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My Own Mr. Darcy
Karey White

THE THEATER WAS nearly empty. It might have been because of the late hour but I suspected it was because this movie was going to be a snoozefest.

“Darn, they got the best seats,” Mom said, tilting her head toward a row of silver-haired women.

“Mom, there are plenty of seats,” I said.

“I know, I know. I just wanted to be right in the center.” Mom started up the dimly lit stairs. We lagged a few steps behind her.

“What have we gotten ourselves into?” I whispered to Janessa.

She gave me a stern, best-friend glare and an elbow jab. “Your mom’s excited. Don’t spoil it for her.” I rolled my eyes.

Janessa and I were the only teenagers in the room. Everyone else was even older than Mom. The five silver-haired women were talking loudly and giggling. They probably didn’t get out much. One of the women held a handbag the size of carryon luggage in her lap and another had a scarf with a jeweled pin that sparkled even in the near darkness.

There wasn’t a man in sight. No wonder Dad had refused to come.

“How about here?” Mom said, indicating seats two rows in front of the senior citizen contingency. I looked at Janessa and she shrugged her shoulders. We followed Mom into the row and I planted myself with a sigh into the plush seat. At least the theater was nice—new enough that my seat still had spring and my feet didn’t stick to the floor.

Mom linked her arm through mine. “Lizzie, you could at least pretend to be having fun. I’m letting you go to a late movie on a school night. Do you think you could muster up a teeny tiny smile?”

I gave my mom a cheesy, fake smile. She shook her head and laughed and I caved and smiled a real smile. “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to come,” Mom said. “You know you were named after the main character.”

“I thought I was named after Dad’s aunt,” I said.

Mom waved me off. “Her, too. I wanted to name you Elizabeth after Elizabeth Bennet because she’s strong and smart and confident. All the things I wanted you to become. Dad thought it was silly to name you after a character in a book, especially since our last name is Barrett. I finally got him to agree by reminding him he could tell everyone you were named after his aunt.”

“Just because I’m named after her doesn’t mean this movie won’t be boring.”

Janessa elbowed me again. “Come on, Lizzie. This is better than homework. Or being in bed. Thanks for convincing my mom to let me come, Mrs. Barrett.”

“I’m glad you could join us,” Mom said.

“You’ll have to tell us how closely it follows the book,” I said.

Mom looked at me with suspicion. “Just remember, you girls are seeing this movie in addition to reading the book. Not instead of reading it.”

“Of course, we’ll read it,” Janessa said.

The truth was I had no intention of reading the book. I’d started it three times since Mr. Malloy gave us the reading list and I just didn’t get it. The words made no sense and by the third page, I was lost. I was depending on this movie and the Internet to give me all the information I’d need to ace this unit.

“I’m serious. Lizzie? You girls promise me you’re going to read the book or we’ll leave right now. I won’t help you cheat.” I stared at a woman with an unusually large smile on the screen. I guess her oversized white teeth were supposed to entice us to visit Dr. Stonesmith’s office for free teeth whitening. “Are you going to read the book, Lizzie?” The screen changed to a lawyer with perfect helmet-hair who could defend my rights if I was hurt in an auto accident. “Lizzie?”

“You know I always end up reading the books, Mom. I’m a good student. That’s why I’m in Honors English.”

“We’ll read it together, Mrs. Barrett,” Janessa said.

Satisfied, Mom settled back into her seat. “You’re going to love it. I’ve read it every few years since I was your age. And I’ve seen the 6-hour mini-series at least three times,” Mom said. “This is going to be fun.”

I enjoy a good romance and Mom assured me this was, but I preferred romances that took place in the twenty-first century. I’d seen a couple of movies made in the eighties and nineties that I liked, but only a couple. Mr. Malloy had told us Pride and Prejudice was a classic romance from the early nineteenth century.

That was two-hundred years ago!

Jane Austen may have been a talented writer, but what did anyone from two-hundred years ago know about romance? And Mom. Sitting here in her mom-jeans and a pale blue polo shirt, Mom didn’t exactly inspire romantic confidence. She couldn’t even convince Dad to come with her. If this was a romance for the ages, it shouldn’t have been difficult to persuade the love of her life to sit beside her in a dark theater for an hour and a half.

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