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Della Farsoon bit into the overly sweet donut and hoped none of the adults would suggest she go outside to play with the other children. Last Sunday, Mrs. Quiffmore had spotted Della standing alone in a corner sipping punch, and the mother of five had ordered the sixteen-year-old to go out with the others. The only teenager of the group, Della had dragged her feet outside in the muggy air and spent the hour sitting on a swing.
Ten-year-old Ricky Teamark had told Della that if she wasn’t going to swing, she should find somewhere else to take up space.
“Shut up, turnip face,” she’d said. “I can sit or swing as I damn well please.”
Ricky went inside and told she’d called him names and said bad words.
This Sunday Della hoped her days of being sent out with the children were done now she’d revealed herself to be a bad influence. She licked the bits of honey glaze from her fingers. The adults were busy talking about famous TV minister coming to lead a week of sermons. Their talk of how to find enough chairs and tables was easy to ignore.
Bored, Della eyed the remaining donuts. No explicit rule stated only one donut was allowed per congregant, but a second donut meant risking a lecture on gluttony from Mrs. Quiffmore. She shrugged. She was probably doing the woman a favor, giving her someone to lecture before all those words blew up in her head.
Della took the second donut and ambled over the dining hall doors. No one noticed when she wandered into the vestibule. She sat on a cushioned bench against the wall and took her book from her purse. Within minutes, her donut polished off, she was lost in a novel of murder and mayhem. She didn’t hear footsteps of the young man walking in from the hall.
“Hey, Diana! It’s you,” he said.
Della almost dropped her book. “Della,” she corrected him. “Hi Mark.” She had his name right, of course. Even though he’d been gone for a year, she wasn’t likely to forget Mark Hackman, local golden boy, practically a prince in everyone’s eyes.
Grudgingly she made room for him and he sat down, but she went back to her book.
“Your dad sold me my first car,” he said as if she’d been waiting for him to speak.
Della looked up from the novel in her lap. “That’s nice.”
“Gave me a good deal. You should see the car I traded it in for. It’s a beauty.”
She sighed. “What brings you here?” she asked. Last she’d heard he was winning football trophies somewhere. Or maybe it was basketball? Baseball? He’d gotten so many trophies in his life, she was sure even he couldn’t keep track.
“Concert tickets. I bought my girlfriend tickets to the Finn Girls.”
Della sat up straighter and her heart pitched forward. Of course he had tickets. Tickets had sold out in five minutes months before. “Have fun then,” she said, wishing she had tickets to the Finn Girls. She had all their lyrics memorized and their pictures cut from magazines and taped into her journal. She’d have had their posters on her bedroom wall if her parents allowed such idolatry.
She flicked the pages of her book, wondering whether it was worse being stuck listening to him or going back into the dining hall and being stuck listening to the adults. At least he couldn’t order her about.
“My girlfriend’s sick though. Throwing up like crazy,” he said.
“That’s too bad.” Was he still dating Cassie Quiffmore? She narrowed her gaze at his beautiful profile. Cassie was pretty and all, but surely he could find prettier girls in college.
“Anyway, you want her ticket?” he asked. “I don’t want the ticket to go to waste.”
Della stared. What was he really saying?
“You don’t even have to pay me the full price for the ticket. I’ll let you’ll have it for a fraction of the price. A hundred bucks and it’s yours.” He patted the shirt pocket over his heart.
Her voice almost escaped. “I don’t have a hundred dollars.” If only she could see the Finn Girls. But her parents would never allow it anyway. Her heart pitched forward again. Genie was her favorite. She played drums and wrote most of the songs. Genie Finn understood.
“You can’t get a hundred dollars?” Mark asked. “I thought your dad was loaded. Like, he owns that dealership and Southgate Plaza, doesn’t he.”
Della stiffened. “I don’t have a hunded dollars.”
“Concert’s Tuesday night.” He stood.
He looked down at her.
“We aren’t friends, Mark Hackman. Our parents aren’t even friends. You date Cassie choir girl because she’s pretty and not the least bit interesting. Why would you give a damn about me going to a pop concert?”
He laughed. “I can’t go with another guy. C’mon. Get real. Cassie told me to sell you the ticket.”
That made no sense to Della.
“Just so you know,” he continued, “Cassie called you Della the Dork.”
“Everyone’s called me that since third grade.”
“Yeah well…” He patted the ticket in his pocket. “She said you’d want the ticket and she doesn’t care if you sit next to me.” He walked away, and reaching the main doors to the church, he called back over his shoulder, “Call me!”