by Tommy Mooney
School assignment. What happens when you think yourself into a box.
“What’s up, Alex?” Justin asked. He had to almost yell to be heard over the music.
“Bro, she’s here! Did you see her, man? Skyler’s here!”
Justin frowned slightly.
“Yeah, I saw her. What’s the big deal?”
The face on his left spoke, and he craned his neck to hear it.
“What’s the big deal?! Dude, SHE is the big deal!”
“Yeah, man, we know you like her. We said we’d help you, remember?”
Justin did indeed remember.
“Yeah, I do remember. But you’re not going to help me.”
“Sure we will, right, John?”
John flashed a thumbs-up, though it was barely visible.
“We sure will.”
“No, I don’t mean like that,” Justin said. “I mean that there’s nothing to help with.”
“What?” John and Alex exclaimed in unison.
“I’m not going to waste my time on her. She doesn’t like me.”
“How do you know that?” challenged John.
“Because, if she did, she would have probably done something about it by now.”
“That’s a load of bullcrap and you know it,” said Alex. John nodded in agreement.
“It’s really not, guys. Trust me. No one knows me better than me, and I know that girls don’t like me.”
Alex and John looked at each other, then back at Justin. The song ended and the mob of high schoolers cheered. Justin rolled his eyes. He really hated these things. Another song started up and soon everyone was dancing again. John tried again.
“Come on, man. Just go talk to her.”
“She doesn’t like me.”
“Okay, fine, even if she doesn’t like you like that, she is still your classmate. At least go say hi.”
Justin seemed to consider the statement for a second.
“No. If she likes me, she’ll come talk to me.”
John stepped back, a disgusted look on his face.
“What’ your problem? She’s a friend! At least say hi.” The song had reached its climax and John turned away from the two boys.
“Whatever. I love this song, so I’m gonna go dance.” He turned on his heel and disappeared into the crowd, leaving Alex to finish the job. Alex sighed.
“He’s right, man, at least say hi.”
Justin was silent. Alex waited a few seconds before trying again.
“You’re so freaking weird, you know that?”
The two remained standing until the end of the song, and another cheer was sent up. The DJ put on the next song, but not as many people danced to this one. Justin figured that the others were tired of dancing and decided to take a break. Realizing a slight thirst in his throat, Justin decided to go get something to drink outside the gym.
“Yo, Alex, let’s go get something to drink.”
“Sure. I could go for something about now.”
The two joined the exodus of dancers as they slowly made their way out of the gym. Justin stood on his tiptoes and swept his gaze over the gym once more, and that was when he saw her. There, in the middle of the dance floor, stood Skyler, and she was looking right at him. Justin made eye contact with her, and he saw her smile and wave. He quickly averted his eyes, awkwardly pretending that he had not seen her. Returning his heels to the ground and facing forward, he continued out of the gym.
Skyler stood in front of the mirror, frowning. She wanted to look good, but at the same time didn’t want to attract too much attention to herself. The denim shorts and tank top with open arm holes looked cute, but she didn’t feel that she could pull it off. She liked the way the yoga pants and faded pink athletic shirt looked, but she didn’t want to look like every other girl there.
“Hey, Lizzy,” she asked, “what should I wear, the shorts and tank or the pants and tee.”
Her good friend Lizzy was sitting on Skyler’s bed, braiding her hair. She stopped just long enough to glance up at her.
“Definitely the pants.”
“Really, you think so?”
Lizzy continued braiding.
“Well, yeah, I mean, no one else is going to be wearing shorts like those, so they’d just make you stand out too much.”
“But I also don’t want to look like every other girl there.”
Lizzy stopped again and looked Skyler in the eye, smiling mischievously.
“Why? Is it because your BOYFRIEND’s gonna be there?”
“Lizzy!” Lizzy laughed. “He’s not my boyfriend. Not yet, anyways.” She said the last bit noticeably quieter than the first. Lizzy smirked.
“Whatever you say.”
“Seriously, though, I just don’t want to look bad. You never know what could happen, right?”
“You’re right, who knows? Tell you what; you wear what I told you to wear and I’ll do your hair, m’kay?”
“Sure. Thanks, Lizzy.”
As Skyler changed into tonight’s outfit, she thought about Lizzy’s words. Who did know what would happen? Maybe, if she was lucky, she might get to dance with him, or maybe they would even kiss. She felt herself getting flustered and slapped her cheeks. She needed to stop being so childish; it was just a high school mixer, after all, and she was just a freshman. Sitting down on the bed, she felt Lizzy go to work.
A few minutes later, Skyler stood in the mirror admiring herself. Her dirty blonde hair was done up in a loose bun on one side of the back of her head, with the rest of it hanging down. She did look really good.
“Thanks, Lizzy. It looks great.”
“No problem. I just hope it goes alright with Justin. As smart as he is, he can be real dense.”
“Yeah, I know. But I’ve got confidence that tonight’s gonna end well.” Skyler turned toward Lizzy. “Well, doors open in five minutes. Wanna head over?”
“Sure. Let’s go.”
With that, the two walked out of Skyler’s room. Skyler’s heart was racing as she descended the stairs. She really hoped that everything went well tonight.