At a recent writing workshop, a local author presented ways to improve dialogue, and we were challenged to create a piece of dialogue. This is what came to me. I might develop this piece more. We’ll see!
It was Friday, and Brittany wasn’t paying a bit of attention in English class. Not due to thoughts of the weekend, but rather, thoughts of Jake. She’d passed his locker on her way in from the bus, and had caught a glimpse of him in a dark green sweater over a white collared shirt. His hair had looked even better than usual – gelled to perfection. She couldn’t wait until cooking class, the last class of the day. Thank goodness she’d worn her new jeans today. Brittany wasn’t so sure about her shirt, though. Were V-neck sweaters still popular? She looked around and didn’t see a single girl wearing one. I’ll ask Melissa, she decided.
The shuffle of papers brought her back to earth. The bell was about to ring, and Brittany hadn’t even copied down the weekend assignment. She fumbled for a pen as the bell blared over the intercom. Everyone else was standing up, and she had to duck around to read the whiteboard. By the time she’d finished writing down the assignment, everyone else had cleared out of the room. Crap. She needed to visit her locker before lunch, so she’d have time to walk past the choir room afterwards. Jake always hung out there until the very end of the passing period, talking to girls like Lauren Masters, Nikki Maxwell, and Jasmine Blakely. Brittany hoped that when she walked by each day, Jake forgot about them, despite their perfect blonde hair and clear skin. But judging from the clock, if she didn’t head straight to the cafeteria, she’d be sitting at the tardy table. Nothing could be more humiliating.
Walking into the cafeteria, she saw Melissa up ahead, waving her over, her eyes wide. “Britt! Get over here! You won’t believe this shit!”
Brittany slid into the plastic chair. Before she could open her mouth, Melissa continued. “Okay, get this, girl,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I was in gym, and we were all playing dodgeball, and Chad got hit in the face with Nikki’s dodgeball. He got knocked over and we were all laughing. Chad got up and called Nikki a bitch. Even the teacher heard him. Nikki got really mad and said, ‘At least I’m not a skank like that Brittany girl you like.'” Melissa paused for emphasis, giving Brittany a meaningful look.
“Huh?!” Brittany said. “He likes me?”
Melissa shrugged. “I don’t know. He got red and started to say something but Mr. Thompson blew the whistle and made us all run laps, then it was time to go to the locker room. There was no way in hell I was talking to Nikki.”
Weird. Brittany’s head spun with this news. Jake and Chad were best friends. She didn’t even know Chad thought about her outside of ceramics class, where he sat in the back and made fun of everyone, including her. Last week, he’d gone through her purse when she was at the teacher’s desk asking a question, and he’d yelled, “Britt doesn’t have any tampons in her purse! I bet she hasn’t even started her period!” She’d told him to shut up and stop touching her stuff, her face burning and her palms sweating. It was hard to believe Jake hung out with Chad. He seemed so much more dignified and mature. Apparently Chad liked her and this is how he acted – imagine how he must be with people he doesn’t like.
But if Chad liked her, and Nikki knew, then Jake must know too. Nikki loved to say nasty things about people. Brittany had never talked to her, though, so she was still surprised that Nikki would even bother talking about her. It was almost a compliment just to be mentioned at all.
“Has Nikki ever said anything else about me?”
Melissa shrugged again. “I don’t think so. She’s usually talking shit about Lauren because she goes out with that dickhead Brandon. Let’s get in line.”
As they walked to the food line, Brittany thought more. “Does Jake ever talk about me on the bus? Or talk about who Chad likes?” But Melissa was waving at Kyle Entenmann and flipping her hair.
“Holy shit, Kyle looks GOOD today,” she muttered to Britt.
He looked like he always did. “Uh, did you see Jake today? He looks really hot.”
Melissa looked at her blankly. It was always hard to make her pay attention when she hadn’t brought up a topic. They shuffled down the line, forgoing corn on the cob for sloppy Joes. Brittany grabbed extra napkins, then remembered her shirt. “Does this shirt look okay?”
Melissa glanced at it for half a second. “Yeah, it’s fine.” She turned back to see if Kyle was still in line.
Brittany rolled her eyes. “Are you sure?”
Kyle had disappeared. “YES, girl. Hot damn. You look fine.”
She still wasn’t sure Melissa had even really looked, but Brittany felt stupid asking her again. Her mind drifted back to Jake. If Chad really liked her, would that make her seem cooler in Jake’s eyes? Or would he be loyal to Chad and stay away? Or did he still even know who she was?