Honeysuckle Love
Author:S. Walden

Clara clicked PRINT on the screen and walked over to the printers. She hovered over Printer B afraid that someone would materialize out of nowhere and grab the application once the printer spit it out. As the papers rolled out onto the tray, Clara couldn’t help but think for a moment what other students were doing on a Friday afternoon. She wanted to feel sorry for herself that she was in the library looking up information for poor people while everyone else was hanging out with friends at the mall or making plans to go to the movies. She couldn’t remember the last time she saw a movie at the theatre. Movies cost money she didn’t have.

 

She collected the papers and made her way back over to the computer she was using. She saw him hovering about her book bag and panicked. She quickened her step until she was a few feet away from him, snatching her bag from her chair and logging out of her computer swiftly. She prayed that he didn’t see what was on the screen. But he did see, and he said nothing.

 

“Hey Clara.” Evan stood in his usual position, hands in his front pockets looking happy.

 

“What are you doing here?” Clara replied. It came out as an accusation.

 

“What? Here in the Media Center?” Evan asked.

 

Clara shook her head. “I just meant that it’s Friday afternoon. Shouldn’t you be with your friends or something?” She threw her book bag over her shoulder.

 

“I’m on my way to Joshua’s house. I just happened to walk by and noticed you in here.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Clara remembered the papers in her hand and clutched them close to her chest.

 

“I was wondering what you’re doing this weekend,” Evan said. It came out casually enough, but his heart was racing. He felt excited and embarrassed to be standing there in front of her—excited because it was her and embarrassed for what he saw on the computer screen.

 

“I’m working all weekend,” Clara said. She wasn’t working at the clothing store. She wasn’t scheduled. But she would be working. Working on devising a plan to live without electricity.

 

She knew her face was red. She also realized she hadn’t put on any make-up that morning. She and Beatrice stayed up late watching movies and eating the rest of the popcorn because they didn’t know when they would be able to pop it again. The electricity would be shut off in one day. They both woke up late and Beatrice barely caught the bus. Clara slunk into first period Spanish just before the late bell.

 

“Do you work a lot?” Evan asked.

 

“Yes,” Clara said. She hung her face, and Evan wanted so much to touch her cheek, lift her face to his, and make her look at his eyes. His fingers itched to touch her skin. It was flawless skin—smooth and fair with a tinge of pink playing on her cheeks. He wanted to believe he put the pink there.

 

“Will you be working all next weekend?” he asked softly.

 

“I have to go,” Clara said. “Excuse me.”

 

She left in a hurry not looking at him. She mumbled something inaudible over her shoulder once she reached the Media Center doors, and he thought she wished him a nice weekend.

 

“You too,” he said sullenly and followed behind her.

 

***

 

“Did you know this thing was back here?” Beatrice asked Clara. She swung the arm forward. “Option Number Two.” Beatrice beamed at her sister.

 

“Be careful with those hands, Bea,” Clara said. “Soot.”

 

Beatrice looked down at her dirty palms. “I’ll clean my hands and then I’ll clean this thing.”

 

“No need,” Clara said. “It’ll just keep getting dirty. But it’s great you found it. Now we can boil water in the fireplace.”

 

“And the wood stove for cooking,” Beatrice said. “This’ll be fun.”

 

Clara grinned. “If you say so,” she replied.

 

“Look at it like an adventure, Clara,” Beatrice said. “We’re pioneer women living back in the olden days. Baking our bread from scratch and all that romantic stuff.”

 

“Romantic, huh? And how do you know about pioneer women?” Clara asked walking with Beatrice to the kitchen. She watched as her sister washed the black marks from her pearly skin.

 

“I learned about them last year,” Beatrice explained. “Can we bake our own bread?”

 

“No. We’re perfectly capable of buying already baked bread at the store,” Clara said.

 

“Hmm,” Beatrice said thoughtfully. “Can we make our own candles?”

 

Clara didn’t think about that. After writing her list and going over it a dozen times, she forgot all about candles.

 

“No, Bea,” she said. “We’ll get them at the store.”

 

It was agony for Clara knowing that today the electricity would be shut off. She hoped they would give her a few more days like the gas company. But that had finally been cut off as well. No gas. Soon no electricity.

 

Clara didn’t know the water heater was gas powered. She jumped in the shower a few days back and noticed the water getting cooler the longer she stayed in. She kept turning the faucet knob to the left, but it did nothing to generate hot water. When Beatrice complained of a tepid shower later that night, Clara knew there was a problem.