Chapter 33 Flashback
This chapter is a flash back to Gregís senior year, around the time of the prom.
"Your going to ask Jenny?" asked Samantha. She stared at him as if he had grown another head.
"I hope I can," said Greg.
"You have your pick of girls and you choose her?" she demanded. "Greg, I have to insist that you donít."
"And why not?" asked Greg. "Sheís seems like a nice girl, kind of bookish, but..."
"Greg," said Samantha, quietly, "Iíve always been supportive of you, and Iíve always tried to tell you the absolute truth. Sheís not worth your time."
"Is that so?" demanded Greg.
"Donít get angry," said Samantha, quietly. "But sheíll say no."
"How do you know?" asked Greg.
"She doesnít like guys," said Sam. "She doesnít like anyone. I know how easily women can tear you down, Iíve seen it happen to you before." Greg stared at her, and shook his head.
"Itís not like itís that big a deal," said Greg. "Itís just a dance."
"Itís supposed to be the night that you remember most from high school," said Sam. "Itíll be memorable for everyone. But if she shoots you down, you wonít go."
"Iíll go anyway," said Greg.
"No, you wonít," said Sam. "I know you better. Youíll just stay in your basement and work on your book." She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Greg, youíre coming with me to the prom."
"Sam, thatís very sweet of you but..." she put a finger to his muzzle and he stopped talking.
"Greg," she said. "Iíve always cared about you, and youíve always treated me just like a friend."
"But..." She pulled the ribbon from her hair and let it drape around her shoulders. Greg knew it was time to listen when she let her hair down. She sat down on his lap and faced him, eye to eye.
"Greg," she said, softly. "I really care about you; more than just a friend, or my parents or anyone. I just canít let you get hurt again."
"Greg, please," said Sam. "I want you to think about you and I as an Ďus.í Just give it one chance." She kissed his cheek again and stood up. Greg sat there stunned. He really had no idea what to say.
"Greg! Sam! Dinner!" Mrs. Procyon called from downstairs. Sam smiled slightly at him and walked down the stairs, swishing her tail behind her. Greg shook his head. He didnít need that now. He watched that tail disappear down the stairs. He really didnít need that now.
"So how went the studying?" asked Mrs. Procyon.
"Studying? All I heard was smooching," said Carrie. Greg glared at her from across the table. Sam laughed and Alice shook her head.
"Our little boy is growing up," said Julie, wiping an imaginary tear away. Then she punched him in the arm. "I know you donít have the guts to do that anyway," said Julie.
"Chemistry is not all itís cracked up to be," said Sam, trying to change the subject. "I think we have to build a nuclear reactor for our science fair project."
"Speaking of which," said Alice. "When is that due?"
"Tomorrow," said Greg twirling his fork. "I started yesterday."
"And your not done yet?" asked Alice.
"Well, I have to readjust the flux modulator and realign the spectrophotometer with the parallel thing-a-ma-jig," he said, trying to make up something impressive.
"Why donít you use the mold collection thatís in your sock drawer?" asked Julie.
"Why donít I use the rocks in your head?" shot back Greg.
"Fight nice," said Alice. "And donít get blood on the carpet." She had turned around to take the rolls out of the oven when Julie punched him in the arm again. "And quit hitting your brother," said Alice. "I thought you stopped doing that sort of thing when you got into college."
"Of course not," said Greg. "Sheíll be beating me up when Iím old and in a nursing home."
"Itís just payback for the time you stabbed me with a fork," said Julie.
"That was years ago," said Greg. "Plus youíve done enough mean things to me to negate that."
"Oh yeah, like the time I poured flour all over your first date!" chuckled Julie. "Then Carrie shot her up with that water gun." Carrie snickered along with her sister.
"I remember Jeannie telling me about that," said Sam. "Have you been on a date since?"
"Not that Iíve brought home," said Greg, glaring at his sister.
"What about Sa-mannnntha?" chimed Carrie.
"Sheís not a girl," began Greg. Sam punched him in the other arm.
"I beg to differ," said Sam. "Iím all women and donít you forget it."
"I canít win," said Greg. "Iíll just eat in as much peace as I can muster and go back to my dungeon."
"Oh no you donít," said Sam. "You have to help me pick out a prom dress tonight. You promised."
"Youíre whipped, man," said Julie. "And sheís not even your girlfriend."
"This is exactly why I prefer not to be me," said Greg, quietly. "The ambiguity of everything is not what I desire."
"Eh?" asked Alice. "You saying something?"
"Nothing mother," said Greg, eating his dinner quietly. They ate dinner with little complications and almost in silence. Sam and Greg got in his car and drove in silence to the mall. As Greg got out, he opened up Samís door as she stepped out.
"Greg," she asked, "why are you the way you are?"
"I donít know," said Greg, closing the door. "What do you mean?"
"You open up doors, you pick up tabs, and you always address your elders as Mister or Missus."
"People are supposed to do that," said Greg. "They just donít anymore." Sam shook her head.
"I suppose you get cool points just for being you then," she said.
"Cool points?" asked Greg.
"Never mind," said Sam. "Cmí on, dresses await." The walked to every store in the mall, but still they never did find the right one. At the last store, Greg sat down in the waiting area and looked over at another girl trying on a dress. It was green sequined, strapless with arm length gloves. It perfectly complimented her orange and white fur and her beautiful green eyes. Greg looked at her for a minute. She saw him and walked over.
"What do you think?" asked the girl. "I drove two hours to get this one."
"Very nice," said Greg. "Your prom date is a lucky guy to get to see you in that dress."
