He rolled his eyes. “So I made them a little big. So what?”
“Exactly. No big deal.” I nodded and shrugged like I was really agreeing with him. “It’s not like they had to be perfect… Ya know, like mine.” The entire time we’d been talking I had been putting my cookies into the big baggies the teacher had given us and getting my stuff together, so when Louis did what I knew he was going to do, I would be ready.
“That’s it!” He reached for me, but I had already bolted and was out the door and running towards Bio. I found Dale sitting at our table hunched over his assignments’ notebook.
“Connelly talked to me today,” I said as I slid into the seat beside him.
“Don’t you have Sue for your girl-talk?” he asked. “I do not want to talk about how shiny his hair is and how his eyes sparkle.”
“So you’ve noticed too?” I asked and he looked at me. “I’m kidding, geez. What’s your problem?”
“I just, don’t understand how you can be mad at a guy one minute because he was completely rude to you, and then be totally into him again the next, like it never happened. It must be a girl thing, I guess.” He shrugged, but there was something else bothering him. I knew he wouldn’t be acting like this just over me liking Connelly again.
“It’s called forgiveness. And I wasn’t going to talk about his eyes or his hair, for your information. I was going to say maybe they aren’t really as bad as we thought. He apologized for all the stuff he did.”
“Oh, sorry,” he said, not really looking at me.
“Now really, what’s wrong?” I prodded.
He rolled his eyes and shook his head. He hesitated just long enough to make me want to hit it out of him, when he began. “We’re supposed to get our final partners today, right? Well, I just got back from gym, and… I didn’t get the partner I wanted. That’s all.”
“Who did you get?”
“I wanted Johanna, you know, but I got Cindy.” He sighed again.
“Heppner?” I asked and he nodded. “Oh man, I’m sorry Dale.” He’d had the biggest crush on Johanna forever, and always tried to be her partner or on her team every chance he got. She was gorgeous, I had to admit; tall, all the right curves, long brown hair, and hazel eyes. But Cindy? She was way too skinny to be healthy looking, unless guys thought bones were sexy nowadays. She was also extremely stuck up and even though any good-looking guy would do for her, she had a particular craving for one in a relationship. “Well, maybe you can talk to Johanna, and if you both ask them, they’ll switch you?”
“Maybe,” he said, but he didn’t sound hopeful. “I don’t know. Who knows if she even likes me.”
“Well, no one will know unless you ask her,” I said and he glanced over at me and nodded.
“I’ll try,” he said and I patted him on the shoulder.
“That’s right, be the man.” He shot me a look and I covered my giggle as the teacher walked in. She announced that we would be dissecting frogs soon. Then she started on the anatomy and all kinds of things about the frog, also showing us the tools we would be using.
“You’re not going to faint or puke or anything, are you?” Dale asked.
“No, I’m not that type of girl… Are you?” I asked, peering at him.
He caught the double meaning in my question and gave me a look. “No,” he said and I giggled under my hands.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said when I walked into the gym. Everyone was out on the floor, doing their exercises.
“Kota,” Coach came up to me and looked me over. “Why aren’t you suited out?”
“I, I forgot my suit at home,” I said, and hoped desperately that he didn’t make me do them in my regular clothes. Gross.
He looked at me for a second, as if examining my face for traces that I was lying, and eventually nodded. “Okay, Kota, go sit down. But don’t forget next time.”
“You got it, Coach.” I smiled and then ran over to sit down. Sue, who was down on the floor doing sit-ups, gave me a confused look. I pulled at my shirt as way of an answer and shrugged. She just smiled and rolled her eyes.
I scanned the room for Connelly, but he was nowhere to be found, as was Ivan. Mira was amongst the crowd however, pumping out push-ups and crunches like nobody’s business. No wonder she had so much muscle definition. I began to wonder if this was the beginning of another bad dance lesson. I shook my head sadly. We had such a good time this morning, so why did he have to mess it up now? Why did he keep yo-yoing all the time? I stopped myself before I got too upset, because nothing had happened yet. Who knows? I thought, He could come in here and be just as nice and sweet as he was this morning.
So, to pass the time, I called Lou to remind him tonight was the night I would start being an hour late and then grudgingly started on my unfinished homework. When the bell finally rang and everyone got back from the showers I gladly put away the math sheets I had saved for last. “So, did you like your break from working out?” Sue asked, sitting beside me as we watched more and more students from other gym periods trickle in through the doors.
“I really did forget my suit,” I said and she nodded.
“Sure, sure,” she said and we both laughed when I pushed her.
“Okay children, settle down.” Mrs. Peters called to us as we all gathered on the bleachers. “Now, as you all know, today is the day when you will be placed with your permanent partner. The first competition will be held at the end of this month, and I know that’s only a short time away, but a month is enough time to show me whether you have enough potential for this. I must have my couples early enough before the first competition for us to be truly ready. Now,” she beckoned to us, “please come line up in the pairs I have most recently assigned you.”
We did as she said, but even as Sue and I went down to the gym floor, I knew something bad was going to happen. Ivan and Connelly weren’t back yet. “You and you were good, I want to switch you with you, you’re good…” She went through the line quickly, each couple going to the wall when she was done. Then, just when she was almost to us, Ivan appeared through the doors and reached Sue just as Mrs. Peters did. “Ivan, where have you been? Where’s Connelly?”
“I don’t know. He said he needed my help with something, but he was supposed to be back already by now.” Ivan shook his head at her and she sighed.
“Alright. You two go to the wall. Kota, I’m sorry sweetheart, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to sit this out until Connelly gets back, from wherever he is.” She looked apologetically at me and watched as I walked to the bleachers with slumped shoulders.
The disappointment was quickly replaced with anger and I sat fuming in silence as the rest of the class went about their dancing, most of them happy. I saw Dale, looking like he wasn’t enjoying his time holding onto Cindy, who was giving him the ‘eyes’. I scoffed at her attempts to capture him with her much used ‘charms’ as she called them. Dale wasn’t having any of it and in fact, he spotted Johanna and it looked to be a great effort on his part to drag his eyes away from her. She looked to be having a nice time, mostly since her partner happened to be her best guy friend, but that didn’t meant it didn’t make Dale jealous.
I was sitting on the second step of the bleachers, chin in palm, when someone spun in front of me. Louis. “Hey, where’s Mr. Social?” he asked while still keeping him and his partner in time with the Swing music.
“Off being social, apparently.” I shrugged. “Hey Diane.”
“Hey, Kota.” She smiled when Louis twirled her. “Who’s supposed to be your partner?”
“Peters?” she finished and I nodded. “Wow… He’s weird. Gorgeous, but weird.”
“I’ve noticed,” I said, and then seeing the look Louis gave me, added, “Uh, the weird part.”
He smiled and said, “Do I need to talk to him when he gets here about how never to keep a lady waiting?”
“Thanks Mr. Etiquette, but I think I can handle him.” I cracked a smile, which I suspected was all he was trying to accomplish.
“Okay then,” He smiled and nodded, “just yell if you change your mind.”
“Bye Kota!” Diane called as Louis whisked her away across the floor. It was kind of funny Louis was paired with Diane, because Diane just happened to be Johanna’s best friend and cousin. Diane was about as short as I was, with shoulder length curly brown hair that she usually straightened, and the same hazel eyes as Johanna.