Sunday, August 18, 2013

POPULAR by SUMMER DAY (chapter sixteen: prepare to dance)

Chapter Sixteen
Prepare to Dance
     I’d spoken to Ethan privately over iced tea served by the pool.
     Ethan had just broken it off with Gigi, supposedly because she was needy. I felt kind of bad for suggesting to him the possibility of her potential to cheat, but I’m sure my comments had no influence on him whatsoever. Besides, he and Gigi have different value systems and their star signs don’t match. Anyway, she’s decided to go to Sweden on an exchange program for senior year. Ethan says he is giving relationships a ‘miss’ for now, whatever that means.
   I feel the moment is right to admit defeat and broached the subject of Hilary without divulging full details.
   “Of course, I hate to admit it, Ethan, but you might have had a point about Flynn.”
    We were in the swimming pool by then. I was wearing my new hot pink one piece with the ruffles on the edges. Hills told me earlier that Ethan couldn’t keep his eyes off me when I’d previously worn that swimsuit but I snapped back, “Ethan has always had a thing for ruffles, it’s not my problem.”
  Hilary thought that was kind of mean.
  “I think you’re kind of mean about Ethan,” she said.
  “Huh? He’s like a brother to me – sometimes annoying.”
  “Well, all the girls talk about him. All of us like him. The Princesses have been gossiping about who would get to take him to the dance.”
   How could I have become so out of touch with my own group? I’d hardly spoken to any of them outside school hours in days.
  “Ethan never goes to school dances, and if he ever did, he totally would not be exclusive.”
   So, that was the background to the two of us swimming laps that afternoon before, suddenly, Ethan told me he was coming to the dance.
  “I’ve made up my mind,” he said. Ethan is a Sagittarius, but he also has Taurus rising and they are very determined once they’ve set their minds on something.  “You said I never participate in school socializing and I’m going to prove you wrong.”
   “Mmm…” I said, “well as long as you’re coming, you could give us a ride. Now that you have a new car it won’t embarrass me to show up with you in it.”
   “Really, are you inferring we should go together?”
   “Never. I’m just using you for a ride.”
   “I’ll be over by six.” Ethan smiled. Honestly, I can’t imagine how he would even dream I’d go to the dance as his partner.  
  “Six is early.”
  “Well, I’m feeling pretty social.”
  He arrived on Saturday night, around six, just as I was finishing Hilary’s make up. I still hadn’t done my own but Hilly looked like a dream. Jessica and Ty were impressed with our stylish ensembles. Wednesday had a night shoot so we were filming the entire occasion for her. There is no way she’s going to miss next year’s dance.  
   After Hilary walked down stairs I heard her and Ethan in the lounge room discussing some Reality TV show. I didn’t know Ethan watched reality television. 
   Phoebe insisted on taking photographs of us to post on the web. We ate some snacks before we left and somehow Ethan and I collided in the kitchen in a kind of truce.
   “You know what, Honey?” he said, “I think I was wrong about Hilary and you were right. She’s really an exceptional girl and so pretty. I was probably too quick to judge her.”
  “Really?” I asked.
  “Yes. She is not only very attractive but she’s also nice and humble, unlike some people I know. A girl who is eager to please and willing to play ‘boy games’ on the computer as you put it, makes good company. I was definitely wrong about her. Rafe would have been lucky to go out with her. But I was right about him too. She would have been a good match for Rafe.”
  “By the way, where is Rafe?”
  “He’s not coming. There’s some physics expo on in San Diego this weekend and he’s gone with his dad.”
   I suddenly felt very low. All my matchmaking had gone south. What was wrong with me? How could I have got my messages so… mis-matched?
   Ethan changed the subject with a direct question.
  “Is Flynn coming?”
  “Oh, well, I guess so. We’ll probably see him there.” Elaboration would only cause me further humiliation.
  “Right,” Ethan said, as if he knew I was holding back information.
  “Well, let’s get going then,” he added, grabbing the car keys.  
   “I’m so excited,” Hilly whispered to me. “This is my first dance at Sunrise and we’re all going together. I don’t mind that Flynn’s not here.”
   Hilary, as you can probably tell, was a better loser than me.