Tara tightened her grip on the cups in her hands as she fought her way through a throng of people. After a brief struggle she made it back to her blanket.
"Hey Tara, you made it back in one piece!" The dark-haired girl sharing her blanket stood and relieved her of her small burden. "You're just in time, Sheryl Crow is next."
"Thanks." Tara breathed, taking her seat on the blanket. "Now explain this to me again Jo. What is it with you and Sheryl Crow anyway?"
Tara couldn't help but giggle at her roommate's reflex response. Jo was notoriously obsessed with Sheryl Crow. Anytime the singer was in a concert within driving distance Jo would move heaven and earth to see her perform, usually dragging Tara along for the ride. The girl had an entire bookshelf dedicated to the singer. She had every CD, every single, and every DVD the singer appeared on, even the Kid Rock album that had the Picture song on it. And there were at least two shelves of videotapes containing various appearances the singer had made on television and movies that included Sheryl's songs in the soundtracks.
"What?" Jo gave her friend an innocent look. "She is."
Tara had to laugh. She didn't really mind getting dragged by her friend to these concerts, at least not anymore. In truth, Tara did like the rocker's music; she just wasn't as obsessed as her friend. Deciding to change the subject, Tara reached into her backpack and took out a pair of sandwiches. Although the girls had thought to bring some food and drinks, the sweltering heat caused by the midday sun and the mass of bodies in the field had caused to girls to quickly diminish their supply of fluids. Wanting to be sure they would have enough bottled water for later in the day, Tara had volunteered to go to a nearby vendor to get cups of soda for the girls to drink with their packed lunch.
"Tuna or turkey?"
Jo pointed to the tuna sandwich, which the blond handed over before removing the wrapping from her own turkey sandwich.
After a few minutes spent sitting quietly eating and occasionally glancing at her friend, Jo cleared her throat to get Tara's attention.
"So Tara..." She began. Tara glanced at her roommate, waiting for her to continue.
"Remember Judy Hopkins? From our sociology class last semester?"
Tara nodded as she took a sip of her drink, "That girl that was always late to class? Sure, why?"
"I ran into her the other day." Jo paused for a beat before continuing. "She asked how you were doing."
Realizing that Jo was nervous about something, Tara turned to face her friend fully.
"Jo? What did you do?"
Jo's face was immediately covered with a guilty mask as she glanced away from Tara's questioning gaze.
"She asked for your phone number... so..."
Tara's eyes went wide before closing them and letting out an exasperate sigh.
"JO! You've got to stop doing this!"
For the past year and a half Jo had been trying to set Tara up, despite Tara's repeated objections and insistences that she could get a date on her own perfectly fine thank you very much.
"No." Tara cut the other girl off. "No, Jo. Not that I don't appreciate your matchmaking efforts, but you have got to stop trying to set me up with every red-haired woman you meet!"
"But..." Again she was cut-off.
"No!" Tara silently berated herself for telling her roommate about the redhead she'd run into at the airport a year and a half earlier, while waiting for her connecting flight back to California from Washington, D.C. Why couldn't I just keep it to myself? Why rush into the room and start babbling on about some girl you talked to for five minutes and whose name you don't even know?
"Look Jo, it was one run in with a redhead I don't even know, okay? It doesn't mean I'm going to want to get with any other redhead along the way!"
Taking the opening, Jo spoke before Tara could interrupt her again. "Any other redhead Tara? See you did want to get with her!"
"I did not!" Though she protested, the blond could not fight the blush that covered her cheeks and ears.
"You did so... Tare you gave her your case of colored pencils!" Jo exclaimed, holding her arms out in front of her as if that simple statement proved her point perfectly.
"They're pencils Jo, it didn't mean anything!" Tara protested.
Jo gave her roommate a smug look. "Tara, baby, I know how you are about your art stuff. You freaked when I tried to borrow a regular old pencil!"
Tara winced remembering that day, only a few months after the two girls had become roommates. Jo had been on the phone getting an address and needed something to write with. When she reached for a pencil on Tara's desk, the blond girl snatched the writing tool out of Jo's hand and told her to try and keep out of her art supplies. Although Tara had apologized profusely and Jo had accepted all apologies offered, the darker girl occasionally used the memory to tease her friend.
"Besides what if one of these random redheads I introduce you to is actually your mystery red-haired computer programmer girl?"
Shaking her head at her friend, Tara began picking at the remains of her sandwich.
"Jo, you know the odds of that are slim to none..."
"But it's possible!" Jo broke eye contact with Tara as she tried to look around. She pointed just behind Tara. Tara allowed her gaze to follow the path of Jo's fingers as they led to a couple sitting on a blanket several feet away. The boy was grinning goofily, and his dark almost black hair fell in front of his eye every so often. The girl he was with had slightly longer than chin length red hair but her back was turned to the two friends observing them.
"For all you know that girl right there could be her!"