After Christmas vacation I had to get my braces put back on, unfortunately. I came back with no good stories, no romantic tales of me and the beach. I came back to school with a burned scalp and braces like my whole pulling them off never happened.
The year continued, filing between classes, stalking Brian at his locker. Nothing happened with Brian. He never asked me to dance and slowly I figured out that he was in fact into Vivian, even though it wasn’t a surprise to anyone else. Vivian thought he was cute too and everyday on my walk from French to Science, I would see them flirting and eventually it didn’t bother me. It was just a thing. My feelings to Brian ended as quickly as they had come and that was that.
Life went on.
Brian was still the basketball manager and I still wore the plastic white duckbill on my face with hopes of learning how to dribble. I went to cotillion until it ended and I would dance with the cute boys and get a new crush every week with each dance. Life was normal. My hormones were still as crazy as ever and I still couldn’t make a lay up. At least, I couldn’t do it the way you are supposed to. I could and probably still can make a lay up with the wrong leg and arm up, not enough pick up time, and almost no hop. I could make these shots about 25 percent of the time.
It wasn’t until closer to the end of the year that I noticed Brian hadn’t been the only basketball manager. It’s pretty amazing how you can see only what you want and block out everything else. There were a couple practices left and I was getting the hang of the occasional look up while dribbling, not enough to not wear the duckbill, but I was getting better and in one of my glances up I saw this boy standing next to Brian. He was tall, had brown hair, and was laughing a laugh that made his whole body smile. You could see the joy radiate out of him. It was the first time in a while that I thought about how closely I must resemble a backwards duck with my yellow hair and plastic bill. Now, that I noticed this boy I was also sure I was bright red, which he could only see from the bridge of my nose up, but no less mortifying. I was an angry backwards duck who barely got better each week.
At least it was almost summer, plus the boys were pretty far away so they might not even be able to tell who I was; but, if they could, they wouldn’t remember me after summer. Especially because they were going to high school. So it would be fine. I just had to finish out this year and there were only weeks left. This seemed doable.