Chapter 14

Friday, September 23

4:02 PM

With spirit week at a close, the whole world seemed to be anticipating the homecoming dance tomorrow. Birds jittered as they flew, grass shook back and forth, and even the air gave off the aroma of anxiety mixed with humidity and the slightest hint of barbeque.

"Look!"

"I already saw it."

"Look again!"

"Will you calm down? I know what it looks like."

"I know. But it's so cool!"

Isaac shook his head and patted Violet on the head. "Yeah, I guess you'd better get your fill of gloating know. God knows this only happens once in a blue moon."

"Hey!"

Isaac just continued to shake his head, directing his glance away from the paper in Violet's hand to the bus window. It was a sunny day outside, the blue sky hemmed with only a few clouds.

After a moment of silence, Violet asked, "Are you excited about homecoming?"

"Oh, of course." He spoke in a girly voice, "I have my dress all picked out and just the cutest shoes to match!"

"You can't hate it that much," Violet replied. "I mean, sure, it's hot and sweaty and the music's never very good, but they're always so much fun! Well, if you're there with the right people, that is."

At that statement, Isaac's smile faded just a little. "That reminds me. Connor told me to tell you that he'd take you to homecoming."

"Oh my god!" Violet began bouncing in her seat. "Oh my god! This is so awesome! Did he say if he's getting me a mum?"

"I don't think he will. He didn't get Jenny one."

Violet kept smiling. "Oh well. You're going, though, right?"

Isaac nodded. "Of course. I love paying ten dollars to stand around awkwardly in a tie for a couple hours."

"You don't know how to have any fun," Violet said, giggling as she playful hit him on the head, causing Isaac to readjust his glasses.

"I do to," he protested, "But I'm not exactly the guy every girl wants to dance with."

"Here," Violet said, "What if I promised you a dance tonight?"

Isaac raised an eyebrow. "You," he started to protest, but then stopped. "Fast or slow?"

She shrugged. "Your choice."

Isaac let his smile come back. "Thanks."

There was another pause as he stared off through the window.

"What are you looking at?" Violet asked, resting her chin on Isaac's shoulder to try and get a better look of the window. He had the window seat today, and since he was taller than she was, Violet had to make an effort to see past him and the tangled mess he called his hair.

"Clouds."

Violet's face contorted into a look of simple anger. "Oh, I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow night. If my dress gets wet it'll take forever to dry, and it will just mess up my hair!"

"Oh shut up, princess." Isaac let out a small chuckle. "If it rains, I hope your friend Jessica has a white dress on."

"Isaac!" Violet hit him on the shoulder. "You perv'!"

He brushed it off as the bus came to a halt. "Excuse me for noticing the mountains attached to her chest. I can't be the only guy who has."

Violet sighed. "I guess you're right."

There was an awkward pause as the two, the last two get off the bus, gathered their things and made their way off the bus. It was a tight fit, as always, and once they were off and breathing the fresh, anxious air, the bus speed off to it's next stop—the middle school.

"Cheer up, Vie. I bet Jessica didn't get an A on her Geometry test."

At this, Violet beamed. "Nope. She got a C." She took one last glace and the test before folding it up and putting it the back pocket of her Aeropostale jeans. I still can't believe I got an A. I thought for sure that new math teacher hated me."

"You mean Mr. Lowell?" Isaac attempted a shrug, a hard task with his heavy backpack weighing him down. "He seemed alright to me."

"Alright!" Violet's jaw dropped so low it almost hit the pavement beneath her feet. She turned off the main sidewalk to the walk approaching her house. "Alright? The man is a demon!"

"Come on, Vie. Just because he doesn't give you good grades doesn't make him a demon. He actually suggested some really interesting colleges to me."

Violet scoffed. "They must have been, if you flew all the way to New England to go take a look at them." She fished her house key out of her jeans pocket and placed it in the lock.

Isaac pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. "What's wrong with that?"

"Nothing." Violet twisted the key in the lock, unlocked the door, and put the key back into her pocket. Placing her hand on the bronze colored door handle, Violet pushed down and opened the door. She entered the house. Isaac followed.

"Violet Rauls!"

The scream reverberated through the house. Violet jumped. Isaac's eyes almost popped out of his head.

"I'll just be going now," Isaac mumbled. He moved his faded, black band shirt out of the way to stuff his hands into the frayed pocket of his jeans and hurried back down the sidewalk, trying too appear as casual as possible.

Then the source of the scream, Violet's mother, came out into the main hallway from the kitchen, a piece of white computer paper in her hand. "I cannot believe you Violet!"

Violet dropped her backpack on the floor next to the front door. "What did I do?" She honestly had no idea.

"It's what you didn't do! You obviously haven't been studying enough, since you're failing Geometry!"

"What!"

"I got this e-mail from your math teacher, Mr. Lowell, today. He says you haven't been turning in your homework, and that your grade has dropped from a high C to failing!" She shoved the paper into Violet's hands.

Violet read the paper. It said almost exactly what her mom had just been ranting about. It was dated today, twenty third of September. "But mom!"

Her mom glared at her. "What, Violet? What?"

"I got an A on my test today! I'm sure that helped to bring my grade up?"

"Oh really?" Her mom was skeptical. "Let's see it, then."

Reaching into her back pocket, Violet felt around for the piece of folded paper with so little red ink on it.

It wasn't there.

"It was right here! I swear!" She frantically began searching all of her pockets, but to no avail. The paper was not there, and with the disappearance of the paper, all credibility to her argument disappeared as well. A bright red blush appeared on her face. "I can't find it."

