You know those dreams where you’re sitting in class, completely naked, and the teacher calls on you to stand up in front of the class to answer some ridiculous question she just asked? No? You’ve never had one of those dreams? Well, me neither. But this has to be exactly what that feels like.
I’m not naked. And I’m not in class either, though I am still on campus, in the school gym. Matt Hillard, our student body president, just called my name. I mean, I knew he was going to. I knew as he was announcing the names for our senior prom court that my name was going to be called. It’s an open secret every year who the joke votes are—one guy and one girl—and I’m the lucky guy this year.
I feel like I want to puke.
Quinton, my best friend, nudges me in the side. “Get down there, man.”
He and a couple of my other friends start to clap. A few other seniors applaud, too, but it’s definitely the quietest reaction from the crowd of any senior who’s been called up for the prom court. Izzy, Woodbridge’s resident YouTube star, received a huge ovation, especially after she revealed a hot cosplay outfit. She’s the girls’ joke vote for this prom court, but there is definitely a difference between us. She seems to have half of the school pulling for her, while I, on the other hand, probably have less than a dozen. And those are my friends.
As I make my way down the bleachers, the clapping dies out, and I start to head toward Izzy. As popular as she’s becoming—almost like a beacon of hope for geeks and nerds who’ve felt stepped on by a-holes who run the school like Jeremy McCormick or Yvette Morales—she’s still the joke vote. And the joke votes are always paired together for prom court. So it catches me entirely by surprise as Greg, a member of ASB, guides me away from Izzy and over toward Natalie Frazier.
Natalie’s eyes shoot back and forth between Greg and me, and I know she’s thinking the same thing I am. What is going on?
“And the final member of the guys’ prom court is … oh. This is embarrassing.” Matt lets out a chuckle. I can tell he’s playing to the crowd. “Well, if I must I must. It’s me, your senior class president,” Matt says, and the entire gym applauds.
As the fifth and final member of the guys’ side of our prom court, he walks by, giving me a head nod, before standing next to Izzy. Putting his arm around her, he leans in close and whispers something to her.
I look around and see Franco do the same with Jen Harris. Are we supposed to act flirty or something during these things? We’re called a ‘prom couple’, but it’s just for the week. Am I supposed to act like I’m into Natalie? If I am, it wouldn’t be a problem. She has light almond skin, gorgeous umber eyes, and today she’s wearing a reddish lipstick that’s bright enough to look nice, but not too much where it’d draw attention to herself. It’s not like she needs any help drawing attention. She’s one of those high school hybrids; super smart, excelling at all things academic, while still being one of the popular girls in school.
I take another look around, and Greg is talking about prom court to the crowd, while Bret is whispering something to Sarah, another court couple. Okay, that must be a thing.
I turn to Natalie, who’s scowling and staring straight ahead, and lean closer to whisper to her. Whisper what, I have no idea, but I should probably say something.
“Don’t even think about it,” she hisses, without even looking at me.
Great. This prom court week is going to be so much fun.