“Describe a situation where you feel very uncomfortable.”
I poke my head around the common room door and see my boyfriend, Kyle, sitting there with his friends, chatting so comfortably with one leg wrestling over the other at his ankle. He’s leaning back with his arms stretched over the back of the sofa. He looks so relaxed and composed that it makes my stomach twist in affection.
‘Hi Kyle,’ I give a small smile and a wave.
Kyle beams when he sees me, standing up, right in front of his friends and running over to me, wrapping his arms around my small body and holding me tight. ‘I’ve missed you,’ he whispers in my ear, kissing me right there in front of his friends! Wow.
I try and stop myself from going red in front of them. ‘I’ve missed you too,’ I whisper back.
He beams and pulls away, taking me by the hand and walking me over to his friends.
Truthfully, Kyle and I have been dating just over a month. We go to the same college and hang out at lunch and after, but I’ve never properly met his friends. Usually I stick with my two best friends when I’m not with Kyle – who he’s met on several occasions – and it’s not crossed my mind until now that I may one day have to actually meet his friends.
I’m not that confident with meeting new people so I just stand there, one leg crossed over the other, holding onto Kyle’s hand hoping desperately that I don’t start to sweat with anxiety. I’m holding onto him firmly enough as it is.
‘Everyone,’ Kyle says and I immediately start to panic. Oh crap; he’s doing a formal introduction! ‘This is Cassie, my girlfriend.’
The group before me smiles kindly, giving me small waves and saying hello to me from all angles. Kyle’s a popular guy and I already know this, but I’m guessing this is his main group of people. His posse. I recognise some of them from around the college, but I would never have introduced myself to them in a million years; me and them, we just seem so different.
I guess there’s always time for change…
‘Cassie,’ he turns to me, ‘this is Simon, Cory, Felicity, Jasmine and Miles.’ he points to each of his friends in turn but it only takes me a second before I’ve forgotten all of their names.
Kyle grins, sitting me down on the sofa between two of the boys who are both smiling but look as if their trying to resist from saying a joke or something stupid.
‘I’m just going to run to the toilet and then we’ll go to lunch, Cas, okay?’
I freeze up for a second.
He’s going to the toilet and leaving me with these people who I have only just met?!
‘Sure,’ I say, trying to act calm when really my brain is sprinting furious laps around my head.
‘Brilliant,’ Kyle gives a thumbs-up and starts to walk out of the common room, ‘You lot be nice!’ he calls to his friends.
They all laugh, but it’s the sort of uncomfortable laughter that I am also feeling.
It stays quiet after he leaves and I’m just sitting there with these people staring at me. I’m sitting on my hands but they’re starting to feel numb and I can’t move them because then I’ll come across as fidgety – as if I don’t want to be there which I do, I just don’t want to be left alone with them after a minute into introductions. Am I thinking too much about this? I need to say something. Anything, to break the silence.
‘So, how is everyone doing?’ That was a dumb questions Cassie. I feel suddenly disappointed with myself, but they all seem to laugh happily which makes me feel better.
‘Pretty good,’ a boy with a floppy, mop of hair nods, ‘yourself?’
Shit! I didn’t think I would get this far into a conversation.
‘I’m good,’ I nod, ‘just had lesson.’
‘We gathered,’ one of the girls wearing a purple beret says, giving a cheerful grin. ‘As we did as well.’
‘Oh,’ I nod slowly, ‘yeah.’
This is going terribly. It’s as awkward as meeting the parents and then being left in a room with them, required to make small talk, but now there are five parents and they’re all expecting me to say something smart or funny like Kyle usually does. He’s so much better at meeting new people than I am. He can say one thing and everyone likes him.
‘So,’ I take a deep breath, ‘it’s pretty hot outside today.’
A weather statement, really?
The group laughs again.
‘I like you,’ the beret girl says, ‘you’re funny.’
I am? I give her a smile and she smiles genuinely back.
‘So, you just had art?’ another girl asks, her hair silky and long in two braids.
Kyle must have told them… I hope.
I give a nod which is way to powerful. God, I look so stupid!
‘Are you good at it?’ The floppy hair boy asks.
What sort of a question is that?! That’s like asking if I’m good at cooking! Yes, I can cook and it doesn’t poison anyone, but I’m no Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey!
‘I can do art okay, I guess,’ I reply, ‘but I have no idea if I’m good at it.’
‘Aw, you’re so modest!’ The beret girl beams.
Kyle suddenly pops back into the room, rolling his long sleeves up to his elbows. ‘Everything okay?’ he asks.
‘Your girlfriend’s funny,’ one of the boy says, wearing a brightly coloured jumper.
‘I know,’ Kyle says assuringly, reaching out for me to take his hand.
I gladly take it, jumping to my feet and letting his arm wrap over my shoulders.
He takes his bag from beside the sofa and tosses it over his shoulder. ‘I’ll see you guys later.’ he announces.
‘See you,’ the mopped hair boy waves to Kyle.
Kyle gives a wave before kissing me on the forehead and walking out of the common room.
‘So, what do you think of my friends?’ he asks, his voice hopeful.
‘I like them,’ I say, ‘they seem nice.’
‘I’m glad,’ Kyle gives a little whoop of joy.
I give a smile back, but my heart is beating so much I think it might explode!