Mrs. Rauls rolled her eyes. "Of course you can't. Violet, look, you obviously need to spend more time sleeping and studying¾alone. No more getting together with your friends to study, and you'll need to be in bed by ten. And no homecoming either."

Violet could stand not being able to 'study' with her friends, and the early bedtime could easily be avoided, but, "No homecoming! But it's tomorrow! That's insane! I already have my ticket and my dress and my shoes and everyone's expecting me to go!"

"I'm sorry, Violet, but with grades like this I'm not letting you do anything fun for a while, at least until you're passing Geometry again."

"You're being completely unfair!"

"Go to your room!"

Violet stamped away in a huff, tears streaming down your face.

Outside, rolling in the street, was a Geometry test that was quite devoid of red ink.

***

The next night, Violet sat on the downstairs living room couch in her purple and pink pajamas with kittens on them, a pint of half-gone Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey in her lap, and The Prince and Me playing on the TV in front of her. Her brown hair was pulled up in a messy pony tail, her face devoid of any makeup, and her mouth devoid of a smile. Just as she was about to take another bite of ice cream, Violet's mom walked into the room, pajama-clad, and yawning.

"Going to bed?" Violet asked, without taking he eyes off of the TV screen in front of her. She shoved the spoonful of ice-cold calories into her mouth and the stabbed the spoon back down in the ice cream.

Her mother scowled. "I know you don't think detergent is that interesting. Look, Violet, I'm sorry, but you were being immature. Maybe you can go next year."

All Violet could do to keep from yelling at her mother was to put more ice cream in her mouth. She just did not understand! Her dress, her plans, her possible date with Connor… All for nothing! She would never get her junior homecoming back! The movie picked back up on the television, and Violet set the spoon down.

Sighing, Violet's mother understood she was defeated. "Well, goodnight then."

After about fifteen more minutes of movie and countless mouthfuls of ice cream, Violet's ears picked up a faint sound. It took her a moment to recognize it, but when she did, she set down the ice cream as fast as she could and ran up the stairs towards the source of the polyphonic version of the Ode to Joy.

There, on her bedside table, like a plastic, flashing sign from the heavens was her cell phone, ringing. She leapt across her bed, landing on her stomach and grabbing her phone just in time for the song to cease. Frowning, she pushed open the outer screen of the cell phone, revealing a full keyboard and a touch screen. A few pokes, and she was able to see just who the call had been from.

Connor!

Regret splashed into Violet's stomach. She had remembered to cancel with him, right? Surely Isaac would have done it for her? Rolling over on her stomach, she envisioned homecoming in all of it's splendor. The one night where the school cafeteria became a magical place of music and dancing; and, when the sweaty-sweet stench of perfume and perspiration finally masked the rank of cheap fried food.

Two beeps! Violet knew what that meant. A text message! She pushed the touch screen. A text message from Connor!

Get ready. I'll pick you up in 45.

Violet checked the clock. Homecoming had only started ten minutes ago. Leaving in forty-five minutes would get them there a little more than an hour late. Fashionably late, even. Yet, there was still one problem.

Grounded, Violet texted back, too depressed to take full advantage of the keyboard, Can't.

She adjusted herself on the bed yet again. Now, sitting cross-legged, she sat her cell phone in the small space in-between her legs, watching it, waiting. After what seemed like an eternity (actually only two minutes, according to the purple flower clock on her bedroom wall) the phone beeped twice, ready to show her an answer.

She opened her phone slowly.

Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

Closing her phone, Violet looked to her closet. The door was open, and on the inside, on a hanger hanging off a pushpin she had stuck in the door for such a purpose, was her homecoming dress. The red fabric seemed to shimmer under the florescent lights on her ceiling, the black ribbon looked velvety-smooth. The dress would never forgive her, she felt, if she let it just waste away in her closet next to last year's jeans and a pair of flip flops. Besides, how could she give up a chance to wear it in front of Connor?

Opening her phone, Violet quickly texted her reply. She then left the phone on the bed, and raced for the bathroom.

Everything became a blur. She ripped off her pajamas, left them on the floor as she stumble into the shower. She was in and out before she even had time to adjust the water temperature. Smelling of soap and coconut shampoo, she left the shower, toweled off so fast she startled the water droplets still clinging to her olive skin, wrapped the towel around herself, and grabbed the blow-dryer. It looked straight enough when she was done, but she fired up the straightened and ran it through a few times, just for good measure. A hint of eyeliner, a touch of foundation, and a liberal application later, she was ready to put on her dress.

It looked even more spectacular on her than it did on the hanger, but she didn't have much time to admire herself. Forty-five minutes had begun forty minutes ago. She grabbed the first pair of black heels she could find, a small black purse, stuffed it with necessities, and was ready to go.

However, she hesitated at the top of the stairs. It would be oh so easy to just go up stairs, put the pajamas back on, and find another movie to watch. Violet shook her head. No. She was going. She was going, and she was going with Connor. Silently she made her way down the stairs, afraid her mother would wake. With a sudden pang of remorse, Violet pulled out her cell phone and sent her mother a message, knowing full well her phone was off, because she could see it charging in the kitchen.

Mom, went to homecoming. Punish me later.

Putting her phone back in her purse, Violet crept over to the front door. She twisted the handle slowly, heart racing as she tried to picture what Connor might be wearing. Door cracking open, Violet could almost smell the masculine allure of his cologne.

Which was weird, because Isaac was at the door, not Connor.