Almost two years after they'd made the move to the rental house, Mike’s dad came to tell him that his mother had left their home and had already filed for a divorce. Larry Max also made remarks to Mike that made him realize—for sure—that his dad thought he was staying in this apartment alone. Evidently his mother had never let him know anything about Lucy. The split didn't really surprise Mike; he knew his mother had been kind of wild and quirky the last few years, even when he lived at home. He also knew he should have set his father straight at this point since he'd been paying Mike's half of the rent, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it, especially now that he and Lucy were...no longer platonic and did not need a second bedroom anymore. He realized he was being selfish as well as dishonest, but they were in their senior year and there was no way, even with a part-time job, that Mike could pay for this place, if his dad refused to pay any longer. If he did get a job he knew his grades would suffer, too. His dad might even shrug and say, no problem, big deal and keep paying the rent. He knew his mother would. But his dad was another matter entirely. Naturally enough, Larry Max did not like to be lied to and Mike was afraid to chance it. So Mike tried to justify his lie by omission, saying it was only for a short while longer, but it was always in the back of his mind and now he avoided speaking with his father when he could.
It wasn't until his mother called and talked to Mike that he found out she had just spoken with his father and told him everything.
"I guess we'll have to get out and go back to the dorm," Mike was totally bummed.
"No, no. I told him that I was going to pay the rent for you, it's only a few more months. But he said, no, he'd pay it but he expected you to be honest with him from now on and he'd like to meet Lucy," Jenny said.
"He wasn't mad?"
"Oh, he was mad, but he was mad at me, Mike. So stop sweating it and remember, I'd like to meet her, too."
Mike was so relieved he had to send a text to Lucy, who was at class, he couldn't even wait until she got home.
After thinking a lot of things over, including various recent events, Mike knew it was time to have a serious conversation with Lucy. But by the time they'd done class assignments and some studying, Lucy was in her camisole and wanted to just relax and play SSX. Mike tried to say something a couple times but she was distracted by her game. In point of fact, she was distracting Mike. By the time he finally captured her attention, he’d decided to wait to set the stage a little better for the discussion at a later date. He didn't have time right then. Maybe tomorrow.
Every once in a while Mike and Lucy just needed to have some fun for fun’s sake. That was the only thing they missed about the dorms. It was never dull. No one would let you keep your nose to the grindstone unless you escaped to the library or something. So the next morning Mike decided a trip to the skating rink would make them feel carefree again. As it turned out an unsteady but romantic kiss on skates did bring back childhood memories.
That night, cuddling on the love seat watching TV, Mike asked Lucy what he’d wanted to ask her for weeks; would she marry him when they finished school, even though he had no job and no home of his own? She flew into his arms and he had his answer.
Graduation loomed large and Mike had recently cut his hair. He’d been wearing it the same way since he was 12 and he thought it was time he look more adult and more professional. Especially since he expected to be going on job interviews soon. Lucy and he began to talk about what was ahead after University. Since they’d become engaged, they had talked of long term future plans, like where they hoped to be headed in their careers, what about children, did they want to live in Pleasantville or move off somewhere else? But this discussion tonight was more about immediate concerns, what they would do for money, where they would live, when and how they would marry, first steps to employment. Always the practical one, Lucy did not want a fancy wedding, she favored a justice of the peace.
"We can blow money on a big party for our first anniversary, that is, if we're gainfully employed," she hugged him.
They decided they would both go to their respective homes after graduation and look for jobs and announce their engagement to the families. They needed to save money for a bit before they could get married so that they could start out with a nice house or apartment. Mike would actually be graduating a little before Lucy and could not stay very long on campus afterward, only 72 hours. Lucy would graduate 2 days later than Mike. She was a little afraid that she would be lonesome--and frightened--without Mike, she'd never lived alone. Mike told her he would wait until the last minute to leave; then it was only a matter of hours before she would have her final exams. By the time she got back, if she didn’t want a party, call the taxi to take her home, he’d be at his parents’ house waiting for her call. Lucy didn’t care about a party; she just wanted to be reunited with Mike as soon as possible.
