#19

Bonnie Bristol found herself swaying in the arms of Coach Wagner, and although his eyes were wide with interest, Miss Bristol’s were narrow with contempt. She spied Miss Calloway and Mr. Temple laughing as they danced closely, nitpicking the grinding, twerking high schoolers they were there to supervise. Her face reddened at the thought of Kelly Calloway, beige, well-meaning Kelly Calloway, possibly sweeping away Mr. Temple after all that she had done to keep him! Miss Bristol’s eyes finally wandered back to meet Coach Wagner’s.

“So what do you say we go back to my place after this?” he asked, big, dumb smile and all.

Miss Bristol let out an exhausted sigh. “You do realize we’re here to stop horny teenagers from going home with each other, right?”

“Well, we’re not teenagers,” he said.

“As if you had a chance with this,” she said, pushing him away. She was suddenly interested in getting friendly with Kelly Calloway.

Sweeping her blonde locks over her shoulder, Miss Bristol marched up to Miss Calloway and Mr. Temple, paying particular attention to the impeccably dressed art teacher. “Trash?” she asked, conveniently resting her eyes on Miss Calloway.

“None here,” Miss Calloway replied, continuing to grip Mr. Temple’s arm.

“I love your dress, Kelly,” Miss Bristol said.

“Thank you,” Miss Calloway replied, a little surprised.

“You have to tell me where you got it! I’m starting my Christmas shopping early this year, and I know it’s just the sort of thing I could buy my mother!”

Miss Calloway didn’t bat an eye. “Your mother doesn’t like to dress her age either?”

Miss Bristol was impressed. Kelly Calloway had more bite to her than she thought.

Mr. Temple began to wring his hands. “I’ll grab some more punch,” he said, excusing himself.

“Are you and Rick having a good time? I noticed you two have been dancing together all night,” Miss Bristol said.

“You’ve been hanging onto Coach Wagner all evening, and let’s face it, he’s the only other one I’d be dancing with tonight,” Miss Calloway said.

“Then we should switch! Coach Wagner!” Miss Bristol called. “Miss Calloway’s been dying to dance with you all night!”

Kelly Calloway cast a wry smile at Bonnie Bristol as Coach Wagner bumbled his way over to the two of them.

“Oh, Rick, it’s my turn!” Miss Bristol called.

Kelly rolled her eyes as Coach Wagner put his arm around her. It was finally happening. For once in her life, it was time for Kelly Calloway to be the Mean Girl.

***

Olivia Gardner lay in the front seat of Tom Gibson’s pickup truck catching her breath. It had all happened so fast, and it wasn’t at all what she had been expecting. Nonetheless, she had done it, and with Tom Gibson no less.

“So I have something else,” Tom said, removing two joints from his glove compartment.

“I really don’t think we should. We still have to get home,” Olivia said.

“I’ve driven high a thousand times,” Tom replied.

Everything Olivia had ever considered to be truth was coming apart at the seams. She didn’t care to do anything about it, for the time being.

Tom handed her one and lit it for her, and then he lit one for himself. She inhaled deeply, not caring about where she would be in an hour. She was with Tom Gibson, and that’s all that mattered to her. That was all that would matter to the rest of the school over the next few months if she had her way. She wanted Tom to be hers, and Tom had told her he wanted the same thing.

She glanced over at Tom. He was sprawled across the driver’s side, relaxed and breathing lightly. “My mom really liked you, I could tell,” she said.

Tom laughed. “You really know how to kill a mood,” he said.

Olivia felt her face grow warm with embarrassment. “I thought you should know,” she said, laughing. “They’ll be happy I have a nice guy to go out with.”

Tom didn’t respond immediately. “You know, we can definitely go out again, it’s just I don’t want to put a label on it or anything.”

“Label?” she asked. “You just said when we were–” she paused. “That’s not exactly what you said a minute ago.”

“We’re just having a good time right now, you know?” he said. He was getting dazed now. His voice was lazy and slow, indifferent.

Olivia clenched her fists. “A good time? Yes, but because you said you’d be seeing more of me, as you know, something more than a friend.”

“I just don’t want to make anything official yet,” he said.

