It was Friday afternoon already. I glanced at the clock in shock and dashed up the stairs. He was coming home in twenty minutes. I needed to pick something to wear, I needed to decide what bracelet of put on, and I really needed to come up with something to say. All I could think of was, “So I live up in that house, and I’ve seen you a lot. My name’s Jessie. What’s yours?”
That definitely wasn’t going to work, so I thought frantically while tossing clothes around and starting to hyperventilate. This was absolutely no good, and I felt my carefully crafted plans crashing down around me. I realized that ten minutes had already passed, and I had two minutes to be outside on schedule. I grabbed the first outfit I saw spread on my floor and threw it on. Grabbing three bracelets that may or may not have gone together, I shoved them on, scratching my hand in the process. I hardly noticed, though, in my haste. I glanced in the mirror and saw that my hair was a wreck. I just couldn’t leave the house like this! Especially not to see him, although it wasn’t him that mattered, of course.
Now my thoughts were even more wrecked than my hair, although my hair was looking better as I tore it out of my scalp in a frenzied brushing. When I was sure that one more “stroke” of the brush would dye the tips of my hair red, I pulled my hair back into a ponytail. Shrugging at the terrible mess, I stepped gingerly on the hardly visible spots where you could see the floor. I had purposefully avoided looking at the clock, and now I jumped at the sound of the air brakes from his bus. This was it. Realizing that I had no idea what to say, I opened the front door and stepped out.
Sure enough, the Tarheels hat and black jacket were walking down the street at a careless gait I’d started to recognize. I timed my walk from the front door to the street so that I showed up in front of him. He looked at me in surprise, and I smiled somewhat nervously. “Hi,” was all I ended up saying.
“Hi yourself,” he answered, managing to make it look like a question. His long hair fell almost to his matching brown eyes that met my glance and asked the same question.
“Oh, I live in there. I’ve seen you a bunch of times, so I figured I’d be neighborly and introduce myself. I’m Jessie.” There. That wasn’t too bad.
“Oh. I’m Chad. I live down there.” He pointed down the street. “Do you want to walk down with me?” he asked.
Success! I didn’t let my exuberance show, though. I just said “Sure” and walked with him. “Say, you skateboard, right?” I asked.
“Yeah. I try.” Memories of watching him wipe out over and over played as he answered.
I didn’t bring it up, though. I told him that I thought he was pretty good. He rolled his eyes. “This is where I live. Do you want to wait a sec? I just have to put my backpack down and grab my skateboard. I’ll be right back out.”
“Okay.” The backpack did look pretty heavy, I guess. True to his word, he was only gone a minute. I had spent the minute congratulating myself on introducing myself to him successfully. Now we walked back up the road to the top of the hill.
“Do you skateboard?” he asked. I shook my head.
“I never had one. I never learned.”
He grinned boyishly. “That’s easily remedied.” When we reached the top of the hill, he demonstrated how to position my feet on the skateboard and rode down the street once to show me how to steer.
We spent the rest of the afternoon together, and I learned the basics of skateboarding. Everything seemed to be going well, then a car I knew all too well turned down our street. Chad must have seen the look on my face, because he asked what was wrong.
I sighed. “It’s just that my dad’s home now.”
“Do you have to go inside?” Despite the trepidation steadily growing in the pit of my stomach, I almost smiled appreciatively at the reluctant sound in his voice. It was as if he actually didn’t want me to go away, and it almost made me happy. At the moment, it only gave me a sense of satisfaction.
“No,” I assured him. “Not until he yells at me. Of course, I don’t know why I’d go even then. I’ve called him a million times and he’s never come.” I hadn’t meant to say that, but it just slipped out. Well, it was the truth. I looked cautiously at Chad. Now he’d heard it. Would he find a convenient reason to leave like everyone else I’d told?
“When was the last time you saw him?” he asked. He sounded genuine, but I wasn’t sure. Still, I didn’t want to blow it if he really was genuine, so I answered.
“I have to think about it,” I admitted. “It’s been awhile,” was about to follow, but then he said it as a question. That caught me off guard, and I just nodded.
“Were you expecting him? or do you know why he came now?”
“No and no.” Then, knowing that this was not the way to handle the situation, but not knowing what else to do, I blurted out, “Why are you acting as if you genuinely care?”
“Acting? Jessie, I genuinely care. We should trade stories sometime.” We were in front of his house, and the front door opened. A woman looked out and recognized Chad apparently.
“Chad, you need to come in right now!” she called. Chad winced slightly.
“I’ll be there in a minute, Gran.” He looked back at me, and I shrugged.
“Convenient, huh?” I asked. He seemed nicer than that, but if he really weren’t being nice, I didn’t want to be let down like I had been so many times before. Like with my dad, for instance.
Chad looked as if he were trying to figure out how to assure me that he was trying to be friendly. My dad opened my front door up the hill and started yelling for me. He was joined by Chad’s grandmother, and Chad realized that we definitely had to go. “Be out here at ten-thirty tomorrow morning. We can talk then.”
“If my dad doesn’t take me anywhere,” I promised. He smiled and we went our separate ways, but as I climbed the hill alone, the only thing I could think was “Yeah, right. He’s not the first to make a promise like that.”
*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fiction. Any resemblance to actual people or events is accidental.*
Next part next Friday! Title suggestions, names for various characters, or other questions, comments, or concerns can be left below, or you can e-mail me at the address on my contact page.
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