Ok guys, yeah I’m talking to you. What just happened to me? I almost forgot about Jenny. I get there and I go all beast mode on the guy. I confess. Then I’m accepted…? I wish I could pick your brain to understand what’s going on in this girl’s brain.
Jenny still had her hand on my arm. At least she was no longer shaking, and her breaths were getting more even. Hopefully she couldn’t feel my heartbeat through my skin, because it was racing. The adrenaline high was still there. The guy, I now know the jerks name…John Stevens, was getting an earful from the principal. We watched as we were sitting across the hallway. John was sitting head down, arms drooped, and his skin was red. Embarrassment or anger, it was too hard to tell. I peeled off my jacket and put it around her shoulders. She probably wouldn’t want her mom to see the purpling bruise on her shoulder.
I tensed. Jenny rested her head on my shoulder. I could feel my skin burning, where her head was. She wasn’t speaking, and I had no idea how to start the conversation, ‘what does okay mean?’ and I didn’t really want to start; especially as my mother and Mrs. Bailey came running up to us. Jenny jolted up.
“Honey are you okay?” my mom said as she pulled me up from the bench.
It was weird, her being all caring. It seemed out of place.
“Honey you are not answering me…” she kept dramatically pleading with me.
“I’m fine mom,” I answered to stop the begging.
“My little sweet pea, are you okay?” Mrs. Bailey said as she sat down next to her daughter.
Jenny lost it, and melted into her mom’s arms, and started sobbing into her mom’s chest. “Mom…” is all Jenny could get out through the sobs.
“I’m going to ring his neck,” Mrs. Bailey said as her gaze looked at John’s back.
John must have felt the glare, because through the yelling he turned to look back. Quickly regretting it, after seeing the face of one angered mom; he swiftly returned to his starting position of being yelled at. He probably thought it was safer in there.
My mom still trying to get me to talk to her. She was being overly dramatic. All I wanted to do was make sure Jenny was alright. Jenny’s sobbing had turned into soft whimpers as Mrs. Bailey hugged her and patted her head. “Jenny, you okay?”
Jenny stopped. She unfolded herself from her mom’s embrace, wiped her tear stained cheeks and runny nose, stood up and faced me directly, “Thanks to you, I am fine.” Then she stepped forward and hugged me.
I stiffened at first, and then relaxed and gave her a hug back. She whispered quietly into my shoulder, ‘thank you’. I hugged her a
little tighter. Suddenly that sweet moment turned into a painful squeeze. I looked over Jenny’s head and I saw the top of Mrs. Bailey’s head. She was squeezing both of us.
“Thank you so much George!!” she said with a high pitch squeal. “I owe you so much!”
It was uncomfortable for a quick second, but how could I be mad at Mrs. Bailey. That hug seemed to be full of care. I didn’t question her. “You are most welcome Mrs. Bailey.” She did a mom giggle, gave another quick squeeze and then let us go. Jenny had been silent the entire time, but I felt her body heat up. This time due to embarrassment. I slowly let go of Jenny; not wanting to, but thought the parents would find it odd if I continued to hold her. Jenny looked once more into my eyes, saying ‘thank you’ and then she stepped back to her mom.
I had no idea what my mom was thinking. She had a look of disgust or confusion. It’s hard to tell with her. Thankfully the principal’s door opened suddenly, successfully avoiding the mom situation. As John was exiting the office an older couple was coming up the hall. His face went from red to pale white. The older couple must have been his parents. The mom looked like she was going to blow a gasket; while the dad had that look of, ‘just wait until we are home.’ I know that look. For a
split second I felt sorry for him, but that split second was gone when I felt Jenny behind me again.
John looked like he was going to say something but he decided against it. The principal told John to sit in the chairs next to the office window and wait. I don’t know the principal’s actual name. This is my first time here.
The principal looked at me and said, “Mr. Matthews and Miss Bailey please stay on that side of the hallway and wait. I need to discuss matters with all parents present.”
“Of course you do,” dramatically my mom said; probably she wanted back into the conversation.
“Alright, Sir,” I say as I bring Jenny back to the seats and sit her down next to me.
The principal nodded in approval, and he ushered the parents into his office. John’s dad gave him the look of ‘shut up and sit still’, then he entered the office.
It was silent. I focused on my self control and Jenny’s movements. John sat with his head down but his legs were fidgeting. It seemed like hours
went by until John lifted his head. He looked at me. Then Jenny. However, his gaze quickly jolted back and rested on my face.
“What are…,” John started to say but decided against it. He looked back at Jenny.
I felt her body tense next to me. I gave her a side glance. She was silent and still, but her face showed hurt. She didn’t look him in the eye; instead, she turned her eyes to mine. They seemed to say, ‘please help me.’ I gave her a small nod.
