Rachel lived with her brother, Ronny, in California in the eighties.Ronny was a nice kid who enjoyed fox hunting on weekends.(Though he never caught any; never saw any, either).Rachel's best friend, Paul, wanted to be a painter when he grew up.He wanted to have a wife and five children and a house in the country.Her other best friend, David, was brilliant but cynical.He wanted to be a playright.The girls found David irresistible, and he knew it.But he thought of Rachel as just one of the guys.Rachel thought he deserved something better than all those silly girls; somebody like her.Her pet project had been to make sure this happened.
At the class Christmas party, a new boy attracted her attention.Recently arrived from Austin, Texas, Trevor was six months younger than most of the kids in Rachel's class.With a broad, open smile, sparkling white teeth, innocent blue eyes, blonde hair parted and falling to the sides, long in front and short in back, he reminded her of a musician or composer, a Beethoven or Chopin, but he in fact he wanted to be an architect.It was Rachel's secret delight to invite David, Paul, and Trevor, and a few of her girlfriends to her birthday party.So Trevor would not feel alone, she invited her cousin, Sylvia, who was visiting from Texas.
Rachel told her mom and dad to prepare their most extravagant dishes: hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill with loads of pickle relish, mustard, mayonaise, catshup, and cake and ice cream for dessert.She helped her mom set the table with a special party table clothe, paper dishes with balloons and ribbons, matching paper cups and napkins, too.Her mom made a great Hawaiian punch with real fruit.Bouquets of daisies decorated the room.Rachel's guests arrived at Her dad took their sweaters and coats and showed them to the family room.
When all were seated, Rachel surveyed the company with the greatest pleasure.Here in one room, at one time all her favorite boys!What could be more delicious?The conversation warmed, the boys discussing sports and cars (and girls), the girls gossiping about the girls who were not invited, and the boys who were.Rachel nodded, listened, and smiled.It was, for her, a perfect evening.Her budding painter had never seemed more charming, her budding playright more cocky and self-confident, her young architect more dashing.And Ronny was as gentle a brother as any sister could wish for.
Then Sylvia yawned and sighed. "Rachel, when are you going to tell David that you are in love with Paul?"
Paul's mouth fell open. "What is this?! " he demanded, the red rising to his cheeks. "You are in love with ME!"
"What is she talking about?" Rachel did her best to make her voice sound non-chalant.Paul's face was horror-stricken.
"Rachel, do you have something to tell me?" David demanded, indignantly.
Rachel's eyes opened wide. "Sylvia, what are you trying to do to me?"
"So!It is true!How dare you!I will never see you again!" David stormed from the room.
"I do not want to be here.I am going home." Paul dragged his coat by the collar. "Thank you, Ronny, for your hospitality."
Ronny glared at Sylvia. "And you!"
Rachel glowered at Sylvia.
Paul's eyes met Rachel's in a last, desparate glance just before he disappeared from the room.
"Well, I say!" Ronny pushed his chair back from the table, stood up, coughed, awkwardly."I am terribly sorry, Rachel, but you really must excuse Sylvia.Mom will speak to you about it in the morning."
"I had better be going." Trevor stood up, his cheeks glowing. "This is all so embarrassing.I am terribly sorry for you, Rachel."Rachel followed Trevor to the front door.As she shook his hand, Trevor pressed something onto her palm.Rachel watched him walk away.Unfolding a slip of paper, she read, "May I call him for you?" Turning, she found herself face to face with a roomful of children.She squeezed the note in her fist, her eyes smiling.