I climb out of the car, wrapping my arms around myself and surveying my surroundings. We’re at a park--not the one near school, the one closer to my house because this one has nicer flowers, according to my mother. I don’t see Pearl yet, but Henry is here, wearing khaki pants and a white dress shirt and a bright blue tie.
My mom steps out of the car after me, camera in hand. “Trinity, I told you to bring a sweater,” she tells me, rubbing my bare arm with one hand.
I look down at my outfit: little silver sandals and a purple sequin-y dress that wasn’t my first choice of what to wear, but isn’t horrendous. It fits me well, at least. I thought a sweater would make me look dumb, and I probably won’t need one when we actually got to the dance anyway.
The Spring Fling kind of snuck up on me, but apparently it didn’t sneak up on Pearl; she’s the one that made all the plans for today. She concocted some kind of scheme that involves inviting more people and a work-around of the school’s rules.
It turns out that Henry has a friend he wants to bring--a boy--and only girls can bring boys from other schools, and only once they’ve filled out the proper paperwork. So Pearl filled out the forms saying that this boy is her date, and somehow this scheme evolved into her also bringing a friend.
So now Pearl is bringing a date for Henry, and Henry may or may not be bringing a date for Pearl? I have very few details on the whole thing other than I am here and I am very much not bringing a date.
“Shouldn’t you go say hi to Henry? And who’s that boy he’s with? I’ve never seen him in church... he must not be from around here. He is quite handsome though, don’t you think?” My mother guides me towards Henry, and, as it turns out, another boy I hadn’t noticed. I resist the urge to dig in my heels.
“Oh, hey, Trin. Mrs. Reeding.” Henry greets us with a nod, his hands shoved deep in his pockets. He takes a step away from the boy he was talking to, almost guiltily.
I don’t think my Mom notices, though I’d be surprised if she hasn’t heard any rumors through her network of parents.
“Hi, Henry,” I offer with a tight smile.
He returns the gesture, then uses one hand to flail in the direction of his friend. “This is Jackson,” he says, as if that’s all we need to know. I guess it is.
Jackson, unlike Henry or any of the boys at Saint Paul’s, has a piercing, which has probably dropped him pretty low in my mother’s list of potential suitors for me. It’s through one side of his nose, which I’ve obviously seen before, but I still can’t help but stare at it. When I finally pull my eyes away, I note that he’s smiling warmly and also has almost no eyebrows.
“Hey,” I say, raising a hand in an awkward wave.
We’re saved from making any more conversation by the sound of tires on gravel behind us. Across the way, a girl jumps out of the car, her sparkling pink dress glinting in the evening sun. Her blonde hair falls in waves across her shoulders, and she grins when she sees me, setting off into a jog, heeled shoes clutched in her hand. Her dad shouts from behind her, “Careful, Pearl!”
“Trinity! That dress is such a pretty color! Good to see you, Mrs. Reeding! And you too, of course, Henry. And Jackson.” She smiles at each of us in turn, and her dad huffs as he appears beside her.
I’ve met Mr. Fellows before, but I don’t see him often. He would be a very imposing figure if he was taller. He’s pretty short--shorter than my mom, even--but makes up for it by being broad and loud.
He claps a hand on Pearl’s shoulder and grins at her. “I can’t imagine what your mother would say if she saw you run in that dress.”
Pearl looks up at him playfully. “At least she’d be glad I didn’t try to do it in my heels,” she quips back, bending down to fasten the shoes to her feet.
Mr. Fellows emits a deep, resounding laugh, and greets the rest of us. When he gets to Jackson, his gaze sharpens. “You be nice to my girl,” he commands while shaking Jackson’s hand. I fear the boy’s hand might go purple from the force of Mr. Fellows’ grip, but Jackson barely flinches.
“Of course, Mr. Fellows,” he replies with a gentlemanly bow and a soft smile.
“Time for pictures?” my mom asks eagerly. Pearl’s dad agrees.
I look to Pearl. “What about, um, Henry’s date?” I ask, remembering after speak that I probably should’ve addressed the question to Henry, not Pearl.
I note that Pearl’s eyes widen a little, as if to say do not say anything else. Lucky for her, she hasn’t told me anything else, so that isn’t much of an issue.
“Oh, yeah. Well, she’s meeting us at the school,” Henry says with a shrug. He makes it sound very casual.
It takes almost a half an hour for my mom to take a satisfactory number of pictures. I would be fine with just five minutes’ worth, but she wants all kinds of configurations and smiles and goofy and just girls and couples, the whole shebang.
As for Mr. Fellows, he looks like he’s just having a good time holding his phone up and pressing buttons. I’m not sure if he actually gets any photos, though, because he swears at his phone a couple of times and asks Pearl how to use the camera flash at least three.
Just after seven o’clock, we’re finally being dropped off in front of Saint Paul’s, and my mom’s once again reminding me to have a good time. I tell her I’ll try my best.
And then we’re standing there, in the middle of Saint Paul’s slightly overgrown campus, watching as other students we know arrive and wander their way into the school building. A group of Henry’s friends go by--one literally wearing a football jersey--and they throw glances at him and snicker. I personally can’t tell if the interaction is friendly or unfriendly, but Henry doesn’t seem to take offense to it.
A sharp breeze cuts across my legs, and I’m starting to get cold again. I fold my arms and nod toward the school’s entrance. “Should we go in, then?” I ask, but the words are overshadowed by Pearl yelling out, “Amber! Over here!”
This Amber girl comes toward us--Henry’s ‘date’ presumably, and Pearl’s I-don’t-know-what. I’m not even sure how they know each other. She’s tall and angular and has legs that seem to go on for ages. Her hair is tied back into two short ponytails, and her dress is simple and sleek and black.
She approaches us surely, like she knows us all already. “Hey, everyone,” she says, and Pearl beams at her. Amber squints at Henry and Jackson, pointing a finger between the two of them. “My date?”
Henry raises his hand in a staccato motion and then pushes it through his hair. “That’s me. What’s up.”
She chuckles as she looks him up and down. “Alright, cool. Let’s head in,” she says, linking her arm in his.
And just like that, I find myself trailing behind three random people and my best friend, at my first real school dance and on my way to see the very excellent musician Naya Bloom, and yet nothing about it feels very fun anymore.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/438441/trinity-9)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/439478/trinity-11)