His voice was so calm. It infuriated Olivia. She felt tears coming up. “Take me home.”

“Hey, we don’t have to leave yet. Let’s sit around a little more.”

“Take me home,” she said, staring out the window of the truck. Clouds covered the moon now. She wanted be home in bed, alone, where she could cry herself to sleep.

END

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#18

Miss Calloway glanced around the gymnasium with only a casual interest. It was nice to see her students dressed like–well, dressed, period. The girls whose skirts were normally far too short for a night club, let alone a public school, were dressed in white, while their dates–the boys who normally wore their skinny jeans below their waists–were dressed in black suits. She caught site of Olivia Gardner entering the darkened room with Tom Gibson, smiling  and laughing as he grinned at her. The music had swelled into what her students considered an “oldie,” rather something from Miss Calloway’s high school days from not too long ago. Kids rarely danced, she used to think, but now it was about being foolish, not about impressing anyone. Girls and boys alike, although dressed like young ladies and gentlemen, ran to the dance floor to “Bernie” and “Wobble.” She felt old. She wished she had choked on that sandwich earlier that day and died.

She saw Mr. Temple enter through the balloon arch followed by Miss Bristol. As usual, Miss Bristol’s attire was just appropriate enough where so that she wouldn’t have to attend a seminar. She grabbed Mr. Temple’s arm and laughed–at nothing, Miss Calloway presumed. Kelly Calloway’s eyes locked with Mr. Temple’s, and he smiled. He brushed off Bonnie Bristol and walked over.

“Glad to see you’re alive and well, Miss Calloway,” Mr. Temple said, attempting humor.

“I’ve decided to give up eating all together,” Miss Calloway said.

“You could use some meat on your bones,” said Mr. Temple.

Miss Calloway did her best to not look amused. Was that his way of saying she was thin? Or that she looked like a crack addict of ten years? “I’ll be ingesting the whole snack table before the night is through,” she said.

Mr. Temple laughed awkwardly. The music changed to something that was going to pass for a slow dance. “Care to dance? I think I see a couple of kids not leaving any room for  the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Miss Calloway was angry with herself that she had laughed, but she agreed. Mr Temple put his hands on her waist. “Last time I did this, you were hacking up a lung,” Mr. Temple said.

“I can do it again, if you want,” Miss Calloway said, tapping two students who were getting a little too close.

“I’d rather you choke on the dinner I’d like to make you instead of a crappy ham sandwich,” he said.

“Since when are you making me dinner?” she asked.

Mr. Temple tapped another couple to separate. “Tomorrow,” he said.

The teachers continued to sway as the teeny bopper music continued, and Miss Calloway looked into Mr. Temple’s eyes, unsure if she believed him. A stray beam of light from the disco ball the school had rented fell on his face and he was being sincere.

Miss Calloway smiled lightly. “I’ll bring the wine.”

***

Olivia Gardner waited patiently for Tom Gibson to return with cookies and punch. She swayed a little as the music grew louder. Seeing everyone around her smiling and laughing, it couldn’t have been more perfect. She saw Jack Turner attempting to moonwalk, and she saw Kim Fairporte crawling around on the floor looking for her glasses. She loved her friends, and she loved that she was at a school dance with the boy every other girl wanted. Tom returned, punch in tow.

“Punch?” he said, offering Olivia a tiny cup of bright red juice. “I got you some cookies, too. I ate a few of them though. Hope you don’t like chocolate.”

“Thank you,” she said. “I’m not much for chocolate, anyway. I love almond paste, though.” She hated almond paste. All she wanted was an Oreo.

“Having a good time?” he asked, his eyes following Bridget Greenfield’s behind to the dance floor.

She wanted to say yes, and she was going to, even though she wasn’t exactly sure. “Would you like to dance again?”

Tom drank his punch in one gulp and shoved a cookie in his mouth. Through bites, he managed “I got a better idea. You want to go out to my car for a minute? Get some fresh air?”

Her favorite song had just come on. “I guess that’d be okay,” she said. They walked toward the door. She heard the music fade away.