I turned my gaze back to John, “Can’t you tell your making her uncomfortable? Stop staring.” I was okay with John hating my guts, if it made Jenny feel more at ease.
He switched his gaze to me, “Fine.”
Jenny relaxed again. I looked towards the office. John’s parents were sitting in the office sullen; anger was still somewhat there, but it was probably regarding their idiot son. Mrs. Bailey was sitting apart from them talking calm but still seemed firm. On the other hand, my mother was flailing her arms about like she was trying to swat flies. I couldn’t hear her but I could assume she was being overly dramatic and blowing it way out of proportion. I wish my dad had been the one
sent here. He was probably working on an album, or he would have been. The Principal was just sitting at his desk trying to listen to all four people; he looked frazzled. I was sure my mom was not helping.
“Jenny…I…” John started to say.
My gaze jumped back to John. He seemed to look apologetic. I looked at Jenny, but she was already looking away from me, down the hall; her body stiffen only slightly.
“I’m sorry. I was an idiot. I needed the punch in the face; it knocked some sense back into my thick scull. I…” John rambled.
I was still watchhing the back of Jenny. She was gently shaking. I again couldn’t tell what was happening, was it tears or was it anger? I reached over and squeezed her
hand, “You okay?”
With her face still turned she squeezed my hand back and softly whispered only to me, “I’m fine, but I won’t forgive him.”
“She doesn’t want to talk. You’ve hurt her enough. Just let her be,” I said directly looking into John’s eyes; hoping he would get the message and stop.
“I’m not talking to you. It’s none of your business!” John hissed.
“Since I’m over here with her, and you are in huge trouble over there, you better believe it is my business,” I said.
“Yeah, well don’t think for one second I believe she actually accepted you earlier. Why would she accept you over me? It doesn’t make sense,” he said rolling his eyes.
“What doesn’t make sense is why you are still speaking when you are the one who messed up. Shut up or I’ll make you regret it,” my blood was beginning to boil. I didn’t care about whether or not she accepted me at this moment. All I cared about was making him stop talking smack about what just happened.
“Stop. Just stop John,” Jenny said with her face still turned. “I wanted to reject you when you came up and told me you wanted to talk after school. You rushed off like a coward without giving me a chance to politely decline. Don’t get mad at George. I asked him to be there. He was there for me.”
Jenny was beginning to shake, and this time I could tell that tears were there; she brought her hand up and brushed some away.
She sighed and turned to face John. Her face was tear stained and a little red and puffy, “You are the one who messed up. You. Not me. Not George. You. Don’t blame anyone except yourself for the outcome of today,” she said steadily as possible. “Don’t you ever speak to me again. Don’t ever look at me again. You will never be forgiven by me,” she finished what she had to say and then again turned her head away.
I was stunned, but also incredibly proud of her. She just put him in his place and denied him a chance to take anything back. I looked back at the broken John. His face showed no emotion. His head dropped and his body slumped.
I looked to see how the office was doing. Great, my mom was yelling at John’s parents. Mrs. Bailey was looking embarrassed. John’s parents looked somewhat similar to John at the moment. I know my mom cares, but I just hated how she portrayed it sometimes. My mom seemed to
be finished and she threw the door open. She stopped and looked at John. She looked like she was going to let him have it.
“Mom. It’s done. It’s been settled,” I interjet before she can embaress me more.
“Alright Honey. Good job then!” she said looking a little disappointed she didn’t get to finish her thoughts.
“It wasn’t me. Jenny put him in his place,” I said, as I friendly put an arm around her shoulder, bringing her back into reality.
She jumped suddenly at my touch, “What!?!” she said looking at me frantically.
“Good job Jenny. It is always good to put those who did wrong in their place,” my mother said having the last word.
Jenny looked at me quizzically and I just shrugged a ‘just go with it’.
John’s parents exited the office. They looked apologetic at Jenny.
“We are so sorry for our son’s actions. Please accept out deepest apology,” they said; it seemed like them might bow.
My mom gave a pleased smile; like she had planned or forced that. ‘Ugg…mom…’ I thought. Then they turned to me. I saw a hint of apology but also a hint of disapproval.
“We apologize. However, we do not think violence is the answer in any circumstance,” they were saying it to me but the last part seemed to be directed at my mom. “We would like you to apologize to our son.”
I was confused. I didn’t do anything wrong. Also I wasn’t the only one shocked. Jenny and her mom gasped. My mom looked like she was going to dramatically faint.
“It seems only fair since you threw the first punch. You started the violence,” John’s mom said flatly.
I was still flabbergasted. I wasn’t about to apologize to the creep for justifibly punching him.
