“Tssst! What’s his name?”
“I don’t know. He’s Randy’s cousin. That’s all I know.”
They were craning their heads together as though they were whispering, but shouting to be heard over the music. The lights from the rented mirror ball danced over them, making them look as though they had space pox, but they knew that they were dazzling. Their lipgloss shined, the wings of their hair gleamed, they were every boy’s fantasy.
“Did he move here?”
Her friend looked at her and shook her head, pointing to her ears.
“DID…HE…MOVE…HERE?” she yelled, exaggerating her enunciation.
“No, his school has spring break a week before ours. He’s going back on Sunday.”
She walked over to the table where the punch was being ladled up. Warm Hi-C in dress-staining colors. She waved to the pimpled girl from third period who was manning the punch bowl and pretending to have a good time because she had an excuse for not dancing.
She walked toward the boy’s side of the gym, the side where the bathrooms were. This is really why girls traveled in packs, knowing they would have to run a gauntlet to get to the restrooms. Just before ducking in, she looked in Randy’s direction, catching his eye. She stayed inside, counted to ten, and walked back out shaking her hair.
“HEY,” Randy yelled.
“Hey,” she said, too quiet to be heard over the music, but she thought it would be coarse to yell.
“MY COUSIN WANTS TO KNOW IF YOU WANT TO DANCE,” Randy yelled.
For a second, she didn’t know what to say. She thought it would take much more work than this. She thought it would have taken an entire evening of sending emissaries back and forth between the two camps.
“Yes,” she said, nodding to be understood.
The next song was a slow dance. Her skin was electrified, knowing that he would have to actually touch her. They walked to the center of the dance floor not touching at any point until he turned to face her. In one fluid move she put her arms around his neck as he put his around her waist. They swayed slowly back and forth in time to a song whose sentiment they had no way of knowing firsthand. She closed her eyes, put her head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arms more tightly around her. He was crushing her against him, and she let him.
“What do you think about Randy?” he said into her ear.
She turned her head to answer him. “He’s okay,” she said as noncommittally as shouting would make it. “How long are you in town for?”
“I have to leave on Sunday. Can you give him your phone number?”
Her breath grew short. Her friends had told her it would take at least two meetings before he’d ask that. She took a black eyeliner stick she had stolen from her mother and wrote it on his hand.
The song ended and each walked back to their camp.
“He asked me for my phone number!” she told her friends who ooohed and aaahed and made wise comments about the difficulty of long distance relationships.
“Dude, she’s totally into you,” the cousin told Randy. “Here’s her phone number.”
Both sides declared victory.