which displayed the large family photo that featured her three sisters and their men and her five cousins and their wives. The picture that she still wasn’t sure why she’d made her screensaver. The picture that had prompted the woman next to her to ask the question Becca had been asked by more people than she could count since puberty, “Is that your boyfriend?” The picture that had been taken at her sister Haley’s wedding six months ago. The picture that captured the night that had drastically (hopefully not irrevocably) changed the way she thought-slash-felt about her best friend in the whole world, Brian Scott.
Every time she looked at the picture, she got a funny feeling deep in her belly. Her eyes always shot directly to Brian’s large hands, which were resting against the sides of her waist. His tan skin stood out against the rich blue hue of her dress. If she just closed her eyes, she could still feel his fingers brushing over her hips.
No, she quickly reprimanded herself. Stop. It.
Popping her eyes open, she turned to look out the small window to her right. As she watched the clouds roll by, Becca tried to remember what it was like to think of Brian as just a friend. Her mind drew a blank. The switch to her hormones had been flipped to the turned-on position, and no matter how hard she tried, she simply wasn’t able to get that sucker back down to turned-off. It was stuck.
“So how long have you two been together?” Becca heard the woman’s voice beside her say.
“We’ve been friends since pre-kindergarten, but we aren’t together. He was just my date to my sister’s wedding.” Becca hoped that would satisfy the woman’s curiosity, but she doubted it.
“Wow. Since pre-kindergarten?” the woman smiled sweetly, her wrinkled cheeks pushing the corners of her eyes shut. She shook her head and the helmet of white curls, that didn’t have one hair out of place, moved with her. “That is so wonderful. So, when did you know he was the one? I’m Stella, by the way.”
Disappointment niggled deep inside of Becca as she resigned herself to the fact that this was not going to be a throw-your-earphones-on-and-chillax flight, which was exactly what she had been counting on.
She was exhausted. Her finals had kicked her in the rear, chewed her up, and spit her out. Luckily, she’d performed better than she’d anticipated and maintained her three-point-eight GPA, but it was by the skin of her teeth that she’d pulled it off.
School had always centered her. Whenever anything in life seemed overwhelming or out of control, Becca had always had her studies. She would throw herself into them and come out ahead. It gave her quantifiable results. If she applied herself, she succeeded. There was security in that. Yes, it was hard work, but like her dad always said whenever she called to check in and he could hear stress in her voice, “If it weren’t hard, any moron could be a doctor.” ‘Moron’ was her dad’s go-to insult of choice.
Being a pediatrician had always been Becca’s dream. When she was eight, she’d come down with a rare strain of strep throat that had sent her to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) with a hundred-and-five-degree fever. The experience had been somewhat of a blur. She’d slept through a lot of it, thankfully. But what had stuck out in her mind was her doctor, Dr. Corbin.