By: Lady Fantasy
“Annnnd, not to mention the enormous problem of the fact that Kris, who, so gallantly got a date to the Fall Festival for me, and who is the best friend anyone could ever have, must get a date likewise. I must return the favor.”
I groaned loudly and slumped my shoulders, showing that I held less than no interest in this topic. “Jackson,” I said to the black haired boy walking—no, skipping would be a better word—beside me. “You are so full of it.”
Jackson didn’t even appear to hear me. I rolled my eyes and ground my teeth together. I hated the subject of getting a boyfriend. Please tell me what is the use of a boyfriend? Most of the time, they’re pigs and expect you to pick up after them. They simply expect it…like you’re their slave. At least, that’s what it has been like for me the first and only time I got a boyfriend. The guy was awful!
“Kris, dear,” Jackson said, throwing his arm over my shoulders, unsettling my backpack and causing it to slide down my arms, nearly sending me flying forward. My backpack was a mess of things that I would never—in a million years—need. Homework. “You are probably one of the six girls I’ve ever met and you deserve a decent guy.”
I looked around at Maria and Sylvia. “Six, Casanova?” I teased. “In case you can’t count, which wouldn’t be surprising, we make up only three girls. Not six. Have you been hitting the old ale again, old man? Are you seeing double?”
Again, Jackson ignored me. “My dear girl,” he said, earning a glare. He plundered on. “Despite the fact that you three lovely girls are my best friends, which, in itself shows how low I can go—ouch!”
Maria had punched him in the gut. I, who had been taking a sip of grape soda, inhaled half of it up my nose. I coughed and spluttered. Sylvia cackled with laughter and handed me several tissues. I wiped my face, which was becoming sticky, and continued to laugh as Jackson rubbed his sides.
“That’s—what you get.” I told him. “You should know by now never to insult the remarkable friendship between us and, for another, never call us ‘dears’ or ‘girls’.”
“Oh,” Jackson said, a malicious glint in his eye, his face sneering teasingly. He poked my arm. “Have I really been hanging out with guys all this time? Damn…my mom’s right: my eye sight is getting worse and worse by the years.”
I laughed and punched him on the arm. He recoiled away from me, rubbing it and wincing. “C’mon, Kris, keep your right hooks to yourself.” He whined.
“As long as you stop being all ‘philosophical’,” I said.
“Fine, fine, fine,” he said. “I give up the role of becoming a young English poet.” He finished mimicking a British accent and looking like Peter Cummings did when he played Romeo in the homecoming play two weeks ago: his arms clasped over his chest, a faraway look in his eyes and his face looking pathetically hopeful.
Maria swiped at him. He dodged it most tactfully, jumping behind me and ducking behind Sylvia. Maria sneered at him, scoffed, and said, “God, he can’t even face a girl face-to-face. No wonder you had to get a date for him, Kris.”
“You try approaching the most popular girl in school and tell them what you really think about them,” Jackson said defensively.
“I can do that without cowering behind a trash can, Master of Mystery.” Maria shot back, her dark eyes flashing mysteriously. I knew that look. She was forming a plan in her mind. One that will probably have Jackson eating his words.
And she suddenly walked away.
I shared a bewildered look with Sylvia, who shrugged. Jackson looked wary. I stared back at the retreating form of Maria and sighed, finally figuring out what she was doing. In front of her, walking towards her car surrounded by girlfriends was Nellie McDonald.
I groaned out loud and sighed again, stopping by the black truck owned by Jackson. Sylvia, Jackson and I all watched as Maria marched straight up to Nellie in all her blond haired, academically challenged glory. She looked affronted by this sudden appearance by a “lower-level”.
Maria was talking and the expression on Nellie’s face was classic. I burst out laughing. The kind where you make no noise at first because you’re laughing so hard. I let out a shriek as soon as I found my breath again and I knew I was getting stares from passing students. But the look of utter astonishment and offense on Nellie’s face is something that I would have paid big money for. And I got it when I least expected it. And for free.
I saw Nellie say something but it probably had no effect on Maria. Sure enough, she turned around with a triumphant smile on her face. She walked over to where we were sitting and grinned at Jackson. “We should have bet on that.” She said.
“What did you say to her?” I asked, slowly regaining my composure. I wasn’t looking at Maria for an answer, but instead watching Nellie and her girls pile into separate cars. I grinned at how flustered Nellie looked. I can say this now; it took a lot to throw off Nellie McDonald.
“Oh, something that is best kept between mortal enemies.” Maria said doggedly. I gaped at her, stunned that she wouldn’t even tell her three best friends.
“Oh, come on, Maria, spill!” Sylvia said, tugging at Maria’s shirt. But she simply shook her head.
I rolled my eyes, sighing exasperatedly and held my hand out to Jackson, who stared down at it and slapped it like a high five. I glared at him. “Keys, you idiot.” I said.
