“Opi’s gonna take you to the da-ance,” Syra crowed down the halls.
I tucked my head, trying to hide my blushing cheeks behind my hair. “Shut up, Syra. No he’s not.”
“Oh yes he is,” Syra crowed. “He’s going to take you to the ball and you’re going to be gorgeous and he’s going to dance with you and then it’ll be Opi and Mary, sittin’ in a tree-”
“Shut up!” I hissed. “It’s not like we’re going alone.”
“I don’t think we should go at all,” Sam said, interrupting Syra’s song.
“What?” Syra sounded hurt. “Why not?”
“I just…” she stammered. “I don’t know. Did you see how they turned on us?”
“Yeah, that was kinda creepy,” I said. They’d pinched and bit at everything they could grab, like a swarm of blackflies. Going back into that was not high on my list of priorities. And yet… Then there was Opi.
Syra pouted. “But daaaaance.”
Sam shrugged. “It’s not like my parents would let me go anyways. I just don’t think it’s a very good idea.”
We rounded the corner to my locker, and Opi was already at his, only two away from mine. I had met him one night during an online game with Syra. We’d teamed up for 2 hours, and I’d been really surprised to learn he went to the same school as we did. Even more surprised to learn his locker was right beside mine.
“Opi!” Syra yelled, waving to him across the hall. “Sam says we shouldn’t go dancing!”
Opi frowned, pushing his glasses up his face. He only ever wore them in school, I never saw him wear them outside of classes. He said they made him look smart. I agreed.
“Why do you think we shouldn’t go?” Opi asked.
“I don’t know,” Sam said. “Just a bad feeling.”
Opi sighed. “Well, I know what Syra thinks, what about you, Mary?”
I couldn’t even look at him. “I don’t think my parents will let me,” I muttered. “But I want to.”
“Hm,” Opi said. “I think we should go.”
“You do?” I said, trying not to sound too excited or hopeful.
Opi nodded. “Yeah, what’s the worst that can happen?”
“Are you trying to get us killed?” Sam snapped. “You could literally say anything else and it wouldn’t be tempting the gods that much!”
Syra snorted. “You think there are gods that are just sitting around listening for someone to say that?”
Sam glowered at her. “In six hours, we’re going to sit in a treehouse and do some ritual so your sister can learn to do magic, and yesterday we were attacked by tiny fairies, and you’re questioning the idea that gods might be real?”
Syra looked embarrassed. “Yeah, but really, gods are going to spite us for a question?”
“I don’t know!” Sam said. “And neither do you! You just want to go to a dance.”
“Well yeah,” Syra said. “Of course I do. Opi and Mary want to go too, right?”
“Uhh,” Opi said. I didn’t want to say anything, not wanting to get into their argument. Sam glowered at me and I looked away, going into my locker. We all had english class next, but I got the impression it was going to be a very awkward class.
“Mary, there is no way your parents would let you go,” Sam said, trying to pull me into the fight. “Why are you backing this?”
“Please,” Syra said before I could even respond. “Have you not watched any teen party movies? You tell your parents you’re sleeping at her house. She tells her parents she’s sleeping at my house. I say we’re sleeping at Brooke’s house. Then when everyone calls my parents, my sister can pick up the phone and cover for us.”
Sam stared at her. “You know how all those movies turn out? With everyone getting caught!”
“Yeah but this is like, real life,” Syra said. “Not some movie that needs to ramp up the drama.”
“I still don’t like tempting the fates,” Sam replied.
“So now it’s the fates against us?” Syra said. “Before it was the gods, now the fates?”
I closed my locker, turning to Opi. “Those two will be at it for awhile,” I muttered. “Let’s go.”
“Are you sure?” he asked, following me anyways.
“They have to get to class too,” I said. Sure enough, they started walking as soon as we were just out earshot.
“So what do you think?” Opi asked. “Should we go to the ball?”
I made a murring noise, glancing back to the other two girls where they were arguing. I knew they’d be over it by tomorrow, but for today, it was going to be a long day. I sighed, looking back to Opi. “I don’t know if my parents will let me go to a party on a Saturday night.”
“That sucks,” Opi said. “I was kinda looking forward to dancing with you.”
My brain went into total panic mood. Opi wanted to dance with me? He couldn’t want to dance with me, boys didn’t fall for me. They fell for girls like Syra, with her long blonde hair and her multiple piercings and gothic fashion sense that looked like she’d come off a runway. Or cute girls like Sam, covered in freckles beneath her red hair. Not me. I still hadn’t even figured out how to make my chestnut hair do anything but explode into frizz when it rained. And my best outfit was when I paired rainbow arm warmers with my Rainbow Dash t-shirt. It made me 20% cooler, but 20% of zero was still zero. I was too tall, too awkward and too nerdy for boys.
“Uh, Mary?” Opi said, waving a hand in front of my face. “Earth to Mary!”
I realized we were standing in front of our english class, but I had barely noticed walking. “Oh, sorry,” I said, pushing my hair out of my eyes in what I hoped was a flirty way. “I kinda spaced out.”
“I was saying it’s a shame your parents won’t let you out,” Opi said and I almost got lost in his blue eyes. Opi continued, “I was looking forward dancing with you guys.”
“Oh,” I said. My disappointment was palatable, but hopefully he thought I was just sad I’d miss it. “Yeah, that’s a shame.”
Opi walked into the classroom, finding his seat at a our table. I couldn’t meet his eyes when I sat down, pulling out the assigned reading and burying my nose in the book. Of course he was looking forward to dancing with all of us. Who wouldn’t look forward to dancing with Syra, the blonde goddess? She’d look right at home amongst fairy princesses and princes. I couldn’t even hope to rank second amongst all the women who’d be there. I’d already done my readings last night but I re-read them again, not even looking up when Syra and Sam sulked in in silence, glowering at each other over their books.