Cheri linked her arm through mine. “You are so lucky your parents are letting you get your ears pierced!” She sighed. “And on your sweet sixteenth too. Mine never let me do anything!”
I pulled her towards the mall directory, tracing the list of names with one finger. “Did you ask nicely?”
“Did I what?” Cheri rolled her sapphire eyes.
My finger landed on a yellow line. I followed the line to the map. “I mean, did you ask nicely, or did you whine ‘Maddison’s parents are letting her do it for her birthday!’ and ignore them for the rest of the week ‘cause they said no?”
“It’s here, right across from Kohl’s.” Cheri pulled me into the flow of mall traffic. “Sure I asked nicely. I even made them coffee after dinner and did the dishes.”
Laughter snickered out from my cherry glossed lips. “Cheri! That’s not how you ask.” I snuck a glance over one shoulder to be sure my parents were still following me.
“Easy for you to say. You have cool parents. They like you. Mine wish I was in college full-time with a part-time job. Then I’d be too busy to do anything else but study and work to pay for gas and rent.”
“Your parents have a lot to worry about.” I countered. “Besides, here we are!” I walked into the boutique and stopped. “Wow.”
“Yeah.” Cheri muttered. “I’ve never seen so many-”
“Hi, I’m Maya. Can I help you?” Maya, a redhead with huge silver earrings, positively beamed when I explained my mission. “Neat birthday present, now just sit here, there we go. Those your folks now?” She gave a jerk of her head as I waved them over.
The next few minutes were understandably jumbled. Maya gave the reader’s digest version of what she was doing, Mom and Dad signed the appropriate papers and Cheri held my hand while Maya did the actual piercing.
I didn’t exactly feel anything because the moment she started Cheri suddenly whispered. “Maddie! Jeremy Knight and his sister are coming here!”
“What?!” I squeezed her hand as Maya punched the first hole.
“Ow!” Cheri tugged her hand away. “I said-” Maya punched the second hole. “There goes Jeremy Kni-”
“Madison?” Leanna Knight stared at me, mouth open in awe. “Did you just get your-Madison?”
“Maddie?” Cheri’s worried face bounced into view as I fell off the chair.
I don’t remember much after that. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember falling off anything.
Yet here I am, a normal, average sixteen year old girl with an impossible image and unearthly troubles.
Really. How many teenage girls do you know that fainted right after they got their ears pierced?
I am so, so embarrassed! I can’t believe I fainted in front of Jeremy too.
My eyes opened and I found myself staring up into five, somewhat familiar faces.
A blonde ponytail attached to a head with a heart-shaped face. Mom. It had to be Dad next to her with the gray moustache, and Cheri with the pink headband and crooked lip-liner.
Wavy brown hair and green gummy-bear eyes stared straight at me as a new head crowded in.
Large silver earrings, flaming red hair. Maya.
My face flamed as noise rushed into my head.
I opened my mouth and hiccupped.
“Water?” Jeremy offered, pulling and unopened bottle of Aquafina from a shopping bag. “Nice earrings.”
Dad helped me to my feet and Mom opened the water bottle for me.
A few sips later I was fully aware of that I’d just fainted in front of the cutest guy ever and his kid sister.
A guy who’d just given me a bottle of water and complimented my new earrings.
My mind worked to find a suitable answer and my mouth came up with a simple word. “Thanks.”
He smiled as his sister nudged him, rolling her eyes. He handed her a twenty-dollar bill as she followed Maya to the checkout register.
“All set?” Dad asked.
“Real smooth, Maddie.” Cheri murmured in my ear.
My face grew warm and I imagined it the same shade of Maya’s hair.
Jeremy turned to go, pausing in the doorway. He looked back at me and winked.
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