Chapter 17:

Date Swap

The Lonely Lovers Club

Willie had not seen Sandra since she left the Lonely Lovers Club after Miles’ proposal. Now she appeared in the same place he last saw her. She stood in the hallway, peering through the open door. One of her hands rested against the doorframe as she leaned towards the classroom.

It had only been a week since Sandra left, yet her return was still rattled Willie. At this point, Willie had started to move on with Lonely Lover Club activities without Sandra. Of course, she was a welcome member, but Sandra appearing in the doorway was unexpected. Miles’ proposal was fresh in Willie’s mind. Willie imagined Sandra was also recovering from the emotional wounds. Yet there she stood in front of the Lonely Lovers Club, giving suggestions just like before.

“Hi Sandra,” Willie said sheepishly. “Wait. Chelsea? Why?”

Sandra replied, “she doesn’t have a date.”

“What about Brad?” asked Willie

“He’s already going with some cheerleader,” replied Sandra. She relaxed a little and rested her shoulder on the doorframe. “I heard it from the girls on the field hockey team. They really like talking about Brad.”

It was a weird thing to say, but it was not surprising to any of the Lonely Lovers. Brad was one of the most popular and sought after bachelors in the school. There were many students who had a crush on Brad.

“And Chelsea doesn’t have a date?” asked Willie.

“That girl?” Sandra said with a smirk. “No. She doesn’t. She probably wouldn't even think about going with anyone except Brad.”

Sandra’s smile slowly faded as she began thinking. She took a step closer to the Lonely Lovers. She stood halfway in the classroom now. One foot inside the door, one foot in the hall.

She continued, “but Brad didn't ask her, so…”

Once again, this was not a surprise. With every girl in the school seeking Brad’s affection, Chelsea’s shy composure was not an asset. Though Willie had not heard from Chelsea since she had begun her study sessions with Brad, he had hoped that the cute after school study partnership would blossom into a romantic relationship. Apparently there was no progress.

That hurt to think about almost as much as Brad’s proposal. Willie and the Lonely Lovers helped to find a way to connect Brad and Chelsea. But was there any more they could have done? Willie imagined Chelsea just as far away from Brad as the day he met her.

No, he thought. That can’t be true. Chelsea and Brad were spending quality time together, even if it was as a study group. That would never have happened without the Lonely Lover’s Club.

Maria interrupted Willie’s daze, “if she only cares about Brad, then why would she go with Jakub?” asked Maria.

“The same reason that Jakub would go with Chelsea,” said Sandra. “They want to look good in front of their crushes.”

“We talked about that like 5 minutes ago,” said Ginko. “How long were you standing outside the door?”

Sandra shot Ginko an aggressive look. Willie was glad he was not on the receiving end of that. It was hostile to say the least. It seemed like she was offended not just by Ginko’s comment, but something else as well. Although Willie had not spoken to Sandra since she ran off from the Lonely Lovers Club last week, surely she had spoken to her boyfriend Ginko.

“That’s not important,” Sandra angrily waved off the question. She now stepped fully into the room, but still only a step away from the exit. “What is important is that Chelsea and Jakub both don’t have dates.”

It was sad, but true. Jakub was unable to go with his crush. Chelsea was unable to go with her crush. And with so little time before the dance there was a slim chance of finding another date for Jakub. This seemed to work out perfectly, but Willie was still conflicted. Chelsea should be with Brad. Jakub should be with Holly. Willie wanted to set them up with the ones they loved. He couldn’t bear to put that pressure on Chelsea. If she was not going to the dance before, then now she would be in the same position as Miles or Jakub: forced to see her crush spend the night with someone else.

Could I really do that to her? Thought Willie.

Ginko said, “Chelsea doesn’t really strike me as the dancing type.”

Sandra rolled her eyes. “It doesn’t matter. She’ll go. She will want to impress Brad just as much as Jakub wants to impress Holly.”

Maybe that was a reason to set up Jakub and Chelsea for the dance. Maybe this was another chance to develop both Jakub and Chelsea’s relationships. They would spend their night focused on their crushes. Surely there was more Willie could do for them. This was the perfect opportunity to boost their relationships.

“I don’t think that’s a terrible idea,” said Willie. “A creative solution, Sandra.”

“Oh geez,” said Sandra. “Thanks.” She took a step back and leaned against the wall.

Willie’s smile faded as he watched Sandra relax in a not very comfortable position. Her thanks was obviously sarcastic. But Willie had not thought about how Sandra felt about coming back to the Lonely Lovers. She had been gone a week after a devastating failure. Now she was back, acting as if that never happened. For her to come back and try to act totally naturally had to be taxing. She had to be experiencing a roller coaster of emotions.

Once again, Willie had failed to consider someone else’s feelings. Back when Miles’ proposal had failed, he did not think about Miles. Now he was not considering Sandra’s feelings. She had practically admitted to standing outside the door, listening in on their conversation. It must have hurt bad to summon the courage to come inside the classroom. Luckily it was not too late for Willie to focus on Sandra’s feelings.

“Sandra,” said Willie. “We’re glad to have you back.”

Sandra nodded.

“Well, I don’t think there’s much more to discuss,” said Willie. “Are we ready to match up a fake couple?”

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