She walks across the room from the crates underneath the window and lifts the needle. The gramophone crackles, and-


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She dances round the room, narrowly avoiding stacks of books and the clothes hanging off the bed in a precarious tower and the papers falling off the desk-


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The handle turns and Nate steps in, and he doesn’t know what to feel because his best friend is supposed to be dressed and dolled up but she’s dancing around him now, barely covered, feet light and airy and he’s swept up in her paces-


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They step in time, like so many others before them and Nate feels her head rest on his shoulder. He tenses as he thinks he hears Aunty Esther (just Esther, Nate, Esther is fine) coming up the stairs, pauses and stalls as he tries to calculate how long it’ll be till she knocks at the chestnut bedroom door but all he comes up with is


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They’re late for the dance or whatever and all he can think of is how Sara really needs to look at least decent but all Sara can think of is how Nate is really tall right now, like not right now but nowadays, like these past few months, it’s really nice and she likes how she can lean on him, all together now:


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Nate gets a (metaphorical) heart attack as the door swings open against his back. He’s built like a wall and sturdy and the door doesn’t open any further but they stare into each other’s widened eyes all the same. Sara yells, “Mum! Gimme a minute!” but Aunty Esther says, “Your friends are here already,” and Sara really doesn’t give a fuck, but Nate does and he says, “We’ll be down in ten, Aunty, sorry,” and pulls his phone out of his pocket to dial for a cab. Esther’s fading “Just Esther is fine, Nate, really,” barely registers as Sara twirls away, out of his arms and he bends to scoop something off the floor, anything to fill his hands and make them forget her skin


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He helps her into the disaster of a frock she insisted on buying because it’s the trend right now and oh my god I love this colour so much and he asks, “Aren’t pleats like an old woman thing?” but she glares at him and flounces back into the fitting room. She’s not really mad, but Nate buys her ice cream anyway, even though she says, “If I eat this I won’t fit into my dress”


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They meet their friends in the school hall and are glared at by the teacher-chaperones. Sara giggles, with her arm linked with his and her high heels-short dress-lip gloss filling his vision. Nate thinks, all the boys would kill to have you but asks instead if anyone wants some fruit punch? He looks at the group from the punch line and wonders at the irony, that Sara has her arms across her girlfriends’ shoulder and where else have they been? He’s not sure he wants to know, not sure of anything at all


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But when Sara turns to him and asks, “Can I have this dance?” he laughs – whether it’s at her or with her is anyone’s guess right now – and plays along. They weasel their way to the middle of the floor and fall into position, like they always have – her arms around his neck, his hands around her waist. They sway, surrounded by all the sweaty bodies and Sara feels awkward enough to start a conversation. She says, “Thank you for coming with me,” and he just smiles. It’s too noisy, he thinks, to say anything meaningful anyway


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The gang leaves early, adrenaline rushing through their veins, and they end up at some fast food chain. They crash into a booth, a gaggle of sweat and makeup and laughter, and stuff their faces with fries and onion rings and sweet teenage memories




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Sara and Nate walk home together, silently, and Nate thinks this isn’t so bad but that’s before he sees the jock at Sara’s doorstep. He hesitates at the fence, and watches her walk up the path and say hi in that nice way she does. He blinks and sees him grab her behind his eyelids. A second passes: he gives her a bouquet and they hug. Another blink, and Sara is saying goodnight. The jock walks back down the path and smacks Nate on the shoulder, in that kind of friendly way between guys. Then he’s gone.











noun | \bez-mAn\

origin: French

a kiss on the hand

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