The next couple of weeks went by smoothly enough. The gossip faded, thanks in part to the theatrics of a wasted sophomore, and I was once again able to walk through the halls without overhearing my name. I did still have to put up with Ashley’s incessant teasing, every morning in German, but as the rest of the class was just as tired of her remarks as I was, she resorted to vicious whispers behind my back. I would have liked to have told Ashley to shut up, grow up and go jump off a cliff, but I’d tried all of those in preceding years, to no avail, so I simply ignored her. With things almost back to normal, there was only one thing that really bothered me and that was Ian’s complete and total refusal to acknowledge my existence.
As much as I had hated the icy glares he shot my way, those first few days after my letter had been read they at least meant that he acknowledged my existence. Now, there was nothing at all; he acted as if I simply didn’t exist. It was more than a little disheartening, but at the same time it helped to strengthen my resolve. I had decided to show Ian that I was no idiot and his constant snub fueled my determination.
With the weeks passing, homecoming was beginning to weigh on everyone’s mind. Matt and his buddies talked of nothing but the game while Maggie talked of nothing but the dance. She had decided that the only way to get Drew to notice her was to go to the dance looking amazing. Yuuki and I tried to remind her that he already had a girlfriend, which meant he probably wasn’t going to go to the dance to check out other chicks, but she refused to listen. She was absolutely obsessed with Drew and there was nothing Yuuki or I could do to make her see reason.
Maggie spent countless hours plotting and planning her homecoming scheme and she dragged Yuuki and me to every mall in the Denver area until she found the perfect dress. Yuuki and I gave up trying to talk sense into Maggie and just went along for the fun. We should have known that while Maggie shopped for her dress, she’d find dresses for us as well.
“But neither one of us planned on going,” I reminded her as she shoved a dress into my hands.
“Of course you are,” Maggie laughed, “I’m not going to the dance alone.”
“You mean you don’t have a date?” Yuuki asked in disbelief.
“Not yet, but I can find one before then.”
“But the dance is next weekend.”
Yuuki just looked at me and rolled her eyes as Maggie forced her into one of the changing rooms with a hand-full of dresses. I don’t know how she did it, but Maggie convinced us both to buy a dress for the dance, which naturally led to a new pair of shoes and necessary accessories. Maggie told us that the only way her plan would work was if we both looked as good as she did. Neither Yuuki nor I really understood how we fit into Maggie’s master plan, so we simply did what she asked and bought outfits for a dance neither of us had planned to attend.
The next Monday was the beginning of spirit week and in honor of the occasion I decided I would go all out. Monday was pajama day so I pulled out my favorite pair of blue flannel monkey pajamas and matching monkey slippers and went to school feeling only slightly ridiculous. My insecurities mounted when I crossed the parking lot in my pajamas and overheard a group of guys snickering. I hadn’t been paying much attention as I made my way toward the school, but a sudden outburst of laughing caught my attention and I quickly looked around to see what was so funny, hoping I wasn’t the source of the mirth.
A quick glance around the parking lot revealed Cade, Jack, Ian and a couple other guys from the soccer team gathered around Ian’s car. A wave of relief swept over me when I realized they had been laughing at Cade’s usual antics and not my outfit. I watched Cade keep his friends entertained with his broad smile and wildly animated gestures and couldn’t help but smile. As members of the same kitchen group, in foods, I had become very familiar with Cade and his gift for turning the mundane into something hilarious.
I couldn’t help but smile as I got near enough to overhear the conversation. Apparently Cade was doing a very believable imitation of Mr. Mertz, the school’s speech and drama teacher and he had his audience in stitches. I had to admit, Cade was doing a pretty good job and I wished I could have joined the group to listen, but the second that thought crossed my mind, Ian looked up and our eyes met. My heart nearly forgot how to beat as Ian took one look at me, and then raised an eyebrow in an expression of smirking disdain. Flustered by being acknowledged by Ian for the first time in a month, and irritated by my own weak reaction to that acknowledgment, I hurried inside to find Yuuki, hoping she’d be able to help me analyze what just happened.
