“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.”
“Sooooo? Who should I ask to the dance?” Crystin looked around at her friends. “Kim, tell me, who should I ask?” The cafeteria, filled with shouting high school students as it was, provided plenty of cover for this type of plotting. The most popular cheerleaders sat around the battered gray round table, picking at their light lunches and planning dance invitation strategy.
Kim nibbled her rice cake in silence, staring fixedly at the table and refusing to meet her friend’s eyes. She didn’t care who Crystin invited. Somehow, the dance and who went with whom just didn’t seem that important after last night. Mother remained in intensive care after a night of having her stomach pumped; her ultimate likelihood of survival remained to be seen. The doctors said that Mother could still succumb later to liver damage from the drugs, even if she pulled through now.
Selena leaned over to Kim, jamming her bony elbow into Kim’s ribs. “Are you OK? You seem weird today.” She surveyed Kim’s lunch. “You’ve hardly eaten anything – look at this.” She gestured to Kim’s lunch. Of the original rice cake, a banana, string cheese, and celery sticks, Kim had consumed only half the rice cake and a few celery sticks. “You can’t lead cheer on this.”
“Look, who cares about Kim’s lunch? I have bigger problems,” Crystin interrupted, her voice rising into an obnoxious whine that cut through even the hubbub of the crowded cafeteria. “What we really should be talking about is: who do I invite to the dance?”
Continue reading.Jolene, flipping her long, jet-black ponytail back over her shoulder, said, “How bout Taylor? He’s cute.”
“Taylor? He’s gross. He eats his own snot.” Crystin said.
“He does not!” Jolene’s tone indicated incredulity rather than outright disagreement. All the girls around the table leaned in closer.
“He does so. Anna saw him in gym class. She told me he was right there, just reached up and picked it and popped it right in his mouth.” Crystin’s audience, Kim excepted, collectively gasped, then giggled behind their hands.
“No way.” A softie at heart, Selena claimed that she refused to believe gossip about people unless she heard it at least twice. “I bet Anna just made that up. She’s a liar, you know.”
“She is not!” Now it was Sharon’s turn to object. She and Anna had been friends since fourth grade, and remained so even though Anna wasn’t on the cheer squad. “She’s never told me a lie and I’ve known her way longer than you.”
Crystin’s eyes narrowed. “Shut up. Laura told me that Anna told her that Caitlyn told her that Tristan is sick once a month like he has a period. Why would she lie about that?”
Jolene said, “I heard from Katie that Caitlyn told Anna that Tristan is really secretly a girl and that’s why he’s out every month. Having his period.” Incredulous but half-convinced looks spread around the table as the rest of the girls watched and listened to their superiors in silence.
“Oh, come on! Who really knows?” Kim interjected at last, finally fed up with the chatter around her. “There’s no way to know who lied or what. It’s like Telephone.”
Sharon, Crystin, and Jolene all turned slitted eyes to look at her, closing the ranks. “Well, everybody knows Tristan is always out sick. Why else would it be?”
Angry now, Kim almost shouted, “Who cares? It doesn’t matter! Maybe he has no immune system and just gets sick all the time. Maybe his mom is dying of cancer and he stays home with her once a month. Maybe he’s got malaria. It really seriously doesn’t matter. Plus who cares about Tristan anyway?”
Cattily Jolene said, “Well, you shouldn’t. You’ve got your perfect guy. You and Austin.” She snorted. “The perfect couple.”
“I’d kill to be able to invite Austin to the dance,” Crystin sighed. “He’s so handsome, and he’s the quarterback…” Another deep sigh, designed to express longing and jealousy all in one nonverbal exhalation.
“You know what?” Kim asked, making up her mind in a snap. “You can ask him. I’m breaking up with him.”
“WHAT?!!” The shriek, emitted from all the girls’ throats in unison, momentarily silenced the racket in the cafeteria. Dinner-plate sized eyes stared at her, astonishment written clearly across their features.
“You’re doing what?” Serena, of course, immediately was concerned for her friend.
“I’m dumping him. Right now.” Kim stood up.
Serena insisted, “Are you sure? You’ve been together for so long…” Kim slid back her chair, jimmying her way out of the crowded circle.
“Right in front of everybody?!” Crystin gasped. She wouldn’t go out on a limb and possibly humiliate herself in front of her peers even if her life depended on it.