This Is Why I Don't Socialize

Three hours later, we're all walking up to the school arm in arm. My high heels are too tall, and I keep loosing my balance on the uneven rocks of the parking lot. I had managed to dab off a little of the make-up, and Emily allowed me to let my hair down in the car, even though Scarlet disapproved. But there was no getting out of wearing one of Emily's formal dresses. Let me put it this way. On her, the white silky thing comes up to the knees. On me, well... Let's just say I won't be doing much dancing tonight. Bit is looking uncomfortable to the point of pain in sparkly blue evening gown that comes down to her toes. Emily looks like a ballet dancer in her bright red dress, her normally poofy curls ironed down into a slick wig that swayed around her face with every step. Scarlet looks quite pretty with her long hair pulled into a bun at the base of her neck, and her white bell dress that makes her look like she just stepped out of a fairy tail. A fresh-scented breeze blows our hair, and we hurry inside before the rain starts to fall.

The music is too loud, but we come into the school gym with smiling faces anyway. A strobe light is flashing, giving the silhouetted bodies a strange, dreamlike look while the dances to the fast paced rap song. Emily detached herself from the group and clicked her way over to her boyfriend Brian and gave him a big hug around the waist.

Robby bounces over, almost as if he had been waiting for us, and smiles really big. "Well, hello there ladies," he calls, looking us over. When he got to Brit, he said, "And gentlemen." She punches him in the arm, and he grimaces. "You guys look great."

"You too," Scarlet says, eyeing the fancy button up shirt that has replaced his hoody. Robby blushes with pleasure and mutters something that can't be heard over the music.

"Where's Will?" Scarlet asks, looking around.

"Over there," Robby says, jerking his chin towards the darkest corner of the gym. A can barely see the outlines of several bodies packed together. The box of pizza bagels we scarfed down before we came must not be working well with me because my stomach feels like a big knot. I don't have time to excuse myself before Scarlet is dragging me over to the corner, passed the tightly bodies that were bumping into their dates in a very gross way. Brit recognizes somebody and quickly makes her escape without so much as a "see you later" over her shoulder.

This whole thing becomes ten times worse when I realize that Will hasn't dressed up. Here I am, standing in a shortest dress known to man with my hair wavy from the braids and sparking with glitter, and there he is in jeans and a hoody. The strobe light turns off and almost simultaneously, a slower song comes on. The stage on the far side of the gym is the only thing lit because that's where they're taking pictures, but in the dim light barely reaches us. Will looks at me for a second, then leans closer as if to whisper something to me.

"Is your lip bleeding?" he asks, squinting.

I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand and realize that it's leftover lipstick. "No," I say, shivering in my dress. "It's make-up."

"Oh."

Scarlet and Robby look at each other and smile. "You want to dance?" she asks, and Robby's eyes widen. He say yes, and they move away from Will and I. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Scarlet put her arms around Robby's neck; his hands move tentatively to her hips.

Will just stands there with his hands shoved deep into his hoody pockets. I recognize the song and start to hum it softly under my breath.

'Cause nobody wants to do it on their own.
And everyone wants to feel they're not alone.
Somebody else who feels the same somewhere.
There's got to be somebody for me out there.

"This is boring," I say.

"What?"

"This is boring!" I shout, leaning close to his ear.

"Do you want to dance?"

"Um... sure." I put my hands on his shoulders, stepping so close to him that I can feel heat radiating out of his body. His big hands easily find my waist, and we turn in a slow circle, not looking each other. I see that Brit and some guy I don't recognize are laughing together, trying to step around each others feet but just managing to bump into the other slow dancers. Emily's staring at Brian with a loving expression reserved only for cheesy romance flicks that guys take girls to on first dates. His arms are so tight around her that I'm not sure where she ends and he begins. Robby spins Scarlet in a circle, and she giggles as he returns her to her spot in front of him. Her hands was placed right over his heart, and he covered it with his own.

"Ouch. That was my foot."

"Sorry," I say, stepping back a couple of inches. After that, we just stand there sway safely from side to side. Thankfully, the song ends soon and we are released. My face is so hot that I'm sweating, and I excuse myself to the restroom. Will follows me anyway, until I close the girls bathroom door shut in his face. There are about six Freshmen girls crammed around a mirror, reapplying lip gloss. Normally, I wouldn't mind, but I feel like I need to be alone. The door opens, and Brit steps in, looking even more beautiful underneath the floresent lights. The blue sets off the darkness of her skin, and her make-up makes her eyes look big and perfectly shaped. I look in the mirror, and see my face, as plain as ever.

"Hey," Brit says, pushing through the young girls to get to me.

"Hey," I say.

"Vick's getting me something to drink," she says. Her cheeks are red. "It's hot."

