Chapter Four: Friday Night Lights
The next Friday, as I walked through the school hallways, I talked to a cheerleader. I think her name was Nina, but everyone knew her as the school slut. Not a title most girls would be proud of, and yet, she was.
"So are you ready for the game tonight? I would be so nervous if I had to play against those big strong boys but you aren't are you," She said, hanging on my arm, touching my hands and swinging our arms.
I laughed, "I don't think we really have much to worry about. I mean, we do need to be on our best game, but Harrisburg hasn't beaten us in four years, so I am hoping to add another year to that," I said, not really looking at her, kind of just eyeing the commons for someone who I could escape to talk to, and not deal with Nina.
The school commons were decorated with posters for the winter formal coming up in a few weeks, advertising for ticket prices and screaming in bold lettering: BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW! And then there were posters for the school play, for basketball tryouts, for football games, for year end tests, midterms, basically every inch of the walls were covered in posters for something. The lunch lines were long and there wasn't any available seats. You could hardly get through the commons, it was that crowded. I spotted Liam across the commons and I turned to Nina.
"Hey, I'm gonna, go, but I'll, uh, see you later," I said.
"Oh, before you go," Nina said, pulling something out of her pocket. She held up two tickets, for what I'm presuming is the winter formal. "Pick me up at seven?"
I backed up from her and shook my head. I had an idea of who I was going to ask and I still had three weeks. "Oh, um, I was already planning on asking someone..."
"Oh, I'm sure whoever it is won't mind that we go together. I mean, it's pretty obvious to everyone that I'm asking you right now," she gestured around the commons and it was true, everyone was staring, waiting for my answer.
I sighed and thought about how much this would make me look like a jackass. "I'm sorry, Nina. My answer is no."
"B-but why? Who here is better than me! Tell me who!"
"I'm asking someone else! I don't want to go with you," I said, turning my back on her and walking away, everyone making a path for me to walk through. A few girls looked at me begging me to ask them and a lot of the guys slapping me on the back for not giving Nina what she wanted.
I walked out of the commons and into the 700 Wing of the school, where I could see classes going on. I went through the janitors room and climbed the ladder to the roof of the school. I threw my bag down by the door at the top and laughed at the gravel covered roof. I sat down, mulling things over in my head. I couldn't tell you exactly what I was thinking about, I was just.... thinking. I was so lost in thought that I didn't hear the door open, I didn't hear the shoes crunching on gravel and walking towards me. I didn't see the person standing in front of me. I only noticed them because they kicked my shin.
"Ow!" I protested and then noticed the person slowly, piece by piece. The girl was wearing heeled boots and dark jeans, with a white jacket and had brown curly hair and big glasses. And then I noticed who it was.
Abby was standing in front of me, her cheeks and nose red, her eyes puffy and her hands covered by wrist warmers, one hand holding a Starbucks coffee with lipstick on the rim and the other holding another Starbucks out to me. I took it in my hand and gestured for her to sit down. She did so slowly and carefully, making me wonder about everything that had happened last week.
"Abby, are you-" she cut me off.
"If you are going to ask me if I'm okay, don't bother. I'm not, but that's not why I'm up here. I'm not up here to cry to you about how not okay I am, how bad my life is. I'm up here because right now you are the only person I can stand to be around, talking to or not."
"What about Louis? Or your friend Kayla?"
"No and no, ever since Louis found out about- something... He won't leave my side and Kayla, well I just need a break from risk taking for a while."
I placed my hand on hers and, ignoring the heat that was tingling through my hand because of that, I said, "What did Louis find out about?'
Was it to do with the whole thing last week? Her panic attack, her begging to go home, her flinching at the slightest movement? What was all of that about anyway?
"I didn't even want him to know, he was just there, so he found out. So, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to tell you," she said quietly.
I nodded and pulled her close to me as tears formed in her eyes. I curled next to me, angrily wiping away the tears that started to fall. We just sat there like that for a while, in silence, just sipping on our coffee's and watching the snowfall. It was such a perfect moment, so I decided that I would ask her to the winter formal, right now.
"Hey, Abby?" I asked quietly.
"Yeah," she responded just as quietly, not really wanting to ruin the beauty of the moment.
"I know this is a long shot, but-"
DING! DING! DING!
I was cut off by the bell and Abby jumped up. "We're gonna be late! Come on, Harry," she said pulling my hand to get me up. I stood and grabbed my bag reluctantly climbing down the ladder and the snow melting from the warmth of the school.
The rest of the day, Abby and I didn't get a chance to talk, and we were slammed with work in all three of our last classes. She immediately left after the final bell rang and I saw her grabbing a new bag from her locker that I'm assuming had her cheer things in it. I went to my locker, and grabbing my football stuff I went to the business office to buy two tickets to the winter formal. After I did that, I went to my car and headed to the stadium for our game.
"Number 30 has the ball, and throwing it to number 74, who runs from the 40 yard line- throws down the field to number 89- TOUCHDOWN RIDGEPORT!"
I could hear the crowd yelling loudly, I was vaguely aware of the cheerleaders, screaming loudly, cheering and I felt Liam roughly slap my shoulder to say nice throw. The score was tied at 42 and we had 30 seconds left to score this field goal to win the game. Harrisburg's varsity team had gotten way better and I am glad that we weren't cocky heading into this game.
Ryan, our kicker, ran towards the ball once the whistle blew and the rest of us went to block our set players. I saw the ball in the air and it went perfectly through the goalpost as I tackled the other teams left defense. The buzzer sounded loudly and the announcer was screaming our victory. Everyone rushed onto the field and I saw the cheerleaders ahead of the group. Abby was grinning from ear to ear and I smiled back. We all chanted, "Good game, Harrisburg," being the good sports we are.
I saw Abby picking up her things and digging her keys from her bag. She looked so beautiful in her uniform, the green and white colors looked amazing on her, and her legs looked like they stretched for miles. Anyone could ask her to the winter formal. Anyone would be lucky to have her.
What amazes me though, is she doesn't know everyone loves her. Over half the football team is in love with her, the music department adores her, the club managers, everyone. So if I want her to be my date to the winter formal, I have to do something amazing.
She waved goodbye to everyone on her team and yelled her congratulations to us football players. I smiled at her, remembering how she felt curled next to me earlier today, how I would do anything to have that feeling for the rest of my life. I followed the guys into the locker room and quietly changed and left. I was tired and I had an amazing idea of how to ask Abby to the winter formal.
I drove home, music playing in my car, just some random song on the radio, and I sang along quietly. This was my peace, right here. Just singing, for me. No one knew that I sang, no one knew I wanted to audition to be on the X-Factor this year. I knew that Louis and Liam also sang but they had no idea I did. It was what I loved. Sure, football was fun, but I wanted to sing.
The song ended so I switched the station and heard a Maroon 5 song playing. I sang along to the end of it. "If happy ever afters did exist, I would still be holding you like this. And all these fairytales are full of shit. Yeah, one more fucking love song I’ll be sick Now I’m at a payphone."