Updated: May 31, 2019
I become someone who wears glasses. If that surprised some people, they got used to it quickly. I regularly beat Meg Ingleson—not every time, but enough to where she isn’t as smug anymore. I start making friends very easily when normally I’d be too shy to talk to people. People notice me more, I guess because I’m more confident.
And Drew notices me a lot more. Instead of ditching me to go talk to that other girl, whose name I learned is Grace, when he sees me, he’ll leave her to come chat with me. He tells me about how weird she’s been acting and that he doesn’t know if he can keep being her friend, and I listen. That’s also something she never does.
Drew takes me to an arcade one day, probably thinking I’d not do that well like other girls, but he finds out really fast that I used to be a gamer myself before I got into karate and working out.
“You’re the first girl I was scared about beating me,” Drew says as we leave the arcade.
“What do you mean?” I say, nudging him with my shoulder, something the old me would never even think of doing. “I did beat you. Three times.”
“Yeah, whatever,” he mumbles, nudging me back.
The next time we hang out, he has me show him some karate moves.
“You’re something else, Katie,” he says at the end of the “training session.”
I adjust my glasses, pride swelling inside me like a warm wave.
“Can I ask you for a favor?” he says, pulling his backpack onto his shoulder.
“Sure,” I say, expecting him to ask for another karate lesson.
He looks down at his feet with an embarrassed smile before looking up at me. “My parents work at a law firm and have this annual ball they and their families are invited to. They always want me to come with them, and it’s super adult-boring stuff.” He glances at me, like he’s trying to figure out my reaction, then he goes on quickly. “The food’s worth it though. Do—Would you want to come with me? You’d keep me sane. I normally take Grace, but—” He looks away. All he’s told me about her is that they’ve been friends forever and that she’s been acting super weird lately and doesn’t want to hang out with anyone.
My heart is pounding harder and harder, and even though he mentions Grace, I can’t help feeling excited by what he’s saying.
“Yeah, sure,” I say, holding back my grin as much as I can.
Drew smiles, like he’s relieved. “It’s settled then.”
Just then, Grace walks by, and Drew tells me he’ll see me tomorrow, hurrying after her. I sigh, a little confused by the whole situation. I watch him catch up to her, her face turning into a scowl as they start talking. I don’t know what’s going on between them. But it’s okay, I tell myself. I’m the one he invited to his parents’ party.
I pull out my phone and call Aunt Sally. “Hey, I’m going to need a new dress. Want to go shopping?”
It’s an especially cold day, and I’m at the dojo, training for a little tournament we’re having in a few weeks. Master King picked me to be on the team he’s sending, as well as Meg Ingleson. This time, though, we’ll be on the same team, not against each other.
I decide to shower at the dojo before heading home and getting ready for Drew’s party. As I’m drying my hair, Meg comes out of the shower and give me a small smile. It’s the first sign of friendship I’ve ever seen from her. I quickly jump on the opportunity and ask her, “Are you excited about our tournament?”
She shrugs. “I’ve been to some back home. I don’t usually make it very far, so it’s not a big deal.”
“You will here,” I say, running my fingers through my hair. I watch the bigger girl doing the same. She doesn’t look as threatening in regular clothes. I realize I haven’t seen her outside of our classes before. “There’re only four dojos in town, and we’re the best. It’s just a friendly thing, but we normally come out on the top.”
Meg’s eyes light up. I know she’s all about winning anything she can. She tries to play it cool by saying, “Oh. That’s pretty sweet.”
I nod and get ready to leave when she says, “You know, the only reason why I always wanted to fight you was because I knew you were the best.”
I stop, surprised. “Really?” I tried to figure out if she’s messing with me. There are guys in our class who are way out of my league.
“Yeah. You might not be as strong as some of the guys, but your technique is a lot better. I just enjoy a real challenge.”
I don’t really know what to say. Meg keeps combing her hair, looking in the mirror instead of at me. I guess that was as close to an apology as I was going to get, but it meant a lot from her.
“It’s been fun,” I tell her. “Really.”
She looks at me through the mirror and gives me a small smile again.
At home, I check myself in the mirror several times. I love the new green knee-length dress I bought with Aunt Sally; it fits just right. I twirl, making sure nothing’s missing from my outfit. Then I realize it.
I’m not wearing my glasses.
I spin around, looking from my bed to my desk, to the pile of clothes and my backpack in the corner of the room. I don’t see them. Starting to panic, I ruffle through my things, pulling everything out of my backpack. They aren’t there. Where are they?
I try to remember when I saw them last. I wore them at karate, almost got them knocked off of me when I fought Bruce. But they stayed on until the end of class. Then I realize I took them off to shower and put them on the ledge over the sink. I must’ve forgotten to put them on when Meg started talking to me.
“No, no…” I mutter, pulling out my phone. Maybe someone was still there, and I could get Dad to drive me to get them. The phone rings out, the answering machine picking up.
Out of desperation, I call Master King, and he picks up after the fourth ring. My hands are sweaty as I ask him if he or someone else is still at the dojo.
“Nobody’s there anymore. Will be in the morning.”
“Is there any way someone could go let me in tonight? I left my glasses there, and—”
“I’m sorry. I’m at a family dinner and can’t get away. Just wait till the morning.”
“This can’t be happening,” I say after I hang up, dropping to the floor. It’s as much of a mess as my mind feels right now, clothes and things strewn everywhere in my attempt to find the glasses. The one night I need them most, the one night I’m meeting Drew’s parents, the one night I’m his date, showing up with him in public… and I had to leave them in the dressing room because stupid Meg Ingleson decided to be nice to me.
I stare at my frantic face in the mirror, trying to think of ways I could break into the dojo when Drew texts me that he and his parents are on the way to pick me up. I don’t know what to do. I’m going to ruin everything I’ve done so far. The old me isn’t interesting or funny, she can’t even look Drew in the face. My first real date with Drew will be my last.
Why did I forget my glasses?