Feb. 18 2016
The laughter crackled like static electricity around the room when the bottle stopped spinning. It was pointing straight at Drears, whose ears turned bright red and she hung her head, letting a curtain of dark hair fall over her face.
Whispers followed. Jimmy got Drears! Wouldn't want to kiss that... Followed by more laughter, and this time I felt my ears getting red - but with anger.
Drears wasn't so bad, just awkward. She wouldn't have even come to this party if her sister Kelly hadn't been ordered to bring along her younger, awkward sister. Kelly was everything Drears wasn't - blonde, popular and put together. She wasn't mean, but she also didn't have to time to help her hapless sis, or risk losing her social standing by sticking up for her. When the game of spin the bottle had been announced, a grin as sharp as broken glass twisted on Kelly's lips and she shoved Drears into the room before heading over to the beer pong table.
The poor girl sat in the room, picking at the fraying hem of her jeans, pulling her knees as close to her chest as she could. Hardly part of the circle, but it was enough for the bottle to glance her way. Enough for the crowd to laugh at her. And me.
Drears wasn't her name, in case you couldn't figure that out - and some people honestly didn't know. Even her mom called her Drears. It took me a second, but I remembered - it was Dorothy. Like the girl from OZ. Kelly and Dorothy Rears, and all it took was Mrs. Lawson calling out attendance on the first day of sixth grade.
"Drears? Who's Drears?" she asked, looking over her bug-glasses at the class. Her ears had turned red then too. Laughs sizzled from the back of the room and chittered to the front like splinters of glass.
"Dee. REARS," said Derek Hawthorne. "Drears!"
And that was that. It wasn't even funny. But the laughter sounded the same tonight as it had three years ago.
I could see her eyes shining with tears that wouldn't hold back much longer, even through the curtain of her hair. I leaned forward, one hand on the shabby carpet, and reached out with the other and slipping it through the strands of hair to cup her cheek. We were so close I could feel her breath on my face, minty with a hint of warmth beneath. My forehead bumped hers with a jolting, but not unpleasant thump.
She blinked in surprise, and two twin tears fell, but didn't even hit her cheeks. They were simply swallowed silently by the carpet. Her hair felt like silk and I can still see her dark eyes. She was surprised. I raised my eyebrows and waited half a second. I saw the smallest smile, but it was enough.
I kissed her gently on the corner of her mouth and all the laughter stopped.