Jackson looked surprised. “You expect me to allow you, of all people, to drive my precious new car?” He said.
I glared, even fiercer. “You drive slower than my grandmother, who goes fifteen at the highest in a thirty-mile zone. Hand over the keys.”
Jackson’s face was set in a hard line, which rarely happened. I wanted to get home and take a bath. The effect of staying up till three in the morning was finally hitting me. I was exhausted all of a sudden. It probably came on because I had laughed so much in the past ten minutes.
“No,” he said stubbornly.
Maria, who seemed to know how I felt, slapped Jackson’s shoulder with the back of her hand. Jackson rubbed it and grumbled something about his bruises having grandchildren by now. I flexed my fingers, gesturing impatiently for his car keys.
“I don’t want you to drive my car. You’re accident prone. You’re a car accident waiting to happen.” He said, taking out his keys but holding them far away from me.
I can say this honestly. Taking out his car keys was a bad idea. Of course, we could have gotten them if he hadn’t taken them out of his pocket but by taking them out, it just made it all the easier.
Maria got them, of course. She was tallest. Sylvia moved swiftly out of the way as Maria lunged for them. She was stealthy and way too quick for Jackson, who saw her coming and tried to put the keys out of reach. Maria handed the keys to me after jabbing Jackson in the gut and distracting him.
“Thanks for your cooperation.” I said. “C’mon, get in so that I can get home and take a nice long bath.”
“What about homework?” Sylvia asked as we piled into the black leather interior of the black Ford truck that Jackson had received for an early birthday present.
I rolled my eyes as I started the car, quickly adjusting the seat so that I could reach the pedals. Jackson was still grumbling in the passenger seat. I guessed as payback, he blasted the radio on a station that he knew full well Sylvia, Maria and I hated but he loved.
I tried to block the music out as I dropped off Sylvia, who looked like she was approaching her death. I threw her an apologetic look. Sylvia’s parents made it a sport to fight every night. Sylvia did pretty well considering but, even though we offered almost every day, she refused to stay over at anyone else’s house. Maria and I made sure to check her arms whenever we could, making sure that they weren’t abusing her as well. She didn’t seem to mind.
“I’m getting worried about her,” Maria said as she watched Sylvia’s retreating figure. “She’s been flinching a lot lately, did you notice?”
“No,” I admitted. Jackson actually turned off the radio and turned around to look at Maria.
“What are you talking about?” He asked.
Maria and I had never fully explained about Sylvia. We couldn’t really explain it but it seemed to be a silent agreement between us. Jackson knew that we weren’t telling him something but he didn’t pry too much.
“Come on,” he said. “I know that something’s up. What’s up with her parents? Are they fighting or something?”
He usually guessed it right almost every time but we didn’t let him know that. He glared at Maria and me, both of us silent as statues. I kept looking straight ahead, ignoring the feeling of betrayal emanating from Jackson. I knew how he felt and I hated the feeling. We just didn’t know how he’d react. Sylvia had requested that we not tell him and we’ve kept our promise.
“Don’t feel bad, Jackson,” Maria said from the back. “It’s just a girl thing, you know?”
“Right,” Jackson muttered, turning the radio back on. I looked at Maria in the rear view mirror.
Next stop was Maria’s house. Her front lawn was littered with bikes, balls, bats, and other assorted items that you’d find in a garage wherever kids lived. Maria had four younger brothers, a younger sister, an older sister and an older brother. Yeah, big family. All seven of Maria’s siblings were out on the front lawn playing a game of ultimate Frisbee.
I chuckled when I pulled into the driveway. I rolled down the window and waved to Mister and Misses Gonzalez, who were attending to the youngest who had a gash across his knee. Robert, the second oldest at eighteen, waved back at Jackson and me. I knew from Maria, who could be trusted with nothing, that Robert had had a crush on me since he was fourteen. Ah, poor kid. He wasn’t my type.
I smiled at him anyway. Just because I didn’t like him that way doesn’t mean that I have to be nasty about it. Maria dropped her stuff on the porch and joined in the game.
“You don’t have to leave now!” Robert called. “Join in!”
“Sorry,” I called back. “The Land of Homework calls!”
He shrugged like it didn’t really matter. I grinned and then put the car in reverse, pulling out and heading off to my house. Jackson put his feet on the dashboard and continued to blast the music. I sighed at every stop light, continuously having to stifle a yawn. I would perk up whenever new company was around and then I would betray myself and allow a moment of weakness.
“I hope we don’t crash because you didn’t get a proper amount of sleep last night,” Jackson warned.
I rolled my eyes and increased my speed, going forty-five in the forty mile zone. Not a lot of people were out yet, but that was to change. It was Friday and there were movies to be seen and parties to go to. My town was full of teenage kids. All the high schools were over crowded. We didn’t even have a local college. You’d have to go to the state college, which is closest if you wanted to go local.
