Chapter 4

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On Monday morning, life returned to a state of normalcy.

It officially felt like fall that morning, with dry leaves blanketing the sidewalks I followed on my way to school. The sweet smell of autumn was in the air. In the course of just two days, the season had changed. It felt odd that just three days earlier, we'd been swimming in the Richmonds' pool. Summer was now definitively over.

Before classes began, Olivia approached me in the hallway.

"My brother said he's taking you to Homecoming," she said, and I cringed, unable to tell if she was happy or upset about that

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"My brother said he's taking you to Homecoming," she said, and I cringed, unable to tell if she was happy or upset about that. "It's cool."

I breathed a sigh of relief. "Really? Because if it's not, I can ask someone else. Honestly, Olivia. If it's going to be weird for you, I'll ask Dan."

Dan, with his buzz cut and endless freckles, was all the way at the end of the hall, out of earshot. He had already gathered up his books for first period and told me to have a good morning.

"Don't be silly! Of course it's cool. You and my brother make a cute couple. Candace might be a freak about it, but ignore her. Henry thinks she's a wind bag."

Having Olivia's blessing made me feel much more at ease about going to the dance. "What about Mischa?" I asked delicately. "Do you think she and Amanda might think I'm stepping on Michelle's toes?"

Olivia wrinkled her nose. "Michelle already has a new boyfriend at the University of Minnesota. I wouldn't worry about that."

In the cafeteria at lunch time, conversation had returned to the Homecoming game on Friday in Kenosha and whether or not we'd all take the bus across the state to cheer for our team. The verdict was that we would go to Kenosha because Candace was insistent that we support Isaac, but we would not stoop so low as to ride the bus with the gross freshmen and unruly sophomores.

"I can drive," Pete offered. "We can fit five in the Infiniti." He looked around our table and counted heads with his finger.  "One, two, three, four, five," he said, pointing first to his own chest and then to Olivia, me, Candace, and  Jeff.  Although Jeff was tall and played basketball with Pete, he wasn't especially cute or funny. I had a feeling that by the middle of the week, Olivia would pressure Pete to make Jeff ask Violet to Homecoming just so that no one would be left out.

"Amanda and I have to ride with the cheerleaders on the bus," Mischa informed Violet. "You can ride with us if you'd like. It'll be fun." Violet sat at the far end of the table eating yogurt and nodded.

I had never been to a football game as a spectator before. As a member of the color guard, I had always sat with the band in my unattractive blue uniform, waiting for performances on the field. It had never really occurred to me before that I might one day sit up in the stands eating hotdogs and popcorn with the cool crowd from school. While I wasn't much of a sports fan, the thought of the Homecoming game and riding to Kenosha in Pete's car put butterflies in my stomach.

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