You Will Know Me - Megan Abbott Page 0,1

Senior Elite status and everyone would finally see.

“Because look at her,” he said. “Just look at our once-and-future champ.”

And Katie did, peering through the candy-colored crowd at the poppy and cobalt of Devon’s jacket’s sparkling BelStars logo.

Less than five feet tall, a hard, smooth shell of a body. Hipless, breastless still, but the way she’d transformed her body in the last two years, thighs like trunks, shoulders and biceps straining her tank-top straps, staggered Katie.

“The world is hers now. Is yours. Is ours,” Teddy said, his face animated, and then diving in for a loud rummy smack of a kiss flush on Katie’s lips. “Just like I promised, Katie-did!”

Had that really happened?

It had, and it all made sense that night, the holy consummation of everything.

“I wish I could do what you do,” Kirsten Siefert kept saying to Katie. “I want it for Jordan. I want to know everything you did. If it’s not too late. Have you seen Jordan’s breasts? But Tansy’s only seven…”

The music boomed louder, and soon enough the adults started dancing, taking over the playlist from the endless thump and squeal of teen pop and club music, playing every song they’d loved fifteen years before, every opening chord releasing a chorus of Yeahs and Oh God, remember?

And there was that remarkable conversation with the booster vice president, Molly Chu.

In front of the ladies’ room, capri-panted, soft-shouldered Molly—who rarely talked about anything but gymnastics and carpooling—leaned close and told Katie how, when she was a little girl, all she wanted was to be a majorette, like Erica Neubauer, the prettiest girl at Shelby West High.

“I used to watch her in all the parades, marching in those red-tassel booties, hurling her batons up to heaven,” she said, giggling like a girl. “I remember watching her and thinking: That is all I want.”

And she told Katie how she’d stolen a piece of pipe from her father’s tool bench, sprayed it silver, and jabbed a cork on one end.

“I’d twirl in the front yard for hours,” she said. “It looked like a pinwheel in the sun.”

She glanced at Katie, her eyes filling.

“Remember that kind of wanting? That kind that’s just for yourself? And you don’t even have to feel guilty about it? You wouldn’t know to.”

Katie nodded and nodded and nodded, because it felt true even if she couldn’t name the thing she’d wanted. But something. Looking around, she wondered, Is it this?

In front of them, a group of the littlest girls, still in their leotards—they never liked to take them off—started dancing in a circle together, chins lifted high and faces pink like ice cream.

“It’s free then,” Molly said, watching the girls, tilting her head and blinking fast. “It’s never free again.”

“What?” Katie said, because she’d lost the thread, if she’d ever had it. “What?”

But the music swallowed them, and then someone brought out a tray of shots, flaming.

Later, she found herself dancing with Eric (which hadn’t happened in years, since that night they’d snuck to the hotel bar after a TOPs meet, Devon and Drew asleep upstairs, that lounge singer inexplicably crooning “Smells Like Teen Spirit”).

Eric had always been a terrific dancer, and the championship and the lanterned loveliness of the old catering hall—they all enlivened him, his smile and his fingers moving so delicately, his arm grabbing her so firmly, and didn’t everyone in the hall look at them?

A thought came to her rum-soaked head: He’s never loved me more than this. Because of Devon. Because of Devon. Something else I owe Devon.

But they were changing partners, and Molly, who would later pass out in the wrong car,