Once Miss Last Chance – Part 3

Hope you are enjoying Part 3 of this romantic short story…

The rodeo clowns dash out into the empty arena. My favorite clown rolls a neon orange barrel to the center of the ring. He does a couple of cartwheels, then leaps onto the barrel in one bound. Mindy and I gasp with the rest of the crowd.
A recording of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” blares over the loudspeaker. That amazing acrobatic clown claps in time with the music, shaking his hips in giant blue overalls, encouraging the audience to join the unison rhythm.
Mindy blows kisses and hoots. Her eyes sparkle with admiration and delight. My little girl teeters at the brink of adolescence. The joy of anticipation and dread of teenage rebellion play tug-of-war with my heart. I pray she’ll get through those super-charged years more gracefully than I did.
When the parade was over, Bill held my waist and lifted me down from the truck.
“Thirsty?” he asked. He handed me a can of lemon-lime soda. “A bunch of us are going to the fireworks show tonight at the fairgrounds. Would you, um, want to come with me?”
I thought about Ketchum. As far as I could see, he hadn’t thought beyond himself and his own convenience. It felt warm and sparkly to be asked. I thought of Ketchum again. He’d be mad at me if I went with someone else. He’d say we had an understanding. The Adam’s apple in Bill’s throat kind of jumped up, then settled, as if he was waiting for me to answer, nervous-like, but he wouldn’t push me.
Ketchum’s idea of our understanding, I supposed, was that Ketchum would tell me what we were doing, if we were doing anything, then I’d agree to whatever he said. I looked at Bill.
“Yes. I’d love to go,” I answered.
Bill smiled. A really big smile. Then he tilted his head and said, “You don’t have to change out of that costume, unless you want to.”
I looked down at the stockings that left a lot of skin showing, and at the glittering boots.
“I want to change,” I said.