"Yea, a little." I brush my hair back from my face and lean back against the stall. The giggling of cheery teenagers from a few feet away seem much more annoying than usual.

"Are you okay?" Bri asks. "I mea, aren't you having fun?"

"Not really."

"It's just the begining," she says, leaning up beside me. "I mean, I wasn't having any fun at first, but then Vick asked me to dance and I said yes."

"That's great, Brit."

"Yea, thanks." She grins, looking at her hands. She takes a deep breath then turns to me. "Hey, if I tell you something do you promise not to take it the wrong way?"

"Sure."

"I was kinda mad when you asked Will to come with you."

"I didn't ask him," I say, and my voice is so loud that the Sophmore turn towards me to see what I'm yelling about. Brit raises an eyebrow. "I mean, it just happened."

"Well, I mean... I kinda figured that you wouldn't get a date- not that you're not pretty and stuff, but you're not into this kind of thing. I'm not into it either, so I wouldn't feel so bad about not going. It's better because I wasn't the only one. And then you and Will decided to come together and so I felt kind of... I don't know, left out or something." She sighs. "But it's cool because now Vick and I are really getting along."

I know I shouldn't be offended, but I am. "Who is Vick anyway?" I ask, my voice a little harshy than I'd intended.

"Oh, he's a guy I'm on the soccer team with. You saw us dancing right?"

"Yea."

She smiles, looking stary eyed. "Wow..."

I raise an eyebrow. "Who are you and what have you done with Brit?"

She shakes her head. "I don't know. This is just so great! Okay, I'm gonna go back outside, but have fun okay."

"Okay."

"Bye!"

She rushes out. I feel a little sick, and I need to be alone. The girls give me strange looks as I go into the stall and sit down on the toilet seat and pull my legs up until they touch my butt. The rusted metal stalls don't offer much privacy and I can still hear the girls giggling about how exciting the dance is. I press my face into my legs, breathing deeply until the creak of the door announces their exit.

There. Now that's better.

The music is muffled by the doorway, feeling further away. When I was in junior high, I got to walk home from school. Winter was my favorite time to do it because the air was crisp and clean smelling, and the air seemed so cold that it could freeze time. When the sky was so full of flat, gray clouds that it didn't even look like there was a sky at all. I would walk home by myself, and the highway was so far away that I couldn't hear the cars and it really did feel like everyone else was gone and I was the only person left for miles and miles. It was nice. It even snowed that Christmas. We all went grandmother's house because our town didn't have an electricity. Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa read us stories and told us that if we listened close enough, we could hear the tinkling of Santa's bells when he landed on the roof. We were too old to believe in Santa Clause anymore, but we listened anyway because the lights on the tree were glowing merrily and we were all full of hot chocolate and the fire was warm and my mom and dad had their arms around each other and my grandma was resting her head against grandpa's shoulder, whispering the memorized stories that her mother told her when she was a kid. The wind beat against the windows, but we were safe inside. My two brothers and I huddled on a mattress next to the fire place, staring into the flames until we finally fell asleep, feeling like nothing in the world could ever go wrong.

Two months later, Jason died.

"Rebel, are you in there?" Will's knocking on the bathroom door.

I unlock the stall and go to open the door. Another fast song has come on, and the music swells into the bathroom. I can hear people laughing and shouting above it. Will smiles sheepishly, looking like a guilty kid. "This was a mistake," he says. "I'm not having any fun."

"Me either," I admit. Why does my voice sound like I'm choking?

"Want me to take you home?"

"Sure."

It's pouring when we get outside. When had it started to rain? I can't remember, but Will ducks his head underneath his hood and runs through the puddles towards his Mom's borrowed car. I squint out into the darkness and listen to the pounding rain. Without thinking, I step out into the rain. I have taken my shoes off, and the water feels good against my toes. Rain pounds my head, and I close my eyes and raise my face to the clouds, letting it was away what's left of my clown make-up. It soaks the dress, and I know that Emily will be angry, but I can't bring myself to care. My throat burns and my eyes prickle. The wind blows so hard that I feel like I'm going to fly off balance and land in the puddle. Maybe I'll stay there until I completely melt away into the black and gray watercolor ground.

Prince charming isn't going to make everything okay. And you're fairy godmorther can't be your friend, the country bumkin. And don't let the dresses and glitter sweep you away. Because at the stroke of midnight, the white carriage always turns back into a pumkin.

Nothing good lasts forever.

Will pulls the car up beside me and rolls down the passenger window. He stares at me, shaking his dripping head. "You know," he says. "The whole reason of me going and getting the car was so that you wouldn't have to get wet."

I open my mouth to answer, but nothing comes out. Something hot slides down my cheek. I tell myself that it's just the rain.