It’s a constant game of who can make who smile larger when senior Emily Frye and junior Scott Slapper are together. He’ll sophomorically tease her, pinch her leg and call her a brat. She’ll jokingly scoot away from him, eyes transfixed on his. When together, all the two see are each other.
The past 157 days have been filled with quintessential high school moments for the couple.
They went to WPA together, saw “Project X” and frequently run away to Crown Center or the Liberty Memorial to be by themselves. They go on walks after church, both listen to country and agree “Inception” was good but too hard to follow.
She blames him for not answering the door the first time she met his family. He argues he was too busy playing Madden.
They talk about everything with each other. But there is one thing they don’t like talking about: The future.
Four months from now, Frye will be studying at Kansas State University. Slapper will be a high school senior, 124 miles away. Or in their terms, around 20 trips to Liberty Memorial from Frye’s house.
Next year is full of ambiguity and uncertainty for the couple, but before they worry about any separation, they’ll have one last high school memory to make: Prom.
They’ll dance at Union Station together. Frye will be too energetic and all over the dance floor. Slapper will laugh and tease her about it. And throughout the night, they’ll try to forget about next year when Frye won’t be able to smell Slapper’s shirt when he comes back from making pizzas at work. Or how they won’t be competing in gingerbread house building competition with Frye’s family next December.
And they’ll ignore statements about how this might be their last dance, together.
[media-credit name="Hiba Akhtar | Harbinger Online" align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit][media-credit id=109 align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit][media-credit name="Hiba Akhtar| Harbinger Online" align="alignright" width="300"][/media-credit]The Jokesters: Annie Kuklenski and Parker Johnson
Junior Parker Johnson has no time to spare today. No time to hit the snooze three or four times. No time for an extra yogurt for breakfast. He has plans this morning.
Sophomore Annie Kuklenski wakes up like she would on any Monday. Slowly. She crawls out of bed and begins her regular routine. No need to rush today.
Johnson hops in his car and rushes off to school, handmade poster in hand and trickery up his sleeve. She’s not going to know what hit her.
Kuklenski worries about track practice on her way to school; her coaches told her it’d be a hard one today. She ponders how she will do her Algebra 2 assignment before sixth hour. Mondays are never her days.
Johnson prepares his surprise for Kuklenski. He checks to see if his button-up is tucked in. If his hair is just right. The sign is readable. Everything’s set. He takes his place behind Senora Myers’ desk next to his accomplice, the one he calls “Maximo,” and the star of his “one act.”
“Do you know which one to dance to? Blonde curly hair. Sits at that desk.”
“Maximo,” really freshman Maxx Lamb, nods his head, he understands.
Kuklenski walks in room 506 to find “Carlos,” the fake iguana they often joke about, siting on her desk. Next thing she knows, “Vamos a La Playa,” a song she and Parker joke about, starts blaring from Senora Myers’ projector.
Maximo emerges, clapping. Dancing. Cartwheeling around the room.
Then Johnson emerges. Smile on his face. Sign in hand.
“I’m not as good of a dancer as Maximo, but will you go to Prom with me?”
Kuklenski responds with only a shocked look. A nod. And a hug.
An orange heart drawn with window paint on the top-right corner of senior Calvin Handy’s Honda Accord lights up with each passing streetlight. The blaring of “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” by Matt & Kim shake blow-up flamingos in the packaging in the backseat, as he makes the routine voyage to his best friend, senior Lanie Leek’s house.
For Handy, it was never who he was going to ask to Senior Prom, but how.
He and Leek grew up together. Scraped knees in the creek behind Leek’s house playing tag. Spent days riding bikes up and down Ensley Lane.
It makes sense for them to go to Senior Prom. They went to their first high school dance together — why not finish the way they started?
Handy approaches Leek’s car with care, window paint and two inflatable flamingos in hand. He tip-toes around sticks and leaves, carefully hoisting himself onto her maroon Ford Escape, hoping not set off the motion sensor light above the garage.
They’ve gone on vacations to Colorado, run up and down hills in Lawrence at KU football games and gotten in trouble for playing with the hose when Handy’s mom told them not to. They’ll both head off to KU next year and take on college. Prom will be their final high school hurrah. Together.
“If these flamingos fall off her car, I’m going to freak,” Handy says, scooting off the hood of Leek’s car.
The bright green paint on Leek’s windshield radiates in the dark night. He makes finishing touches, skitters to his car and bolts.
Ten minutes later, Leek gets home from swim practice. Walking up to her car, she reads the sign.
“Lanie: Will you Flamin-GO to Prom with me?”
She laughs. Of course, he didn’t even need to ask.