"Okay, so tonight is the first dance of the seventh grade!" I squealed to my friends, one of whom was my second cousin. "I can't believe it! The first dance of my grown up years!" I couldn't bring down my excitement even for a moment to listen to what Myra and Vanessa were saying. I caught little bits and pieces though, "How do you want your hair V?" and "I hope some of the eight graders go! Brandon is the cutest with his mustache and the way he plays basketball after lunch...!" Alright, so I listened to that last part pretty intently, but mostly I had my mind on Clay. He was my first real boyfriend, not like the boys that hold your hand at recess in elementary school, but a real boyfriend who comes to your house and buys you gifts for Christmas and Valentine's day, and kisses you.
Well, Clay and I had only kissed three times, and both times they were only pecks on the lips, he was sweet and wanted me to be comfortable. But tonight could be the night for us to find a dark corner or something romantic like that and finally french kiss. He was my first kiss and I wanted him to be my first french kiss too. I was also toying with the idea of telling him that I loved him. I'm not sure if I really do or not but I do feel more for him than any boy I have ever felt.
I tell Cody that I love him everyday anyway and he's my best friend. We met because he looks like Jeffrey Taylor. This boy that all the girls liked in the third grade. Well, Cody rides my bus and two months ago when school started I saw him on the bus when we were going home and asked him if his name was Jefferey. He said no and told me that a girl named Jill, she is a rich and skinny white girl, already asked him that. I was embarrassed and so I apologized and asked him if I could sit down. He said yes and we exchanged numbers. We have been best friends ever since only now he rides a different bus so I only get to see him at school but we talk on the phone almost everyday. Cody sits with Clay and I at lunch and I think they are becoming friends. Myra, Vanessa (my second cousin on my mom's side, though we are friends too), Brianna, Logan, Lori and sometimes Clay's friend Danielle also sit with us. Anyway, I do love Cody. He and I talk everyday and he always makes me feel better if I have a bad day. I try to make him feel better too. He is on the football team but he really wants to make the basketball team. So, I'm rooting for him. Not like a cheerleader or anything. My mom went to the same middle school as I am going to now and she was a cheerleader both years, but I tried out and I didn't make it. Brianna and V did though. But I will still be rooting for him anyway.
"Hey, Lex!" Myra brought me out of my thoughts of Cody and Clay to reality. It was my turn to do her hair. I love styling hair and I think I am pretty good at it. I will take a picture when I'm finished. To the dance tonight I am wearing a blue silky top with a black skirt. I think it looks cute and I put the top part of my hair in little rubber bands and the back just hangs down. I hope that Clay likes it. Myra and V look great too. They are good friends and I like that we get to hang out and go to the dance together. We promised that if we couldn't get any boys to dance with us that we would dance with each other so we wouldn't be left standing by the walls. Though since I'm the only one with a boyfriend right now I think they made me promise since I wouldn't just hang out with Clay and leave them. They always have guys around them though so I'm not too worried.
V's mom is taking us to the dance. She is my mom's cousin so my mom said it was okay for me to go. My mom is so over protective! She doesn't know that I have a boyfriend. She says I can't have one until I turn sixteen, but she knows I talk to boys and all my friends can have boyfriends so I just try to say the right things instead of the wrong ones around her. I begged a lot for her to let me come, but here I am, so something must have gone right. Clay offered to give me a ride, with his older brother who drives, like a real date but it's just easier this way.
So we get to the dance and everyone from the school is there. Even my friend Lori. She is very shy and really good at sports so I think that's what makes her shy around boys. She said she wasn't going to come but she smiled when she saw us so I am really glad she did, I want to help her find a boyfriend. I am looking around for Clay and I can't find him. I called him before we left though from V's phone in her room, she is so lucky, and he told me he would be there so I'm not that worried. Myra, Lori and V usher me into the bathroom to check the makeup that we put on only a half an hour ago. Brianna is in there with Kyla. I like Kyla, but she hangs out with a different group. She is nice though. Some eigth grade girls come in so we stop talking and walk out. We were in there a really long time to be fair. I think my were just nervous about seeing the guys though. Not me, I just wanted to see my Clay.
