Katie looked straight ahead at Josh, measuring the “doe-doe-doe” sound in her mind, ignoring Evangeline’s best efforts to take the entire group sharp.
She had auditioned for The Acapocalypse to do something different—to get a taste of the legitimate college lifestyle while she finished out her high school career. High school had nothing for her—any of the cool activities were dominated by the cool kids and she didn’t have the patience to politick or try to fit their mold in an effort that was unlikely to ever yield any meaningful results.
Singing in an a cappella group was something she could see herself doing in college, and she thought joining this group could be like training wheels—helping her learn the basics, getting her in the habit of going to rehearsal and learning this style of music, so she would be all the more prepared when she went away to school.
Two months and she was bored to death with the simplicity and the repetitiveness of the arrangements. She felt genuinely uncertain if that was the best Josh and Amanda knew how to do, or if that was just the best they thought the group was capable of keeping up with. Katie had started drawing up her own arrangements at home. They weren’t great, and she would wait before she showed them to Josh and Amanda. Or maybe she would just save them until after the pit stop in community college.
Of course her opinion of the director and assistant director had dropped since the party. The two of them always had a good rapport, but after a few beers it became clear that they were crossing the line to flirtation, and started touching each other a lot more—all of that before they each took trips to the bathroom, and were both gone for 10 minutes. All of that while Josh had another girlfriend.
Katie wondered if the rest of the group had even noticed the disappearance. While it was going on, Russ and Evangeline made a much more public display, when he felt her up on the hood of a car just outside the window. The group clamored around to watch. Katie didn’t feel any desire to see that. She went on sipping her Diet Coke.
Katie didn’t hesitate to leave at the end of rehearsal. She wasn’t interested in talking with any of them, of hearing any more stories from the weekend. She was prepared to walk all the way home when Andrew caught up to her.
Andrew had given her a ride to the party, and offered her a ride home. The reek of beer on his breath had been enough to keep Katie from even thinking of accepting. It was less than a mile walk anyway.
“Katie,” Andrew said, struggling to get his jacket on as he kept up with her stride. “Let me give you a ride home.”
“It’s a short walk.” It was true—her house was even closer to the building where they rehearsed than Evangeline’s off-campus apartment. She would get there in ten minutes, tops.
“Yeah, but it’s dark out.”
“I’d like to get some fresh air.”
“OK, well I’ll walk with you.”
It wasn’t a question, but a statement of what he was going to do. That, too, annoyed Katie, but she didn’t have much interest in arguing.
Andrew continued trying to make the same kind of small talk, offer up the same kind of flirting he had Saturday night. The effort was about equal parts annoying and oddly nice—a sort of manifestation of how she felt about Andrew himself.
She thought about what it would mean to reciprocate, or if she let Andrew take her to a movie or out for coffee, or stopped back at his parents’ house to see where he lived. She thought about what it would mean if she held his hand. He wasn’t all bad—not really what she was looking for of course, but she could do worse. He was older, and into a cappella, and dressed well. Maybe he, like The Acapocalypse, serve as a training model—preparation for real life to begin when she went off to college.
And so, when they arrived at her driveway, she kissed his cheek. Just enough of a gesture so he wouldn’t stop trying, but modest enough not to commit to anything. Like so many things, it seemed like a pragmatic start. She would see where it went.