“How many times are you going to watch that?” my brother Jason asked. He plopped onto the sectional beside me. “Don’t you have it memorized by now?”
“Of course, I have it memorized,” I grumbled. “I helped choreograph it.”
My hand lifted the remote control and pressed the pause button. Our perfect short program froze on the flat screen with my hands connected to Lara’s, her arms stiff, providing the base for our lasso lift. Her chin was erect and her eyes alight.
Lara was elegance personified. Her unruly and fiery red curls tied back into a sloppy bun seemed the way a beauty queen would wear under her crown. Softly tinted lips spread into a smile that would stop traffic. No wonder men flocked to her.
But other men didn’t know her like I knew her. They didn’t know how she snorted when she laughed at a funny movie, how she hated her hair color and wished she could change the color but was afraid she’d ruin it in the process. They didn’t know that she still slept with a Teddy bear, even at eighteen years old, or that she loved peanut M&M’s but only ate them on days when she wouldn’t have to skate the following morning. I’m still not sure why she has that rule. They don’t know she has a beautiful singing voice but is afraid to sing in public, so she only sings in the car and only if I put on stupid show tunes instead of hard rock. Sometimes I listen to show tunes just so I can hear her sing.
I sighed as I gazed at the still image on my television.
“You’ve got it bad, huh?”
I didn’t need to ask what my brother meant by that because I knew he could see the puppy love written all over my face.
“You know she’s just waiting for you to get your head out of rear end and come back to her.”
“I think she’s made it clear that she wants to date other guys,” I choked out. “She always has. I was never more than one of her many guys.”
“She was in Gil’s arms—again—when I found her downstairs in the lobby of our building.”
“Saying goodbye,” Jason said.
“Gazing into his eyes with love and affection.”
“Saying goodbye. They were never anything more than friends. They probably still are. She’s going to have countless friends over the years who are guys and you’re going to just have to deal with that. If you love her and she loves you, nothing else matters.”
“I can’t have her cheating on me,” I said. “I can’t always wonder whether she’s seeing other guys on the side.”
“She let Thomas into her room. After she’d pledged her love to me an hour prior. How could she do that?”
“From what I understand, he pushed his way into her room. She opened the door thinking you were on the other side, and he took her by surprise. Then he took advantage of her. And you holding that over her head like it was somehow her fault is not helping anyone or anything.”
“How do you know so much about this?” I asked my brother.
“She called me.”
“She did?” I turned to gape at him.
“She’s devastated that you won’t talk to her, and she doesn’t understand what she did that made you stop talking to her.”
“I found her in Gil’s arms!” I practically yelled.
“For the hundredth time, she was saying goodbye. You’re an idiot for not understanding that.” My brother practically yelled back. “Do you have any idea what tonight is?”
“Saturday?” I said with sarcasm.
“It’s the winter formal. You know that dance that you would have gone to if you were still showing up at school. Do you realize you’ve missed almost two full weeks of school?”
“They weren’t expecting us back to school yet anyway,” I said. “We’re supposed to still be in China.”
“That was a good enough excuse last week,” Jason said. “Mom and dad are worried about you, the school has called, you’ve barely eaten or slept since you’ve gotten home. Do we need to get you some counseling or something?”
“I’ll be fine… eventually.”
“What are you going to do about the winter formal tonight?” my brother asked.
“What about it?” I shrugged.
“You’re going,” he said. “If I have to drag you there myself. And you’re going to ask Lara to dance and you’re going to apologize, and then she’s either going to slap you across the face and publicly reject you, or fall into your arms crying and thanking you for getting your head straight.”
“I don’t have a tux,” I whispered, wondering why I was still hesitating. I didn’t want to get slapped or rejected, but I did want my girlfriend back.
“I’ll take you to the tux shop right now,” Jason said. “Well, after you get a shower. You haven’t showered in who knows how long.”
I glanced again up at the flat screen, wondering how I could reconnect with Lara and ensure she didn’t slap me in public. The day of our short program we had connected on the ice in a way that was almost spiritual. She had awakened a part of me that I hadn’t realized existed. I wanted Lara in ways I didn’t even want to admit to my own brother. Not even our dance the day before had elicited that much passion from my body.
The dance we’d choreographed as a way to practice all the lifts off the ice before taking them into the arena. The dance we could both do with our eyes closed.
I jumped up from the couch and said, “I need a white tux.”
Without waiting for my brother’s response, I ran from the room, up the stairs, and turned on the shower.
(As always, feedback is greatly appreciated. -Julie)
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