This chapter is told by Nawwaf Boston.
The school really went all-out this year for the dance, which I’m sure I would’ve appreciated if I wasn’t utterly miserable. The elevator we took up to the venue was completely glass, so I could see the sunset as we rose above the city. It would’ve taken my breath away if I hadn’t already been preoccupied with the fact that I hadn’t asked Lacie to the dance, hadn’t even spoken to her, so I had no idea if she would even show up. At least my ticket was free since Mom was helping with setup and tear-down, as well as being stationed at the snack bar during the dance.
The beginning of it was really awkward– I don’t hang out with a ton of people, and everyone I knew that was there was probably mad at me. Then there was this new girl there, who I really felt bad for– I think I heard someone call her Jen? She seemed like she was in one of the younger grades, so this could’ve easily been her first dance. She looked like she was having a good time with Matias and Helen, so I guess she must’ve made friends quickly. Either that or they were just making an effort to include her since she’s new.
A little later, though, it was just Jen and I dancing. I’d seen Lacie head off to the bathroom– thank goodness she was there!– and Matias was hanging out with this one girl that I recognized but don’t really know. That’s the problem with social stuff– as long as you’re new to something, people will make an effort to include you, but after awhile you’re on your own, and if you haven’t made friends with anyone by then– or your “friends” ditch you– you’re officially a loner.
About an hour into the thing I got sick of dancing and went to take a break. That one girl Matias was talking to came over and chatted with me. She seemed nice enough, though obviously I have no idea what she was thinking or why she’d even decided to talk to me.
Meanwhile, Matias had wandered off in the direction of the pool. We were never told there would be a pool– or maybe it was just me that didn’t know, and no one else decided to bring swimsuits. I wasn’t about to jump in it in my suit since Mom was there, but I’m surprised no one else did anything crazy like that. No, Matias didn’t jump in– he just went over to the railing and stared out at the world. I don’t blame him– I would’ve done the same thing if my stomach hadn’t been rumbling.
I noticed that Lacie had come out of the bathroom, and was now talking to Helen Weeks. I’m honestly surprised that I know Helen’s name– I’m not sure if I’ve had classes with her before, and now that I think about it I honestly have no idea what grade she’s in. Lacie seemed happy enough, which made me happy as Mom got me some punch. Then they stopped talking and Helen approached.
She got some chips, then turned to me. “So, I, uh… I thought you and Lacie were a thing?”
I could tell Mom was listening in, even though she had busied herself with making more punch to make it seem like she wasn’t, so I chose my words carefully. “Right now we’re kinda off.”
“I think you should go talk to her.”
I guess Helen Weeks is a pretty bold girl. “I’m not so sure,” I replied, gulping down the rest of my punch and hoping she didn’t say anything that would alert Mom to anything being wrong.
“I literally just talked to her, and I know what she wants.” I winced as Mom dropped a metal spoon on the concrete, then frantically looked around for a replacement.
“I guess there’s no more punch for tonight,” I said out loud by accident.
“Sometimes you have to take it on yourself to make things punchy.”
I couldn’t tell if Helen had noticed what had happened, or even realized that the woman behind the snack bar was my Mom– she did change her last name after getting married. Or maybe she had caught on, and meant it as a double meaning to make up for her words earlier. “Maybe, though I wouldn’t count on it.” I got up, threw away my cup, and walked over to Lacie, who was thankfully out of earshot of my mom.
“Can you… just… not right now?” she said as she saw me approach.
“Wait… did Helen try and force you into this?”
“She did the same to me.”
“I hate meddlers like her.”
“You know I do too.”
“You know, we could pretend,” I suggested. “Just for tonight.”
“Would it make things any easier, though?”
“I have no idea.”
“Then let’s find out!”
I should’ve felt happy while we danced together, but I wasn’t. This was my Lacie, with her enthusiasm and wits, but something still felt off.
I blew her a kiss– if we were going to pretend, I figured we should go all-out, right?
I don’t know why, or how I expected it to end. If I had been thinking rationally, I would’ve realized that the whole thing was going to end horribly. But I wasn’t, and it didn’t.
She caught it, she caught the kiss. Inside, I was cheering. I was the cow-jumped-over-the-moon, why-would-anyone-ever-want-to-get-high-when-they-could-have-this kind of happy, and that kind of happiness is just plain addicting.
If I had been thinking rationally, I would’ve realized, right then and there, that something was very wrong.
<< Previous– ATW S4 Chapter 6: 90 Minutes of Love
>> Next– ATW S4 Chapter 8: No Matter How Old