It Wasn’t My Fault, part two

IT WASN’T MY FAULT…. Part Two

By ALISON LOHANS

© Alison Lohans, 1993
Excerpted from LAWS OF EMOTION by ALISON LOHANS, Thistledown Press with the permission of Thistledown Press.

Read Part One

Part Two ….

“Oh you guys!” Tina shrieked with laughter. “You are too much!”

Blinking back tears, I tried to extricate myself.

“Sorry about that.” Adam got up clumsily. He was drenched with something that smelled like Pepsi. He looked down at himself, then shrugged. “Oh well. It’s raining. It’ll wash off.”

I floundered in the mud. Tina and Adam each extended a hand. “How’m I supposed to go to the dance like this?” I wailed.

“Back in a sec,” Adam said, taking off at a run toward the concession stands.

“You didn’t want to dance with that old Piggins anyway,” Tina said fiercely. “Think he’d be a treat, all stinky after the game?”

“He gets to take a shower. He has clean clothes to change into. And they have hair dryers in the locker room.”

Tina giggled. “You could use the guys’ locker room.”

“Oh shut up.”

“Here you go.” Adam was back with a huge handful of paper towels. His glasses were so blurred with rain I wondered how he could tell whom to come back to. I felt like a real dipstick as he and Tina and one of the drummers wiped me off. All around us the rain kept hissing down.

Hardly any spectators were left by the time we got back to the bleachers, except a few die-hards who’d had the foresight to bring umbrellas. On the glistening field, brown figures grappled, slithered, fumbled the ball. A yellow school bus had pulled up by the Cougars’ bleachers, and a lot of their fans were boarding. Mr. Baxter decided to forget about the halftime show.

This is sick,” one of the trombone players groaned.

Mr. Baxter had us play the fight song. Not that it would help. The score was only 49-6, Cougars.

“Mr. B.?” Adam spoke up afterwards. “I can’t see my music. I haven’t got windshield wipers for my glasses.”

Mr. Baxter smiled indulgently. “Then take them off – you’ve had your music memorized since last month.”

“But how’m I supposed to see the game?”

“What game?” I muttered.

“Squint,” replied Mr. Baxter.

Tina giggled. “Never quits, does he.”

I glanced sideways as Adam removed his glasses. His face looked oddly vulnerable, his brown eyes somehow naked, groping to connect with the world.

The game was called off. Rather, we conceded. It was pretty obvious who’d win, anyhow.

“So now what’re we supposed to do?” I asked Tina as she blew water out of her trumpet. “We can’t go to the dance like this. And nobody’s home to pick us up.” My parents were at a party. Tina’s mom worked night shift.

“Hm,” said Tina. “We’ve got a problem.”

“I’d give you girls a ride if I had a car,” Adam said. His eyes were blinking and his lashes wet with rain.

I had to smile a little.

“We could steal that Porsche,” Tina suggested, pointing.

I fumbled in my wallet. “I’ve got ninety-two cents. That wouldn’t pay a heck of a lot of taxi fare.”

Adam checked the contents of his pockets. “Hey, is that a nickel or a quarter?”

I poked at the coins in his cold hand. “You have seventy-four cents. And a bottle cap.”

“I’ve got two bucks,” Tina added.

“The sum total of which would get you girls about six blocks,” Adam predicted.

Tina turned on him. “How’re you getting home?”

Adam shrugged. “Walking. I’m just a wimp. Nobody’d be interested in molesting me.”

I looked sharply at him. Was that how he really felt about himself?

Warm air greeted us in the music room. The floor was slick with tracked-in mud. I sat down and put my trumpet in its case. Across the room in the clarinet section Adam looked – well, kind of depressed, as he took his clarinet apart and carefully wiped it dry. I almost felt like going over to talk to him – not that I’d have anything remarkable to say.

Tina skidded across the room. “Stacey! Success! Travis said he’d give us a ride.”

My stomach somersaulted. Travis had a habit of smashing cars. The two times I’d ridden with him I’d been a mere glob of Jell-O in the back seat. “I guess I’ll wait here until the dance is over,” I said. “Mr. B’ll let me practice or listen to CDs. Or something.”

Tina gave me a withering look and followed Travis out the door.

“I’ll walk you home, Stacey.” Adam’s voice startled me.

I looked up. He was still sitting there. I laughed a little. “I live three miles away.”

“Oh. Well…”

“No, that’s okay. But it’s sweet of you to offer.”

He still hadn’t put his glasses back on. Was I just a blur to him? With his hair plastered to his head, he looked like a half-drowned puppy.

“Want to do something while you’re waiting for your parents? Get a Coke or something?” Adam got busy polishing his glasses.

It felt weird talking back and forth across the empty room. I went over to sit by him. He put his glasses on. But it was too quiet. I started getting nervous. Why’d Tina have to go off with that drag racer?

I took a deep breath. “I guess we could go for a walk.”

A slow smile spread across Adam’s face. “A walk in the rain. We’re already soaked; what’s the difference?”

I grinned at him and stood up.

It was glorious walking in the rain. The streets shimmered with light. Water gushed in gutters, sluicing into storm drains. I ran along the wet sidewalks, Adam pounding after me.

“Higgins iggins biggins piggins!” I yelled. It was deliciously satisfying.

“What?” Adam called.

“Nothing.” My feet slapped to a halt beneath one of the city’s saplings, planted in a dirt square surrounded by sidewalk. I grasped the trunk of the young tree and shook it. Drops cascaded all over me, all over Adam.

“Hey!” he yelped. Laughing, he mopped at his glasses, then gave up and tucked them in his pocket.

Midway between two painted parking stall lines, I saw a pinky-greeny-yellowy oil stain. “How pretty!” I said in surprise.

“What’s pretty? I can’t see a thing without my glasses.” Adam grinned and took a turn shaking the tree.

Something went soft inside me. “Can you see me?” I asked.

“Oh sure,” he said, still smiling. “I can see you with my eyes shut.” And then he clammed up.

I watched a traffic light turn green, amber, then red again. Cars splashed past, leaving silvery streaks in the street. “Adam?” I said at last.

“Want to get an ice cream cone or something?” he mumbled in a hurry. “They’ve got licorice ice cream at Bailey’s.”

“Adam.” Since he still wasn’t looking at me, I had to go stand directly in front of him.

“What?” He wasn’t much taller than me, and he looked nervous.

Suddenly I felt on shaky ground. A van rumbled past, spraying water on us. A police car swooshed in the opposite direction. And the rain kept spattering down, between us, around us, surrounding us. “Adam Messick,” I said slowly, “it was really nice of you to wipe that mud off me at the game. And to offer to walk me home.”

“It just seemed the right thing, I guess.” Rainwater beaded his face. I went a little weak in the knees. I’d never noticed what a nice profile he had.

It was all Mr. Baxter’s fault. Mr. Baxter, and the rain. Biggins Piggins Higgins was washed right out of my system. Here I was standing at the corner of Tyrol and Columbia with an unknown quantity.

“Do you like licorice ice cream?” that unknown quantity mumbled. “They have double almond mocha too, and just plain vanilla.”

I wasn’t too sure what I liked anymore, because everything was swimming in glimmering wetness. “I like licorice.”

“Then I’ll buy you one.” Right away he looked happier.

It sounded like a good buy – especially if he only had seventy-four cents and a bottle cap. I didn’t know if I should offer to get him one, too.

“It’s a deal,” I said, tucking my arm in his.

A heart-stopping smile spread across his face.

It was all Mr. Baxter’s fault…

THE END

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