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Our Story (part 2)
“I think we need to change.” Gabriel suggests.
“I agree.” Goosebumps rise on my arms. The school hallways are always cold. Gabriel sees me fold my arms to keep warm and hands me his jacket that is also wet. I put it on anyway.
We walk into the auditorium. I’m wondering why we’re here. Where are we supposed to get clothes? Gabriel sprints down the 70+ rows of seats he leaps onto the stage. He extends his arm out to me when I reach him and helps me up. He holds my hand and leads me to the stage’s right wing. After traveling through many curtains and the pitch black behind them, we find a door labeled “Cast Dressing Room.”
We walk inside. The Drama Club’s spring musical is The Wizard of Oz. There’s a rack usually overflowing with costumes once you pass the vanities. But, there are only two dry cleaner bags hanging. I take one, Gabriel grabs the other.
“I uh, I’ll let you go and change then.” He says awkwardly then, starts to leave the dressing room. Once he’s outside, I take off my light blue jeans, pink camisole and gray flip-flops. I hang the damp clothes using leftover hangers.
I unzip the bag to find a light blue plaid dress with puffy shoulder sleeves and red glittery shoes at the bottom. This is Dorothy’s costume. I feel a pang of guilt when I slink into the dress. The production is in less than a week, and with all this crazy stuff Gabriel and I are doing, the costume could be damaged in less than a day. But, I have no choice. I slide my feet into the sparkly heels. I take the hair tie off of my wrist and put my hair into a bun. Man, this hair tie is getting old. It’s splitting.
I take a look in the mirror. I look ridiculous. Gabriel’s costume can’t be worse than this.
Oh, but it is. I walk out of the dressing room to find either a giant or a boy who did his own laundry. Gabriel’s wearing one of the Munchkin’s costumes. His rainbow colored overalls hit just below his knees. The long sleeve shows half of his forearm. His slippers even have little bells on them! I crack up laughing.
“Okay, this may be a little…small.” Gabriel admits.
I can’t stop laughing. “You look ridiculous!” My stomach begins to ache. Gabriel has this irritated look on his face. He starts toward me. I run away, still laughing.
“Ha-ha, hey! It’s not funny, Naomi! I’m gonna get you!” he yells, his shoes jingling.
I run off the right wing, past the audience seats and out the auditorium’s double doors. Gabriel hasn’t caught up yet. I run all around the first floor, cutting through the many classrooms, winding through the halls. I catch glimpses of Gabriel here and there as I try to keep away from him. I see him through a door when I’m in a social studies class. He sprints to me. I knock down a bunch of textbooks from the desk in front of me, hoping that will slow him down. He falls, I laugh. I run out of the room and up to the second floor. He chases me around this floor too.
I go up to the third story. Now, Gabriel isn’t anywhere to be seen. I lean against a blue hall with green lockers as I try to catch my breath. It amazes me that after all that running, I still managed to keep my heels on.
“Boo!” Gabriel peers from the end of the hallway.
I shout and then laugh seeing his shrunken costume. I scurry to the balcony in front of the computer lab that overlooks the main hall of the school.
My heels skid on a spilled stack of flyers for the play. Then, I slide under the rail of the balcony that is to keep us from falling off the edge. My right hand barely prevents me from plummeting more than 40 feet to the first level.
I yelp. “Gabriel! Gabriel! HELP ME! GABRIEL!” I don’t hear any response. “Gabriel! Gabriel!” I try again. My hand is slipping, my feet are dangling. One of the red shoes falls off. The hair tie flies down with it.
“Naomi?” he calls. “Naomi, this really isn’t funny anymore. Stop running from me.” he comes out of the computer lab and spots me.
“Naomi!” Gabriel darts to me. “Naomi! Give me your hand!”
“It’s slipping!” Only my knuckles touch the ledge. “Gabriel!”
He reaches down further, and I swing my left arm up to grasp his. He pulls me up and over the railing. I crash into Gabriel’s chest, sobbing.
“That was so scary.” I choke out. He smoothes my, now dry, hair. He shushes me and rubs my back.
“It’s okay. I’ve got you.”
I dry my eyes and stop freaking out. We start walking around, trying to find something else to do. The main gym is where we end up. Gabriel goes to the storage closet. He pulls out a rack of basketballs.
