Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Alternate Homecoming Scene

Here's the alternate way Chapter 41 would have wound up if the two top songs had remained tied at the end of the poll. Most of it reads the same, but watch for the bold...

Another set of slow songs and this time Amy sat out with me. “He looks bored,” she said, motioning vaguely towards the dance floor.

“Who? Martin?” Even Martin had been asked to dance. I was feeling lower than low.

“Well, yeah. Him too. But I mean your guy.”

“Derek?”

“No. God! I’m going to start carrying a chart,” Amy warned. “Pietr.”

“Oh. I hadn’t noticed.”

“You don’t lie as well as you think you do,” she said with a sniff.

“Ugh.”

“Oh. Sarah doesn’t look too happy.”

I peered out onto the dance floor. Amy was right. Sarah looked even worse than just unhappy—she looked mad. She looked straight at me, still stretching to hold onto Pietr’s shoulders.

My heart fell into my stomach and started jumping around like a fish fresh from the stream. I was the first to look away.

“That can’t be good,” Amy whispered, still watching.

I tried to look mesmerized by the floor. “Is she still glaring at me?”

“No. She’s talking to him again.” Amy leaned forward in her chair, following my lame ploy that there was something absolutely fascinating about Junction High’s gym floor. She kept up the spy game. “Nope. She’s mad.” She poked me. “He’s not trying to dump her now—not at the dance?”

My heart stopped. “No--” But I wondered. Every time my dad had wanted out of something, he screwed it up so badly my mom just quit asking him to do it. “Is he stepping on her feet?”

“What? No.” Amy just looked at me. “Sometimes I just can’t follow your line of logic,” she admitted.

“Way better that way. He won’t break it off tonight. I told him he couldn’t.”

“Okay. I definitely don’t follow your logic,” she confirmed.

--Whoa, here it comes--

“It’s winding up again!” Amy shouted, as if I’d gone deaf since her last statement.

--That funny feeling again, winding me up inside--

Pietr was before me, pulling me onto my feet.

--Every time we touch--

“Dance with me,” he said.

--Hey I don’t know—

Sarah was behind him, glowering at me. I hesitated.

--Oh tell me where to begin ‘cause I never ever felt so much--

Amy grabbed Sarah and headed to the dance floor. “Fast or slow?” she called.

--No, I can’t recall any love at all--

Pietr had me by the wrist. I followed.

“I don’t know!” I yelled to Amy.

--Ohh, baby this blows ‘em all away--

But on the dance floor couples quickly formed and someone shut off a set of lights as a hint.

--It’s got what it takes--

“Slow,” Amy groaned, dragging Sarah back to the chairs.

--So tell me why can’t this be love?--

I tried to go with them. I did. But Pietr already had me by the waist.

“Stay,” he commanded.

“Fine. You’ve probably already doomed my friendship with Sarah anyhow by neglecting her during this dance,” I said, resigning myself to reach up and rest my hands on his shoulders. “She’s going to be jealous.”

“I thought I always stated the obvious,” he said, pulling me closer.

I couldn’t help it. My eyes scanned the room. Nope. No rulers in sight.

“Who are you looking for? Derek?” His eyes narrowed.

I chuckled at the idea of Pietr, the popular and handsome—definitely handsome--new guy, being jealous of where my attention went. I leaned my forehead against his chest and sighed. “You wouldn’t understand,” I whispered.

“No,” his voice rumbled in his chest, deep and loud with my ears so close. “You’re right,” the words reminded me of Hunter’s growl. “When it comes to you liking Derek, I can’t understand.”

I just closed my eyes and tried to not think of anything but being close to Pietr, right then and right there.

--I wanna’ know--why can’t this be love?

The song ended and I dropped my hands away from his shoulders, taking a half step back.

“Wait,” he said, tightening his grip on my waist. He looked thoughtful, peering at the ceiling as he listened to the first few notes of the next song. When his eyes next met my own there was something different there—something sad and so completely lonely... “This is my song,” he whispered.

--There's no time for us--

He pulled me close, his arms wrapping around me, hands resting at the small of my back. I didn't know what to do, so I leaned my cheek against his chest.

--There's no place for us--
--What is this thing that builds our dreams yet slips away from us--

I could hear his heart beating. No matter how slowly we danced, it seemed to race like an old clock that had just been wound. I thought if we could both somehow slow time down then we could be like this--close, together--forever.

--Who wants to live forever--
--Who wants to live forever....? --

I closed my eyes, listening to the song--his song--and his heart. At odds with each other.

--There's no chance for us--
--It's all decided for us--
--This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us--

He sighed, a sweet, gentle sound. And I relaxed, resting against him and swaying ever so gently as he did.

--Who wants to live forever--
--Who wants to live forever--

I thought that if this was what forever felt like, then I wanted to live forever.

--Who dares to love forever? --
--When love must die...--

He winced at the last line and I drew back, startled, looking up at his solemn face, his tightly closed eyes, and wondering what I still didn't know about Pietr...

Sarah was almost between us at the song’s end.

“He insisted on dancing with his guide,” she explained, giving me her broadest smile as she put a hand on his arm. Possessively. “He said proper courtesy is very important to people of his background.”

I backed up, and forced my eyebrows to stay level. “Thank you for the dance, Pietr,” I said, watching Sarah the whole time.

Amy put her hands on my shoulders and began to guide me away. “My mom’s in the parking lot,” she explained over her shoulder to Pietr and Sarah. “You two have fun!”

We slipped our shoes on and headed outside. “So,” she said as soon as the school’s doors closed behind us. “Do you think someone with Sarah’s head trauma can ever really return to what they were like before the accident?”

I was frozen, not by the autumn breeze playing with the hem of my skirt, but by the possibility. “I don’t know.”

“Well, we’d better hope not,” Amy pointed out dryly. “Because if the old Sarah ever shows up in that cute little package you call friend-- she’s gonna’ kill you.”

I hung my head, knowing Amy was right. Because of the original trio of Jenny, Macie and Sarah, Sarah was the smartest. And the cruelest by far.

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