I walked into Melissa's appartment at around 6:30 that night. She and her mom were sitting there sewing way faster than it should be humanly possible to do. The dresses themselves were, in a word, revolting. They were a mixture of orange, green and brown, all twisted around, with a big pouf that was apparently supposed to resemble leaves sticking out of the bottom.
"Bridesmaid dresses?" I asked. "Yes," they answered at the same exact time, not even looking up. It was scary how similar they were. Short, blonde hair (but Melissa couldnt stand it, so she dyed hers), the same exact laugh. And a tendancy to go into these little spacey things where they would, say, forget that it was 6:30 and they could stop.
"Uhh...6:30..." I said, but neither of them appeared to hear me. They were in their own little world. I thought about waving my hands in front of Melissa's face, but considering that she was looking straight down, with her hands next to a moving needle, this wouldnt be the best idea. So clicked the lights on and off until they got the hint.
"Oh, sorry," Melissa said, switching off the machine. "Mom, i'm gonna..." She trailed off an looked at her mom, still sewing. "You know what, she'll figure it out. Let's go."
We both walked down through the store, where there were still some people lingering about. "Hey, Theresa?"
The girl behind the counter looked up from the tabletop, where she had been doing something weird with the cash register. "Yeah?"
"If you hear any sort of breaking glass or explosions from upstairs, call 911, okay?"
"Sure," Theresa responded, totally calmly. She was used to having to take care of things, what with Lilly (Melissa's mom) and Melissa being, well, them.
We walked outside. The light wasnt even dim yet, but the streetlights were on. No one really ever bothers with that sort of thing in Annica Hill, changing the times that the streetlights go on, because it's so small here, and really people arent much concerned about it anyways. As usual, Melissa was leading the way. I was pretty sure that she didnt know where she was going, but she walked fast in a straight line, talking the entire time.
Then I spotted it. A sort of off-color splotch in the distance. It was moving, and you could hear music. I hate my glasses (ugly) and the idea of contacts disgusts me (touching your EYEBALL? Are you SERIOUS?), so I basically walk around pretty much blind all the time.
I asked Melissa, who could see just fine, "What is that?"
"That slightly off-color blob right...there."
She stood on her toes for a better look. Then she smiled a big, slightly evil smile, and said one word.
Now, before I go any further, let me explain to you about Melissa, and why that word was so scary coming out of her mouth. Melissa is both cynnical and naive at the same time. She'll pretend to have a clue when she doesnt, and she'll act stupid when she's already five steps ahead of everyone else. She won't sing in front of people, but she will rap. She'll seek out anything you do well and compliment you or make it positive, but she thinks nothing of herself. She gives the best advice, but her own life, while not a mess, is definatley of the disorganized heap variety. She's outspoken and argumentive to a fault but can suck up with the best of them when absoloutley necessary. She's bossy but can't stand authority figures. She mocks the Couples but wants to find something like that (just not so disgusting). She's sarcastic but poetic. I tower over her (she's only five feet tall), but she always takes the lead in everything. I can't talk to someone unless i've known them since i was five, but she can talk to anyone. Basically, she's one huge contradiction wrapped into a convinient human-shaped package.
And at these parties, she is always snapped up by someone who's crying or needs advice and she gives it to them because she says that it's all so obvious that she just has to tell them.
And i'm standing here like a stone because i know that the second i walk over here that will happen.
"Hey, come on!"
She's off and running, straight towards the blob. And i had no choice but to follow.
And two hours later, there i was, sitting on The Wall (right by The Hill), waiting for it to be 10 already so Melissa could stop advice-ing and we could go.
So i'm not a party girl. Like i didnt already know that.
I scanned the little gathering. Some people i knew from school. Some were wedding kids, burning time and the occasional cigarette before Saturday, two days from now, when they would have to get pretty and take pictures.
It looked like okay fun, and yet here i was, sitting here on the wall. I looked over to my right and noted with some surprise that i wasnt the only reject sitting here. There was some random guy with brown hair sitting about ten feet down. And he looked a little familiar.
He saw me looking and waved. It seemed so stupid that i waved back, and he moved over right next to me.
"Hey," I replied. "Do I...know you from somewhere?"
"I dunno, maybe." "Were you...hmm..." He looked up like the answer was going to fall out of the sky and hit him on the face. "Were you in my AP French 3 class?"
