The bell rang and everyone in the band room began to stir in their seats.
"That's my signal, not yours," Mr. Ownes bellowed into the room.
The noise silenced and everyone sat, waiting. Mr. Owens stood looking at them for a moment, enjoying the silence.
"You may go," he said, finally, and they burst into their usual scuffle hurrying to put away their music and instruments so that they could get to their next classes on time. The band room was at the far edge of the campus, on the opposite side of the courtyard and lunch room from everything else. Band members were notorious for being late to their third period classes. Their teachers understood this and most just put up with it in silent annoyance, while others would continually reprimand the students.. those students were frequently seen running across the courtyard in a race against the tardy bell, back packs pounding ruthlessly against their bodies.
Mary took apart her clarinet and placed each piece in the case after wiping them. She put her music back in her folder and carried her things to her locker, glancing occasionally across the room at Billy who was also disassembling his trombone and packing up his things. Mary put her folder and clarinet in her locker and pulled out her French book and math book and put them in her back pack. She pulled her green back pack on to her shoulders over her red cardigan sweater and buttoned her sweater over her white blouse. Smoothing her plaid skirt again, she looked down to make sure her black boots were tied and then turned around to see Billy and Sam headed her way, the familiar smirk on Billy's face made her smile nervously.
"Hey," Mary said shyly.
"Hey," said Sam.
"Hi," answered Billy flatly.
"So, um.. Billy?" Mary stammered.
"Yeah," he answered, his smirk nearly turning into a laugh. She felt so childish and unsure of herself around him, her heart started pounding. She was intimidated, but it wasn't going to stop her.
"Uh.. You going to the dance with anyone?" she asked.
"The Sadie Hawkins?" he answered. "Haven't been asked yet."
"Well.. um.." come on, Mary.. just do it.. "You want to go with me?"
"Nope." he said, smiling and waiting for her reaction.
Her face flushed and she took a deep breath. Oh, good grief.. I knew this was a mistake.. She was about to turn away and he spoke up again. "I'm just messing with you," he said, laughing a little. "Sure, I'll go with you." He looked at Sam and they laughed again. "I totally knew you were going to ask me.. sorry for playing a joke on you.. you still want to go with me?" That smirk just wouldn't go away. It was like he was toying with her, mocking the fact that he could see she'd be upset by his rejection. He could see the affect he had on her and was being a manipulative prick.
"Yeah, of course," she said. "But only if you promise not to be an asshole," she smiled coyly at him.
"Okay," he said, laughing again. "I'll do my best."