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Name: Lana Pattinson Genre: YA Contemporary / Time Travel Title: MOM, I MARRIED A HIGHLANDER
Why the hell did I let Javi talk me into wearing this to school? I have fairy wings over my pink skeleton t-shirt, blue clip-on hair extensions, and his rhinestone belt. The original Rhinestone Cowgirl Fairy. I'm all for dressing up on Halloween, but this is absurd.
I dig deep into my locker and ignore the catcalls of “drama queen” from the self-appointed fashion police, aka the drill team. Javi swore that this outfit would display my artistic side, but instead it’s a PSA about what not to wear if you want to survive high school.
If I have my way, Javi won’t be surviving high school either.
Sarah stands next to me, spinning her combination lock. She looks perfect and beautiful and didn’t bother dressing up. If I had her foot-long eyelashes and even longer legs, I wouldn’t have to dress up either. I scan the hallway, but no one’s watching. "Here." I slip her the contraband in a brown bag.
Big brown eyes stare back at me. “Abby, what’s…?" Sarah opens the bag and laughs. "You think I need a paper bag for Outlander?”
I blush. "It’s from my mom's bookshelf. There are some...intense...scenes in it." Not that Mom would notice. She’s on call at the hospital so much, sometimes it’s like living with a stranger.
"Awesome." Sarah shoves the bag into her locker. Every time she slams the door shut it rattles my mirror. "You going to the game tomorrow?"
I stick my tongue out, mostly at my own reflection, and unclip the hair extensions. “Duh.” Of course I'm going to the game tomorrow. Every. Single. Friday. Because football is the main religion in Texas, and I’m a front-pew fan. Not of the game, exactly. Just one tight end in particular.
"I wish..." Sarah sings the opening song from Into the Woods, this semester’s musical. "Have you seen him today?" She loves teasing me about my crush. The senior football player who doesn't know I exist.
Sarah’s got a nice boyfriend and shiny hair and if I didn’t know her so well, I’d probably hate her. I probably do hate her, just a little. My green eyes have always been the jealous type.
"I wish..." she prompts.
As if on cue, Austin Richards swaggers by in slow motion, like he's in a shampoo commercial, except his hair is shaved so close to his head he should be advertising shaving gel instead. I wish...
He's got his letterman jacket on, and is followed by his usual entourage of wide receivers. I imagine him spotlighted from above, breaking into song, and I join him in the middle of the hallway, all eyes on us, as we're crowned Homecoming King and Queen.
Before I can stop it, Sarah’s song escapes my mouth. "I wish...I wish to go to the festival." My voice bounces off every hard surface in the hallway— the linoleum tile, the rusted metal lockers, the steely glares from the popular kids. Stupid, stupid earworm.
Of course Austin just breezes by, no eye contact, like I'm invisible, like I’m not even alive. Which is normal for me, I guess.
The hall fills with the sound of snickers and backslaps. And I'm dead, burning up inside, my cheeks buzzing with the stings of a thousand hornets, and I wish I fit into my locker like I did in middle school. I wish.
“We’re late.” Sarah locks her elbow in mine and we walk to the theater. Javi’s already there, his long brown legs draped over the row in front of him.
"Hey it’s the Olsen twins," he says, which is ludicrous cause I’m short-ish and redheaded while Sarah is tall with glossy black locks. But Javi’s known for his outlandishness. Which is also why he’s wearing the bottom part of my pink skeleton pajamas-turned-costume.
Sarah can’t help herself. "Javier, you missed Abby serenading Austin."
"Details. Now." Javi's hands are so animated I think they’re about to turn into birds and take flight.
"Calm down, jazz hands." I dump my bag in the front row of seats. "I..." I look at Sarah, who’s bouncing on the balls of her feet. "You tell him."
She claps her hands together. "Austin was in the hallway, and Abby went into her I’m-in-a-Glee-daydream-mode and sang Into the Woods.” Sarah breaks into song. “I wish... I wish to go to the festival." The acoustics of the room amplify her enchanting voice, and I half expect forest creatures to start gathering. So unlike how my version sounded earlier.
"What did he say?" Javi asks.
I shake my head. "Nothing but snickers, and I don’t mean chocolate."
Javi sits forward and rests his chin on his hands. "Did he look good at least?"
"Like an angel." I slump into the chair next to him. We ache for the same person. But Austin isn’t gay, and he doesn’t date non-cheerleaders. Maybe that's why Javi's my best friend. We bonded over our obsession two years ago. And ever since, the couple most unlikely to attend a football game has done just that.
We head backstage for our costume fitting. The play's not for another six weeks, but Mrs. Beasley wants to make sure she has time to make alterations. Sarah changes into a long red gown which accentuates her in all the right places.
But I'm stuck with a green Shakespearean princess dress, cut super low. Like I’ve wandered past trollop territory and into serving-wench land. I hope Mrs. Beasley can fix my top.
Javi runs past wardrobe, stopping to make moon eyes at Sarah. "Look at you, Little Red Riding Hood." She smiles and curtseys. He puts one hand on his hip and one finger to his mouth and inspects me. “Hmm, I’m not sure the ‘girl from Brave turns slutty’ look works on you.”
My eyes narrow and I clench my jaw. I really am going to kill him.
After class, I drive to San Antonio University to meet my brother. Nick’s inside by the help desk, wearing his trademark 50’s style glasses and scrubs he probably stole from Mom. "Ready? I had to sign a waiver because it’s from a private collection. So none of your delusional tendencies tonight."
Okay, so I'm a bit...dramatic, like Javi. But I have to read a stupid book for a stupid European history report in Mr. William’s class, since I got a stupid C on the last test. So this is for extra, extra credit. Save-my-ass credit. Like, do-this-or-don’t-get-into-college credit.
"No flash mobs either,” Nick grunts.
Why did he have to bring that up again? The headline read High School Drama kids infiltrate the University library. “Hey, our Time Warp performance has been YouTubed more than 2,000 times. A record, I believe, for our school.”
Nick ignores me. “Only one person is allowed in the Special Collection room at a time.” He pushes his glasses up his nose. “I need this job, Abs.”
“You act like I want to go to Ohio.”
“So don’t screw this up.” His arms are crossed, and he’s actually waiting to hear me promise.
"I'll behave." My voice is crumbly, resigned to the fact that this is my final warning. Dad’s been grumbling about Mom letting me run wild. One more slipup and I’m on the next plane to Cincinnati, playing babysitter for Dad and the Stepmomster’s new spawn. Buh-bye, social life. It would kill me to see Mom hurt again.