The Shoeless Horse, Episode 23: Graduation From The Two Schools

The dress Ava made for her daughter’s high school Grad was beautiful.

The problem was, Bonnie was almost dreading the occasion. Not the part where you got your diploma, of course. That was a huge relief. It was the part afterward she was worried about – the Graduation dinner and dance.

Her fate was sealed. She’d go with the boy her horse approved of –  Kirk – and her small group of good friends. And try to get through the evening with her newly awkward feelings.

To make the evening more uncomfortable, there would be another person at the table with this group – a friend of a friend who had recently moved from the US.

Theo was the most relaxed, confident and charismatic guy Bonnie had ever met. He wasn’t classically handsome like her long-departed Vancouver boyfriend had been, but he was…magnetic. He was tall and lanky and grinned often with big, square teeth. He was tremendously distracting.

Kirk was tall too, and quite handsome, but recent discoveries about him and his family situation tarnished his good looks, and his behavior was sometimes odd. She wished she hadn’t made the plans with him weeks ago, promised they’d go together. The evening could have been less nerve-wracking.  Well, possibly.

As it turned out, the evening was extremely nerve-wracking .

The Californian charmed everyone he spoke to – the girls, the boys, the teachers.

He grinned and twinkled his eyes and spread his arms wide or draped them over the back of his chair, and acted as though he’d lived in the Coquitlam area all his life.  Theo had everyone he spoke to – male and female – blushing, laughing, animated.  Around this guy, the grown-up women seemed to become almost urgently flirtatious.  As an avid people-watcher since mid childhood, Bonnie was fascinated.

That was the intriguing – and upsetting – element of the Graduation event. She was acutely uncomfortable dancing with Kirk, and she couldn’t stop watching the merry upheaval Theo was causing.

When, hours later, she and her friends had changed into casual clothes and ended up at a small party in a big house, the evening seemed to drag on forever.

All these years later, she remembers little of the long, painfully slow ending to what supposedly was to have been one of the best nights of any teenager’s life. That’s the problem with any event that is over-promoted. It rarely meets the hyped-up expectations.

Somewhere in an old photo album is a picture of Bonnie committing the callous crime of sitting on a pool table in cords and a white sweater, sipping an amber liquid from what appears to be a brandy glass.

She rarely drank alcohol – the smell of hops and the sight of little brown beer bottles made her heave – but it seems the inexplicably expensive taste she would develop in the future was beginning to make itself known.

‘I hope you marry a millionaire,’ her father had often fumed at her.

When he was feeling kind, he wanted to buy everything for his kids.  Even though most of the time his kids had no illusions that their wishes could be granted, it made Dad mad during a fit of generosity if he couldn’t buy them things .

While the grad weekend unfolded, pale Hogan wandered quietly and alone in his pasture from one patch of good grass to another, unwatched and for the time being, unremembered.

In a few days, life would be back to normal for the girl and her horse, and Bonnie would have to face up to some hard facts.  Now that she was done with High School, the reality was starkly obvious.

Having or not having money was a huge influence –  over her family, her next steps, and life with her beloved Hogan.

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