Things to Say

"Hey! You coming or what?" Tally was calling me from outside my window down in the streets. I leaned out my window to tell her I was coming and grabbed my bag.

"What's up?" She asked as I met her outside.

"Nothing much," I told her. I clutched my books that wouldn't fit into my backpack to my chest, trying to make my breasts shrink. Why were they so big?

Tally didn't notice my self-consciousness, she was chattering away about the upcoming dance. I didn't listen, even if I could get a word in edgewise. It wasn't like I was suddenly going to get a date.

By the time we got to school, I was just about ready to run back home before facing any of the Populars today. The fact that they were thin as twigs and I was, well, bigger made me scared to walk through those doors everyday. But, I didn't want to show how much of a coward I was in front of Tally. She was fearless, and I wanted to be like her.

"I got to go to my locker. Later girl!" Tally waved to me and set off cheerfully down the halls, totally oblivious to the sneers following her every step.

Without the comfort of a friend by my side, my stomach was sent up in knots, trying to cripple me and make an even bigger spectacle of myself than I already was. I set out for my locker anyway, eyes on the floor.

By the time I got to my own locker, I had cataloged nearly everyone's shoes for that day. I grabbed the necessary books for the first few classes and set out again.

English, Math, and Bio went by in a flash. Classes were easy for me; it was socialization that was difficult. I always imagined being confident and assured with the crowds, but every time I tried to achieve that goal, I nearly passed out with fear. Better smart and a little self-conscious than overly confident and stupid. That was what my mother always said. It worked for her; she was a doctor now in the town hospital.

The next class though, Chorus, was making me nervous. Lunch was directly after this, and then I had literature. The very thought of that class had my cheeks blazing, but I tried to hide it by pushing my hair into my face. Luckily, the chorus director never called on me. My singing wasn't exceptional, but it wasn't bad either. Good thing for me; it helped me to fly under the radar a little more.

After we were dismissed, Tally popped up out of nowhere, nearly scaring me to death.

"Hey Laila," She greeted me.

"Hey Talls," I said. We set off for lunch together, our shoes making a nice, synchronized tapping on the linoleum floors.

We sat together, and I picked at my pizza, not wanting to eat. What was the point if I was already fat? Why couldn't I just not eat for weeks, living off my excess blubber like the camels do? It would be so much easier and less degrading.

A loud laughing came from the other side of the school cafeteria. The populars were all laughing and falling over each other over someone's private joke. Aching came to my chest. Kieron was there. I looked away quickly before he could look this way, like that was even possible.

Before I knew it, lunch was over. "Let's go Laila," said Tally, pulling me out of my seat and to our Lit class.

We got there early, and I took my seat in the back of the room, Tally on my left. She smiled at me enthusiastically, and I wanted to bury myself in a hole.

Right before Mr. Avery was about to start class, Kieron came in. I sucked in a breath and sank lower in my seat, trying to be invisible. He didn't look at me, as usual. He just took his seat against the window and looked at Mr. Avery. After giving Kieron a glare, he started addressing the class on the tactics used by Shakespeare in "Macbeth."

I had pretty much zoned out, I'd already read "Macbeth" last year, and started to stare at Kieron. I could just imagine what it would be like, being his girlfriend, being encouraged by him to get in the crowd. He'd help me, keep me comfortable and stop anyone from being mean to me. He'd stare at me like I was the most beautiful thing in the world, like I was the only thing that mattered. I could just imagineā€¦

Class was over now, and people were gathering their belongings and heading for their lockers. It was the end of the day, so everyone was smiling, glad to be out. But something unexpected happened that day. I was stuffing my notebooks into my old backpack, trying to stay where I was until I knew the halls would be empty.

"Hey, Laila." I looked up, amazed to hear someone else's voice besides Tally's. And the scary thing was, I knew exactly who it was. I looked up into the greenest green eyes of Kieron Michaels. Gulp.

"Um, hey," I said, hating that my voice cracked. I cleared it before I spoke again. "What's up?"

He looked nervous. It was the first time I'd ever seen Kieron nervous. He always looked so assured, so confident, so perfect. It was a moment before he actually spoke. "A bunch of us are going to a movie tonight. Would you, um, want to come? With me, I mean?"

I must be dreaming. Kieron Michaels, the Kieron Michaels, most popular and gorgeous guy at school, was asking me out? Too good to be true.

And yet, so simple. "Sure." I smiled at him. He smiled back, relaxing now that I had said yes.

I had a date with Kieron Michaels.

I walked home in a daze that day. Tally was with me of course, but she was talking about prom again. It wasn't until we got back to my house that I realized I should tell her about Kieron.