“Kris, wake up! Turn here! This is your stop!”
I jerked at Jackson’s words. I stifled yet another yawn and put on my turning signal before turning onto my street. Lined with oak trees that made the street even darker, Common Dale Ridge was the smallest neighborhood by far. It had only four streets that made like a giant cross when viewed from the sky. (Really, I checked a picture off the Internet.)
Pot Luck Street was mine. I turned onto it and went to the very end where I parked and got out, leaving the car running for Jackson. I patted him on the shoulder, yawning again, and went up to my front porch, fumbling in my pocket for the house key.
My house was several years old and needed many things repaired. The gutters were broken, the shutters needed to be repainted and the garden (if you could call it that) needed to be weeded. The cobbled walkway up to the door was missing many stones and the potted plants on either side of the door were missing their flowers, which had died and decayed some times ago. However, I loved this house with all its faults. It was an old Victorian and I grew up in it.
Finally able to get the key into the lock, I stepped into the house—the floorboards creaking. I threw my backpack onto the cream colored couch and rummaged through the kitchen for some coffee. While it brewed, I went and retrieved my backpack and pulled out my English homework.
After five minutes of reading the same paragraph and not taking in a word, I got my coffee, which I made strong, and poured it into a mug. As I took a sip, I immediately felt alive. I loved coffee. I loved the feeling of liquid for some reason. It cascaded down my throat in gentle waves, making me feel more aware of my surroundings.
Outside, a storm was brewing faster than my coffee. The clouds were beginning to darken and the wind was picking up. Ah well, I thought. So some outside plans will be cancelled. The Jaffe’s who lived down the street usually barbequed every Friday if the weather wasn’t bad. Personally, I hated the smell and was grateful that the couple wasn’t friendly. Maria, however, adored the smell. Why, I have no idea.
A rumble vibrated throughout the house, making the windows tinkle a little bit in their frames. I didn’t worry though. The rumble was the sound of my mother approaching the house in her jeep, which was the noisiest bucket of bolts I had ever encountered.
The front door banged shut and in walked my mother, dressed in a pair of greasy overalls and a bandana draped around her neck. Her flyaway ginger hair was tied into a messy bun. Her boots were coated with hay and horse manure.
“Busy day at the office, dear?” I teased.
“Ugh,” my mother said, making a face as she walked past the table, stealing my coffee and taking a huge gulp. She was breathing heavily. “I hate offices, you know that, Kris.”
“Yeah, I know mom.” I said, hiding a smile in my hand as I pretended to concentrate on my homework. I looked up when my mother didn’t immediately go outside like she usually does. She, apparently, ‘loves the light of God’s love’ as she likes to call it, meaning fresh air. “Is there something wrong?” I asked.
My mother looked at me. She had been staring at the bulletin board that we had glued to our kitchen wall. Notices of my school announcements and her horse shows made a pretty colorful collage. “Oh,” my mom said, looking surprised like she had forgotten I was in the room. (Note: my mother did this constantly and I got used to it by the time I was eight) “Nothing, nothing.”
She returned my now empty coffee mug and patted my shoulder blindly before going outside. I sighed when the back door slammed shut due to the wind and shook my head. My mother was so unpredictable. She’d have mood swings and drift in and out of her own world. It was very unsettling sometimes to get the impression that she doesn’t even know who I am but I’m over that by now.
It took me an hour and a half to finish my homework. My hand was cramped and my stomach rumbling. I pushed away from the table and stretched noisily. Outside, my mother was staring into the distance. Rain was pounding on the ceiling of the porch where she was sitting. The rain made a sound so loud as it slammed onto the house that it was hard to discern that from the real thunder.
I didn’t bother asking my mother what she would like for dinner. We had the same thing every Friday. I picked up the phone and dialed Cairo Pizza. Two rings sounded and then someone picked up. I could hear the background of the restaurant as customers talked loudly or ordered their own pizzas.
Forty minutes later, one large cheese pizza appeared on my doorstep in the hands of Robert Gonzalez, who delivered for them.
“’Evening, Robert,” I said, taking it from him and handing him a twenty. “Keep the change.”
“Thanks, Kris,” he said, smiling and ducking out from our porch and heading back towards the car, covering his head with a Cairo Pizza hat.
“Ah, thanks, Kris,” my mom said as I entered the kitchen to find her sitting at the table reading over my homework. Surprised at this fact, I dropped the box on the table and got plates and cups, filling them with apple cider.
As I put down the glasses full of brown liquid and the plates, my mother smiled at me. It was the most dazzling smile I’d ever seen. Her whole face seemed to glow, her blue eyes twinkling. Many people said that I inherited that from her, but I doubted it.
I wasn’t that special.
I am going to continue my other novel but this one kinda popped into my head. I hope you enjoy it.
© Copyright 2017 Lady Fantasy. All rights reserved.
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