I thought back to that stupid class, with the teacher giving us big speeches about "AP leval behavior". Guys are always going to throw spitballs and paper footballs, okay? Get over it. And in the back of my mind, i remembered zoning out (not like i didnt know all that already) and staring at the brown haired head of the kid in front of me.
"Oh yeah. Yeah, i sat behind you."
He smiled a little.
"That class was a bitch. You were good at it, though."
"Mrs. Ericson was a bitch. And it's not that big a deal. I'm fluent. That's my only AP class. I use the time to do my Lit homework."
"Really?" He looked at me like he didnt beleive it. "What, you lived in France or something?"
"No." I took a deep breath like i always do before telling anyone this. "See, my dad is Cambodian, Japanese and French, but he was raised in England. My mom is Italian, Sweedish and English, but she was born in France. My dad learned French when he went there to internwith some pastry-type dude. They met there, they moved here, they opened a bakery, they had my sistersm, they had me, and here we are." I stopped. "Why am I telling you this?"
"I...I couldnt say." He looked a little stunned. Like I said, I'm not exactly a "people person", but when, on the occasion i don't run and hide from someone, i explode on them a little.
"Yeah, guess you couldnt." I didnt know what else to say, so i looked down at my shoes. Pink and black Converse High Tops. A little out there for Ringwald High School (where I go), where preppy is de reguer for most, but they're cute. The shoes, i mean. In a town as small as Annica Hill, high tops are as big of a rebellion as you can make without a drivers licencse.
And then i realized that he was wearing them too. High tops, i mean. And not pink and black, but red. He seemed to notice our similar choice in footwear, because he tilted his head toward my feet and said "Nice tops."
"Thanks. Yours too. I have a pair just like them."
"Like, I totally have a pair of those too!" he said in an exaggerated valley girl accent.
I laughed. "Soo...what brings you to the bustling metropolis that is Annica Hill?" Was that me? I never said things like that. That was Melissa's job. "I'm guessing you don't live here, or i would know."
He laughed, surprising me. "Yeah, no, I mean, I live in Westbrook." A good ten minutes away. "My brother works here though. The picture place. He wanted to meet some girl here." Dan jerked his head over towards a slightly familiar-looking guy who was making out with a girl who appeared to be one of the Baums on Miss-Caroline-Amber-yes-ma'am's family. Miss Lucinda Louise, a.k.a. Cindy Lou Who, Southern Belle Extrordenaire (Melissa's name. She has a thing for making up names for people). "He did."
"I can see that."
"And you?" He asked, averting his gaze from the graphic scene that was playing out in front of us.
"Who dragged YOU here?"
"Oh, right. It was Melissa." I pointed at her. She was still consoling the weepy girl who i had never seen, and i'm pretty sure she hadnt either. "She's one of those psyciatry types."
He laughed AGAIN. I'm sorry, you must have me mistaken for someone who's funny. "I'm eagerly awaiting curfew like the nerd I've been accused of being."
"Yeah, well, join the club," he said. "The high-top-wearing, party-hating club." Then he held out one high-top-clad foot towards me. "Converse solidarity."
It was weird, but whatever. I touched my shoe to his.
There wasnt any spark of electricity shooting up my leg or anything like that. I kind of wanted there to be, just so i could have one of those romance-novel moments. But it didnt and i didnt. I just laughed.
"Catie! Thank God. We should go."
I stared at Melissa in total shock. "But it's only 9:45." She stretches curfew to the last minute every night.
"Yeah, well, this girl has a stupidity level to rival a certain Ms. Hilton's. How many times can you say that he broke up with her?" She glanced at Dan quickly. "Hi. Dan, right? Oh God, Catie, she's coming." She pulled me to my feet.
"Um, alright. Bye," I said to Dan. And oddly enough, i didnt want to leave. I wanted to sit there for the last fifteen minutes and talk about Converse solidarity and what kind of machine that you would have to use to get his brother off of Miss Cindy Lou Who. I wanted to tell him about the nickname, too.
But Melissa's like a tornado. You just have to get spun up into her crazy ciclone and hope she deposits you at your house instead of Oz (or worse, Kansas), because then you have to deal with munchkins singing at you and Glinda and uncomfortable sequin 80's-esque shoes that won't come off (the biggest nightmare ever) and a witch with a major grudge. Although I totally beleive in the whole Elphaba, wicked-witch-was-framed version in Wicked.
"See you," he said. And who knows, maybe i would have processed it.
But then Melissa grabbed my arm and started running and i stopped thinking and concentrated on making my feet go as fast as hers.