I walk out with my friends into the lobby and the first guy I see isn't Clay but Cody. I run up to him and throw my arms around him. He hugs me tightly then we let go. He is a lot taller than me so I have to look up to see into his deep blue eyes. He pats me on the head and I laugh. "You look really nice Alexis." (Cody is the only person who uses my formal name.) He smiles and looks at my clothes and face.
"Thanks Cody." I notice his khaki pants and dress shirt and tie. "You look really nice too." He smiles back at me and sort of sighs. He lets his smile drop.
"Lexi," It's Clay. He's the only one who calls me Lexi.
"Hi baby!" That was the first time I have ever called him baby but I can't help myself. I have been waiting to see him all evening and anyway it always seems so cool when Myra says it to guys. Clay was grinning at me. He suddenly swoops down and gives me a quick kiss on the lips. My heart stops and my face drops even though my eyes stay on his lips. I'm pretty sure that I'm blushing but I let myself smile a little bit even though my mouth is closed. I am imagining what I must look like to him and I feel like an idiot, but he is still grinning and even Cody is looking at me with a smile. Finally I put my eyes down and Clay grabs my hands. He laces his fingers in with mine and pulls me to him in an embrace. "Oh, hey Cody." he says.
"Hey Clay." Cody answers in a different tone than before. I pull away from Clay trying to seem natural and I look at Cody. I notice he isn't smiling anymore. I let go of one of Clay's hands and link my arm in Cody's arm. "My boyfriend and my bestfriend. I'm so glad you both are here. I wouldn't have any fun unless I have the both of you around me." I try to sound enthusiastic. I really want them both to be friends.
Myra and Brianna appear infront of us with Logan, Clay's best friend. Logan looks over the three of us and gives Clay a face. "Sup Clay. Are uh, you and Lex going to take a picture together? Since you two are here together." he raises his voice and his gaze to Cody on the last word. Cody drops my arm.
"Shut up Logan." I glare at him and let go of Clay's hand to turn to Cody. I grab his arm and look up at him. "Save a dance for me ok?" He smiles at me like I haven't seen him smile at anyone else. Even his own girlfriend Brandy. She doesn't sit with us at lunch because she hangs out with her friends from the elementary school that she and Cody both came from. I don't know her very well.
Cody puts his hand over my hand that's holding on to his arm. He is very gentle as he lifts my hand off and he squeezes it. He lets go and looks at everyone before walking into the dance. I turn around and give everyone a look that says, 'Don't say anything. Alright.' " Myra gets it and yelps, "Pic, pic, pictures. Thata way!" She points to the pictures and everyone starts laughing. She is always saying things in a high pitched voice like that to make an uncomfortable sittuation easier to deal with. Clay takes ahold of my hand and we walk to the picture line.
It's the end of October so everything is decorated in orange, yellow and brown. I don' think that it's the most romantic setting for Clay and I to be cheek to cheek for a picture but as long as I'm with him I don't mind it at all. As we walk away from the picture booth I can only imagine how they will turn out. Clay's white skin will contrast my brown of course, but my blue top will look really great with his black button up shirt.
The dance has been going on now for about a half hour and some of the slow songs are starting to creep in. As we walk into the dance, which is really just the commons, I see Cody against the wall. It's dark in here and a little smoky from the fog machine. Apparently the dance committee portion of the PTA think it's cool to have some fog while you dance. There are some lights turning round and round from the stage but it's still hard to see. As we walk past Cody to the dance floor I think about the differences between my boyfriend and my bestfriend. Cody is taller than Clay. They are both white but Cody has dark blue eyes and Clay's are brown, like mine. Cody's hair is the color of wheat and Clay's hair is a rust color that is complimented by his rust colored freakles. Clay doesn't have that many, just enough to be noticable and attractive.
