Taking You For Granted

Oliver had always been around, and so he would always be around... Just, as a friend. That's all he was, she swore to herself. But, when something terrible happens she's forced to take a new look at her longest standing, never changing relationship.


17. stays in motion

We ate take out from a taco joint in Carolyn's dining room as we went over materials I'd already reviewed a million times, plus some new testimony. I was emotionally exhausted by the time we were done.

I went to bed first while Oli took a shower, trying to avoid talking or having to figure out how this would work. I just chose a side and curled up with a pillow. If he chose to cuddle or simply lay down beside me, I would be too asleep to respond.

At least, that's what I hoped would happen.

I don't know why I was so nervous.

We'd shared a bed before, even since we'd started dating.

My mind flashed to our first night camping, making out in our shared sleeping bag. My pulse sped at the memory, but stopped when I remember Carolyn warning us.

It was too late. I heard the water cut off. A little noise from Oli putting clothes on and brushing his teeth. The door opened, the light cut out. His footsteps creaked the wood floor. His weight made the mattress sink.

He laid down beside me, folded his arms over his chest, and let out a long breath.

I don't know why, but I was a little bit disappointed.

The next morning, Carla had to go into her office. Oli took me to breakfast at Kirby Lane before we found Mount Bonnell and decided to climb the long stairway up to overlook Lake Travis.

We sat on a large rock and watched as boats passed by. People moved across the water on paddle boards and kayaks.

We found a little coffee shops called Mozart's and joked about how Jude's feelings would be hurt to know that their Italian cream sodas were just a little bit better than his.

In the evening, we had another cram session with Carla.

I told her that I had to take Friday off. I couldn't take a third night of this.

Oli took me to dinner on Friday night. We ate sushi. Afterward, we came back to the guest house. I was surprised to find Carolyn there with Hedy and Will.

"You guys skipped graduation?" I asked, my heart aching for them.

Hedy shook her head, "We're having our own graduation ceremony right here."

She and Carolyn took a large duffel bag and emptied the contents onto the bed: four caps and gowns.

"We brought your graduation to you," Carolyn smiled as she draped the gown around my shoulders.

I snuck my arms into the sleeves as Oli placed the cap onto my head.

I started to tear up, but fought it back.

"Alright," Hedy said as she and Will pulled on their own caps and gowns, "Carolyn, you'll be the principal. Oli, get dressed."

He followed suit as Carolyn gathered four rolled diplomas in her hands.

"Okay, I will call your names to cross the stage and hand you your diplomas," she smiled as she climbed onto the bed and stood at its center. "Hedy."

Hedy climbed onto the bed, shook hands with Carolyn, took her diploma, and jumped off from the other side of the bed.

"June," she smiled.

I scrambled to do the same, the jumped down.

"Oliver," she announced.

Oli didn't climb the bed. He simply went to stand in front of his mother, tall enough that he was still about an inch taller than her. She kissed his cheek and handed over his diploma. He walked over to my side and put his arm around my shoulder.

"Will," Carolyn said.

He also walked to stand before her. She handed him his diploma and shook his hand.

"Congratulations on graduating from high school," she clapped. "I've watched you four grow into remarkable young adults. I'm so proud of you all and I look forward to witnessing the good you'll bring to this planet."

We all cheered and clapped and hugged.

There was a knock at the door before Carla let herself in with a camera in hand.

"Oh good, I missed the ceremony," she laughed. "Okay, everyone, come outside. I'll take your pictures by the pool."

We followed her out, then gathered and posed. Smiling, making faces, as a group, individually.

Then, Hedy suggested, "Will, let's get a picture of just the two of us. Oli and June, you can go next."

They posed and Carla snapped away. Carolyn couldn't resist taking out her phone to take pictures of her own. When they finished, they stepped out of frame. I took Oli's hand and pulled him in front of the camera. I turned to ask him how he wanted to pose, but found him knelt down on one knee.

"I had planned on asking you this question at our graduation ceremony back home, so Hedy and mom helped me improvise when we found out we had to come down here," he explained nervously. "June, I've loved you since forever. If I had to choose the first moment it dawned on me, it would have been when I wrecked my bike into Mr. Mayweather's garage door and you helped me drag it back home before he had a chance to find the dent. You put a Star Wars bandaid on my knee and kissed it to make the scrape heal faster. I didn't know back then that it was possible to love you even more, but I do. And I'm sure that I'll continue to be surprised by just how large love can grow when you've loved someone as long as I've loved you. And I want to be there beside you everyday for the rest our lives to find it out. Will you let me, June?"

