Monday, April 29, 2013

TRULY (chapter seven: "That Night - Sophomore Year")

Chapter Seven
That Night – Sophomore Year
I waited for him at the first Social mixer of the year, punch and appetizers in hand; I’m not sure what I was expecting...  Confessions of a Teenage Hermit
    We’d heard about Ben’s arrival but neither Jenny nor I had sighted him. The boys were housed in a different area of the school.
    That evening, in the cool of Jen’s room, we ate snacks pilfered from the kitchen: corn chips, dip and carrot sticks. We had a view of the courtyard and the adjacent parklands and we saw Ben and his brother kicking a football around in the grounds below.
     Ben was wearing a red school sweater. “Wow, he’s hot,” Jenny said. Then she turned to me and smiled, adding, “chillax, I’m talking about his brother. Harley’s the one in the blue sweater, right?”
   I peered through the window.
   “We should wave.”
   I looked at her, aghast.
   “Kidding, just kidding. I know. It pays to be unobtainable.”
    We arrived at the Welcome New Students mixer at six in the evening. My sister Liz greeted the new students animatedly as I hovered in the background. 
    I whispered to Jenny, “Where are they?”
    “They had to meet the principal, settle in and then go to the game this afternoon. The whole football team are just arriving now from the other side of town.”
    “Oh,” I said.
    “Blame Serena,” Elizabeth replied, “she’s the one who messed up the dates. It has been noted.”
    I looked around the brightly lit entrance hall. The d├ęcor and furnishings were richly colored and impressive. Elizabeth was keen to keep Serena in her place, socially.  Let’s face it, Serena’s chance of becoming Head Social when it was her turn to be a Senior, was flimsy, at best. She’d have to rely on the good opinion of my sister and me to make that happen and we all went to elementary school together. There, Serena had been part of her own little group, generationally known as the Princesses and she’d played countless tricks and placed the blame squarely on me. Serena could hardly expect me to endorse her reign. 
    Liz surveyed the room, sans Ben, Harley or any other vaguely interesting guys.
    “I’m doing all of this for you, Jane.”
    “Huh?” I asked as I scooped some punch into a glass.
    “Miles away, Jane. First, I’m going to be voted Head Social next year. Then, when I leave, I’m aiming to nominate you, my middle sister, to take my place.”
    “That’s great,” I said blankly.
    “Don’t look so enthusiastic, Jane.  Team Leader will look good on your college applications. I know you’re not interested but Melissa is, and if you don’t step up, the Elliots have no chance of running the school by the time Serena becomes a Senior.”
    “Oh,” I replied. I knew she wouldn’t have nominated me because she thought I was the best person for the job. I couldn’t wait for the stupid mixer to end, no show Ben and another pointless rant from Liz. At least Jenny seemed to be enjoying herself greeting the newbies at the snack table.
    An hour later, the lights were dimmed and Ben and his brother arrived with Tom Winchester and some other boys from the football team. As retro music played Ben walked straight over to me.
    “Hey,” he said.
    “Hi,” I smiled. He looked really cute in his school football sweater with the letter H printed on the front.
    There was a lightness in my stomach that I couldn’t deny as we started talking alongside the non-alcoholic punch bar.
    “Wow,” he smiled tasting the punch, “this is pretty tame.”
   “You mean lame.”
   “Kind of.”
   “Well, the teachers already sampled the punch so we couldn’t spice it up.” I gestured to the teachers at the door. He smiled as I added regretfully, “We had to keep it clean in case they return.”
     Ben glanced across the room towards the girl standing with his brother.
    “Who’s that?”
    “My friend - my best friend - Jenny Covington.”
     By now Jenny and Harley were in deep conversation.
     “They seem to like each other,” Ben noted, then he smiled again and said, “I’m going over to get some food. It’s great to see you again Jane.”
     “Likewise,” I replied.
     “They look good together,” Elizabeth whispered in my other ear after Ben left. “See, your friend Jenny isn’t backward in coming forward.”
      “Shh, I said as I poured out some punch, “could your voice be any louder?”
     “Sorry, just saying. If you don’t jump in first someone else will get him.”
     “Who are you talking about?”
      “Well, Tom Winchester of course.”
      I glanced towards the far corner of the room. Tom Winchester, property developer’s son, rich senior extraordinaire and ace player to be, in my opinion, was surrounded by girls.
     “He’s all yours,” was all I said.
     “Thanks, but I only date college boys. Some of us have standards.”
    I was glad she hadn’t noticed me staring at Ben from the counter top all night while he talked sport with his team mates.
     There was something she was right about, though.
    After that night Jenny and Harley were inseparable. Although my relationship with Ben was a slow burn, they never left each other’s sides, unless they had to, from that moment on.