All the moms out there…I understand…I most definitely understand…
All the moms out there…I understand…I most definitely understand…
Her hug awakened my senses; they were dead a moment ago. She was still shaking softly; not really crying anymore, but she was still sniffling. I hugged her back. Stepping up to the plate, I patted her on the back and stroked her hair trying to calm her. She stiffened suddenly to the touch, but then slowly relaxed again in my embraced. ‘Good. I didn’t just screw this up.‘ “Jenny, I need you to talk to me.”
She sighed and pulled back looking me in the eyes, “Okay, but can we get in,” gesturing to the jeep, “I’m freezing.”
“Sure.” I pulled away from her and unlocked the jeep. She ran around to the passenger door and clambers inside. ‘That was cute. Focus George.’ I open the back door, throw my bag in, and then climb into the driver seat. I turn the jeep on and turn the heat all the way up; because, even though we were in the car she still looked cold. “Don’t worry about the heat, Coach killed me today and the heat feels good.”
“Sweet, not about the dying,” she said with a soft giggle, “but don’t mind if I do.” She put her arms up to the vents, letting the heat travel down the long sleeves of my sweat shirt. Her body began to relax. She must have soaked up enough warmth because she leaned back in the seat. A sad look slowly creeping back onto her face.
“Do I need to get you home?” Why do I keep saying things that makes it seem like I want her gone. ‘Idiot!‘
“No. I told my mom I was with you, and that you would bring me home. She said to take our time. She understood that I might need to vent to someone who was there,” Jenny said, and as she spoke her emotions ranged from frantic, to anger, and ending on sadness.
“Okay. So vent if you want, but can we go get some food. I’m on empty,” as I talked I texted my dad letting him know the situation. I got a reply.
‘Thanks for the heads up. Give my girl a hug from me. I’ll let your mother know. Don’t be out too late, but I understand.’ Dad totally understood me.
“Totally, and I might have you buy me something too,” Jenny answered.
“No problem,” I say as we take off to the Wendy’s near by.
We just decided to eat in the car; then we could talk after we finished. I turned to look at her. There was warmth in her cheeks again and a smile on her face. This is the Jenny I love. I think she could feel my stare because she stilled and side glanced me.
“What?” She said caught a little off guard.
“Nothing. Just watching my…ah… Jenny become Jenny again.” That was close I almost said ‘my girl‘. That would have been awkward.
She just smiled in reply and continued to eat her frosty.
She sighed and turned to me. There was something new in her eyes; it seemed like guilt or an apology. “George…I…”
So I’ve got my answer. Her ‘okay‘ was just to stop John from continuing. Thankfully she cut me off right now, and not after I spilled my heart out. This, I think, is the best kind of rejection; where it’s not said but both people know. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s just move on,” I don’t know if I really believed my words but why add to the hurt.
“George, I’m sorry. I just don’t understand…” She said as she fumbled over the words.
“No problem. But really let’s just drop it. What did you want to vent to me about?” Switching topics, to end this conversation as quickly and as smoothly as possible; I was a little annoyed, but I tried to keep my cool.
“Oh. Okay. I just wanted to say thanks for helping me avoid John today. The girls know about what happen, well most of it,” she said implying she didn’t tell them about my confession.
‘Good. I don’t need any more embarrassment.’ I let her continue.
“Brit is understanding. She has decided to stick around me. But now with the stupid rumors I don’t know if I’m going to stay at this school,” she said hesitantly.
That last part brought me back from my wandering mind. ‘She might leave.’ Yeah I was rejected but I wasn’t going to stop being her friend. ‘She might leave.’
She continued, “I don’t know what my plans are. My mom said I could always go and study at a school in Belgium; we have family there. It sounds amazing, but I don’t know that would be running away. Or maybe I should just face it.”
I didn’t really know how I was feeling with this news. I always just assumed Jenny would be here. I am also planning on leaving; so, it shouldn’t be to strange that she wants to move on with her life too. I strangely don’t have that need to stop her anymore. That is, if she is just running away sure I’ll say something, but I’m not sad or mad about her leaving. Probably the rejection is already making its way to my brain, not just my heart.
“It’s your decision. However, I will say, if your are leaving just to run; that is never a good idea. First stop and think, about whether its something you really want to do or not,” I say giving my two cents. “If you start running you, will always be running.”
“True George. Thanks. That’s why I like talking to you. You always make me think twice,” she said smiling in my direction.
That melting smile is now is a painful smile, and eventually that smile will just be a plain smile. I didn’t know rejection would feel like this; again nothing like the movies. “Well, let’s get you home. I’m exhausted and I still need to do my mountain of homework.”
“Oh. Sure. No problem,” Jenny said a little surprised.
We drove in silence until I pulled up her driveway. She hopped out and came to my window, “Thanks for the talk and the ride. See you tomorrow,” she said as she was waving goodbye, and then she was stepping in her front door.
“See ya, Jenny,” those words burned as they came out of my mouth because I knew that tomorrow would be different.
Can you relate?
She got what she wanted…mom’s complete attention. Now she just leaves me. Similar to a cat. Haha 😅
I wanted to talk to Jenny after classes but my day kind of snowballed. Classes were non stop; the teachers seemed to actually want to teach today. Don’t get me wrong, I know not all teachers are the same; however, the teachers at our school seem to be over trying to get through to some of us.
