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It's About Time (Part 1)
I am on a date with Mitch Franklin, the most popular boy in school.
No way, a voice in my head says.
It’s about time, says another.
We’re holding hands and walking down a garden path. He smiles at me, and I realize I’ve never been in this garden before—I have no idea where I am.
Unfazed by this thought, oddly, I close my eyes as he leans in toward me, and then…
I open my eyes the tiniest bit, and then slam them shut and squirm under the covers, hiding from the sun like Dracula. My alarm clock screeches again and I whip my arm out and pound the snooze, kicking off my blankets in one fell swoop and trowing my other arm over my eyes.
It was a dream. A stupid dream. I’ve had the most high school-esque crush on Mitch Franklin since he came back from a summer in Mexico eighth grade year all tan and buff, just like every other girl in the tri-state area. Crushing on him, I mean, not all tan and buff.
At least it was an okay dream. Better than the majorly stressed out ones I’ve been having where scholarships come to life and college acceptance letters are trying to eat me. Senior year, man. It’s awesome, but awful worrisome, that’s for sure.
“Sam? Are you up?” My mom asks from the end of the hallway and through my door in the Voice that all mothers possess.
“Yeah, yeah,” I reply in a similar tone, rolling off of the bed and heading for the shower.
After I dry my hair and rummage about the floor trying to find some clean, yet still chic, clothes to wear (I’m really not very neat,) I whip open my window to yell at my neighbor and best friend, Seth.
“Get up, fathead!” I shriek in the Voice. “I don’t want to be late again!”
He sleeps with his window open all year round for some godforsaken reason, so I can—fortunately for me, unfortunately for him—do this every day of his life. Sometimes I call him “lazybutt” instead of “fathead.” There’s nothing better than a pathetic insult to jump start one’s day.
I lean out the window, ready to yell again, but he grumbles something back, so I go put my makeup on. I opt for just some mascara and blush today, instead of the bright eye shadows of yesterday. I’m always changing things; I love change. If it’s not eccentric makeup, it’s eccentric clothing. My shoes, however, always stay the same: shiny, extra tall stilettos in various colors, because I have this complex about being barely fire feet tall.
I go downstairs and heat out the door, only to hear my mom yell behind me, “Breakfast! You’ve got to eat!”
I roll my eyes and run down the path anyway. (Yes, I can run in stilettos; it’s an art form.) She never remembers that Mondays are Taco Mondays, even though my gang and I have been doing it for years. Every Monday we go to whatever Mexican restaurant we feel like and have breakfast. It’s tradition.
I cut across our yards and let myself into Seth’s house, like I do every morning. He’s my ride to school because I still don’t have a car, and riding to school with your mom as a senior is just plain humiliating. Mr. O’Reilly is sitting at the dining room table reading yesterday’s paper and drinking coffee that smells heavenly.
“He’s still not down yet, if you want to go get him.” His dad says without looking up from his reading.
“’Kay,” I reply, but instead of going upstairs, I enter the kitchen and sit at the breakfast bar with a cup of coffee and chat with Seth’s mom—also like every other day.
“Good morning, Samantha,” Mrs. O’Reilly says. “He’s—”
“Still not down yet, gotcha. Mr. O. told me.”
“Oh, good,” She says with a smile. Seth has it totally lucky—if sunshine was a person, it would totally be Mrs. O. My mom, on the other hand, is pretty much all fog and rain, and a lot of humidity.
“Did Seth tell you?” She asks, and I drag my eyes away from my reflection in my coffee.
“Tell me what?”
“He got his letter from the University yesterday.”
I jump out of my chair and it slides back with a screech. “What did it say?!”
“I haven’t opened it yet,” Seth says from behind me. I whip around and see him leaning against the doorframe in a t-shirt and yesterday’s jeans. (I always yell at him about that; he could at least cycle through his pants before washing so it’s not obvious they’ve been worn recently.)
“What?” I demand.
“Yeah,” He sits down and pulls is tennis shoes on, speaking to the floor as he laces them. “I’m kinda nervous about what it might say.”
“Well that’s just stupid.” I repl.
“That’s what I said,” His dad yells from the dining room. “But nobody listens to me!”
“Oh hush, you,” Mrs. O. says as she leaves the kitchen and starts up the stairs. “Give him a good yell, Sam. Talk some sense into the boy.”
Seth grunts and grabs his bag and we head out the door, me nagging him all the way. We load up in his gray Grand Cherokee and head for Freda’s Fajitas.
“You’re just being a booger,” I say, turning to him. His straight black hair was still wet.
“You’re just being a whiny wife, missy.” He replies, his green eyes smiling.
“Whatever,” I lean back and fold my arms across my chest and he starts telling me something about his music class yesterday.
Seth is totally in the category of cute boys. He’s kinda tall, muscley, and has excellent clothes (thanks to me.) The problem is, we’ve been best friends since I kicked his butt at peewee soccer in first grade (something he still denies,) and somehow, dating someone you know everything about is just a little…weird, I guess.
I mean, I’ve totally had other boyfriends—mostly weird ones, but we’re not getting into that—and I know he’s had other girlfriends. And that doesn’t even bother me. Sort of. It’s just that every time I get a new boyfriend, I find myself starting to compare him to Seth, and the more that I do, the less I like him. My boyfriend, I mean.
“Sam?” Seth says, snapping me out of my reverie. “Are you even listening to me?”
“Nope, sorry.” I say, and he laughs. Attractively.
“I asked if you were going to the dance.”
“Oh, well duh. Who are you going with this time?”
“Don’t kill me.”
“Promise. Why? If you’re taking—”
“Oh no you didn’t.” I smack him on the arm. Hard. Chelsea Grader has been my nemesis since the third grade when she took my Astronaut Barbie and sent her to the stars by throwing her up in the air and getting her stuck in a tree. Then she went and told the teacher that I took Barbie from her and did it.
We park in front of the restaurant next to Bear’s car, a falling apart pickup truck, and I yell at Seth all the way inside.
“How can you?”
“Look, Sam, she asked me.” He said pointedly. “You know I hate having to say no to stuff like that. Besides,” He leads the way to where our friends are sitting, already eating. “I don’t see what your problem is with her; she’s nice enough.”
“Two words, Seth,” I flip up to fingers. “Astronaut. Barbie.”
I flop down at the table next to my best girl friend, Lyz Carol (Lyz with a “y”, as she refuses to let anyone forget or live without knowing,” and across from Bear Montgomery, who’s got three plates heaped with food in front of him.
“You,” I say to Lyz, slapping my hands down on the table, causing bear to yell at me for making him spill his pico de gallo, “Will not believe who he—” I point up at Seth, who’s still standing, “Is taking to the dance.”
Seth, Bear, and I have been friends since middle school. Bear (whose real name is Beau, but because he’s so huge and a starting center lineman for our undefeated football team, we call him Bear,) is the jokester of the group. He’s amazingly easy going.
I met Lyz at a summer camp before freshman year, and when I found out she was going to our school, we just sort of became friends. Her parents are really good friends with Bear’s, and she lives with him and his family. They’re always traveling and researching for their documentaries somewhere, so she stays here. I think she really doesn’t care.
“I know!” Lyz agrees. “I so told him not to do it, but Mr. Sensitive was like all…‘I can’t…’”
“I will never let you live this down.” I tell Seth as he orders for both of us; he always knows what I want.
“So, anyway,” I continue, turning to Bear and Liz, “Who are you guys going with?”
“You’re kidding me,” I say through a mouthful of chips. “I am the only one without a date.”
The thought haunts me all day.