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Homecoming Games

By @Brittkat

1

    I opened the door of my first period class and tossed my backpack onto my desk in the far left corner. I sat down and counted the people walking through the doorway.

    “Cheese!” my best friend yelled from the doorway.

    “Good to see you too, Tomato,” I replied naturally.

     “So, how have you been? Long time no see!” Heather said as she made her way over to me and started to open her backpack.

     “It’s only been a weekend,” I laughed.

     “Exactly! It was unbearable.”

     “Sorry to put you through that,” I said with a smile.

    The bell rang, and the class all turned their attention to the front of the room where Mr. Myers stood. He passed out highlighter yellow papers with about as much expression as a statue. I watched as the classroom grew louder with every paper that was given out. Whispers filled the room.

    Finally, I grabbed one from Mr. Myers’ hands and read “HOMECOMING DANCE: Autumnal Adventure. October 9th.”

    Heather and I lifted our eyes from our papers.

    “Senior year. Last homecoming.”

    I let that sink in.

    “Yeah,” I scoffed, “last year of not being able to find a date!”

    Heather made a face, “You don’t know! What if we find dates this year?”

     “You know, I’d love that, Tomato, but that just seems a little too impossible.”

     Mr. Myers said something unintelligible that was no doubt meant to be bringing everyone’s attention back.

     Heather quickly whispered, “We’re not moving past this yet.”

***

    After class, Heather dragged me out of the room, and we started our walk to second period. “Cass!” She said, “We’re getting homecoming dates this year. No question about it.”

    I gave her a weird look, “Don’t you like being each other’s dates every year?” I was only partially sarcastic.

    “Well, yeah, but come on! We can have a competition!”

     My eyes widened. Heather knew how competitive I was. “Keep talking,” I said.

     She beamed, “Starting today we have to find a date. First to do it, wins.”

     “And what happens if I lose?”

     She thought about it for a second. Then she broke out into a laugh, “I’ll throw a tomato at your face, Tomato.”

     “And if I win, I’ll throw cheese at yours?”

     “Exactly! Deal?”

     With a reluctant smile on my face I shook her hand.

***

     “Alright,” Heather said authoritatively, “it’s time to make a game plan. Get out pen and paper.”

    I did as she said.

    “Now make a list of every guy you would ask to Homecoming.”

    I stared at my paper, deep in thought. Well, there is one guy…

    I reluctantly wrote down his name and looked up at Heather. She was still adding to her long list of names. “How do you have so many?”

    “You gotta have options!” she smiled, “You only have one name? What if this guy says no?” she looked down at my paper, “Josh? Cass, you’ve been after him since eighth grade!”

    I shrugged.

    Heather looked at me like I was crazy, “Okay fine. Let the games begin!”

***

    That day in Calculus, I tried to talk to Josh as much as I could. He sits behind me, and we do talk a lot, but it’s different when I’m trying to lead him to a certain topic.

   “Hey, Josh, can you check my work?”

    He nodded, and grabbed my paper. After a minute or two he said, “You forgot the chain rule here..”

    “Oh right!” I laughed. It went quiet as we both turned back to our papers. Now what am I supposed to say?

    “Did you see what the Homecoming theme is?”

    “Isn’t it fall or something?”

     “Autumnal Adventure actually.”

     “Oh,” he said. I cringed. Today clearly was going nowhere.

***

    After school, I called Heather.

    “Make any progress?” she asked excitedly.

    “No…Josh still hasn’t caught onto my hints.”

    “Like I said, he hasn’t since eighth grade! Anyways, today I dropped a Homecoming flyer right at Greg’s feet, but he didn’t even look at me!”

     I burst out laughing, “I guess we both have been too subtle today.”

    “Exactly,” she smirked, “but I still have four guys left on my list. I’m pulling out all the stops.”

***

   I had no idea what Heather was planning, but as soon as I woke up the next morning, I was determined to get my date. I was going to ask him after sixth period Calculus. If I ever get up my nerve, that is.

    However, my plans crumbled when I saw Heather at lunch. She walked to me beaming and slammed her tray on the table.

    “You lost,” she said with a grin, “I asked Carlos to Homecoming, and he said yes!”

    We talked about it for the rest of lunch, and I actually forgot about the whole contest for a while. That is until the bell rang, and Heather said, “Well, today after school I think the two of us have some business to clear up.”

    I cringed at the reminder. Why did I have to lose?

***

    In sixth period, I hardly paid attention to Josh. I could still ask him, but it seemed silly now that I lost. I doodled on my paper as the teacher droned on. Josh seemed confused by my silence.

    Finally, he whispered, “Hey, can we hang out after school?”

    This wasn’t too unusual (we’d hung out before), but Heather had made it clear that we were settling our bet today. “No sorry,” I said. He looked down at his feet like I had just insulted him.

    ***

    The bell rang, and I made my way through the door, but Josh pulled me aside. “Just one minute,” he pleaded.”

    I gave him a confused look, but agreed.

    All of a sudden, a few of his friends came through the door holding a big poster that read “HOCO?” He handed me flowers.

    I was shocked, but I said yes of course!

***

    The tomato splattered across my face—ow.

    Heather cackled from several feet away. “I was still first!” she yelled with a smile.

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