Now I can only think about Clay. His arms are wrapped around me tightly and his face is on my hair. Butterflies are dancing in my stomach just as we are dancing in circles to a popular R&B song. Slowly we go around in the same spot. The butterflies are starting to leave as I'm noticing that we really aren't dancing so much as hugging and moving mear inches from the places our feet were before. My cheek is on his shoulder and as I am losing the "in love" feeling I move my head to place my chin on his shoulder instead. As I am turning with Clay the song starts to end and I see Logan with another boy named Adam. Logan is looking at us, or me and leaning in to speak to Adam while his eyes are on us. By the time the song ends my back is to them and I guess they bekoned Clay because he lets go of my waist and tells me he's going to talk to them for a while. I just nod and he kisses my cheek. An up-beat song starts up.
It happens to be one of my favorites. I look around at Clay but he is almost to his friends and doesn't even notice the song. "Whatever." I say under my breath. He doesn't have to dance with me. I look around to Cody. He is also looking at me while talking to his girlfriend and her twin brother but his expression is different than the one Logan had.
I know that I can't take Cody away from Brandy so I look around the room. Many guys have just broken away from the girls they were dancing with looking around not really knowing if they should ask someone else to dance or just go back to the wall. One of them is a guy I know from church. His name is Chris. He is cute but from what I know of him he is very shy. I'm alright with shy though. One of my favorite things to do is to get a shy person to talk with me. I walk up to him and ask him to dance. He looks at me and gives me a very shy smile from the corner of his mouth. His eyes roll from me to the floor and back to me. "Come on," I say and grab his hand. I know that he won't refuse and I'm sure he is uncomfortable. He had just been dancing with one of his friends that I see him with everyday. I pull him into the center of the dance floor, trying to be careful about choosing a spot where we are hidden but also have a little space. I let go of him and we dance with the song half over. He doesn't say anything. He just smiles and we dance.
When the fast song ends another slow one begins. He smiles again and starts to turn around but I grab his arm, "Chris, do you want to dance again?" His eyes widen and then he looks to the floor without answering. I get closer to him and clasp my hands around his neck. He timidly places one of his hands on each side of my waist. We start dancing and I realize that I am staring at him waiting for him to say something. I look up to the ceiling and around to the lights while he continues to look down to the ground. I ask, " So, I don't know that much about you," Chris looks up at me and smiles. He doesn't say anything. He must be extremely nervous because I can feel his hands start to sweat on my shirt and he is shaking a little bit. I don't think this is gross or anything though. I am a little flattered by it. I smile at him and decide not to say anything for a while. We both just smile and try not to look at each other. I can tell the song is almost over and I make one more attempt to talk to him. "Ok so, I know that you are in pre-algebra and I know that you jump hurdles during lunch recess. Aren't you in my religious ed class at church?" He looks up at me and smiles. He opens his mouth for a moment and finally answers,"Yea, I think so." I wanted to ask more questions but the song just ended. I didn't think it would be to kind to force him to dance with me again. So I slid my arms down his arms and when I got his hands I squeezed them and thanked him for the dance. He finally looked into my eyes and said thanks and smiled.
I was now standing on the dance floor alone and I didn't care where Clay was. I just started dancing. During the songs different guys that I knew came to dance with me. I didn't have any idea if my boyfriend was coming back or watching me but I didn't care. Even Logan came to dance with me. "I thought you were mad at me for talking to Cody." Logan just looked at me from the left corners of his eyes and smirked but he didn't say anything. I thought I should ask, "So where is Clay?"
"He's around here somewhere, talking to his friends." he said looking around the room.
"Come on Logan!" I pleaded, "You and I are friends. We both care about Clay. I know you won't be mad at me on Monday and so do you. Cody is my best friend and"
"Well Clay is my best friend Lex!" He yelled. I feel so surprised. He has never been that upset with me before. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary. I always hug Cody; everyday. I feel like I'm going to cry and I could feel a lump rising in my throat. Logan and I stopped dancing but nobody around us seems to notice. Logan wasn't looking at me.
"Logan, what's wrong; why are you so upset? I hug Cody everyday." I asked looking up at him.
