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“I couldn’t be more proud of you!” Mrs. Davidson hugged Nick, the first person off stage.
“Nicky rocked, but we deserve some love too.” Ryan joked.
“Come, come, I meant all of you.” She gestured us towards her.
“I’m unhuggable from dancing. I’ll allow all of you remain dry.” Izzie stayed back with me and wrapped her arms around herself.
“I’ll spare you the loneliness.” My arm slithered across her shoulders.
“You’re worse than I am.” She playfully pushed my face away.
I gave her a bear hug to pick with her. She squealed as I lifted her and spun her around.
“The seniors are about to perform. All of you must wait in the dressing room. I have to assist with the stage management.” Our advisor ushered us into the communal dressing room.
We stood and sat alongside the rest of the junior cl***. Iz and Elle excused themselves shortly after to go to the restroom. With nothing better to do, my eyes scanned the room. Anna looked worse for the wear, wearing sunglasses indoors as she sluggishly texted on her phone. I blocked her number from my phone to ensure I had the final words for once.
Ry nudged me with his elbow. I glanced over in his direction.
“That over?” He nodded to Anna.
“More than. You know how I feel about her. Last night, she told me she loves me too. I can’t mess up this time.”
“I won’t let you. Don’t sweat it.”
“Hey, Morgan, can I talk to you alone?” Lucas walked up to her.
“No.” Sami narrowed her eyes at him.
“I see you’re still speaking for her.”
“You know what, ******* –” She hopped down from her seat on the counter. She fell as soon as she attempted to take her first steps.
“UGHH! I told Elle I would fall if she made me wear these stupid things!” she yanked off her shoes roughly and chucked them at Lucas’ head. They almost hit him, but he dodged them in time.
“What did I – oh, I’m so sorry! If it makes you feel any better, they look really cute with what you have on.” Elle cringled, placing her hands over her mouth.
“It so doesn’t!” Sami checked the ankle she twisted on the way down.
“Seeing you try to walk in heels was like witnessing a baby t-rex take its first steps.” Finn smirked.
“Shut up, Watson!”
“Why do you want to talk to me?” Morgan approached him with her arms crossed.
“You were incredible out there. I had no Idea you were so talented.” He offered her a warm smile.
Sami scoffed loudly.
“Have something to say?”
”Yeah, how’s the crotch?” She smiled cheekily.
Lucas rolled his eye and returned his attention to Morgan. “As much as it pains me to say this, Sami was right. What I did wasn’t okay. I want to make things right. Maybe we can start over.”
“No thank you.” She was short, but still polite.
“Oh, okay, well it was worth a shot.” He smiled softly, trying to mask his disappointment.
“You really think I did well? –“
“Yeaaah, I’m not going to let you guilt your way back into her life.” Elle took Morgan beneath her wing.
“I wasn’t –“
“There’s no need for the sales pitch, we won’t be buying.” She shooed him away with her free hand.
He mumbled under his breath as he shuffled back to his group.
“Thanks. I felt bad. It took a lot of courage for him to come over here.”
“Sweetie, you don’t owe anyone anything. Besides, he doesn’t have much pride left to swallow after showing up to breakfast as a cat.” Elle reassured, correcting Morgan’s hair.
We grew somewhat restless as we waited for the seniors to finish performing. We sat on the ground in a circle. Using Sami’s deck of cards, we played blackjack.
“Watson wins again.” Sams collected the cards that were on the floor.
“He’s counting cards.” Ryan accused after his fifth win.
“It’s not illegal.”
“But it’s frowned upon like sneezing at a buffet.“ Nick equated.
“That’s disgusting.” Elle contorted her face in horror.
“But not illegal.” Sami offered her a winning smile.
“It should be.”
“Should’ve, could’ve, isn’t.” She continued to defend his honor.
“We should kick him out of the game. I’d push him out of a buffet line without hesitation if he sneezed on my food.” Ryan suggested.
“Time to announce the winners. Everyone on stage.” One of the teachers stood in the doorway of the congested dressing room.
“Help?” Iz extended her hand to me, still seated after I had stood up.
I held her hand and hoisted her to her feet. We stood on stage, in line with the rest of our team.
“I just want to say that this year’s creative mashup was incredibly difficult to judge. All of you are wonderful performers, but only four teams – one from each grade, can go to New York. The winning junior team is The Ry Guys. “Headmaster Lawrence said into the microphone.
We joined in a group hug.
We could hardly contain our excitement. Though it was late, sleeping was the furthest thing from our minds. We made plans to sneak out of our cabin and throw a private celebration party at one of the firepits. Finn and Sami smuggled sparklers into camp. Izzie brought her iPod dock.
After Mrs. Davidson had fallen asleep, we crept from our beds and tiptoed out the front door. Those of us with flashlights didn’t turn them on until we were in the woods. Iz intertwined her fingers with mine and we followed the lit path my light created.
“Are you going to take me on an official date?”
“Would you like me to?” I stepped over a log and helped her do the same.
“Yeah, I’ve never been on one before. I want the full experience; it better be awkward.”
I chuckled. “I’ll do what I can to make you happy. We can spend the majority of it in an uncomfortable silence. What would you like to do?”
“It doesn’t have to be elaborate. I rather for it to be a low fuss occasion. I just wannabe with you.” She leaned into my arm. I kissed the top of her head.
When we reached the pit, Nick sat his lantern in the middle of the small circle. The rest of us took seats on the surrounding logs. Morgan gave each of us boxes of apple juice.
“I’d like to propose a toast.” Elle took the floor.
We chanted “speech” as she rose to her feet.
“We worked hard. We kicked ***, and it’s official; we’re going to NYC, Baby!”
We howled and applauded without restraint.
We lit our fireworks as dance music played. We waved our sparking metal wands as we moved to the beat. There was little to think about and not much to say; laughter articulated what we felt.
We walked back to our cabin at a quarter to two. We were careful to enter silently.
“AHHHH!” Ryan jumped backwards,when the living room lamp switched on.
“Ow!” Elle shoved him away from her.
Mrs. Davidson was sitting in the armchair, drumming her fingers on the upholstery.
“We were just –“ Morgan tried to explain.
“I know where you were. Nicholas left a detailed note on his pillow.”
“Seriously, Nicky?” Sami scowled in his direction.
“You’re lucky he did. I would’ve notified the headmaster otherwise.”
“How much trouble are we in? It won’t go on our permanent records, right? I can’t afford –“ Elle started.
“None, unless you didn’t put out the sparklers properly and caused property damage.”
“They’re out. Sams would go to hippie **** if she started a forest fire.” Finn teased.
She nudged him with her elbow.
“A late night celebration is minimal in comparison to what I was told you were all capable of. This will be our little secret.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, who did you think we were?” Izzie voiced what the rest of us were thinking.
“A rowdy bunch that valued a good time over anything constructive. That’s why I was assigned to you. The administration thought that I’d give you structure, but you didn’t need me. You keep each other in line.”
“We make a pretty good team.”
“You do, which is why I need all of you to go to bed and stay there. I want to continue bragging on my group tomorrow to the other teachers. You were well behaved and won. That’s a rare combo.” She pointed in the direction of our rooms.
We headed off to our respective beds without a single complaint. It was an unexpected ending to a near perfect night.