Tom checked his hair one more time in the mirror. It looked perfect. He checked his teeth for any remaining fragments of lunch down at the SuperSlurp. He and Jimmy had been cutting school regularly to go there for lunch. The food was better than the high school cafeteria, and he got a rush every time they made it back without getting caught. Tom smoothed his letter jacket, admiring the varsity bars next to football and track. His grades weren't great, but the town sure turned out to watch him play ball. He was a Junior and already he had colleges calling him to recruit him. He winked at himself in the mirror. Life was good.
Tom sauntered out of the bathroom and headed for World History. Several of his buddies high-fived him as he walked down the hall, congratulating him on a win last Saturday on the 4x400 relay. He got several admiring glances from girls he passed, and he feigned nonchalance even as he broadened his swagger a bit. The Prom was coming in a few months, and already the social rumor mill was abuzz with who was inviting who. Normally only Seniors could invite people to Prom, but this year they were allowing both Juniors and Seniors to Prom. Rumor had it the school board, chaired by Tom's dad, made the exception after the football team won states finals that fall.
Several cheerleaders tried to catch his attention, but he ignored them. He had a goal in mind and he was going to achieve it. Jimmy had bet him fifty bucks that Tom couldn't get Angela to go with him to the Prom. Angela was the senior class president, with long auburn hair and sharp hazel eyes. She had already landed a full ride to Harvard, where she was going to study law. She was captain of the swim team and had played varsity tennis all four years. Angela was also extremely popular, and almost every guy at school wished they could escort her to Prom.
Jimmy had laughed when Tom agreed to the bet.
"You'll never get her, man," Jimmy crowed, "I'm gonna have some good partying money for this weekend now! I can buy the good alcohol!"
"Fat chance, slow dance," Tom replied, "I'll be taking the guys out celebrating with the fifty you'll owe me by the end of the day. I just might have a bonfire party to celebrate snatching up the finest girl this high school has ever seen."
Tom smirked as he remembered the conversation. He was almost at the door of World History when Angela walked out, talking with her teacher. Tom was irritated at having to wait. He lounged up against the lockers nearby, chatting with his passing fans who were on their way to class. He had a class to get to, as well, but it could wait for him. He never got in trouble for waltzing in late or sleeping through class. Finally, Angela finished her conversation with her teacher, and Tom stepped up to greet her.
"Hey, Angela," Tom practically purred.
"Hello, Tom," Angela responded absentmindedly.
"I was wondering," Tom asked casually, "Would you mind doing me the honor of being my date to Prom?"
Tom grinned at Angela, anticipating her gushing affirmative.
"I don't think that will work," Angela replied sharply, "I know the crowd you hang out with and the sorts of things you do on the weekend, and I have no intention of being a part of that on Prom. I would like a date who can remember the event the next morning."
Angela stalked off, leaving Tom frozen. He was shocked. That was the last response he had ever expected. He was also livid that Angela would dare think more of herself than going with him to the Prom. As the red haze of fury subsided, he heard Jimmy's laughter behind him.
"Guess that didn't go so well, bro," Jimmy quipped, "I suppose you'll be looking for a backup date to Prom now!"
Tom didn't even look over his shoulder. He walked straight to class, sat down, and took notes for the first time in his high school career.
Carolyn Erickson has lived a storied life, from graduating the United States Military Academy, to living in Germany for five years, to a tour to Iraq, to now an Army spouse. She is a freelance writer and personal trainer in her free time.
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