He wasn't answering so I decided to wait for few moments. Fianally, he said, "I'm sorry Lex, this was supposed to be a special night for you and Clay. He was telling me how excited he was about it yester"
"Well it doesn't seem that special," now I was the one getting upset. The lump turned into a hot piece of coal that I had to get out. "He hasn't even tried to dance with me all night. He hasn't even tried to talk to me after that one and only dance we danced! Damn it Logan! What am I supposed to do! I came here to have fun, not wait around for my boyfriend to dance with me!" I can't take it anymore and I push people out of the way so I can get to the bathroom.
As I'm walking in the door I keep repeating, 'Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry. You have a lot of makeup on and you look really nice for once. Don't cry.' I get to the sink and look in the mirror. I'm surprised because I look calm. My large, brown eyes aren't showing any signs of redness and the darker red lipstick I borrowed from V doesn't look so bad against my dark hispanic skin and my long raven hair falls around my oval shaped face nicely. Thinking that I pass off as decent I turn to the right to see who else is in the bathroom and I see Laura. She is a friend of mine, but we don't really hang out. I like her though. I can't help myself and I tell her what's happened. She smiles at me and says, "I have an idea. Don't stay in here too long." I turn and watch her rush out the door. As I'm looking in the mirror again I think that the last person I want to see is Clay.
As I take a deep breath I start walking out to go back to the dance floor. The last fast song just finished. And the next song that's starting is slow, but now I hear the DJ, our janitor, come on the mic and say, "This song goes out to Lex and Clay... from Lex."
Oh my gosh, I can't even begin to explain my embarrassment. What the heck! The only way that I can save face is by walking in there. Hopefully Clay will be waiting. Laura is very thoughtful but I'm not sure that I should be grateful for this. I walk into the dance and I see Clay standing by the slow dancers looking around for me. I walk over to him and he smiles. "Logan says that this night was supposed to be special." I say.
"It was." he answers. He picks his hand up and touches my cheek. I noticed his hand smelled like smoke.
"Have you been smoking? Is that why you haven't been around to dance with me?" I know that he smokes but I can't believe that he would need to smoke that badly that he would leave me alone on our 'first date'. He wasn't saying anything. He was just looking at me, with his eyes open. I think he's holding his breath. All of the sudden Clay sort of choked and started laughing. He was quickly backing away so that the smoke that was coming out of his mouth wouldn't get to me. He was now looking to me with a smile and said, "I will have to get back to you with that." Clay was leaving me there alone while our song was still playing. I have to get out of here.
I turned around and there was Cody. I practically ran into his chest. He moved his hands out and grabbed me. "What Cody?" I asked, clearly hurt.
Cody's face revealed that he had seen what just happened and that he was annoyed. "Where's Clay?" He asked me.
I am not going to tell him that he wanted to smoke more than dance with me so I just said that he had to do something. "That's messed up." Cody replied.
Cody lifted his hand and placed it under my chin to make me look at him. But his hands are very gentle. So i am looking at him now. His eyes are still visibly blue even in this dark light and he doen't have any freckles. I notice that his hair is wavy where as Clay's is straight and stringy. I look into his eyes again and he removes his hand from my chin to pat the top of my head like he always does. "So, do you want to finish this dance?" he asks.
"With you?" Oh my gosh, that doesn't sound right at all. "Of course I do." I say before he has a chance to respond to my rudeness. I take his hand and we walk together to a spot in the middle of everyone. He has his hands on my waist and my hands are on his shoulders. The song changes and it's another slow, love song. Cody is pulling me closer to him and my heart is starting to race and I'm getting the butterflies I usually get with Clay. Why? Cody is my best friend. He knows everything about me and I know everything about him. I can't really see myself being with him especially when I have Clay. Although, Clay wasn't being the best boyfriend tonight. I don't even know where he is and Cody is here, now, pulling me to him and he is so much bigger than me, like a bear. It does feel really good when I'm in his arms, safe almost, when we hug everyday. But those are just friendly hugs. Right?
I let myself be pulled closer to him and I wrap my arms around his neck. We aren't saying anything to each other. We are just two friends dancing and holding each other for comfort. The song is going by really slowly and I feel a little dizzy. I push out of his embrace to look at him. He is giving me a look of dissatisfaction and sadness. "Are you alright Alexis?" He asks me.