The night air was cold and smelled of rotting leaves. The carnation Tom wore had wilted, and Olivia’s corsage had come undone. She did her best to imagine it was romantic. After all, the moon was out. That was something.

Olivia and Tom sat in the front seat of his pickup truck in silence.

“I’m sorry if it’s not like you thought it would be,” Tom said. “I’m just not much of a dancer or anything. Food is the best part about these things for me.”

He saw Olivia frown.

“Aside from you,” he said, saving himself.

“It’s fine, I’ve been having a good time,” she said.

Tom’s eyes met Olivia’s. They stayed there. She blushed.

“You’re a great girl. I know I’m lucky to be here with you.”

Olivia choked. She couldn’t speak. Tom leaned in and kissed her. She pushed him away, but then pulled him back. This was what she had wanted. She felt herself going farther than she ever thought she would. She caught sight of the moon through the fogged window. Clouds were covering it now and night was falling, and she lost herself.

END

#17

Miss Calloway sat at her desk taking generous bites of the ham sandwich she had packed for lunch  that day. It was Friday, and she had gone the entire week without saying much more than cordial greetings to Mr. Temple. She and Miss Bristol had actually spent more time together than she had planned, and she hated herself for not hating it. Bonnie Bristol could be smug and arrogant, but both fresh-faced educators did well with the children they worked with on a daily basis. Of course, Miss Bristol’s tight blouses and perfect hair attracted boys and girls alike, albeit for different reasons.

Miss Calloway took another healthy bite of her sandwich when she realized that she and Mr. Temple would be chaperoning the homecoming dance that evening–along with Miss Bristol. The thought infuriated her, so much that she couldn’t breathe. Actually, it was the ham sandwich caught in her throat.

“Kelly? Kelly! Are you okay? Oh my God!” shouted Mr. Temple as he rushed to Miss Calloway’s aid. He wrapped his arms around Miss Calloway’s midsection and began pumping as hard as he could. Miss Calloway wanted to die.

“Kelly? Oh my God, Kelly!” shouted Miss Bristol as she ran toward the choking woman.

Miss Calloway could feel her face turning blue, but the sandwich finally dislodged itself–and found its way down Miss Bristol’s low-cut blouse. She sank to the floor, blue from the lack of oxygen and red from embarrassment. It wasn’t how she pictured the day Mr. Temple would finally hold her in his arms. She certainly didn’t picture Miss Bristol being there to witness it, or for her lunch to stuck between Bonnie’s bountiful bosoms.

“I’ll call the nurse,” Miss Bristol said, removing the sandwich from her cleavage. “And I’ll grab you another sandwich from the cafeteria.”

Mr. Temple laughed. “I guess this means I’ll at least make it to first tonight.”

***

Olivia stood in front of her bedroom mirror admiring the dress she had picked out. While she had given her mother a hard time, she had to admit that the woman had good taste. It was white and just poofy enough, and she felt like she belonged in a black and white movie with the Boy Next Door. Tom Gibson wasn’t exactly perfect, but he at least fit the image. She fixed her hair and went downstairs to answer the door.

To her surprise, Tom had combed his wavy blond hair into a side part, and he wore a black jacket and pants with a white shirt. Olivia felt herself blush. She secretly adored the way their photos were going to look.

“Am I early?” Tom asked?

“No, no right on time,” Olivia said. “Come in. My mom’s got dinner all set.”

Olivia led Tom into the dining room and commenced with awkward introductions. Her father surveyed Tom up and down, asked him about his intentions, and all the other wonderfully embarrassing things that fathers do. Tom sat down as Annette and Olivia went into the kitchen. Redmond towered over Tom as he leaned toward his ear.

“If you so much as even think about taking off her shoes, I’ll make sure you end up in a ditch missing two-thirds of your teeth,” Redmond whispered.

“Lasagna’s ready!” Annette chirped, setting down the pan in front of Tom. “I heard this was your favorite, Tom. I hope you have a good appetite! I know how much football players love to eat. My brother used to always…”

Olivia and Tom were only half listening. Olivia smiled at him, and he smiled back. They were speaking without words. How romantic! Olivia thought, spooning sauce over her pasta. Tonight. It’s going to be tonight.

END