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“If you could be one person of the opposite sex for a day, who would you be and what would you do?”
“Uuuuuuuuuum. Justin Corett, and I’d go and punch Jesse in the face. That a**hole.” Clare rolled her eyes.
“I dunno, I think, maybe…Ooooh, Charlie, and I’d go get him to confess his gayness. Honestly. I have nothing against him being gay, but can’t he just admit it?”
“Ade, and I’d ask out Ivy. I mean, it’s about time.” Sara flipped her shiny brown hair over her shoulder.
“True. They are sooooooo cute together, even though they aren’t together together,”
“But you have a huge crush on him, don’t you, Lauren?” Christi asked, inspecting her nails.
“Not anymore. He’s sweet, but he’s way too shy.”
“Really?” Christi raised her eyebrows in a knowing way. “Are you suuuuuure?”
“Oh, shut up, Christi. No, I’m serious. I stopped liking him like two weeks ago.”
“What about you, Elle? You have to answer your own questions. It’s the rule.”
“Okay, I’d be…” Elle blushed. “Nick,” she whispered.
There was an outburst of giggling from the group.
“Ooooooooh,” teased Clare, “Elle, Elle, Elle, why didn’t I know about this?”
The girls were all in a circle on the rug, in the middle of Clare’s room. Mel was braiding Christi’s hair with expert fingers, Sara was painting her toenails bright aqua and getting the polish all over the pillows. Lauren was resting her head on Elle’s legs, and Clare was sitting cross-legged and playing with her hair. The room smelled of nail polish, makeup, and lavender.
“So, tell us. When, why, where and how. Now.” Christi leaned forward. “Ow, Mel, don’t pull so hard.”
“Do you want this braid done right or not?”
“Aw, come on, Elle.” Lauren spoke from the floor. “We’re your girlfriends. We live for this stuff. You gotta tell us.”
“Okay, honestly, I suck at this. Lauren, help me.” Sara demanded. Her toenails looked like aqua lumps on the end of her feet. Lauren sighed and scooted over.
“I need a paper towel. Badly. How the hell did you do this, Sara?”
“I told you, I suck at nails. Anyway, go on, Elle.”
Elle spoke quietly. “Well, I was in the art room, working on the art show project on Monday. And he was there, too, he was doing some wire sculpture for his class, I think. And – well, you guys know how I get when I’m working. So I didn’t see the edge of the table, and I kinda dropped the construction paper.”
“Did he help you?” Mel asked excitedly.
Elle nodded. “He was very sweet. And his eyes are so blue. I can’t believe I never noticed. But he helped me pick up my papers, and then he went back to working on his sculpture. He’s started saying hi to me in the halls now.”
She turned to Christi. “Do you think he likes me?”
“Well, I dunno, but I can tell you in a week, probably. What’s his name again?”
“Nick Brady. Tall, brunette, blue eyes, basketball player, horrible artist, really sweet. Hangs out by himself at lunch, doesn’t seem to have very many friends, very neat, and doesn’t talk much.”
Sara wolf-whistled. “Damn, girl, how long you been stalking the guy?”
“I dunno, he seems like her type. You sure can pick ‘em, Elle.” Mel tugged Christi’s hair. “All done.”
“Thanks, Mel. So, Clare, how’s that pursuit of Kenny going?”
“Okay. I think he’s gonna ask me out soon. At least by Valentine’s Day. I’ve been dropping hints.”
“What about you, Mel?” asked Sara.
“I’ve decided that all high-school boys are a sub-species lower than slugs with which I have no intention of socializing. I’ll stick with you idiots, thank you very much.”
“That bad, huh? Still sore over Andrew?”
“None of your business.”
“Okay, okay, no need to get touchy. Just asking.”
“Anyway,” Mel said stiffly, “What about you, Sara?”
“Oh, no one at the moment. I think Tyler’s pretty cute, but he’s a pervert. Like, really bad. Christi?”
“Honey, I’m the matchmaker, not the lovesick little girl. What about you, Laurie?”
“Tim’s still going out with Tiffany. No luck.”
“You’ll get there, girl. He’ll dump her soon. I’m almost sure.”
“Thanks. You’re the expert, I guess.”
There was a small silence.
“Do you ever get the feeling that life doesn’t just mean boys and school and sleepovers?” Elle asked quietly.
“Sometimes,” said Mel. “But then I remember that we’re in high school now and I think that this is the way it’s supposed to be.”
“Anyway, I’m glad I have you guys,” commented Christi brightly. “I thought we might not be friends once we got to high school.”
“Are you kidding? We’ll always be besties. Right girls?” Sara laughed.
“Right,” said Lauren, lying back down on Elle.
“Right.” Clare lay down on her stomach and grinned at the circle.
“Of course,” Mel said.
“Definitely.” Elle smiled.