The double date PlanWhen I got home that day I sat in my room and stared at the blue ceiling; feeling immensely guilty. For the rest of the school day I’d been back to avoiding direct eye contact with Steve for fear of another chemistry episode. When my Mum trooped home from the clothes shop she worked in she came straight to my bedroom, looked at me and said ‘It’s a boy, isn’t it?’
‘I don’t know what you mean,’ I replied airily.
‘Oh, come now, Felicity: the moping around, the moody expression, the denial. Mums know these things,’ Mum told me, smiling.
She was dead right but I longed for her to be dead wrong. At dinner I played around with my fork, whirling up the sauce-drenched spaghetti and twirling it round and round like it was dancing...or going round in circles. I guess it was reflecting me.
‘Mum,’ I said eventually. ‘What would you do if you had a crush on someone you shouldn’t?’
‘Aha! I knew it! You should always be open, sweetie,’ Mum advised like I’d thought she would.
‘But...but I have a crush on my best friend’s boyfriend!’ I burst out. I felt like a balloon, I had swelled and swelled until I popped.
My Mum stared at me in utter astonishment. ‘Not that Steve Summer is always going on about?’
I nodded glumly. Mum patted my shoulder sympathetically.
‘These things are hard. You feel you have to be loyal to your best friend, but you can’t help yourself dreaming about him...and then you feel guilty afterwards, right?’ Mum guessed.
‘Mum, how do you do that?’ I gasped in amazement.
‘Oh, Mum’s know these things,’ Mum told me again.
What if best friends knew ‘these things’ too? Summer and I had been best friends since our primary days, she had known me almost as long as my own Mum, and she knew the truth and recognized the signs...what if Summer clued in, too? I resolved to never think about Steve again...but it was hard, knowing that I would see him at school every day of the week. What could I say? Mum, Dad, I’m moving school because...well it would sound awful, anyhow. I could see all the options ticking away in my brain: Option One, continue covering up the truth, staying exactly the same as I was now. Option Two: Tell Steve in confidence. Option Three: Tell Summer in confidence. Lastly, option four: continue to dream and lust after Steve with only my Mum knowing. To be honest, none of my options sounded that appetizing...at least not as much as Steve’s plump lips – Oh god, I reminded myself to .Shut. My. Big. Fat. Mouth. It only complicated matters when Summer texted me to tell me that Steve had included three ‘Xs’ in his text to her when she had put two and then she decided to put three to see if he would turn up the trumps with four – at that point I decided to switch off my damn phone and be done with it for the foreseeable future (i.e. tonight, when Summer would no doubt be gushing about how she’d put, like, twenty nine Xs and he had put thirty...it bored the crap out of me just thinking about it). I also felt a sharp stab of jealously; had it just been me, then, who had felt the tense atmosphere back in Nurses’? I would never know unless I confronted him – and let’s face, that was never going to happen. It seemed a lot of things represented me today: my blonde hair was as yellow as my cowardice.
All the king’s horses and all the kings’ men couldn’t make Steve fall in love again.
I really needed to get out more. Still, at least tomorrow was Friday. Yay. Only one more day when I had to see Steve. At least that’s what I had intended when Summer went and ruined it all.
‘Oh, Fliss,’ She had garbled. ‘Please come to the cinema with me...pretty please?’
Then she had penetrated me with the full force of her baby blue eyes...how could I possibly contradict such a puppy-dog expression?
‘Let me get this straight...you want me to act as a kind of – gooseberry – while you and him,’ I sniffed. ‘Snog and act like a mushy couple?’
‘Ye-no,’ She mumbled. ‘Look – Steve was saying he has this mate who goes to another school –’
‘I can see where this is going,’ I muttered, red-faced and furious.
‘No, listen. You’ve wanted a boyfriend for ages, haven’t you? Well, I have the perfect solution – a double date. Only the mate is looking for a girlfriend, too, so it’s perfect and if it goes wrong I’ll be there to support you – just please – and I need the moral support too as I think me and Steve are getting really serious -’
I had agreed, just to shut her up. I really am an idiot sometimes. All I did was try to find the easy way out or intend to do something but really all the while knowing I’ll do nothing as usual...it’s really depressing, actually. And what on earth was I going to do about my ‘date’ with a lad I most certainly wouldn’t fancy? You and I both knew the answer: nothing, right? So Summer got me all of a fluster about what I was wearing; not for the unknown boy, but, if I was being honest I wanted to make a big impression with Steve as he’d only ever seen me in my stupid babyish school uniform with plaits. I narrowed down my clothes to three different outfits eventually; after hard work. (Damn Summer for the short notice). Outfit number one: a turquoise top with white sleeves that went with my jeans and trainers (the casual look). Outfit number two: a fluffy blue jumper with a short blue-and-green tartan skirt that went with my polka dot tights in similar shades and square-toed shoes (the cutsy-pie look). Finally, outfit number three consisted of a pink summer-y dress with a purple bolero, opaque tights and the most beautiful purple kitten shoes that glittered eerily in a bright light (the – er – summer-y look).
In the end I decided to call Summer. She answered on the first ring.
‘Hey, Sum, I just wanted your advice on what to wear tomorrow: I’m stuck between three outfits,’ I moaned, glad I could grumble to someone.
Summer giggled. ‘For the date? Oh god, the thing is I’m stuck between a few outfits too!’
‘How about you come over to my house and we’ll compare outfits,’ I suggested.
‘Ooh, yes! See you in an hour or so!’ She brightened, then there was a click and she was gone.
While I was waiting I set everything out neatly, but I needn’t have bothered. As soon as Summer arrived with her arms full of her outfits she gave a squeal and pointed wordlessly at the third outfit purely because of the gorgeous shoes and because she’s extremely girly.
‘I have a similar pair if you want to borrow - ?’ I offered.
Summer gave another loud squeal which I took for a yes. I had the perfect pair: red glittery kitten shoes that went with her chosen outfit that was a long cherry top with a black background, pitch black tights and a gorgeous plush red cardigan that felt as smooth and comfy as my bed covers.
‘We will look a-m-a-z-i-n-g for our dates tomorrow!’ Summer enthused.
It made me uncomfortable to know we were both dressing up for the same person.
‘Hey, Sum, how do you think I should have my hair?’ I asked, trying out various up and down styles in the mirror.
‘Oh, wear it loose, definitely, your hair is beautiful,’ Summer opinionated.
‘I dunno,’ I disagreed. ‘I think it’s too long for that sort of style.’
‘Of course it isn’t! I know, I know! Take the two front pieces of hair and plait it at the back! You’ll look like a princess, you will!’ Summer steam-rolled on nevertheless.
‘No you’ll look like a princess,’ I corrected her then paused. ‘So how are you wearing your hair?’
‘Um, I was thinking of having it loose and wavy, what’d you think?’ Summer said anxiously.
‘You’ll look fab!’ I replied enthusiastically.
‘Steve and co. will be sooo impressed!’ Summer smiled confidently.
But who would Steve really be looking at tomorrow – me or Summer?