by Paul Beckman

I’m angry and ashamed.

I maintain my innocence. Believe it or don’t believe it—your choice—but I am innocent.

My father told me I could borrow the car as long as I asked his permission and keep my grades up to a B average. I have a B+ and if my father weren’t on a plane flying to Europe I would have asked his permission, but he was and I didn’t and now he’s redoing the rules.

I now have to maintain a B+ average because I showed I could do it and I can’t use the car for a month. So I did what any high school junior would do—I borrowed one. Not forever, mind you but just for the Junior Prom.

Okay, call me dumb but if the Police Chief’s brother hadn’t left his keys in the car I wouldn’t have taken it for the weekend. He’s the one who needs a good talking to. I’d say it was entrapment. I know these things. It turns out he’s my father’s golf and poker buddy so there were no charges filed.

Now my father insists on an A average, no driving for the rest of the school year (two months) and a ten p.m. curfew on weekends and nine during the week.

My girlfriend of two years, Lacy, texted me a breakup during lunch period today. She was sitting with her girlfriends about six tables away. “Mark, I can’t ruin the rest of my high school experience because you keep getting into trouble. I’m calling this off and will leave your baseball letter sweater in the front office. There are times a person has to do what’s best for them and this is my time. Still your friend-Lacy.”

I looked to catch her eye but she had her back to me and when the bell rang her girlfriends formed a barrier around her and walked her to her next class.

It’s been two weeks without Lacy and I don’t even stay out until curfew time. This morning it was announced over the school speaker that I was voted captain of the baseball team next year and with that honor comes the honor of being Homecoming King and I get to choose my Homecoming Queen for the last social event of the year.

Of course Lacy texted right away. “I’ve missed you and I shouldn’t have listened to my girlfriends and broken up with you. I know you want to get back together so I’m willing to give you another chance.”

That’s what she said. Yes I do some dumb things but I’m not stupid and Lacy’s message made me sound stupid. I could play her along and then drop her right before I had to name my Queen but I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me.

So I texted her back. “I understood your original message at lunch and being friends is probably the best thing and as a friend would you please recommend one of your girlfriends to be my Queen?”

She’s taking an awful long time getting back to me on this one—she probably wants to make a better choice this time than she did the last.

Paul Beckman’s story, “Healing Time” was one of the winners in the 2016 The Best Small Fictions and his 100 word story, “Mom’s Goodbye” was chosen as the winner of the 2016 Fiction Southeast Editor’s Prize. His stories are widely published in print and online. Found out more on his published story website www.paulbeckmanstories.com and his blog  www.pincusb.com.