Of all of the days for me to run late for math class, today was not the day. At all.
“Jamie!” I exclaimed, breathless. As I entered Mr. Wiederhold's room.
The bell rang just when I was halfway across the room to talk to Jamie.
“Class, please sit down and take out your notes so we can go ahead and get started...” Mr. W. drawled as he limped into the room.
“After class.” I said, looking Jamie in the eye and pointing at him before returning to my seat.
As Wiederhold was going over the notes that were already written on the board, Jamie caught my gaze two tables over, giving me a puzzled look.
A sudden surge of confidence filled me and I did something totally out of character for me – I smiled and winked at him.
I swear, that boy's jaw dropped to the dusty linoleum floor faster than a Mercedes can gun it to sixty miles per hour. But, other than that, his only reaction to my sudden audacity was a calm, sure nod.
And with that nod, my entire life was turned totally upside down for the first of many times.
“You wanted to talk to me, Alix?” Jamie asked, standing by my desk after class was (finally) over, books in hand.
“I, uh, well, I mean – Yes, I did – I mean, do.” I stuttered, farther from calm, cool, and collected than I had ever been before.
Good job, Alix. All of that mental preparation gone to waste. Insert foot in mouth here.
“Dang, Al. It's just me, just Jamie. Your best friend's twin brother. What happened to all of that confidence from earlier, Miss Surprises?” His tone was beyond soothing, but he still sounded almost as nervous as I was.
Except for he didn't have a clue what was about to go down.
“Can we walk and talk?” I asked, biting my lip.
“You aren't going to run into any walls if we do, are you?” He teased lightly.
“No, I won't.”
“Do you promise?”
“Jamie. Come on.” I rolled my eyes at him.
“I know, I know. Let's get going before we're both late for class.”
I gathered my books together and Jamie and I walked down the Math wing hallway together in companionable silence.
When we finally reached the stairwell where we had to part ways, I finally regained the courage to ask him.
“Jamie, I want to ask you something.” I took a deep breath and placed my free hand lightly on his upper arm.
“Ask away, Alix.” He replied, stopping and turning toward me.
“Jamie.... Do you want to go to Homecoming with me?”
“Like, as your date?” His complicated eyes went wide as saucers.
“Only if you want it to be like that. We could just go as friends if you wanted.” I rushed to say, but I couldn't help the disappointment from slipping into my voice.
“No, no! Alix, I wasn't asking like that! I'm just surprised is all. Alix... I would love to go to Homecoming with you.” Jamie tentatively placed his hand over my own, still on his arm, and squeezed gently.
“Oh! Oh. Okay!” An eager smile spread across my face like wildfire. Within moments, it spread to his, too.
“I'll see you tomorrow, Ali.” He leaned in and kissed my cheek before bolting down the stairs for his last class of the day.
“Bye, Jamie!” I yelled after him before running so I wasn't late to my own class.
“I asked him.” I said as I was chopping onions to be put in the marinara.
“And?” Mom and Temperance said in unison from each of their respective stations in the kitchen; Mom at the stove, Temperance at the sink.
“And he said yes.” I said, smiling to myself as I dumped a handful of onions into the bubbling pan in front of Mom.
“Alix, even I need more details than that. And you know for a fact that Tempe darling needs much more than that.”
“You got that right, Ms. Davis. Alix, it's girls' night. Make use of it and spill the deets.”
“Well, we walked down to the end of the Math wing together, to that one stairwell. And I asked him. He told me that he'd love to go with me.... And then he kissed my cheek and went to class.” I shrugged my shoulders as if it didn't matter, but from the look on both Mom and Temperance's faces, they saw straight through me.
“Told you.” Temp said smugly, drying off the last bowl in the stack and placing it in the cupboard.
I couldn't hold it in any longer.
“OH MY GOD HE SAID YES!” I screamed, grabbing on to Temperance's shoulders and jumping up and down like the excited school girl I was.
“I know! Aren't you glad I told you to now?!” She said, giggling and jumping up and down with me.
“I swear, you girls.” My mom sighed, smiling and rolling her eyes at us.
“He said yes.” I sighed.
“This is gonna be a long night. I already see it coming.” Temp said, hip bumping me.
“He said yes.”
After dinner, Mom, Temperance, and I laid on our stomaches on Mom's king-sized bed playing cards, Sinatra crooning in the background.