"Thanks," said the girl. "Are you here with anyone?"
"Yes, my friend over there," he turned around to see Sam standing in a black dress similar to the one girl was wearing. Greg had to practically put his tongue back in his mouth. "Uh..."
"I think he likes it," said the girl.
"Oh, poor boy," Sam laughed. "I shorted out his brain." Greg stood there flat-footed trying to find something to say to this.
"I think you have a winner," said the girl.
"Oh, I do too," said Sam. "Anything that can make a guy like him go crazy has got to be worth it."
"You look... stunning..." said Greg, finally getting his brain to work.
"Noted," said Sam. "It seems that you are interested then."
"Uh..." Sam smiled at Greg and went back to the room.
"This one it is," she said, changing. Greg shook his head. Gorgeous didnít even begin to describe her. The girl poked him in the ribs.
"Looks like youíve got a date, big boy."
"I guess so," said Greg.
"Hey Angie!" yelled a badger. "Gimme a hand with this would ya?"
"Iíll see you around," said Angie.
"You too," said Greg, knowing that heíd probably never see that girl again. He sat back down and shook his head again. How could this girl, his best friend, turn him on like that? Could it be there was something else there that he didnít see before? Or was he just imagining it?
"Hey you," said a gruff voice behind him. Greg recognized it immediately and his hackles went up in a defensive posture.
"Hello, Tom," said Greg, icily. "Get lost."
"I just wanted to warn you to stay away from my girl," said Tom, jabbing him in the chest with his index claw. The cougar glared at him. "You hear me?"
"Tom," said Greg as calmly as he could muster. "First, sheís not your girl. Second, if I wanted Sam, I could have had her by now. Sheís my friend, nothing more. Now butt out before I do something youíll regret."
"Is that so?" he asked defiantly. He struck a defensive posture and glared at him. "Iíll beat your ass wimp."
"I donít have the thirty seconds it would require to put the hurt on you," said Greg. "But feel free to kick your own ass for me." About that time, Sam opened the door and stepped out in her street clothes, still pretty underneath her tee shirt and jeans.
"Oh, hi Tom," said Sam, absently.
"Hello, dear," said Tom. "Is Greg here bothering you?"
"On the contrary," said Sam. "He just picked out my prom dress. Iím going with him, you know."
"Oh is he now?" he snarled.
"Itís not like Iíd ask you anyway," said Sam, putting her hands on her hips. "You hate everything to do with pomp and ceremony. Iím going to go and have fun."
"I donít think so," he murmured.
"What was that?" asked Greg, who heard him clearly. "You shouldnít murmur. Itís rude, and one might question your upbringing. Not that I wouldnít anyway..." Tom shot his bared teeth at Greg. "Oh and it looks like you havenít brushed your fangs in a while."
"Your such a kidder," said Sam. "Lemme go pay for this." She walked away, leaving Tom and Greg standing there. As soon as her back was turned, the cougar grabbed Gregís shirt.
"You give me a reason why I shouldnít shred you right now, mask boy."
"Because," said Greg, stomping down on his paw. "You canít." Tom immediately dropped Greg, and dropped to his knee, grabbing his paw.
"Whatís wrong with Tom?" asked Sam.
"Oh, old football injury," said Greg. "Heíll be fine."
"Okay," said Sam. "You be good now, Tom." He snarled something unintelligible as the two walked off.
"I wonder why he has the hots for me," said Sam.
"You obviously donít know how cute you are," said Greg. She smiled at him, and gave Greg a peck on the cheek.
"Youíre sweet," said Sam. "Now tell me why you donít have a girlfriend."
"I just havenít had time to look for one," said Greg. "Itís not like I really need to find one right now anyway."
"Thatís kind of sad," said Sam. Her pager beeped and she looked down at it. "Can we find a phone? Mom is calling." They stopped by a payphone and Sam quickly dialed her house.
"Whatís up?" asked Greg.
"Hi mom," said Sam. "Whatís...." Samís eyes grew wide and she turned pale. "Iíll be right home." She hung up the phone and looked at Greg.
"Whatís wrong?" asked Greg.
"Oh, some distant relative is dying," said Sam, angrily. "We have to go to California to go to the hospital."
"When are you leaving?" asked Greg.
"As soon as I get home," said Sam. Greg nodded and they headed out to the parking lot. Sam sat in silence on the way there, fuming at her terrible luck. They arrived at her house and Greg dropped her off in silence. She ran up to the house and disappeared in silence. Greg looked at her rushing about and drove off. He arrived back at his house and went directly to bed.
"Greg!" called Alice. "Samantha is on the phone for you." Greg rubbed his eyes and looked at the clock. It was 11:30 in the morning. Luckily, it was a Sunday. He picked up the phone.
"Hello?" he asked, sleepily.
"Greg, Iím in California," said Sam. "Iím staying with my Aunt Edith."
"Howís your relative?" asked Greg.
"Heís dead," said Sam, sadly. "But I canít make it back in time for the prom."
"Thatís okay," said Greg, just a little saddened. "Itíll be just fine."
"Greg," said Sam, "I want you to go."
"What?" asked Greg. "But..."
"Just please do Greg," said Sam. "I canít explain now but Iím not sure that Iíll be coming back."
"WHAT?" yelled Greg.
"Iím not sure, but I think Iím staying here," cried Sam. "Iím so sorry."
"Me too," said Greg, holding back tears. "Youíre at least coming back for your stuff right? Just so I can see you one last time?"
"I will," said Sam. "Promise."
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