He stood there in the crowd and looked up there on the bandstand and thought back to what had happened to bring him to that point in his life.
It had all started in grade school. She had just moved into the neighborhood and when he first saw her he thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid his eyes on. He saw her every morning when they stood on the corner waiting for the school bus, but he was too shy to talk to her. He might never have talked to her if Rory Moss hadn't pulled on her pigtails one morning. She had cried out in pain and had dropped her books and Rory had laughed. He had rushed over and bloodied Rory's nose and then had helped her pick up her books. From that day on they had been inseparable.
By the time they were seniors in high school the town had put a label on them - Robbie and Kelly, The Golden Couple - obviously meant for each other since birth. He had proposed to her in the ninth grade and she had accepted. She had been the only girl in his life because he knew they were meant to be so there was no need to date other girls.
By the start of the eleventh grade they had mapped out their life. First they would finish high school and then college. When they had their degrees they would get married, have two perfect children and live happily ever after. In the twelfth grade the snake had appeared in their little Garden of Eden. He hadn't realized it at the time and he was pretty sure that Kelly hadn't realized it either, but it was then that their plans began to unravel.
It was like yesterday in his memory. He was standing on the gym floor looking up at Kelly. She had been elected Prom Queen and Bill Withers had been chosen as King. It irritated him no end to see Withers up there on the stage with Kelly and their court going through the coronation and all of that rigmarole. What he didn't know was that the attention that Kelly was getting as Prom Queen lit an ambition in her that neither he nor Kelly were aware she had.
He did have some great memories of that night. They had attended several after prom parties and then, after years of dating, Kelly had given him her "pearl of great price." It was one of his fondest memories. It had been completely unplanned. It had been their intention to go to their marriage bed as virgins. He had been floored when they had left their third party of the night and he had asked her:
"Where to next? The party at Sally's or the one at Dave's?"
"None of the above sweetie. This has been a magical night for me and there is only one way I want to end it. Take me to a motel baby; I'm tired of waiting."
"Are you sure about this?"
"Never more sure of anything in my life."
It had lit a fire in them and after that night they couldn't keep their hands off of each other and anytime they found a flat surface it was an invitation to play.
They learned together. He learned how to make her scream with his mouth and she learned how to turn him into a limp puddle with hers. They learned what positions gave the most pleasure and which ones the least. That summer was one long sexual odyssey and it continued into the fall when they started college.
He had a small inheritance from his grandmother and that allowed them to have a small apartment off campus. For all practical purposes they were as good as married and most people at college that knew them thought they were.
Midway into their sophomore year she had run into Bill Withers at the Student Union and they had renewed their acquaintance. Withers was taking art courses and the Art Department was looking for models and Withers had talked Kelly into discussing the matter with one of the Art Department instructors. He hadn't been there for the interview, but someone who was told him about it several months later. The instructor, Brad Dolan, told her that Bill had told him that she had been prom queen and that Bill had been 'her king' and the way he said it and with the leer on his face it was obvious that Bill had let Brad think that he and Kelly had done a lot more on prom night than officiate. Brad figured that if Bill could nail her so could he.
Kelly, her eyes on the attention she would get, signed on as a model and soon was in great demand as a still life model for photography classes. The more time they wanted her to pose the more he was left alone in their apartment and he could feel a gap widening between them. Then it got really bad.
Playboy magazine came to the campus and Kelly was one of the girls picked. She was rarely home anymore and when she was all he heard about was Brad. "Brad knows this agent and he is going to talk to him about representing me." "Brad has a friend who is a fashion director and he is going to get him to use me." "Brad knows an Art Director at So and So magazine and he is going to get me in."
And then one night she didn't come home. When she dashed in the next day she looked guilty as hell and couldn't meet his eyes. "The shoot last night ran late so I crashed on Brad's couch. Got to run. See you tonight." She grabbed some clothes and then was gone.
That night she fucked him damned near blind, but there was an elephant in the room that they both pretended they didn't see. Things were strained between them for several months and then just as they seemed to be getting back together the issue of Playboy came out and it seemed that everyone on campus bought a copy and wanted Kelly to personally autograph it.
There were a series of "autograph parties" that he was somehow never told about until it was too late for him to attend. She would come home from those parties and hurry into the shower. She would tell him that she stunk of cigarette smoke and needed to wash it off, but he wasn't stupid. He knew what was going on, but he was in love and he hung in there and hoped she would come to her senses.
Then she entered a beauty contest and won. A week later Brad took her to New York to meet some people who could help her career and when she came back she couldn't seem to meet his eyes. And then one day he came home to the apartment and found that she had moved out. He heard later that she had moved in with Brad.
He tried to put her out of his mind and couldn't. Everything in the apartment reminded him of her and he couldn't afford to throw everything away and start over. He saw her around campus from time to time and whenever she saw him she would look away or turn and walk the other way. Somehow he managed to make it to the end of his junior year without going crazy.
Summer break came and he gave up the apartment and went back home and everyone wanted to know what had happened to the Golden Couple. The rumor went around that Kelly had caught him cheating on her and she had dumped him. He didn't refute the rumors; he just ignored the talk and let them think what they wanted. The town was proud of the beauty queen, their Playboy girl and he let them have their icon.
Summer over he headed back to school to get his last year out of the way. He had considered transferring to a university in a different state so he could avoid seeing Kelly and suffering through the memories, but then he had looked at the cost. Some credits wouldn't transfer and there were classes he would have to retake. Also, most schools had a requirement that you take at least thirty credit hours to get a degree from them and he only needed fourteen credit hours to graduate from where he was. It was a no-brainer - he had to stay put.