Chapter 14:


The Lonely Lovers Club

“Unbelievable,” said Willie.

The Lonely Lovers Club met in their usual classroom afterschool. There was a particularly tense atmosphere in the room today. Sandra was mourning the failure of Miles’ proposal. She hardly said a word. When she did speak it was dispiriting. Maria and Ginko seemed to react by holding their tongues. Willie had the opposite reaction.

“You only had to do the proposal a little earlier and you would have been fine,” said Willie.

“That’s not really fair,” said Maria. “The proposal was planned to happen once Rena got to class. Peter asked her when she was still in the hallway.”

Willie let out a heavy breath. He wasn’t angry, but he was disappointed that the Lonely Lover Club’s winning streak had come to an end. They had already set up Jaime and Rose. Chelsea and Brad. Gus and Adam. If only Willie had been there. They could have added Miles and Rena to the list.

This certainly would put a damper on the club’s reputation. They really had traction with all of the success. And it was taking them right into the busy season. The dance proposals were only just starting. Setting up Rena would be a huge win for the club. Practically everyone in the school knew her. The popularity boost would have been huge.

“I just wish I had checked in with you at some point,” said Willie.

Sandra, still extremely gloomy, found the strength to say, “you can’t always be in control of other people’s love lives, Willie.”

For a while, Sandra sounded depressed every time she spoke. But this sounded like she was offended.

“I am not always in control,” said Willie. “I merely accelerate true love’s process. We’re matchmakers. It’s our job to help others when it comes to romance.”

“Maria and I did the best we could. Whether you were there or not wouldn’t have made any difference.”

“I beg to differ,” said Willie. “I am the Lonely Lovers Club president. I certainly could have found a way to help.”

To Willie, it seemed odd that Sandra was taking out her frustration with him. Willie was not involved in Miles’ proposal at all. It was done completely by Sandra and Maria. If Willie had helped, surely they would have been more efficient. That’s not even mentioning his extended experience. Willie was the one who founded the Lonely Lovers Club. He had been acting as a matchmaker at this school longer than the rest of the club members.

But Sandra did not let Willie’s comment go unnoticed.

“Oh no no. You are in trouble,” said Sandra. “We are just as capable as you are. You could not have changed this. You would have had to stop Peter from proposing to Rena. I don’t even think you would have come up with a plan better than ours.”

“I absolutely can come up with a plan that would have worked. Perhaps we need to evaluate where this plan went wrong.”

“Oh get a load of yourself,” said Sandra. Her eyes were watery, but Willie could still see a deep gaze that seemed to penetrate his soul. “It’s like you don’t even care about Miles.”

“Of course I care about Miles.”

“No you don’t,” said Sandra. “This whole time you haven’t even asked about him.”

Slowly, Willie said “I suppose I didn’t 一”

“You didn’t ask how he felt,” Sandra interrupted. “You didn’t care enough to ask what it was like to have the girl you like taken away right in front of you.”

Willie thought for a moment. In truth, he did not consider that. Willie could only imagine what that would be like for Miles. Sandra, Maria, and Miles had spent all week preparing. Miles was ready to ask a girl to the dance, probably completely nervous. Then Miles had to watch the girl of his dreams get asked to the dance by someone else, right in front of him. And she said yes.

Willie looked at Maria. He thought about the time that he first asked Maria out. What if she was asked out by someone else right before he got the chance to ask her? That would be crushing. What if she was taken away now? Swept away by another man? What if she left him? Willie would be angry, but ultimately there would be nothing that could make him more sad. The idea made Willie shiver. It was a somber thought, to say the least.

Sandra continued, “Miles still had to go to class after that. Do you realize how embarrassed Miles was while sitting in that all gold classroom?”

Willie said, “Well no one would even know it was Miles that did the decorations.”

“Yeah,” said Sandra. “But he did. And Miles had to stare at the girl he wanted to go with to the dance for the rest of class knowing that it would never happen.”

Once again Willie looked at Maria. She looked sad. Or scared. Or maybe shocked at this conversation. But she was still beautiful. If she was dating someone else right now, Willie wasn’t sure if he could take it. He would have to talk to her about love every single day in the Lonely Lover’s Club while Willie’s love was denied. It would be heartbreaking. And to Miles, it was heartbreaking. He would have to sit in the same classroom as Rena for the rest of the school year.

An eerie silence fell over the room. The room seemed tense before. Now it seemed downright unpleasant.

Willie said, “Maybe we can get together with Miles again and make a new plan. After the dance -”

“You don’t get it do you?” asked Sandra. “You can’t force true love. No matter how hard you try. Rena and Peter are going to the dance together. Rena chose to go with Peter. You can’t change that.”

Sandra’s eyes were red and puffy. She was upset. She had failed Miles. Miles had to bear the emotional weight of the failure and there was nothing Sandra could do. Sandra put all the blame on herself. Blame came with it’s own anxiety.

Willie said, “I was just thinking maybe there's something we could do.”

Sandra shook her head. “You just want to be involved in everyone’s love life, don’t you Willie?”

Willie didn’t answer. He stood facing Sandra stunned and lost in thought. Sandra reached for her backpack and slung it over her shoulder.

“This is something you can’t force,” she said. “I have to go.”

Sandra made her way to the door, wiping her eyes. She left and no one else said a single word. Willie had no idea what to say. He could feel a pit in his stomach. Miles was somewhere out there, lost and alone. His quest for love had come to a stop like a car crashing into a wall. The Lonely Lovers Club was founded to build relationships and help lonely souls. Willie didn’t help Miles build a relationship. And Miles was probably lonelier now than before asking for their help. Willie also had to consider what Sandra said. Did Willie care about Miles?

By the time they spoke again, Sandra had probably left the building.

“Do you think you should go after her?” Maria asked Ginko.

“No,” said Ginko hesitantly. “I think she probably wants some space.”

Maria nodded, then returned to spacing out.

The remaining members of the Lonely Lovers Club did not say another word.

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