From The Sky - Part VIII

His face went ashen.

"Neither of us have dates. We should go together."

"I can't," he stammered. "My grandma's sick."

"Well, the prom's a month away. Maybe she'll be better."

"I really can't, Renata."

Something stirred in my memory, whirling around a moment or two before locking in place.

"Didn't your grandmother die a few months ago?"

"It's my other grandma."

"But she died last year. My aunts sent a basket."

The girl at the counter angrily thrust Steve's order against his collarbone. He clutched the greasy brown paper bag to his chest, and it stained his Pitt sweatshirt. I stopped breathing. He opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it, then turned and fled. The blood drained from my face. I've never felt quite so small, so worthless. I was devastated. It was the one and only time I ever had the nerve to ask a boy out, and I'd been utterly rejected. He'd fended me off with his dead Grammies. How degrading is that? My cheeks were hot and wet. My mouth above my weak little no-chin trembled. The girl at the counter, who saw the whole thing, wouldn't look at me. She called Steve something incredibly rude, as if her acknowledging my humiliation would somehow comfort me.

There was a tap on my shoulder.

I turned to see a boy in a Catholic school uniform, a St. Paul's student. I recognized him from church on Sundays. We'd smiled at each other on occasion, but we'd never met. I didn't even know his name.

"I'll take you to your prom. I think you're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my life. I've always thought so."

I stared at him a long time, tears flowing down my face, my cheeks growing ever hotter, glowing practically nuclear. I pursed my lips, balled up my fist, and punched him in the face as hard as I could. I still had some tomboy left in me. He stumbled backwards, nearly falling, his hands cupping his nose.

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