We all know that there's two sides to every love story. In the new short story collection Girl Meets Boy, 12 of our favorite YA authors pair up to give us the he said/she said behind six tales of love, dating, and attraction. For each of the pairings, one author tells the story from the guy's point of view and the other tells it from the girl's perspective. The below story, "No Clue, AKA Sean," is from the girl's point of view. Stay tuned -- we'll post the guy's side of the story tomorrow!
No Clue, AKA Sean
By Rita Williams-Garcia
What a bug-out. Here I am watching you pretending not to watch me. I’m not turned off by shy, but shy will get you sitting by your lonesome. Shy will get you watching from the sidelines while I’m stepping out with some other guy. Come on, Sean. Let’s get in the game. Say those two words as only you can say them: Hey, Raffina.
I have to admit the whole shy thing is part of the appeal. Sean’s a complete switch from what I’m used to dealing with. A girl can’t eat a hoagie in the caf without some playa rolling up, trying to get those digits. Now that’s a turnoff. Guys assuming too much, too soon. It’s not just because I’m fine—which I am, but because I’m Gary’s sister. The Highlander Hero. Holds the state record for the most triple doubles in a season. Scores thirty-two points on a slow day. So you know what that means. Everybody’s scouting. Recruiting. Rubbing up on him, trying to get to know him. Yeah. Even if they have to go through me to be in with Gary. The guys want to be part of the entourage. The chicks want to be the girl in the prom picture when ESPN takes a look back on the life of Gary Frazier.
But Sean? That boy has no clue. He just gives me that smile like he wants to kick it, but swallows it instead. Except when he wears his University of North Carolina jersey. I bet he thinks it’s just a cool shirt. Baby blue to play off his blue eyes. Never even seen Vince Carter charge and dunk for the Tar Heels wearing number 15. But I’m not complaining, because when he wears the lucky blue jersey I get those two words from him, “Hey Raffina.” Then he’ll ask a question, just to have something to say.
And I’m like, yeeeaah. Sounds silly. All these guys trying to get me in their Jeep, their Lexus, but I’d rather ride off with Sean in his beat-up hooptie, because he knows how to say my name. It’s my parents’ fault. Back in the day, Daddy took Ma to see some play about South Africa called Sarafina! Yeah. One f. After that Ma wanted to name me Sarafina but she couldn’t exactly remember the name or how to spell it. So with Daddy’s help I got no Sa and two fs. Because of that people say “raff,” like drop my name in a hat, shake it up, and reach for a raff. Why? Because that’s what you do when two fs are stuck together. Only family gets it right. Family and Sean.
Sean is cool without effort. You know how hard that is? He’s not trying to be a surfer, a skater, a prep, a goth, a punk. He’s just Sean. A John Mayer cute white guy without the acoustic guitar. When he does finally get it together, he’s not gonna say, “’Sup, yo?” changing his style because he’s talking to me. He’s just going to be real. Sean. With No Clue, he’s got all this good stuff going on.
It should be simple. I don’t exactly bite. Here we are, two humans taking Human Relations 2. Come on, Sean. Let’s relate.
Today’s class is all about [sex ed]. It’s not exactly helping the cause. Sean won’t even look this way. His eyes are straight on the board. Thanks, Mr. Adams. Guess I gotta wait for lucky blue jersey day. Sean’s wearing green checks. Green checks? I swear. White boys dress like they’re in the third grade. But that’s all right, Sean. I’m gonna hook you up. Why? Because you’re taking me to the junior formal. You don’t know it yet. Just wear the lucky jersey tomorrow and say, “Hey Raffina.” I’ll do the rest.
I still have to break it to Gary that I’m going out with Sean. (And to Sean too, for that matter.) Gary thinks he has to approve of my boyfriends. He really shouldn’t care that Sean’s white. I mean, Gary deals with a lot of white girls. Gary’s into long hair. Real long hair. No weaves, no extensions.
I’m not like that about Sean. I won’t lie. I love his blue eyes, and even that mole on his neck. But that’s not why I’m going out with him. And no, I don’t want blue contacts. I just like the whole Sean package. And he’ll be even better when I get through with him.
I laugh to myself. Gary’s gonna have a kitten. And don’t let him see Sean rocking that Vince Carter joint. He might as well be wearing Michael Jordan’s jersey. UNC is the only school my brother’s considering. He visited some other schools. Syracuse. Too cold. UCLA and Gonzaga. Too far. Kentucky. A possibility. But he only wants North Carolina. He only wants to be a Tar Heel. Even ordered a jersey, sweatband, and socks online. He doesn’t wear any of it. Doesn’t want to jinx himself. Just keeps the stuff wrapped up in plastic. Got it hanging over his dresser mirror like it’s a museum display. If I wanted to piss him off, I’d rip open the plastic and touch all his NC stuff with my bare hands.
I just confront him in the kitchen.
“You know I’m going to the junior formal, right? You know I’m not going alone.”
Gary palms the top of my head with his King Kong hand. His finger’s too close to my eye. I take a swipe at him, but his body is too far from his hand. “Lank-ass ape. Get offa my hair. Ain’t no basketball.”