That was the only way that I felt Temperance ever even slightly resembled her name. She absolutely adored Sinatra.
“So, when is Homecoming, girls? Just so I can make arrangements around it.”
“I think it's the weekend after this one, Ms. Davis.” Temperance said, picking up the ace my mom had just laid down in the discard pile.
“Rummy.” I said when she discarded a fourth nine to my trio. “What kind of arrangements, Mom?”
“Driving and pictures, of course.” She replied, matter-of-factly.
“Ms. Davis.... I was thinking she could spend the night with me after the dance.” Temperance piped up cautiously.
“Ha! Right. You're kidding. I'm not letting my daughter spend the night with her date. That's just disaster waiting to happen, Temperance.”
“Jamie would be at Dean's house, though!” Temp argued.
“You are an awful liar, Temperance. She will not spend the night at your house after Homecoming and that is final.”
“But - !” Temp started to argue again.
“Shut up, Tempe.” I interrupted her, and then turned to Mom. “How about we spend the night at Leah's? I'm sure Mrs. William's would be fine with it.” Because she probably won't be home, I mentally added.
“I guess that would be alright....”
“Thanks, Mom!” Temperance and I said at the same time, tackling her into a hug.
“Girls, girls... You can get off now... Please...” We let Mom go and fell back into our places – and into a giggle fit.
“So, when and where do you want to go dress shopping?”
“Uh, well, Mom... Leah has her license, and Temp and I were thinking all three of us girls could go to Spokane since it's less than half an hour away and we could have a girls' day out so we could actually spend some time together without the boys.”
“Does Leah text or talk on the phone while driving? Pass when going uphill? Run red lights or stop signs?” Mom was continuing on, but I interrupted her.
“No, Mom. Leah is a very safe driver. Almost as safe as you are.”
“Fine. I'll let you. But I want hourly updates. Downtown Spokane can be a very scary and dangerous place for three young girls.”
“I swear, Mom. You're worse than even Grandpa was. We'll be fine. Pepper spray, pocket knives, and I have a Taser, remember? Dad bought it for me when I turned thirteen because he thought all of the college boys were gonna start chasing after me.”
Mom's lips pressed into a thin line at the mention of my father. “Will he be paying for your dress as well, then?”
Crap. I forgot that Mom and Dad weren't exactly on speaking terms right then. They may have been divorced for nearly thirteen years, but the fighting never ends, even today.
“I guess... I mean, I'll ask... I don't know, Mama. I haven't asked him yet. I will, though.”
“Oh, he will be oh-so-pleased. Me letting my fifteen year old daughter go to a dance with a boy! What kind of irresponsible parent am I? He'll be sure to use that in court. Fuck....” Mom's voice dripped with venom and cynicism as she considered the possibilities.
“Ms. Davis... It's no biggie. We won't mention Jamie. Alix can be my date! And we'll say that dresses for Homecoming typically cost about two hundred bucks and that you are willing to split the cost with him, each of you giving her a hundred bucks.” Temperance shrugged, completely unfrazzled.
“But dressed only cost one hundred or under typically. At least, the ones that I like.” I objected, confused.
“Then he ends up completely paying for the dress! Very devious, Tempe. I like it!” Mom's eyes went wide and a wicked smile lit up her face, wiping away all traces of bitterness towards my father.
“I don't know if I can do that to Dad...” I said, hesitant.
Both Mom and Temperance turned to glare at me.
“Alix, your dad is a total asshole. You despise him. Why feel guilty for using his money? That's what he's here for!” Temp said, pushing me lightly.
“He's still a human being.” I shot back, losing my balance from Temperance's shove to my shoulder. “I'm not one of those people who's nice to certain people just to get nice things and money.”
“Alix, just trust me on this one, little love. You're dad isn't gonna do much for you – you already know that. So you may as well take advantage of it while you can.” Mom said, patting my hand.
“Fine, fine, I'll ask him! I'm not gonna push it, though.”
“Good, good. Oh, it's my turn, isn't it?” Mom said, abruptly changing the subject.
Temperance just smirked at me, smug, like the cat who got the cream.
“You two are such bitches.” I mumbled, glaring at my cards.
“Thanks!” They said cheerfully, making me roll my eyes yet again.