There are two days that every girl looks forward to: her wedding day and the day she finally gets out of high school.
I had been waiting for graduation day ever since I first set foot at Winnebago High School and after the past year I had with evil aliens trying to kill me and controlling my classmates, it was about time.
“I am so proud of you, Alex,” mom gushed. “You’re a high school graduate!” She was always the drama queen. Like a high school diploma was that big of a deal anymore.
“You did great, kiddo.” Brian, my stepdad, patted me on the back.
The late spring sun shone down on us in the parking lot, and I could already see the perspiration bead on his big, bald head. I never remembered it being so hot in May, but I chalked the weather changes up to global warming and hoped I didn't have a big wet spot on my gown from my sweaty back.
I still couldn’t get over the awkwardness of having my entire family in the gym, watching me walk down and get my diploma. I mean my ENTIRE family. My mom and her parents where there. It was always awkward having grandpa around since he believed that he knew my boyfriend, Ace, from somewhere. Okay, so my boyfriend may or may not have flown with him during World War II, but thank goodness grandpa was old enough that I could just say he was senile. Brian and his parents came along, of course, and even though I thought they were a little off their rocker, they always gave good Christmas gifts and I couldn't exclude them. Elijah, my little brother, loved my step-grandfather. In fact, he sat next to him the entire time during the graduation and told him every detail of the bugs that gathered on the back window. Then there was my dad and his parents. They all sat just a row above mom and Brian's family with the same Italian glare pasted on their faces. This blended family thing never got easier.
Mom, her parents, and Brian and his parents stood in a small circle in the parking lot outside the gym doors and dad and his family stood at least twenty feet away. I even think my nona called my mom something mean in Italian under her breath. Dad rarely saw my nona and nanu anymore since he was busy working in an alien operations center, but every time they came in from Chicago they acted like it had only been a few minutes since they last spoke and went back to talking about the same story they had the last time they were there. The story was always about food. I never knew where it was going, but they still kept going on about it.
At least Ace was there to pick me up and twirl me around as if I were lighter than air. My black gown swished around me. Having my alien there was enough to make me forget about my fighting family and just enjoy the fact that I was finally out of high school and would soon be on my way to Northern Arizona University.
“What was that for?” I looked up at him once he sat me down.
He had a giant grin spread across his face. There was absolutely nothing that I didn’t love about his smile or the way that he could just pick me up so effortlessly. In his baby blue sweater and beige trousers, he looked more like a model than my alien boyfriend, which was a good thing if he was going to keep his identity as an alien hidden.
“Can’t I just enjoy this moment with my favorite valedictorian?”
I rolled my eyes, pulling the itchy square cap off my head and smoothing out my hair. “Oh please. I’ve done way cooler things than be valedictorian.”
“Trying to show off for me, now?” He raised his eyebrows and pulled up the sleeves of his sweater ever so slightly.
Even though the temperature was probably approaching the eighties, Ace still had to wear long sleeves no matter how hot it was. He needed something to cover his temperature control suit, so he was better off looking like the weird guy in long sleeves than the guy in the silver jumpsuit.
“Yeah, it’s kind of my thing. I’m a show off.” I bounced on the balls of my feet. Mom might have made me wear a dress, but there was no way I was wearing heels for the occasion. Last time I wore heels, I was attacked by an evil alien trying to kill me and that would hopefully never happen again.
“Well I have something to show off for you.” He reached out for my hand. I took it and arched a brow, looking behind us as my family just watched from their respective sides.
“What is going on?” I asked.
“You’ll see.” He pulled me through the parking lot, pushing past the groups of people huddled together.
My classmates were lined up all over, taking pictures with their friends in their gowns or just screaming in general. God, was I happy to be getting out of that place. The only pseudo friends I had at the school were the ones that only liked me because they were under the influence of an evil alien. Ugh, why did I always just attract evil aliens and not enough human friends? First Ace's mom, the queen of Calta, came after me and then some psycho ex-girlfriend. It was no wonder that dad kept sending me pepper spray guns for holidays.
Ace stopped next to an all-black SUV with tinted windows and rims that probably cost more than my entire car. I swore it looked like the same vehicles the president's secret service men drove in. I hoped there wasn't some sort of secret Circe mission I would have to go on and explain it to my mom.
“Uh, why are we stopping here?” I asked.
Ace just smiled and pulled out a set of keys from his pocket, pressing a button and unlocking the doors of the shiny car.
“No freaking way! This is your car?” I looked from Ace to the car and back to Ace.
“No.” He took a step closer, removed his hand from mine, and dropped the keys in my palm. “It is actually your car.”
“Just a little graduation gift.” He smiled as I took another step toward the car.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“Nope.” He shook his head. “I couldn’t let you drive that thing you call ‘The Pox’ to Arizona.”
I opened the door to be greeted by the new car smell. Not just new car smell, but top-of-the-line new car smell. The interior was decked out in plush leather with all the bells and whistles: navigation system, heated seats, DVD player, and a blue box sitting on the passenger seat? That couldn’t have been included.
“What is this?” I picked up the box and held it in my palm as if it might burn me.
Ace took the box and got down on one knee in front of me. I realized that my family were only standing a few feet away. Somehow in all my excitement, I didn't realize they came over. I looked past my mom's cheesy smile and also saw that half the town was looking at us. I could already feel the heat creeping up my neck and looked back at Ace.
He opened the box and a silver ring with a giant diamond the size of a cheese ball looked back at me. “I figure we should do this the right way,” he said with the smile never leaving his face. “So, Alexandra Bianchi, will you do me the honor of marrying me?”
I was speechless. We agreed in front of the alien world that we would someday get married, but I wasn’t expecting a human proposal. I looked around at everyone’s eyes on us. Even stupid Gemma and her rugby cronies stood with their mouths wide open. Then I looked down at the only person that really mattered, my alien. After the events of the past year, there was no one else I wanted to be kneeling in front of me.
I felt the tears well up in my eyes. Not tears of sadness or of pain, but of pure happiness. I swooped a finger underneath my eye and hoped the pound of mascara on my eyelashes didn't all drip down my face.
“So is that a yes?” He arched his eyebrows.
I let my hands lay on either side of his statuesque face. His body was as cold as ice and even with his eyes dark and calculating, the way he looked at me made every single hair on my arms stand up and made me shiver in all the right places.
“It is a definite yes.”