I met Yuuki just as she was coming out of the band room and immediately felt better. Just seeing her in her pink panda pajamas and matching slippers was enough to cheer me up and together we looked more ready for a pajama party than a day at school.
“Nice pajamas,” I grinned as we walked toward Yuuki’s locker.
“Thanks. I had a hard time deciding between these and the frogs and the cherries.”
“How did you finally decide?”
“The other two were buried somewhere in my dirty clothes pile and I didn’t feel like digging them out and washing them.”
“Nice,” I chuckled. “So do you think Maggie will dress up too?”
“I guess that depends on whether or not it’s part of her master plan.”
Just as I was getting ready to say something, Maggie showed up between us, a huge smile on her face.
“Hey ladies,” she grinned.
“Hey,” Yuuki and I replied in unison.
One look at her was all I needed to find the answer to my question. Maggie was dressed in one of her usual, trendy outfits.
“So, I guess you’re not into the whole spirit week thing, huh?” I asked.
“Are you kidding? There’s no way I’m going to wear pajamas to school when I’m trying to impress a guy.”
“Didn’t think so,” Yuuki grinned. “I guess I shouldn’t tell you that a certain guy and his girlfriend are both sporting plaid flannel pajamas today.”
“They are not,” Maggie scoffed.
At that exact moment, Drew and his girlfriend walked by, each decked out in various flannels.
“At least they’re not matching,” Yuuki offered to the horrified Maggie.
“So I guess Drew’s all into spirit week,” I teased, “I think tomorrow is sixties day, just in case you were wondering.”
Maggie glared at the two of us for a second and then changed the subject. I didn’t have a chance to talk to Yuuki about the parking lot incident as we walked to our classes, what with Maggie monopolizing the entire conversation with more details of her master plan. I breathed a sigh of relief when Maggie left Yuuki and I outside our rooms and sauntered off to class alone, grateful to be free of Maggie’s incessant talk of Drew and the dance. I began wondering if my endless infatuation with Ian was as annoying as Maggie’s obsession with Drew.
The thought of Ian brought the morning’s events back to mind and I wondered if it meant Ian was going to start acknowledging my presence again. No matter how cold it was, a look of disdain was better than being ignored completely. I walked into German almost hoping for another one of his disapproving looks, but was met with no such luck. He was there, sitting in his usual seat, ignoring me, as usual. The case was the same in both Biology and English Lit; I’d walk into the room and Ian would ignore me. After a month of being ignored, I had gotten fairly used to it, which was probably why the look in the parking lot had caught me so off guard.
I would have tried talking to Yuuki about that look during Biology but we were in the middle of a dissection and with Ian in our group, talking about him was out of the question. I would have tried in Lit but I knew Mrs. Evans would never allow talking during a test, so I was forced to wait until lunch.
“What did you think of the test?” Yuuki asked as we wandered toward the cafeteria.
“It was alright,” I shrugged, “you?”
“So, I was hoping to ask your opinion on something.”
“If it has anything to do with dresses or homecoming, then don’t bother,” Yuuki groaned.
“It doesn’t,” I assured her.
“Okay, so I was walking across the parking lot this morning and I noticed Cade and a bunch of his buddies laughing.”
“Was Ian one of them?”
“Well, you know how Ian’s been ignoring me, right?”
“I do. Really, it’s pretty amazing you can be in the same dissection group and still be completely ignored by the guy.”
“Yeah, well anyway, as I was walking across the parking lot, Ian looked at me.”
“You mean he happened to look up as you were walking by?”
“No, I mean he looked at me. As in our eyes met and he really looked at me.”
“And what expression went with that look? Anger? Hatred? Icy Glare?”
“I’d say it was more a look of contempt combined with a definite smirk.”
“Well, that’s a switch.”