"Yes, I just" I'm interrupted.
"Have you seen Lexi?" I hear from not so far away. I look over and see Clay with one of our friends who points over to me. I look at Cody to see that he is watching me. I feel my face contort like I'm saying 'sorry Cody. I need to talk to him.' Cody gives me a little smile and he walks away. Clay calls me, "Hey sweetheart, I'm sorry about earlier." As I look at him I notice that he does look more like himself than he did before. He continues, "I was mad about the way you ran to Cody before me. You never run to hug me like that and after we danced I went to talk to Logan, and he said he had some cigarettes so we went to the bathroom. Then I came out and I saw you dancing with other guys. I don't know, I just got jealous. A girl asked me to dance and I said yes because I was upset but I went to have another smoke before and then I heard that song dedicated to us and I came but I didn't want you to be mad anymore about me smoking so I went to the bathroom to get cleaned up and to tell that girl that I wanted to dance with you." I am upset but I also feel lucky that he didn't see me and Cody so close. Clay takes my hand with one of his and with his other I notice that he is trying to get something out of his pocket. "I got this for you." he says. I look into his open hand and I see a charm bracelet. There is one charm on it, a heart with a little green stone and in the heart is an engraved "L".
L? I think about my name, 'Alexis' and hear it being said by Cody. I must look confused beacause Clay lets go of my hand and touches my cheek. "It's L for Lexi since that's what I call you, and since everybody else calls you Lex." He looks hopeful and I suddenly remember to be gracious and that I should be excited. I smile. "I love it! Thank you Clay." I lean in to give him a kiss. It's much darker out here than in the lobby so I feel alright about it. He leans into me and puts his arm around me to hold me tightly. Our mouths part into more than a simple peck. I feel wonderful but surprised. Clay must sense my surprise because he pulls away quickly. "Sorry." He mumbles though he is still smiling.
"It's ok Clay, thank you for the bracelet. It's beautiful." I say back to him. Suddenly the janitor comes back over the mic. "This is the last dance of the night so get your dance partner and bring them to the dance floor."
I look into Clay's eyes and smile at him. He smiles back at me and pulls me to him again.
Clay and I are as close as Cody and I were. We are dancing at the same speed but I don't feel the same way I did with Cody and this bracelet is heavy on my wrist. I am completely aware of it's existence. Everyone will know that it is from Clay and there isn't anything wrong with that. He is my boyfriend. Why does it feel so strange. I start to think about Cody now and I start to feel better. I start to feel like I am dancing with Cody instead of Clay. I can remember the way Cody smells and how he feels. I close my eyes and I imagine myself saying, "I love you."
"I love you too Lexi." Clay answers. My eyes snap open and the lights come on even though the song hasn't ended yet. I can't have said that out loud. The song fades and the people around us start talking. "That's it guys. The dance is over." I hear the janitor/Dj say. "Please make your way outside, there are already parents here waiting to pick you up." Clay looks at me. "I love you so much. I'm so happy that you said it. I promise to make this date up to you. Let's go." He holds my hand and leads me to the front. I am quiet and looking for Cody. I don't see him though I'm sure he wouldn't leave without saying goodbye to me, even if he and Clay aren't on the best of terms right now. But he isn't in here, and I don't see him outside while I am waiting for V's mom to drive up. Clay says goodnight and gives me a quick kiss before leaving. I see his dad in the car instead of his brother and I wave to him and smile. As Clay gets into the car his dad smiles back at me with his big mustache and they drive away. Myra and V find me and I show them the bracelet. On the way home they talk together about how the dance went for them while I am looking out the window thinking of Cody and the way it felt to dance with him. I do love him, he's my best friend.
"How was your night Lex? I haven't heard anything out of you since you got in the car." V's mom asks.
"Oh she got the most beautiful bracelet from her boyfriend mom." V fills her in and I look at the bracelet. I feel guilty that it doesn't affect me the way Cody's dance did. I decide that it's too late to call him tonight. Even though I know he will be awake. I decide to call tomorrow. I need my best friend to talk me through this.