"What?!" She screeched in my ear. Her eyes were wide now, mouth slightly open. It looked like her eyeballs were about to burst out of their sockets when she yanked on my arm, nearly dislocating my shoulder I might add, as she tugged me up to my room.

She immediately opened my closet. "We need to find you something dazzling to wear! Something spectacular but not overwhelming. Casual, but not too comfortable." She was going off about conditions of an outfit, how to style your hair to match, and endless accessories while I just sat in front of my vanity mirror, trying to figure out how all of this was actually possible.

Kieron came at six o' clock sharp. Tally had finally dressed me in a pair of dark blue jeans and a flowing green top with a severe neckline and a matching green diamond necklace when Kieron rang the bell.

"Hey," I greeted him when I opened the door. He stared at me, or my neckline rather, with wide eyes.

"You look beautiful," he told me. I flushed. "You too," I said. And it was true. He was wearing jeans, like me, and a black button down shirt. He looked like a god no matter what.

He held his arm out to me, waiting for me to loop mine through his so he could lead me to his Mercedes. I flushed again and shut the door behind me. His arm was solid in mine, warm. It was nice having human contact for once. I clutched him a little tighter and he laughed.

The car ride was quiet. We didn't speak an awful lot, but we did speak. We talked about the movie we were going to see and how we would spend the day tomorrow. He offered me to sit with him at lunch and in Lit class (it was the only class we shared). He even said it was fine for Tally to join us too. I beamed at him, ecstatic with this arrangement.

By the time we got to the movie theater, I was really looking forward to this evening. That was when I was greeted with the populars. Lindsay Smyth was there, along with Brett McTyler and Lucas Brynn. I gulped. How could I have come here? How would I ever survive an evening with four of the most popular kids in school? How could-?

I was cut off by someone jumping on me, their arms wrapped around my neck and their hair in my face.

"Laila! I'm so glad you came!" It was Lindsay Smyth. She was hugging me like we were the best friends in the world. I put my arm around her lightly, patting her back in a half-hearted hug.

She pulled back, blue eyes shining. "You must sit next to me," she said. She was smiling at me. This was mind boggling, but I went along with it and smiled.

"Hold up there Lindz, she is my date." It was Kieron. As he spoke, his arm wound around my waist, pulling me closer. I blushed and Lindsay laughed.

"Of course, Kieron. I'll just sit on her other side."

"Well then, I guess I'll just sit on your other side Lindsay," said Brett. He came up behind her and put his mouth to her ear. She giggled and put her hand on her chest.

The three of them, Brett, Lindsay, and Lucas, went off to the theater, saying they'd save us seats, while Kieron walked me over to the candy counter.

"Get anything you like," he said. "It's on me."

I got a box of SnoCaps and a Twix bar. He smiled at me. "Better share." I promised I would.

Turns out the movie was a horror film. I got scared about a third of the way through and hid my face in Kieron's shoulder. He held me, rubbing my arm reassuringly and telling me it was okay. I believed him.

The movie was over in an hour and a half and Lindsay walked out with her arm draped over my shoulder, laughing at something I said while the boys walked behind us.

"That was so scary!" Lindsay said it in a way that sounded like a baby talking, but also made Brett come up behind her again and wrap his arms around her tiny waist, spinning her around in the theater lobby. I was wishing I had her body when Kieron came up behind me and put his arms around my waist, putting my qualms at ease. I smiled, thinking how well I fit in his arms, how perfect it seemed.

Kieron drove me home after we said good bye to the others. Lindsay made me promise I'd sit with her at lunch the next day. Kieron walked me to my door when I got home. He stood one step down from me on the porch, light streaming on his face just right to make his golden brown hair shine.

"Thank you for coming with me tonight, Laila. I've been trying to get up the courage to ask you out for a while now."

What? Since when has he ever liked me? Was that even possible? I didn't let these thoughts show on my face though. I smiled and said, "Thank you for asking me. I had a great time." He smiled back, a beautiful, gleaming smile that showed his perfect teeth. The old porch steps creaked as he took a step up, and put his lips to my forehead. I was dizzy with his scent by the time he pulled away.

"I'll see you tomorrow," he said, and walked to his car.

What a perfect day.

The next few days were pure heaven. Kieron came every morning and took both me and Tally to school, he kissed me before heading off to his first class, and left me to chatter away with Tally. By the time we left for Lunch, I was anxious to see Kieron's face again, hungering for his kiss. It made me smile all the time.

My grades went even higher; more people were noticing me, though not in a scary way. It wasn't overwhelming socialism, they just said hello in the halls and gave me a little wave. I always waved back with a smile of my own.

