“Don’t worry Claris, we got your back,” Haylee promised. “This is just a regular dance full of regular high school students.”
Claris sighed. “I never had fit in with these people,” she admitted. “I went to college at eleven, studied all day to find a job a small job at NASA, and I let my mom do all the shopping for me when I got busy.”
“You won’t have any problems,” Caleb promised.
Claris sighed again, only more irritated. “Really? Because Elisia seems to be a flea that never got off my back. She has always been making this ‘flaring-eye’ thing at me ever since you dumped her. I mean, it’s her problem that she makes you buy a caramel waffle cone crème Frappuccino blended crème! With skinny water! What is that? And seriously, her—”
Caleb only shook his head. “Yeah, I never should have been dating her, but this conversation is about you. Let’s keep it that way.”
Claris shrugged. She looked down, and what she saw was a gorgeous, teal dress (according to Haylee) and a nice, shiny pair of shoes with heels (according to Caleb) that were also teal. Her wrist held a purple watch that, according to Dad, matched her blue, silky ribbon in her hair.
“Caleb’s dad is here!” Haylee called. “Come on, you lovebirds!”
And you can say Claris’ palms were sweating right that moment.
“So, Haylee, how are things going with your brother?” Caleb’s dad asked.
She groaned. “Horrible. He makes my mom fifteen minutes late to my cheerleading to pick me up. And he sucks at football!” She makes a face behind his back to both of us. We laughed.
“Claris? What about you and your dad?” His face is a question mark and no sympathy. He knows a lot of things. He knows what happened to my mother. He knows I hate it when people feel bad for me, I much rather have them laugh at me instead.
“Okay. It’s all good. I mean, we haven’t been talking much after the incident…” I look away as I trailed off. Haylee hugs me. Well, she tries to because Caleb is sitting in the middle and squirms as she reaches for my arm.
“I am choking in here,” he says impatiently. He punches Haylee lightly in the arm and she laughs. I laugh too, only a little softer.
Caleb’s dad notices. Have I mentioned that he has one of the best eyesights in the city? “Claris, you’ll be okay. I have no sympathy for you.”
I forced myself to giggle at his joke. “Thanks, Mr. West,” I said.
And here we were at the dance.
“Ow! Watch it!”
“No, you watch it!”
“Hey! You stole my man!”
Didn’t everyone say that spring dances are supposed to be fun? Well, yes. But there were weird things that happened also. Last year, Haylee told me Everett pushed his date accidentally into a chocolate fountain. But that wasn’t the shocking part. His date was… Get ready… Elisia A. Wilson! I wish I was there to see that.
Elisia left Everett alone, I heard. But I wish I was Everett. I would live a week in a barn to get rid of her!
“So, I know we are going as friends,” Caleb says to me. “But you wouldn’t mind a quick spin, would you?”
My mind flashes back into the dance. “Yes, of course! I-I mean, I don’t mind.” I held my breath as Caleb gave me a quick dip. He smiles at me.
This year’s theme is the Galaxy Garden. The teachers told us that this year is special, we never had one like this before. We dress up in blue, green, or dark purple, and the lights would be spinning all around us. And since it is spring-themed, they decorated the space ornaments with flowers. Crazy? Yes. Beautiful? Also yes.
It was quite a large crowd. I felt relaxed, the lights were going from purple to blue to green, like the northern lights. It was also dark, so no one will pay attention to anyone else.
“Should I get us some punch?” Caleb asks me. I politely say no. I am afraid that I will spill some on my dress, which had cost almost all my allowance.
He told me he would get some for himself, and to meet him near the entrance.
I quickly shift around to find Haylee, who disappeared ever since we got in. Where is she? I ask myself.
I was relieved to see her other friends. She gave me a picture of each of them (it’s not that weird) to memorize. I walk over to them. They should know where she is, I hope.
“Hey!...Caitlin, right?” I greet them. “Nice to meet you!”
The girl with the bright blonde hair turned around. I was nervous because all the blondes I have met (besides Caleb) were practically the bullies of our school. And it sounds childish when I say bullies. They are like the selfish, nincompoop zombies of our school. There.
“Hey! You must be Claris!” she says. Her lips stretched into a smile. A kind, warming smile. But I was surprised. Did Haylee give her my picture and information too? Yikes. I don’t want to know.
“Yep! Girl who went to college at eleven, that’s me!” I say. “Do you know where Haylee is?”
A girl named Rosemary nodded. “She is dancing with Shane, ves por ahi? Over there.” Her hand stretched out to a far-right corner. It seemed thirty feet away.
Is her eyesight better than Caleb’s dad? No. Impossible.
I mumble thanks and walk over there to wherever she was pointing. Right next to the punch area.
“Oh, Em, Gee! Like, you are Claris, right?” a voice behind me said, making me jump.
I turn around, wondering who the person was. And when I saw her, I laughed.
“Seriously Haylee, I thought I became the next Beyonce when I heard someone squealing my name!” I yell, pretending to be mad at her.
