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It's About Time (Part 3)
The night of the dance, Lyz comes over and we get ready together. I let her do my makeup and hair—something she always begs me to let her do, but I never allow it. I totally love doing my own hair, but tonight is different; it’s another one of those “our last…” moments you get during senior year.
We laugh and giggle and gossip, and I’m the first one to learn she’s been accepted to the college, too. Can you say roomies? Boo-yah!
“Have you noticed Seth’s been sort of weird lately?” I ask when Bear comes to pick us up. (He’s wearing a suit that fits perfectly, with the exception of one pant leg that’s noticeably shorter than the other.) Seth isn’t with us, obviously, because he’s taking the evil Chelsea Grader out to eat before the dance.
Actually, she’s taking him, but whatever.
“Whadaya mean?” Bear asks with a sideways glance to Lyz, who raises her eyebrows at him.
“I don’t know. Just weird.”
“I haven’t noticed anything.” Lyz says. “Except that whole acceptance letter crap, but other than that, no, I haven’t.”
“Hm,” I slouch back in y seat and stare at the houses that whiz by. It’s only halfway through our senior year, and everyone is majorly excited and stressed about college, except for me. Stressed, I mean. I’m totally excited, and totally not worried. I wonder if Seth really is scared about going away. But then again, he’s never really afraid of stuff. I don’t know about everyone else, but I think he’s acting strange.
We get to the dance and hand our tickets to the freshman ticket taker with seriously slicked-back hair and enter the gym, which has been completely remodeled by the Student Council (the president of which is none other than Chelsea Grader.) Paper streamers and stars hang from the ceiling as balloons float around, and food and punch tables like one wall entirely. I see Mitch Franklin and one of his cheerleader concubines dancing out on the floor, and I roll my eyes. He’s such a typical jock, but you can’t help loving him.
Lyz grabs Bear and myself and drags us over to the nearest punch bowl. (She has a habit of doing this, and I have the bruises to prove it; dragging us, I mean.) Seth is standing there by himself.
“Where’s your date?” I ask snidely.
“Filling punch bowls, putting up more decorations; I have no idea. You look…amazing.”
“I know,” I wave my hand. “Lyz can actually be useful.”
He laughs. “True, but I really mean it.”
“Thanks,” I say, and I realize that I’m blushing. Blushing. Because of Seth.
What the heck?
A slow song comes on, and Seth looks at me, but Chelsea comes up at that second and drags him away—I hate her—and I realize that I want to dance with him. I forget the feeling when I see Bear and Lyz attempting to do the jitterbug.
Sometimes I love my friends so much it hurts.
A few more dances go by, and I actually dance a few times with some other boys. I’m taking a break by the food table (they have fudge; I love fudge) when Seth comes up behind me and asks me to dance.
We go out to the floor and put our arms around each other, and I’m expecting it to be like every other time we dance together, but it isn’t. There’s still the easy closeness there, but there’s something else. Something a little bit more…awkward, I guess.
“You’re right,” He says, breaking the silence.
“Yes, I know, I always am.” I reply. “Feel free to describe which particular situation I am right about this time.”
He laughs heartily and it makes me smile. “About Chelsea. She’s…yeah, annoying. Like the energizer bunny from hell. She just keeps going and going and going. And talking and talking.” He gulps, wide-eyed.
That makes me laugh, and I change the subject with, “So why haven’t you opened your letter yet?”
He sighs, and we stop moving, but we keep our arms around each other.
“That’s not a reason, and you know it, fathead.”
“Because I don’t want to know.”
“If you’re afraid of being rejected, you’re just silly. You totally know you got it.”
“And that’s just it.”
“What?” I lead us into the dance again because people are starting to stare. “What on earth?”
“I don’t wanna leave, Sam. That’s just it!”
“What? Everyone wants to. Why wouldn’t you?”
“Because…look at everything we’re going to leave behind. Look at all of our friends and families and traditions and our fun times—Taco Mondays! What about Taco Mondays?!
All of the familiar places and faces…”
“You rhymed.” I point out, which earns me a glare. “Oh, come off it, Seth. We’ll still have all of that. There’s vacations and holidays and telephones and this new thing called instant messaging, which I think is going to be a real hit.” That earns me another look.
“Still, I don’t want to have to say goodbye to all of this.”
I smile and shake my head. “You’re just being silly,” I say quietly.
“I don’t want to leave my best friend.” He says even quieter, and I stop dancing to look at him.
“What did you say?” I ask, and he looks at me, and suddenly I’m in my dream. Only instead of Mitch Franklin leaning in, it’s Seth. Seth, my best friend, who I know everything about. Seth, who I beat up in peewee soccer. Seth, who, without my knowing it, actually had feelings for me. And still does. And Seth, who is now kissing me.
And it’s weird, I’ve got to admit, to be kissed by a boy you’ve known your whole life. But it’s not bad. Not bad at all.
And when he pulls away, I laugh, and he laughs, and the laughter is contagious, enveloping us out on the dance floor. We’re oblivious to everything else.
And when we continue slow dancing, even though a fast song has come on, I feel that, whatever warped thing it is we have, it’ll last.
And when I realize that Seth is right about not wanting to leave behind all of the good, I feel a spark of worry glow in my stomach, but I know all of my friends are feeling it, too, so I’m not alone.
And when I see Lyz and Bear doing extreme mad dancing on the stage in front of everyone, I laugh again, because they are The Example of what it is to be carefree. After all, this college business is just another stage of life, and it, too, will pass.
And when Seth spins me and I look up at the ceiling and see all of the balloons and streamers and stars go around and around, I think, hey, we’ve got all of the time in the world.
And I’m happy.