The Lonely Hearts Club
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He got out, slammed the door shut, and started jogging on the sidewalk.
"Tracy, what on earth is going on? Go get him -- he can't walk."
Tracy was gripping the wheel tightly. "No."
"He'll be late for school."
"Fine with me."
"All right, stop it. What on earth is going on?"
Tracy pulled back out into the street and stared forward while we passed Mike. "He freaked out at me yesterday simply because his stupid girlfriend spent most of Homecoming with us instead of him."
"Really? Which one was she?" I tried to go through all the girls who'd been dancing with us, but couldn't keep track.
"The petite brunette with that cute poofy lavender skirt."
"Oh! She's Mike's girlfriend?"
Tracy nodded as she pulled into the parking lot.
"Well, I don't see why you and Mike have to get into a huge fight over that."
"He was the one who started it. I knew he'd find a way to ruin what was an awesome evening." A smile spread across Tracy's face. "Seriously, we completely rocked that dance! Everybody kept saying their dates were such duds. Did you see one guy out there on the dance floor who was having a good time? No, they all just sat in a big group and talked about sports. . . ." She shifted into her best imitation of Mike. "Whatever, dude!"
When we got to school, I kept telling myself that this was just another normal week, nothing to be nervous about. But my stomach kept doing somersaults every time I thought about seeing Ryan at the dance in the clutches of that fresh monster, I decided to walk a lot slower than usual. Maybe he wouldn't be there. Maybe I could just pretend that I wasn't mad. Maybe ...
As I turned the corner to my locker, I saw him taking off his jacket. I was very very relieved to see there was no sign of She Who Would Not Be Named.
I started to fiddle with my combination and saw him turning around. We caught each others eyes. He smiled, and started to say something --
"Um, Penny?" I was startled and nearly dropped my messenger bag. I turned around to see Eileen Vodak and Annette Ryan, both freshmen, hovering behind me.
"We, Um, we really think you guys are so much fun, and we had a really great time, urn, hanging out with you guys." Eileen blushed and started twirling her long auburn hair around her finger nervously.
Were they part of our group on Saturday?
"We just, um, really admire you. What you did was so cool."
"thanks," I replied in a low voice, hoping Ryan wouldn't hear.
Annette nudged Eileen with her shoulder. "Um, yeah, we were wondering if your club was for juniors only, or if you would ever consider having freshmen involved. .."
I stared at Eileen for a few seconds while I tried to process what she was saying.
"I mean, I know we're underclassmen, but.. ."
My eyes grew wide as I realized what she was asking. "Of course. the more the merrier!"
Both Eileen's and Annette's faces lit up. "Oh, thanks so much, Penny! Just let us know what you need us to do."
I didn't even know what I was doing.
"Okay, will do."
I turned back to my locker as they left. Ryan closed his and leaned over. "Hey there."
"Hi," I replied. Now if I could only stop the urge to shake him and ask him what the hell he was thinking, going with that vile creature.
"Hey, Penny." I turned around as Jen and Amy came over.
I smiled at Ryan apologetically, but was relieved to have the distraction. He just nodded and headed off to class.
"A couple of the girls on the team who had dates called me to talk about the Club," Jen said. "Do you think we could add a few more members?"
As I walked to Spanish class, I couldn't help but notice how many girls were saying hi to me.
"Hola, Margarita," Todd, greeted me as I sat down at my desk.
"Hola." I pulled out my Spanish book and opened to the new chapter.
Todd, moved in closer to my desk. "Hey, Penny, what was up with your little chick parade on Saturday night?"
"Oh, well, we had a lot of fun. I don't see what the big deal is." I was starting to feel a little defensive.
"And what the hell is this about Diane quitting cheerleading?" He started shaking his head. "there's just too much weird crap going on."
"It's not that weird. Anyway, how was your night with . . ."
"Hilary," he said angrily.
"Oh, right, Hilary! She's really cool --you must have had fun." I tried to cheer Todd, up a little, since it was strange to not have him goofing around.
"I wouldn't know --she spent most of her evening with you guys."
Oh, that's right.
Todd, opened up his notebook and pretended to be really interested in his notes. this was not normal behavior at all.
I was sure he'd get over it soon. it really wasn't that big of a deal.
"Why do you care what Todd, Chesney thinks?" Tracy asked as she and I headed to join Jen and Amy at our usual lunch table.
"It's not just him -- I've been getting weird vibes from guys all day." I threw my lunch bag down on the table. "And all these girls have been coming up to me saying the nicest things."
"I know -- isn't it great?" Tracy responded.
"Hey, guys, is it okay if Kara joins us?" Morgan asked, with Diane and Kara right behind her.