We pushed each other teasingly and cracked a smile for a few more minutes. I close my eyes, astonished. I thought only half an hour has passed ever since we arrived, but on my watch, it says it has been an hour and five minutes.
A second later, as Haylee’s eye hit the punch area, her smile faded.
“H? What’s wrong?”
Her jaws dropped, and she looked like she would strike her middle finger at the drinks. I swirl around, confused.
At first, I didn’t see anything.
But then, I saw a boy.
And it wasn’t any boy. It was Caleb.
Right next to him? Even worse.
Even worse than that?
Then, I did something that a horrible friend would do. I ran off, to the closest room there was, completely ditching my best friend that had always been there for me. But I couldn’t stop. No one could see me cry.
My next thought: Why was I crying? We weren’t dating or anything. He was just a close friend. But what really slapped me painfully was that he asked me to dance with him, and he just left me lying in the dust to go kiss some other girl.
Have you ever had a feeling when your lips started quivering uncontrollably? Well, that was happening now. I looked terrible, my eye shadow dripping away along with my mascara. My lip gloss didn’t taste any better.
Why am I born, why do I have a stupid brain, why did I make a stupid move?
What girl practically cries her heart out when a boy ditches them? Almost every girl, I have to admit. But it won’t be me. It won’t be me. And to try to make things better, I thought to myself, We aren’t dating anyway. So that is another reason I shouldn’t.
Heck, what am I doing?
I see Caleb and another girl, well, Elisia, his EX! But I just assumed he was careless, which he wasn’t. He is serious, but funny most of the time, and is very friendly, even to Elisia, who deserves to rot in a hole. But have I also mentioned I am very bad at assuming, and most of the time I make the wrong assumptions? Like once I assumed a mother was leaving her child in the car when the motor was off, but her husband was in there with the motor on. You don’t want to know what I said to the lady when I made my assumption. But that was only in fifth grade.
Now I am going to get out there, and see what Caleb and Elisia are up to!
“Claris!” Caleb said awkwardly. “Listen, I hope you didn’t see any of that…I mean, I didn’t mean any of it. But I saw you running away when you looked at this direction and just wanted to make sure you were good.”
Elisia, on the other hand, was totally ruining it. She was the bomb that destroyed my tower, and also Caleb’s. “He’s joking,” she snapped, narrowing her eyes. She clutched his arm and added, “We’re dating. Don’t bother us.”
I had to struggle to step forward. “Well, I feel like I am going to trust Caleb on this, not because you are irresponsible and reckless, which you are, but because he is my friend. Besides, he broke up with you because you eat food that should be dessert for aliens,” I say calmly, pointing my sharp finger at her.
Unfortunately, her finger was sharper than mine. Also, more glimmery and pretty (Which I will not admit!). “Well, I love how you spend your time making up silly words for me, and your cute observations of what I order, but Caleb and I have something to do.” Then she dragged him to a corner and I don’t want to know what they will do.
Me? I run to the opposite corner and wait for my tears to come out.
The Spring Dance is finally over, and I can’t wait to go home. I rather go to space, and touch the stars and burn. I rather dance in the fire and wait for my soul to rot. I want to dance anywhere but here.
When we get in the car, I don’t even look at Caleb’s eyes. His cute, blue eyes. Haylee grabs my arm and I almost struggle to pull away, but I don’t.
“I need to make a quick phone call, you can talk for a while. Chill. Is that what teenagers say these days?” Caleb’s dad jokes. We don’t laugh. We don’t crack up. We don’t chuckle. We don’t do any other synonyms of "laugh."
He looks at each of us for a minute, and we don’t move a muscle. He scrunches his eyebrows together like he does when he’s concerned. But he gets out of the car slowly, and I can already hear the small talk he would give us when he comes back.
Caleb breaks the silence. “Claris, I didn’t mean anything I did. Elisia means nothing to me, and you also know how terrifying she is.”
I don’t say anything. I don’t bother to move the hair strand that fell on my face. Haylee listens too, intensely.
“Listen,” he says softly. “After I got myself punch, I went to look for you. And this girl, she also had on a teal dress—”
“Elisia,” I whisper, finally finding my voice.
“Yeah. And I thought to myself, why does she look different? So I tapped her on the shoulder and leaned forward a tiny bit, but Elisia looked at me strangely but then she thought I still loved her. And I’m guessing she did still love me back. So she leaned closer and kissed me. And, unfortunately, you saw that part.”
I reply, “So I was mad at you for no reason.”
Haylee came in. “Hey, Caleb, I’m sorry for doubting you, dude.” Have I mentioned that Haylee talks like a boy sometimes?
He shrugs and smiles that was meant just for me. “Yep, no problem.”
And before I could say anything, he leaned forward until we were inches apart.
Then, he kissed me. I kissed him back.
Haylee rolled her eyes. “I’m here, you know. Get a room.”
I am so in love, I could practically float away and reach the moon in happiness.