I covered my mouth as he fished a ring from somewhere under his graduation gown. He took my left hand in his, putting the ring on the tip of my finger, pausing a moment. As if I'd pull my hand away.

I nodded my head, unable to form the words, and he slid the ring the rest of the way. He stood and I grabbed him by the collar, bringing him down to my height and kissing him with all my might.

Everyone erupted in applause with the exception of Carolyn, who was filming the entire thing on her phone.

"I think this calls for some underage drinking under adult supervision," Carla smiled as she put her camera away. "As long as you all sleep here tonight, don't go overboard, and don't post anything stupid to social media. I have a bottle of champagne in the fridge. What do you say, mom?"

Carolyn looked nervous, but conceded, "One celebratory glass wouldn't hurt."

Carla brought the bottle outside, popped the cork, and poured us each a small flute full.

It was fizzy and tickled my throat as I sipped it. I was nervous that it would be like drinking rum, but it wasn't at all. In the company of good friends, smiling and laughing, I found that this drink simply made me feel lighter.

Hedy came with me into the guest house to find a blanket when the night got chilly.

"Fine," she sighed dramatically.

"What?" I giggled, completely on cloud nine.

"I'll be your maid of honor," she smiled. "You don't have to be so pushy about it."

I laughed and slung my arms around her in a hug, leaning my head against hers.

"Of course you will," I kissed her cheek. "Your my best friend. I wouldn't have it any other way."

She smiled and we walked back outside arm in arm as we carried a small pile of blankets.

I awoke just a bit dehydrated and with a small headache. So, hangovers aren't omitted from cheerful drinking... at least I didn't feel sick.

I rolled out of bed and went to the kitchen to pour a glass of water, quiet so as not to wake anyone. Carolyn had slept on the sofa, Will and Hedy on the floor. Oli was still asleep, too.

I let my eyes roam over all of them. These were my people, my family. They supported me when those who were related to me by blood would not.

Nothing mattered more to me than these people in the whole world. In the whole universe.

And most of them were heading home tomorrow because they had to either work or prep for summer courses.

I had an idea.

I went to my purse and dug out the list. I crossed out graduation and added a new item:

5)Marry my best friend

I crawled back onto the bed and woke Oli.

"Hm?" He asked and rubbed the grogginess from his eyes.

"Let's get married today. While everyone is here," I said and handed the list to him.

He sat up and examined it, then cocked a smile.

"You sure about this?" He asked. "I mean, I thought you might want a real wedding."

"And put us in debt? Let's face it, my parents won't pay for anything and I won't let your mom."

He let this sink in.

"You're really sure?" He asked.

I nodded and kissed him.

"Okay," he grinned. "Let's do this."

We woke everyone and turned them into our coconspirators, some more willingly than others.

Carla called a judge friend of hers and convinced him to come over to help us out. Hedy took me to a vintage clothing store to find a pretty dress and Carolyn and Will took Oli to buy a tie elsewhere.

I found a dress, soft peach lace over a champagne colored slip. Hedy found a pack of bobby pins with fake pearls on them. She twisted my hair into a long loose braid cascading over my shoulder before fastening the pins into the braid. Then she took some lipgloss out of her purse and painted it onto my lips.

"There," she smiled. "Even when improvising, I am completely unmatched. You would make the perfect modern day Juliet right now."

I blushed and glanced in the dressing room mirror. I really did look pretty. I usually felt pretty plain. Cute on my good days. But, today I was pretty.

I hugged Hedy. She patted my shoulder and smiled.

On the drive back, I dialed my mom's number. My prayer was answered when she sent me to voicemail.

"Mom, I just wanted to let you and dad know that I'm marrying Oliver today. If you no longer want to pay for my tuition, I understand. I'll figure something out. Anyways, I just thought you should know. Bye."

It felt very final. I felt relief.

We pulled up to the house. It was empty, so we walked out to the backyard.

It had been simply decorated with store bought flowers. Violin music was playing from Carla's speaker system. Oli stood between Will and an older man as Carolyn straightened his simply black tie. He wore it with a white collared shirt and black slacks. Carolyn tried to neaten his curls, but I was glad to see them fight her attempts, unruly as ever.

His eyes caught on me and his face went slack before rearranging into an expression of joy. Carolyn turned to see me and smiled.

"Are we all assembled?" The older man asked.

We kept our vows simple, Oli holding tight to my hands as we recited them. I gave him a simple ring I'd found at the store with my dress.

We kissed.

Everyone applauded. Carla took more photos. Will witnessed us signing our marriage license. And we danced.

We ate grocery store sheet cake, blue icing staining our teeth.

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