“I know,” I sighed. “I was getting used to the whole ignore me routine, which he’s still doing, by the way.”
“But now he’s throwing in an occasional look of contempt.”
“I guess so. What do you think it means?”
“I think it means you’re making more out of this than there is because you want there to be something there. I know you’re still trying to decide if you’re going to get over Ian or not and I think you’re hoping to find something to hold on to so you don’t have to let him go.”
“I think you might be right,” I moaned as the truth of Yuuki’s words hit home. “I mean any girl in her right mind wouldn’t hold out for a guy who…”
“Who’s as big of a jerk as Ian? You’re right, they wouldn’t.”
“Wow, honest but brutal. I think Maggie’s rubbing off on you.”
“Sorry, I just don’t want to see you get hurt. This guy’s already proven he’s a jerk and I really think you need to let him go. So what if he starts looking at you? Looks of contempt aren’t the ones most girls go for.”
“You’re right,” I sighed. “I just wish I could be over him already.”
“Hey, a five-year crush isn’t something you can get over in a day, it’s gonna take some time.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“Of course I am,” Yuuki grinned, “and don’t worry, anytime Ian deigns to look at you, Maggie and I will be here to bring you back to reality. Or at least I will…I think Maggie’s in a whole different world right now. I will be so glad when homecoming is over.”
“Me too,” I sighed as we plunked our lunch on the table and sat down.
“What was that?” Maggie asked, sitting down beside Yuuki. “I thought I heard something about homecoming.”
“Oh, yeah,” Yuuki stammered, “we were just discussing…”
“Our outfits,” I offered. “They really are great.”
“I know,” Maggie sighed with a smile. “I think I’ve really outdone myself this time.”
“So, I was wondering, are we going to the dance together?”
“Together,” Maggie scoffed, “are you kidding? How is Drew supposed to be driven mad with jealously if we go together?”
“So you have a date?”
“Of course I do,” Maggie chuckled.
“Who?” Yuuki asked.
“Todd,” Maggie grinned as Matt and some of his football buddies crowded around the table.
“What was that?” Todd, the Grizzly’s starting quarterback asked.
“You’re going to the dance with me on Saturday.”
“I am?” he asked, obviously shocked by the news.
“Yes,” Maggie replied as she smiled her most charming smile.
“Okay,” Todd replied, a bit stunned by the news.
“So I guess that means Yuuki and I have to get dates too?” I asked.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure you can find someone to go with.”
“You can go with me,” Matt suggested brightly, “and Yuuki, you can go with Will. We can all go together, as a group.”
“You honestly expect me to go to the homecoming dance with my brother?” Maggie asked with contempt.
“You don’t have to,” Matt snapped, “but if you’re going with Todd we’re probably all going to end up together anyway. Besides, your brother happens to be the highest scoring receiver on the team, so I can’t really be that embarrassing to be around.”
“I suppose not,” Maggie grumbled. “Fine, but you have to get your own ride. I refuse to drive my brother to the dance.”
“Fine with me,” Matt chuckled. “So Lyla, what time will you pick me up?”
“I don’t know,” I grinned, “I think I’m getting ready at your house, so I guess I’ll knock on your door at about 6:30?”
“Sounds good to me,” Matt grinned.
“Will, do you need me to pick you up too?”
“Sure,” Will laughed, “I’ll be waiting in Matt’s room at about 6:30.”
“What about you Yuuki” I asked, “should I pick you up too?”
“Sure, does 6:30 work for you?”
“Perfect,” I laughed.
“So Todd,” Yuuki teased, “what time are you going to pick up Maggie?”
“I think I’ll swing by about ten till,” Todd answered, completely absorbed in his lunch.
Immediately the table erupted in laughter at Todd’s clueless response.
“What?” Todd asked, “what’s so funny?”
“Nothing,” Matt assured him as Maggie rolled her eyes, suddenly not so thrilled about her date for homecoming.