“Okay with that logic, I want a sincere apology first.”
I was shocked. Those words came from Jenny. She was currently behind me. She touched my arm as if signaling me to let her stand in front. I wasn’t about to stop this daring girl.
“You say George started the violence. That’s false,” She unzipped my sweat shirt and pulled down a sleeve showing the bruise in shape of a hand. “Your son started the violence; if you insist George apologizes, I want one first.” She said firmly. Her eyes looked to mine as if to apologize, ‘sorry I’m making you apologize to the butthead’.
I slightly nod. I’ll apologize only if John grovels and does as Jenny asks. We both turn to John’s mother.
When Jenny showed the bruise Mrs. Bailey looked like she was ready to kill John. My mother actually had a genuine look of shock on her face. Now as I stare at John’s mom I see the realization on her face; that her son is a lying jerk. She glares at John; wishing she could probably take back all the words she just said.
“I will agree to you conditions. John Paul Stevens apologize to her!” John’s mom was back to the look of blowing a gasket.
All eyes turned to John. I was relishing in his discomfort. For what he put Jenny through, he should also feel the same uneasiness that she felt and is still feeling.
“I…I am sorry Jenny,” John huffs out.
“SINCERELY!” John’s mom shouted.
“I am sorry Jenny. I am truly sorry for my actions,” John spoke clearly.
I didn’t trust that apology; it was so forced. Afterwards he still looked uncomfortable so I was at least pleased by that. Jenny just nodded. She pulled the sweater back on, zipped it, and backed up until she was just inches from me. I sensed she was faltering. I placed a hand on her hip just to steady her.
I wasn’t waiting for anyone to force me, “John, I am sorry I took the first punch.” There, that wasn’t too hard. John looked startled; he probably thought I was going to hold a grudge. I wish I could say, ‘I’m not you idiot’.
“Well, with your logic of all violence is wrong, your son should apologize to my son for destroying his beautiful face,” my mom said.
Good job mom!
John’s mother huff, but she wasn’t about to argue against her own logic. “John.”
Sweet. I was going to see John uncomfortably apologize to me as well. Best idea of Jenny’s ever! I was waiting patiently knowing it was going to be painful for him.
John looked like he wanted to die before apologizing to the guy who ruined his cofession, but begrudgingly he said, “I am sorry George for punching you.”
That was a fakest apology ever, but I still enjoyed watching him do it. Mom looked like she was about to insist on a better one.
“No problem John,” I said in the same tone as his apology. All this apology stuff needed to just be done. If they aren’t sincere its not worth hearing.
“Okay it seems like all is cleared up. John Stevens will be receiving detention for two months. George Matthews…I am sorry but you did start the punching; you will need to volunteer five times for a club in your free time. And miss Jennifer Bailey, I extend my deepest apologies. If you need counseling, I can help set it up for you,” the principal said apologetic to Jenny and me, but sternly to John.
There was no fighting the punishments. I would do it again if I had to. John looked like he would protest but his mom grabbed his wrist.
“Are we good to leave?” she said to the principal probably wanting to leave and punish John at home for the lies, embarrassment, and stupidity of his actions.
“Yes you are all free to go,” the principal said to us all and then reentered his office.
The Stevens left quickly. They were gone. Mrs. Bailey said she would go get the car. She said she would text Jenny when she was there. Mrs. Bailey gave me one more hug, this one was gentle and caring; then she was gone.
“Hey mom can you go get the car too. I’m feeling a little bit sluggish now,” I said and it was a total white lie.
“Of course my Honey. Stay with Jenny until her mom is here,” she said and she was gone.
I turned to Jenny. She looked exhausted. She also was at a distance now; unlike how close to me she was earlier. I wanted to ask her now about what she said, but I knew that was going to be a long talk. As much I didn’t want to, I decided to just finish this crazy, awful, but surprising day just as her good friend. “You okay Jenny?” Man, I’ve got to stop asking her that.
“I’m good. Just exhausted. And I’ve got a painful headache,” she said quietly.
She seemed nervous, because she was fidgeting from one foot to the other. ‘ I wonder…nope. don’t go there today.’
Jenny’s phone chimed which startled her. She looked down and it was her mom. “I’ve got to go George,” she said stepping away and making the thumb gesture to the door.
“No problem Jenny. I’ll see you tomorrow,” I was disappointed that we were suddenly back to the friend zone.
“See ya,” she said and began to walk away. She stopped, turned back, and came back towards me. All the way. She hugged me. It was a sweet hug; not a thank you hug, or a sorry hug, or a friend hug. This one was different.
She peeled away, “Bye George,” and she turned and walked a little quicker out the door. She was gone.
So maybe I was a smidge out of the friend zone.