This can be read as a standalone snippet, even if you know nothing about my novel. ;)
I knew it was a bad idea. I had known it was a bad idea from the moment I dragged Joey into it, and not just because he told me, "This is a really bad idea."
"There are some things," I said as I moved a mop bucket out of the way, "that have to be done even if you know it's not the best idea." I kicked off the high heels that I had forced my feet into and breathed a sigh of relief. "Even wearing these things once or twice a year is too much."
"Remind me why I'm here again?" Joey asked.
"Because this is Cass's last year for the homecoming dance and it's going to be ruined if I don't do something."
"Still not sure why I have to be here."
"To give me a boost, of course." I pulled a screwdriver out of my purse and motioned Joey over to the wall.
Joey rolled his eyes. "Sephie, you do realize that we should be chaperoning this dance, not unscrewing vents so you can crawl into them." He pointedly went to the side of the room and dragged over a stool from the corner. He set it below the vent and waved at it. "Ta-da."
"Oh, come on. Where's the fun in standing on a stool? We're supposed to be all James Bond-like and everything."
"We're supposed to be inside the gym. You know, chaperoning." He enunciated each syllable on the last word. "Most girlfriends would drag their boyfriends to the janitor's closet to make out."
"I can stuff a broom and a mop in a closet at my house and make out with you there sometime if that will make you happy." I stepped up on the stool, which was a little tricky in my dress. I unscrewed the corners of the vent cover and lifted it carefully off the wall. I tucked the screwdriver back into my purse and stuck my hand out behind me. "Megaphone."
Joey handed me the megaphone we'd acquired from Coach Jenson's office. I grinned at him and shoved the megaphone into the hole. I pulled a foghorn—also from Coach Jenson's office—out of my purse and shoved that up there, too.
"Here, hold this for me." I handed Joey the purse and hoisted myself into the vent.
The janitor's closet was right on the other side of the gym, so it wasn't hard to find my way to one of the vents that overlooked it, especially when all I had to do was follow the noise.
I peered through the slats down to the decked-out gym. I could see a swirl of colors and hear the loud music and voices of high school kids as they danced and laughed.
I dragged the foghorn forward and let it blast. My ears rang as the noise echoed loudly off of the narrow vent walls. Very, very loudly. So loudly that I could barely hear it when the music in the gym come to an abrupt stop. That was my cue. I held the megaphone up and spoke into it, pitching my voice higher and deciding to go for an Irish accent.
"Ahem. Excuse me for interrupting the party, but there's something very important that needs to be addressed." I was sure that people were looking around to see what the hubbub was all about, and I wondered if they would realize my voice was resonating from a vent on the wall or if they would assume it was coming from the intercom. "There is a certain young man here tonight who is utterly miserable. I won't name names—Evan Moore—but I'm pretty sure the misery is mutually shared by this girl he knows who is also here tonight."
I could almost picture my sister Cass turning so white that her freckles stood out. I cheerfully continued, "Now, I have to tell you, this young man has sure had moments in high school that made me wonder about him. There was the time he apparently stuck erasers up his nose and said he was an alien. There was the time he somehow locked himself into his own locker. There was the time—you know, I won't go into that one; it was pretty embarrassing. But he also turned out to be a pretty nice guy. He never teased this girl about the braces she had to wear for two years, even when certain sisters teased a lot. He never forgot her birthday and he totally wins points for making a giant marshmallow snowman with her on her back deck using like a hundred bags of marshmallows."
My hearing was pretty much back to normal and I could hear the whispers and murmurs and laughter below me in the gym. I cleared my throat and finished, "I'm not exactly sure what the fight last week was about, but I know that it was almost impossible to get her to come to homecoming today. I know that they're both out in that gym looking like someone killed puppies in front of them. I know that they've been through too much to let one fight come between them. I also know that if they don't work things out, certain sisters might go crazy and lock them in a tiny room together until they talk it out."
My next words were so serious that I almost dropped my high, fake accent. "High school is confusing and complicated, and then suddenly it's over and everything that happened in high school starts to feel so distant. The important thing is having people who stick by your side through it and after it. I've found there's not much that can stand between you and someone you love—as long as you don't let it."
If that didn't make them both stop and think about things, I didn't know what would. I started to lower the megaphone, changed my mind, and added, "Seriously, Evan, fix this or your car is subject to being plastic wrapped."
There was a burst of laughter from the room below, and as I maneuvered myself around in the vents, the music in the gym kicked back on. Pulling the megaphone and the foghorn with me, I made my way back to the janitor's closet.
Joey shook his head as soon as my head poked out of the vent. "That," he said firmly, "was the worst accent I have ever heard. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be Scottish or British."
"Irish, duh." I handed him the megaphone and foghorn before turning around and climbing out onto the stool.
"Worst. Accent. Ever."
I reclaimed my purse from him and he handed me the vent cover so I could screw it back in place. "It was a great speech, though, right?"
"Cass is going to kill you."
"Not if Evan gets me first." I jumped off the stool and shoved my feet back into my high heels. "Look at it this way: it will give them something to unite about. Maybe they'll make up just to see how they can get back at me. And—" I grabbed the front of Joey's suit and tugged him toward me for a long, breathless kiss. "There, you can't say I never made out with you in the janitor's closet. Now let's get this stuff back to Coach Jenson's office! We're supposed to be chaperoning!"
"That's what I—oh, never mind." Joey grabbed my hand and we ran through the high school hallways toward the coach's office. "You know, I would have thought that after going into our third year at college, we'd be done with high school shenanigans."
"Admit it. You're having fun."
There was a wicked gleam in his eye. "Maybe a little."
And that was reason number one thousand and one that he was still my best friend after all these years.
"Besides," I told him after we had returned the megaphone and foghorn and headed back to the gym, "Evadne still has a couple more years of high school and then Ariadne and Daphne have to get through it. We have years of potential high school shenanigans left."
"At this rate, your sisters are going to ban us from everything high school related."
We stopped just inside the gym doors. My eyes skimmed over all of the dancing students and I smiled when I saw Cass and Evan talking earnestly at the side of the room. I nudged Joey and nodded toward them. "Maybe not."
Joey slipped his hand into mine as Cass and Evan finally walked onto the dance floor. From across the room, Cass saw us and she pointed at me and then gave me an 'I'm going to kill you later' look.
I waved cheerfully at her and mouthed, "You're welcome!"
"Oh, yeah," I said happily, leaning against Joey, "years of potential high school shenanigans."
Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) and related characters © Laura Josephsen