And then there was lunch. I sat with Kieron on one side, tenderly holding my hand all throughout lunch, and Tally sat on my other side, laughing with me and Lindsay like we were always best friends.

The day came when it was only a week before the dance. I was getting nervous, thinking Kieron didn't like me enough to ask me. But, I really wanted to go with him. I wanted to be able to walk out on the dance floor with a beautiful gown and have every girl in the room stare at me in envy because I was dressed so beautifully and had Kieron on my arm. I wanted the guys to stare at me and think about why they hadn't noticed me before, thinking how lucky Kieron was to have got me first. I wanted all that and so much more.

I wanted Kieron to ask me. I didn't want to seem desperate enough, clingy enough, to ask him myself. He had to do it.

So just imagine this Friday. Kieron met me outside my Chorus class, smiling as he saw me walk outside the doors like he was the luckiest guy in the world to have me walk out and meet him. At least, that's what I hoped.

"Um, Laila, can I, um, ask you something?" He sounded so nervous, so cautious; just like when he first tried to ask me out. Tried and succeeded.

"Anything, Kieron," I said. Anything at all.

"Would you, um, go with me to the, um, dance?"

And just like that, I was elated. I smiled widely, all my teeth showing. And yet, he still had that look of great apprehension on his face, like he was still afraid I'd say no.

"Of course I will!" I nearly screamed it. "Of course!" I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. His arms went around my waist and hugged me back. He laughed into my ear and kissed my temple, sending electric shocks through my skull. It was perfectly pleasant.

Once I told my mother, and Tally for that matter, that Kieron Michaels had asked me to the dance, they took me shopping. It was hours before I finally found a dress, but we found the perfect one.

And I had the satisfaction of seeing Kieron's eyes go wide when he picked me up the day of the dance.

"You look beautiful," he whispered. His eyes kept going up and down my body. Every nerve tingled. I could see the sparkles from my midnight blue dress, with a low neckline too, reflect in his eyes. The dress went down to my ankles and I seemed taller than usual due to the three inch heels my mother talked me into buying. My hair was up in a twist.

"You don't look too bad yourself, mister." And it wasn't the God-honest truth. He didn't look 'not too bad,' he looked gorgeous. Then again, what was new with that?

He took me to the limo he rented (a limo for God's sake!) after many photos taken by my mother and told the driver to follow the directions given earlier.

"What about the dance?" The direction the driver was going was far from the school's gymnasium.

"Don't worry about the dance quite yet, Laila. Being fashionably late will make everyone see you for how beautiful you truly are." He smiled at me. I believed him.

We arrived at the nicest restaurant in town. I smiled at him. This was too good to be true. How anyone could so perfect be meant for me? I didn't question it further. This night was so beautiful and wonderful already that I didn't want to taint my puffy, gauzy, lovey-dovey thoughts with doubts about whether or not Kieron was faking all of this.

Dinner was quite, like the car ride on our first date. It was comfortable and easy but we didn't talk too much to make the other feel pressured to answer. It was perfect.

So, when we arrived at the dance, I didn't expect anything to get much better. Except they did.

Kieron's prediction came true. Everyone stopped where they were and their heads turned to face us. Every face looked just like I wanted them to. Envy. Desire. Regret for not getting to me sooner. And I soaked it all in.

A slow song began to play, and the couples turned back to each other. And Kieron turned to me, too.

"May I have this dance, m'lady?" He bowed too, just like a real old fashioned gentleman.

I curtsied, who would've thought. "Of course, good sir." He led me to the dance floor, put his arms around my waist and led my arms up around his neck.

The songs were slow and simple. They made me smile in a goofy way and hold Kieron tighter. I didn't want them to end.

One song I would remember though. "So Close" by John McLaughlin was playing, Kieron holding me close, when my life changed for the better.

"I love you," he whispered. We were close enough to everyone else that at least three other couples heard. They all smiled while I blushed.

"I love you, too," I heard myself say. I knew it was true. It had always been true.

He leaned down, hesitating just slightly, before lowering his lips just above mine, so, so close. I could feel his breath on my face. He just had to move in a little more. . . .

"Laila. Laila! Come on! Your mom's gonna worry about us if we don't get home soon!"

I looked up, snapping out of my daze. It was Tally. She was standing over me, bag in hand, waiting for me to get up. Kieron was still on the other side of the classroom, talking to Brett and Luke. Lindsay was waiting for them at the doorway. They walked out without a second glass at Tally and me, the only other people left in the room but Mr. Avery.

I sighed. Best not to let my daydreams get that detailed.

I walked out the door with Tally then, leaving my daydream in my seat, waiting for me to return the next Monday.