I threw it on the ground and burst into tears. My so-called friends skated away, giggling and gossiping. Infuriated by what they had done, I had no idea what to do next. I watched them head to the well-lit snack area while I retrieved the crumpled note. Alone, I reread his poor penmanship, scribbled in the same sparkly purple ink I had used, "Jamie, thank you for asking me to skate the next couples skate with you. Love, Kevin."
The note was supposed to read, "Love, Bryce." It had taken me most of the school year to get up the nerve to ask my friends to ask him to skate with me. I should have done it myself, like Mom had said. But no, I asked my stupid friends to do it and they asked Kevin instead. My tears tasted bitter on my lips. There was no way I was going to skate with him. He smelled like cooked eggs. He wore the same navy blue sweatpants everyday to school. His teeth overlapped like my brother's nasty mummy mask and I was pretty sure this was his third year in seventh grade.
As I finished contemplating the note, a slower song began to play and the dreaded couples skate was announced. As pairs of kids scurried onto the glossy wooden floor, I hightailed it to the other end of the rink to hide in the bathroom. I really had no idea what I would do if Kevin came looking for me. Once in the safety zone, I jammed my hand into the pocket of my jeans for a quarter. Depositing it into the machine, I turned the crank and let the gumball roll heavy into my palm.
Methodical chewing calmed me down. Mom called gum my guilty pleasure, whatever that meant. After a few deep breaths, I reasoned that the open session was almost over and I could soon leave this disaster behind. I skated over to the open doorway and peaked out over the rink. The painted concrete block walls felt cool beneath my sweaty palms. The couples skate was in full swing and I caught a glimpse of Bryce with his arm around some eighth grader with long blond hair.
Then I saw Kevin. He was sitting by himself on the bench where I had waited for my friends. The sweeping and swirling lights of the darkened rink dappled him with the outlines of stars and hearts. He was as far away from me as he could have been in that place, but I could tell by the way he was sitting that he was sad. My friends had succeeded in ruining his day, too. I wondered if they had even thought about that.
When it was all finally over, I somehow managed to avoid the gaggle of girls, Kevin and Bryce on my way to meet Mom. Our car was already parked at the curb when I walked outside and I slid sulking into the backseat. I slammed the door behind me. Mom turned down the radio.
"Did you not have a good time skating today, honey?"
"You wouldn't understand."
Without pestering me for more, she simply rummaged through her bag and reached behind her to hand me a piece of gum. A wave of emotion washed over me. I didn't know what to do. So, I threw it on the ground and burst into tears.