Part 7 – Tomorrow

It was strange, coming into the classroom the next day, sitting down sideways on the chair and saying hi to David. I felt like I was doing something forbidden by even speaking to him, but how could I not after last night?

“Morning,” he said back, and he gave me a small smile. “Your aunt give you a hard time last night?”

“No, she doesn’t care what I do, as long as I don’t cause trouble. She didn’t even ask where I was, just if I had dinner.”

He nodded. Then he suddenly turned back to his displeased self. Mrs. Young had just walked in.

Those very few words we exchanged that morning had not gone unnoticed. My best friend, Charlie, dragged me to a table in the corner during lunch and immediately started interrogating me. Two other girls from our class came almost running to us before I could say anything.

“Where did you go with him yesterday?” Charlie asked. “We saw you walking off with him. We were afraid we’d never see you again! For all we know he could be an ax murderer or something!”

I couldn’t help laughing at the thought.

“We just went to his place to study,” I said, smiling.

“Really, you went to his place?” Georgia from our class asked curiously. “What was it like? Where does he live?”

I stared surprised at the information-hungry looks on their faces.

“It was a very normal old farm on the edge of Little Dale forest,” I said. “Not an axe in sight.”

“Did he tell you anything? Did you ask where he went that time he was gone for a year?” Charlie asked.

“No, I didn’t,” I said. I was starting to feel uncomfortable.

“Does he have any family?”

“Of course he has a family.”

“I always thought he was an orphan or something,” Georgia said, sounding disappointed.

“Who are his parents? Is his dad a drunk like the boys say?” Charlie asked.

“His dad’s dead,” I said in a serious tone. “Look, we studied, talked a little, they invited me to dinner and then I went home. That’s it. There’s nothing else to say.”

The girls looked disappointed. I knew I was lying, but I also knew I had to. I got the feeling from David he didn’t want everybody to know everything about him. Suddenly I understood why his mother had felt like she could trust me. Apparently she was a very good judge of character.

The girls shot a few more questions at me that day, but I just told them I didn’t know anything. They finally stopped. Charlie, however, had one more thing to say about it.

“You know you have to take him to the dance,” she said when we were walking home. At first I didn’t know who she was talking about, but then I remembered the Young Miss Dale dance. It was tradition for the girls to take their peer aid partners to the dance. If their partner was a girl they came together, with their dates, but usually girls and boys were paired together in peer aid. It seemed to give better results.

Charlie was a participant in Young Miss Dale. To become a participant, you had to be nominated by somebody else. We had nominated each other. It was common these days for friends who wanted to be in the competition to do that. Charlie, however, had real ambitions for winning. She was very beautiful, and she would probably win. I knew it wasn’t very loyal of me, but I hoped she wouldn’t. She was usually very good to me, we had been friends for a long time, but she had this tendency to judge people for how their clothes looked or how much money their parents made a year. Sometimes I got the feeling she wouldn’t hang around with me if my mother wasn’t so known.

“Are you taking Tomas?” I asked. Tomas was her peer aid buddy. He was a jock. She was supposed to be helping him organize his studying with his sports. She was probably busier kissing him in the shed by the gym. He was her boyfriend, a fact unknown to Mrs. Young, who had managed the peer aid assignments. For a woman who thought everybody being the same a dream world, she was a big hypocrite. Charlie was her favorite student, and always got special treatment, which was a very big contradiction to this life theory of hers. Apparently everybody being the same did not mean everybody being equal.

“Of course I am!”Charlie said, almost sounding angry I had asked, like I was questioning their relationship. I sighed.

“Well, I guess I have to take him. I just don’t think he’s the dancing type. I don’t think he’ll want to go,” I said thoughtful.

“Well, the dance is on Saturday, so you’ll have to ask him tomorrow. Or better yet, call him when you get home! Do you have his number?”

“It’s in the school phone book,” I said distractedly. “I think I’ll just ask him tomorrow, though. I think if I look begging enough, he might say yes.”

Charlie seemed disappointed, but didn’t say anything.

“Your choice, Nic. But tomorrow’s Friday, so you’re not giving him much time. What if he has plans?”

“If he has plans he’ll be better of doing whatever they are than come to a dance with me,” I simply said.

I decided to ask him straight the next morning. I was a little nervous. I had never asked a boy out before. Tomas had asked me out once, but I knew Charlie fancied him, so I said no. He wasn’t my type, anyway. Too self-obsessed.

I was so nervous I set off earlier than usual and walked rather fast. I was glad for it, however, when I arrived. The classroom was empty, except for David, who was reading a small book. He looked surprised to see me when I came in.

“You’re early,” he said and put down the book.

“Me? How early do you show up?” I asked as I sat down.

“I usually go to the crafting studio for half an hour before the first class,” he said. My eyebrows shot up.

“You must wake up very early,” I said as I took up my books. He nodded.

“Six every morning.”

I decided not to comment on that. Besides, my aunt did the same thing. A lot of people probably did it.

A minute passed in silence, although my head was buzzing. I was trying to decide how to ask him. He just looked out the window. Finally my head made me say the first thing that came to my mind.

“Do you dance?” I asked, and regretted it immediately. What kind of a question was that? David looked at me, not surprised but amused by it.

“I have been known to do that occasionally, yes,” he said and smiled. “Why?”

“It’s just that … Young Miss Dale … there’s a dance, and traditionally the participants and their peer aid buddy go together,” I managed to blurt out. He smiled wider. He looked on the verge of laughing.

“I’ll go with you, if that’s what you’re asking,” he said as he tried to steady his look of amusement. I felt relief flow all over me.

“Really? You don’t mind? Because, it’s tomorrow, and if you have plans …”

“I have no plans. I can go with you,” he hurried to say. “When is it?”

I told him all I knew about it. We decided to meet outside at seven. More people were starting to pile inside, so I turned to the front. I had just asked a guy out for the first time in my life, and he had said yes immediately. Maybe he had known about the dance, it was a very big part of Young Miss Dale. A part of it was broadcasted on television, the part where the participants opened the dance, with a dance of course, and also the part where all the participants were introduced. He had probably seen it at some point of his life. It didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that I was keeping with tradition, and going with my peer aid buddy.

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