When Cassidy showed up at school with her newly short hair and face completely bare of makeup, the halls filled with whispers. Her oversized grey sweater and baggy floral skirt matched the empty expression on her face. Every time someone asked her if she was okay, she would feign a small smile and shrug “Oh, yeah, I’m fine.”
I just wanted to make her feel better, but that seemed impossible. Soon enough, however, any thoughts of Cass English were wiped from my mind. DAWSON HAD INVITED ME TO THE KILLERS CONCERT. I had drawn a billion hearts and smiley faces around February thirteenth in my planner. My favorite guy ever was taking me to see my favorite band ever the day before Valentines Day. It was going to be wonderful, it was impossible for me to focus on anything else. Wednesday night was going to be magnificent.
When Wednesday rolled around, I could no physically bring myself to think of anything besides that evening. I had bargained with my dad and Tish to let me stay out late in order to go to the concert in return I would have to babysit Zach while they went on a romantic weekend getaway to Niagara Falls. I would have agreed to shaving my head and wearing footy-pajamas every day for the next year if it meant going on the best date ever with Dawson.
When the end-of-school bell rang, I sprinted home. I’ve never been one of those girls who obsess over clothes and shit, but tonight was different. I tried on six outfits total, before deciding on a striped grey and black leotard, a lacey blue ballerina skirt, a studded motorcycle jacket, and the my favorite high top Chuck Taylor’s. Hopefully the look came off as “carefree rock’n’roll groupie” instead of, you know, “methed out hooker with a fondness for the color black.”
I had tied my hair into a loose chignon on the side of my head, slipping on a sequined silver beret. My makeup was smudgy and thick, as usual. When Dawson arrived promptly at eight—tickets in hand—any doubts of tonight’s potential flew away.
The concert was flawless. Word could legitimately not describe it. What happened after the concert, of course, was even more wonderful. I won’t go into too much detail (because that would be just plain icky), but I can tell you that I won’t be forgetting it very soon.
Yeah. Me and Dawson had, straight up, done the dirty nasty. I couldn’t have been more magical. Uncomfortable, awkward, and weird; Yes. But magical too.
Thursday was Valentines Day. At all of the entrances to the school, there were Student Council member selling carnation. For one dollar you could fill out a slip of paper, which would then be attached to a carnation and delivered to whoever’s name you had written on the slip. I pulled a ten out of my pocket: Six for Kyle Dawson, one for Liam O’Shannigan, one for Zooey Abrams, and one for Cassidy English. I figured Cass could probably use some cheering up after the shitty last couple of months she had been having.
When first period rolled around, I was one of the first kids to show up in Mr Reinhardt’s chemistry class. I watched my classmates slowly trickle in, with one notable exception. Cass hadn’t shown up. Before anyone had had even had time to get their homework out, a sophomore dressed up as cupid popped into the doorway.
“Carnations!” The lanky blonde wiggled his butt and winked in Tiffany Lessers direction. He shoved his hand into the basket of carnations with little paper slips attached. “Ginae Alter, two carnations for you!.” “Molly Bradshaw eighteen carnations for you!” “Mike DeLavaggio, twenty-nine carnations for you!” “Cassidy English, one carnation for you.” “Farrah Grey, thirteen carnations for you!” “Douglas Harding, four carnations for you.” “Priya Morgan, six carnations for you.” The random assortment of people who received carnations was mostly girls, and popular ones at that—so needless to say I was slightly shocked by the pile of flowers on my desk. All but one of them was from Dawson, the thirteenth was simply signed “Thanks.”
My eyebrows knit together as I attempted to figure out who was thanking me, and for what? I raked my mind for an answer, which wasn’t coming. My eyes wandered over to Cassidy’s empty seat. It was an oddly tragic sight; a single white carnation placed an empty stool. It made my stomach hurt, I didn’t know why but the scene gave me an odd feeling of foreboding. There was a reason Cassidy wasn’t at school today.