Chapter 18:

The Last Proposal

The Lonely Lovers Club

“Jakub,” said Willie. “Are you ready?”

Sandra thrust a bouquet of flowers into Jakub's hands. The red roses matched the color of Jakub’s thinly-trimmed hair. A look of pure confusion was on Jakub’s narrow face. He stood eye level with Willie. Willie only returned an encouraging smile.

“Are you serious?” asked Jakub.

Jakub clearly had some doubts about the Lonely Lovers Club. Jakub and the club gathered in an empty school hallway after class, under a worn sign that read Library.

Although she probably wanted to roll her eyes, Sandra also gave Jakub an encouraging smile. “I already talked to Chelsea about going to the prom with you. She said she would do it. She wants to see her crush at the dance too.”

“Then why do I have to ask her to the dance if you already talked to her?” asked Jakub.

Willie took a step back and gasped. Saying something so absurd was offensive to Willie. Maybe he should not be so shocked, since Jakub was a birdbrain who waited until the last minute to get a date, but his question was silly.

“Don't be a fool,” said Willie. “Every date to the dance requires a proposal. If you don’t have the proposal you might as well not go.”

“It feels weird,” said Jakub. The bouquet of flowers waved around as Jakub shrugged. “I don’t even know her.”

“Don’t worry,” said Maria with her soothing voice. “We worked out the perfect plan for you. It’s casual and quick, but very fun.”

“Then why haven't you told me what it is?”

“It doesn't matter,” said Sandra. “It will be fine.”

Ginko, who had been busy staring out the window, picked now to pay attention. “I don’t really see the point either.”

Willie took a deep breath in to prepare a robust reaction. Before he could, Sandra reacted.

“Oh come on.”

“What?” said Ginko. “They already know they’re going to go together. Can’t we just go home.”

“Ginko,” said Willie, in complete shock.

Ginko groaned. “I mean, we could at least use the time to figure out how to get Jakub to end up with Holly. Or Chelsea with Brad.”

Ginko’s suggestion may have been logical, but Willie still could not see through the fact that he wanted to skip a school dance proposal. This should be the pride and joy for the Lonely Lover’s club. Maybe Willie did not have a plan for Jakub and Chelsea during the dance, but he could not neglect the art of the proposal. It was a sacred tradition.

“It will take five minutes,” said Sandra. “Don’t be so negative.”

“I’m just saying, we should spend more time focusing on the end goal. Jakub and Holly.”

“Can you just agree with me for once?” said Sandra.

Jakub spoke up, oblivious to Sandra’s temper. “I think Ginko has a point. I don’t know what to do about Holly. I would like to meet Chelsea before we go to the dance, but this is… awkward.”

A few flower petals drifted to the floor.

“Don’t be a wuss,” snapped Sandra.

“Now now,” said Willie. “This is an important step in this process. There is no need to be afraid. In fact, most proposals are extremely awkward. That feeling is only natural.”

“But we can completely avoid this,” said Jakub.

“Nonsense,” said Willie.

“Ugh. You have to do it Jakub,” said Sandra. “Those are the rules.”

Perhaps there were no official rules, but Willie liked the idea.

Jakub was obviously defeated. He knew he would not win this argument. “Okay, fine.”

“Good,” said Sandra, not wasting any time. “Now get in that library and go ask Chelsea to the dance.”

Jakub, with slumped shoulders, made his way to the library door.

“Maria, Ginko,” said Willie. “Can you go and make sure Chelsea is ready?”

Jakub, Maria, and Ginko all made their way into the library. Willie paused outside the door. He peered through the door window. Maria and Ginko ran off to find Chelsea while Jakub stood at the door. He shifted his weight back and forth between his feet as he sniffed the flowers in his hand. Behind Willie, he heard a long, deep breath. Sandra leaned against the wall next to the window.

She glanced over her shoulder, out the window. In the courtyard there was nothing to see. The school was mostly empty after classes. The only things in the courtyard were overgrown plants that the gardening club should have taken better care of and some tiny songbirds. There was nothing Willie wanted to focus on, but he could tell Sandra’s mind was lost in thought.

In the last week, Willie had no idea what she went through. Sandra took Miles’ proposal hard. Willie believed Sandra wanted to get as far away from proposals as she could. Now she was working on another proposal. What happened in the last week to make her want to come back? And with such a random plan? The Lonely Lovers had no end goal. After the dance, Jakub and Holly probably would not be together. They couldn’t count on getting Chelsea and Brad together. This was a desperate play. Even Willie could see that.

Willie did not know what he could do for Sandra. There was a long silence between them. Willie could hear the blowing air vents in the ceiling above him and a few of the birds chirping outside.

“You think the proposal will go okay?” asked Willie.

“Yeah,” said Sandra slowly. “I already talked to Chelsea. She’s gonna say yes.”

“I guess it’s nice to have some guarantee.”

Sandra raised an eyebrow. Perhaps that wasn’t the best choice of words.

Willie quickly continued to change the subject. “Have you heard anything about Miles?”

Wait. That was a worse subject.

“Umm, no,” said Sandra looking down. “I don’t think he’s going to the dance.”

That was definitely the wrong question to ask.

“You’re going to the dance, right? Are you and Ginko excited?” said Willie.

“We…” Sandra hesitated. “Yeah. It should be fun.”

Any bit of enthusiasm seemed like it had been wrung out of Sandra, but Willie couldn’t blame her.

“Maria found a great place for us to all get dinner before we go to the dance,” said Willie. “It’s supposed to be fancy, but not expensive.”

“We might have to make room for these two,” said Sandra, gesturing at Jakub through the doorway.

“Oh yeah. I guess it would be uncomfortable for them to show up to the dance together all alone.”

“Jakub already said he felt awkward with the proposal,” said Sandra, cracking a smile. “He’ll probably be like that the whole night.”

“Yeah,” Willie chuckled. “It’s hard to imagine them actually dancing together.”

“Oh no,” Sandra laughed. “That’s not going to happen.”

Willie had only just met Jakub this week, but it was still clear that Chelsea and Jakub were completely opposite. Jakub focused on the school soccer team, while Chelsea focused on her grades. Chelsea spent her free time reading books. Jakub spent his time hanging out with his friends. They had never even met before. It would be a surprise if they even talked to each other after the school dance.

“We just have to find out how to get them together with their real crushes,” said Willie.

“Right,” said Sandra. Her smile faded.

“Do you -”

“I -'' Sandra interrupted, as they both tried to talk at the same time. Sandra cleared her throat before continuing. “Why don’t we go ahead and watch this proposal?”

“Oh yeah, of course,” said Willie.

Willie opened the library door and held it open for Sandra. She walked into the library like a snail.

Proposals are supposed to be fun.

Why was this so difficult?

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