Oh, no. My worst nightmare. I’ve always despised the basketball unit. In the sixth grade, the gym teachers at Greysen Middle School had all gym classes play basketball. I always sucked at shooting. Then one day, I threw the ball towards the net. It bounced off the rim, came back and hit me in the nose. My nose started bleeding. I begged my teacher, Mr. Timmons, to keep me from participating any longer in that unit. He didn’t argue.
I stare at the ten basketballs on the rack in horror.
“What, you’ve never seen a basketball before?” Gabriel says.
“I’ve seen enough of those.” I explain my sixth grade situation. I start to walk out of the gym.
“Hey, come on. How about a little one-on-one?” He dribbles the ball around me. I keep walking. “Bawk-bawk!” Gabriel makes chicken noises at me. I ignore him. “You have to get over your fear sometime.”
I realized he was right. If not now, then when?
I take my shoes off, I picked up the other red heel when we walked around, and set them to the side. I take off the dress leaving the white petticoat on. Gabriel takes off his jingle shoes and overalls. He has leggings and a long sleeve on.
I swiftly steal the ball and travel around the court.
We play for what must have been two hours. Our game ended in a tie. 50-50. Gabriel and I stand on the division line.
“Okay, to settle this tie, we’re each gonna make a half-court shot. Whoever makes it, wins.” He tells me.
“When I win, what do I get?” I joke.
“Well, when I win, I get to pick what we do next.” He says. I smile.
We both walk over to the half-court line. Gabriel dribbles the ball for a second. He bends his knees, positions his elbow directly under the ball in his fingertips, and shoots. He makes it. Dang. He gives me a cocky look.
Oh, I’ll show him. I take the ball from his hands. I dribble too, and shoot. I don’t make it.
We celebrate Gabriel’s victory by exploring the art hallway. But first, we go back to the dressing room in the auditorium to change back into our original clothes. They were dry by the time we finished the game. Gabriel steps into the Drawing and Painting Room.
“What do you have planned for us, Oh-Great-Ruler-of-the-Basketball-Court?” I say to Gabriel.
“Well, Oh-Modest-One, I was thinking we could paint.”
“Paint?” It seems kind of boring compared to what we did the whole day. “With like brushes and canvases?”
“Yep.” He opens the bottom drawers under the sink and takes out numerous jars of various colors. I take out two easels, two canvases and a jar of different sized brushes from the cabinets. I set up our stations so we can’t see each others.
“Okay, here’s what we’re gonna paint,” Gabriel begins.
“Whoa, wait. I don’t get to pick what I wanna paint?”
“Nope. We’re gonna paint each other.” He smiles and starts to sweep a strip of black across the page.
After about an hour of sitting on our stools and flooding our canvases with paint, we finish. My portrait of Gabriel does not look like him at all. His hair looks unruly, one eye is clearly bigger than the other, his nose is lopsided, and his smile is all crooked.
In my painting, you couldn’t see his midnight black hair, his gentle brown eyes, his easy-going smile, or sense the sweet energy that is Gabriel. He’s so beautiful. How come I didn’t realize it before?
“Are you done, Naomi?”
“What?” I was consumed by my thoughts for a second. “Yeah, I’m done.”
“Great, I wanna see.” He crosses over to me, brush in hand, and examines my work. “Wow. It’s, uh… It’s-”
“Horrible, I know.” I finish for him.
“No, no! Not at all. No!” He tries to be nice. “…Well, yeah.” I swat his arm. “Ha-ha hey! You said it yourself, horrible.”
“You’re not supposed to agree with me!”
Gabriel points to the painting with his brush. “Well, my nose-” he stops. “Oops.” I look at the portrait, there’s a big glob of yellow paint dripping down the cheek.
“Gabriel!” I say, furious. I dip my brush in purple and fling the tip at him. The paint hits his chin.
“Oh, it’s on!” He dips his brush in red and splatters it all over my shirt.
I grab a jar of green and dump it all over Gabriel’s head. We start laughing. He dunks his hands into some blue and rubs it all over my face. I do the same but with orange. Tints of the rainbow fly across the air and onto each other.
“I think we need to shower off.” I say, as soon as all the paint jars are empty.
“Sounds like a plan.” Gabriel says and starts out of the room.
You would think three drawers of washable paints to color the whole art room would be enough to cover every inch. You would be wrong. I walk past my easel and to Gabriel’s, where the portrait of me is spotless. Only the easel is drenched with our mess. He made me look beautiful. My hair straight, long, layered dark brown. My ivory face is heart-shaped, immaculate with eyes bright and blue. My smile, teeth not showing and kind of shy. He got me just right.