One night, not long before Mike graduated, he got into a fracas just outside their home. He'd been studying long hours for his final exam. Ravi, the current Llama mascot had been scampering around their place for two days, smelling the flowers, catching butterflies and then leaving the glass jars there with the poor butterflies still in it, practicing the school cheer relentlessly, doing his homework on the front porch or the back porch, whining and complaining when he couldn’t get into their house because they'd wisely locked the doors. Ordinarily Ravi did not stay so long. Then, too, sometimes Mike could go out and just ask him to leave and he would. This time Lucy had gone out to release the little butterflies so she decided to ask Ravi to please leave. He chased her all the way up to the porch and she ran inside. This really ticked Mike off; his future wife (he liked the sound of that) should not have to be chased around her yard by an idiot hiding inside a moth-eaten Llama suit. He stepped out thinking he’d try just once more to ask Ravi to leave. When Ravi danced back and forth defiantly, Mike was so irritated that he told him off in no uncertain terms. Ravi must have been secretly drinking that night; because he was totally defiant. Either that or he had a death wish. What was really aggravating was that every time Mike went down the steps to take the argument away from the house, the Llama ran down them on the other side and then back up again. When Mike followed him back up, Ravi immediately ran down. The coward. So Mike hauled off and slapped him. Ravi slapped Mike back, and from there the fight was on.
Lucy became worried as the fight got worse and foolishly came out to see. Perhaps she could calm Ravi down, she thought.
Instead, Ravi turned on Lucy. Although she later maintained Ravi just got confused in the fight, when Mike saw this he really got bent out of shape. Suddenly Ravi represented every butterfly-catching llama, every practical-joking cow and every rogue cheerleader who had bedeviled them over the last four years.
Mike kept yelling at Lucy, “Get in the house! Get in the house!” But she couldn’t get in the front doors and she didn’t want to miss anything by going in the back door so she ran down the steps to the front walk and hid under foliage.
Mike ultimately beat the tar out of Ravi who left quietly at first, but then collapsed into loud sobs as he trotted down the street.
“Ah, quit your blubbering,” Mike yelled after him; then muttered, “Miserable little alpaca.”
As she treated Mike’s bruises and scrapes afterward Lucy remarked, “Actually, I don’t think alpacas and llamas are the same thing, honey.”
Mike gave her a long look.
“Of course, I could be wrong on that,” she amended.
They were down to the last couple hours they would be in this house. It held a lot of memories. Lucy kept telling herself the fact that Mike would leave before her was nothing; just a matter of hours. It was the symbolism, she guessed. As if he was moving on without her almost.
“Lucy, I have to leave, I’ve stayed a couple extra days and only have 7 hours left. They’ll yank me off campus just like that and I can’t get back on,” Mike held her on his lap and consoled her, “But I’ll be waiting in Pleasantview. I told you before, you call the taxi right away after you get that degree and you come home. Call me the minute you get there and I’ll come to see you at your house. We’ll announce our engagement. Remember we decided all that yesterday."
“What are you worried about then?”
“We’ve never been apart since I got to Landgraab,” she murmured as tears fell. "And now we’ll be back at our parents' homes trying to save money. Even though we’ll be in Pleasantview together we’ll still be living apart! Who knows how long it will take us to save for a house of our own!”
“Okay, we can rethink all of that if you want. We can get married right away. We’ll both get jobs and find a place, an apartment, a mobile home, a camper, whatever. Whatever you want, babe."
Mike had not planned a graduation party, but Lucy wanted him to have at least a small one and since Corky and Chelsea were right on campus, why not invite them and whoever they were currently dating? So Corky brought Elle and Chelsea brought Trey. There were bubbles and fruit punch drinks for all.
|Chelsea chug-a-lugging fruit juice|
|Trey, Mike and Corky|
|Elle and Chelsea discussing makeup|
|Trey, Corky and Lucy join Mike|
|Elle and Chelsea|
|All too soon Mike is on his way...|
|Dancing couples but Lucy is all alone, nearly time for her final exam|
Lucy took her final exam a few hours later, made the dean’s list and got her degree. She came back to the rental house just to check that everything was all right—they’d packed up their stuff and sent it to their respective homes that morning. Then she called the taxi to take her home to Pleasantview and to Mike.
Next update: Sim State U Ch. 2 Two Years at Landgraab
Further stories of Mike and Lucy back in Pleasantview HERE