“Sister head,” he says, sporting his Shaquille O’Neal endorsement grin. “Perfect for dunking.”
“Maaaaaw,” I holler.
“Rescue who?” Gary says. “I’m buying Ma a bigger house.” Then he lets up. Totally wrecked my wrap. Know how long it takes to swirl it and pin it with every strand in place? See, Sean would never do that. I’d get nothing but respect from Sean.
Gary thinks he’s my daddy. He thinks he’s the man of the house. Well, technically he is, but that don’t give him the right to mess up my hair.
“Why you can’t wait to get with these losers?”
“Here we go,” I say.
“You don’t know guys like I do, Raffina. If you did, you wouldn’t let one cough on you.”
“And how many girls you go out with this year, Gary? Oops. I said go out. That means you’d actually have to go somewhere with them. As in take them out on a date.”
“I go out.”
“No, Gary. You go in.”
He laughs it off but he knows it’s true. Gary has girls hiding in his locker. Gonna give him some in the weight room, under the bleachers, in the parking lot.
“All right,” he says, trying to be serious. “What’s so good about this guy? Why he gotta date my baby sister?”
I’m tired of that baby sister crap. That’s why Gary runs it into the ground. To annoy me. Just a few years ago we were the same height. Now Gary’s 6'7" and growing.
I almost say Sean’s name, but I can’t because everything’s not in place yet. I say, “He knows how to treat a girl. That’s all you need to know for now.”
Gary goes back to being my daddy. “If you’re going to this junior formal, I better see this [guy]. You got me?”
I almost laugh. He just assumes who I’m going out with. But Gary’s Mr. Equal Opportunity. White girls, Hispanic girls, some black girls. As long as they have long hair.
I don’t answer, because Gary’s not my daddy. His King Kong hand goes for my head.
I get to class ahead of Sean, hoping today is the day. Sure enough Sean comes in. Baby blue North Carolina Tar Heels number 15 lucky ass shirt. I’m smiling, feeling these lips on those lips. Come on, Sean. Say the two magic words, and I’ll do the rest.
I’m still waiting for the turn. The grin. The “Hey, Raffina.” But nothing. Dag on, Sean. What’s the problem? [...] At least give me some energy. The famous Sean grin.
I’m starting to doubt myself. I can’t tell if it’s because he’s shy or what. Then I look at him. Sean. Clueless Sean. Then it hits me. Duh! Girl, you’re so stupid. He’s never kicked it to a black girl. This is probably a big thing to him. Here I am planning how I’ll dress him for the junior formal, while he’s going over the whole black and white thing, like Hamlet and whatnot. To kick it or not to kick it.
Damn. I thought that stuff was back in the twentieth century. Nobody’s going to stare at us. Maybe Sean’s got a reason to be freaking. Like, “Raffina, I have to tell you something. My family was on the Oprah show. You know the episode. ‘My Father Is a Grand Wizard of the Local KKK.’”
I was getting carried away with myself. I started to laugh, forgetting I was in class. The teacher gives me that look, thinking I’m too immature to handle the topic of coital motion, so I straighten myself up. Pull it together. Sean must be thinking the same thing.
Anyway, so the bell rings and I get out of there fast. I take a few steps down the hall then stop. What are you doing? I ask myself. It’s lucky blue jersey day. I turn around and see Sean. He’s looking in my direction. No. He’s looking dead at me. He’s got that grin, watching me walk toward him. So, I can’t believe I’m doing this. Going after the guy, when every guy goes after me, but it’s now or not happening. So I kind of work my way through the hall crowd and say, “So Sean. You look pretty happy today.”
God. The blue eyes are working. It’s the whole blue on blue effect. The eyes, the Vince Carter jersey. He says, “I am,” and he nods. Under the hallway light, the hair’s got a little shine to it.
I’m trying not to drool. Still pulling myself together, I say something like, “Yeah, aren’t you glad we’re busting out of here early? You know, sixth period dismissal.”
But I think I lost him. He goes blank, but he recovers. The Sean-ness comes back in full force. He says, “Wanna go out?” Like that. No rap. No nothing. Just cut right to it.
I’m like, wow. But I don’t want to blow it. I haven’t had a real moment since the seventh grade. This is real. I mean, I surprise myself. My grand plans are crumbling out from under me. I’m that nervous. Me. Raffina, “Miss-Quick-with-the-Quips.” All I can manage is, “Sure.”
I don’t think he hears me. But he smiles and everything is all right. Then we walk out together. He says, “I mean, like on”—and then he hesitates.
Longest two seconds, ever. I’m already freaking, thinking, ON? ON WHAT?
“On a date type thing?” he says.
I contain the big sigh of relief. Slowly, Raffina comes back, confident and in control. “Yeah. I got that,” I say. “But one thing. You gotta meet my brother Gary.”
“You have a brother in this school?”
And there it is. Sean has no clue that I’m Gary’s sister. I don’t even think he knows who the Highlander Hero is. Just no clue. Don’t you just love him?