Anyways, at lunch I thought maybe I would find her, but she was at counseling; I guess she decided she needed it or Mrs. Bailey insisted. Which of course caused the whispering to begin. The rumors started out as Jenny was confessed to and she beat the guy up. Turned to Jenny was confessed to, and I out of jealously fought the guy. Then it completely changed into John was beating me to a pulp and Jenny came to save me. I went from not being there, to jealous, to a wimp. Yeah, I really do hate high school rumors, but the rumors were not going to lessen Jenny’s emotions. Before I could maybe help her, it was practice time and I had to stay away.
Practice was normal. Coach discovered I used the pass and he told everyone of my wonderful decision. They were all dying from yesterday, and now they had to do more because of me. Thanks Coach. Not like today should be any easier.
As I said practice was normal. We swam. We died. We swam. We died. Repeat as many times as you think is enough, and then times by a hundred and you got us. However, my mind wasn’t in the pool, it was on Jenny and how her day went. I can imagine not well. I’ll try and find her after practice if possible.
“Okay everyone that’s it. I saw the practice you did yesterday; I don’t want to completely kill you, and besides you will be feeing it tomorrow,” Coach said with that satisfied smirk. “I liked the set though, you can expect to do it in the future,” Coach said gleefully.
‘Great. Thanks Coach.’ I think to myself as I look around at the exhausted glares.
“Get out of here,” Coach says and everyone pulls themselves out of the pool. As I climb out, “George, come here a minute.”
What else is new. Coach probably wants to critic my running ability or take away all the prideful words he said this morning.
“Where is your head at? I know is not here. Mental is a huge part of swimming. You just swam like a struggling dog,” Coach suddenly switched to his frustrated, pissed tone.
“Sorry Coach. I’ll be better tomorrow,” I said half believing myself.
“Nope. I’ve already let your parents know,” Coach said as he finishes a text and slips his phone away. “You will be staying late. You will do a new set, and you will continue until I believe you are giving it your all. Giving me a pathetic workout does nothing for you or me. I need one hundred percent effort. Let’s go.”
Pointless to argue, I jump into the pool to begin my stupid punishment for being a high school teenager athlete.
This is my first time where I want to hit or push Coach into the pool. Coach stopped me and made me start over about three or four times, before I finished the first half. He kept saying I was distracted and I needed to give it my all. I understood what he wants me to do but I’m a teenager guy who is worried about his girl…or maybe girl. I started the second part, and Coach threatened to make me start all over. So I did what he wanted; I became a swimming robot. My mind was all about the
water. Done. I must admit it was probably the best workout I had done all season, but I wasn’t about to tell Captain Cranky Pants Coach that.
“That was better. Good hustle George,” Coach said as he sipped his coffee. “I’m tough on you because I want you to succeed. I want you to be the best you can be. Now, I want this George,” he said gesturing to exhausted me, “to be at practice from now on. Got that?”
‘Yes Coach,” I answered barely breathing.
“Good. Now go change and go home. See you tomorrow,” Coach said as he left the deck.
In so much pain, I made it to the locker room. It was quiet. I showered enough to be clean and then I changed. I grabbed my belongings and headed out. I probably looked like a zombie as I headed to my car; I defiantly felt half dead. It was already dark outside, but I still saw her. There stood Jenny leaning against my car door. She was
alone, which seemed dangerous to me; she looked lifeless again.
“Jenny?” I said weakly since I was in lots of pain.
Her head slowly turned to me. She was crying and whimpering to herself.
I walked up to her, “I sorry to ask you this again, but are you okay?”
“No. I’m not okay,” She said as she stepped forward and hugged me. “But with you I’m better.”
Still snowing. Probably close to a foot of snow now. We all will be staying inside today. Enjoy your Saturday ❤️
My hand hits the door frame just as the bell chimes. Panting and gasping for air, I plop down into my seat. The guys, of course, look at me like I’m nuts?
“Mister Matthews,” Ms. Chaplen says as she comes into the room. “I do believe this will be your first tardy.”
“Please let this slide,” I plead not wanting my teammates to hate me two days in a row.
“Can you give me a concrete answer that would make you deserving of my mercy?” Ms. Chaplen said knowing that she had won.
“I would rather my teammates not hate my guts. I do have a pass, but if I use it I will be hated by them,” I can feel the guys’ stares.
“That is not a legit reason for me to be merciful. Will you be using the pass or will you be marked tardy?” Ms. Chaplen said flatly.
I knew it was a long shot. Ms. Chaplen is a no nonsense type of teacher. I could have used my Dad as an excuse; she is a huge fan. Why lie and be on her bad side. “I will be using the pass,” I say as I get up and hand over the only thing keeping me as a likeable captain. I go back to my seat, “Sorry guys, but just wait for death at practice today.” They finally understood; I got death looks. If these guys are hating me, yep, my teammates are going to be way worse.
Now was the time I would see Jenny again; I wonder if things would be different. The guys decided to wait around for a bell to see Jenny and mine’s exchange. They wanted to see if I truly did what I claimed.
“Hey George,” Jenny said quieter than normal.
She was in dark jeans, a white t-shirt, and my sweatshirt. Yesterday was crazy, but I’m now seeing her in my clothes. I like it; she looks good as always. It seems like she has more make-up on; probably to cover up the redness from crying. She was still Jenny. However, she seemed a little more closed off; like a protective layer was around her. Chelsea and Addison were not around just Brit. Brit was also on edge; she kept looking around and her guard was up too.
“Hey Jenny,” I said not knowing what else to say. Remembering the guys were still around, I turned to them, “You guys should head out. Don’t be tardy like I was.”
They were stunned, probably because they knew it was my jacket. Realizing that some of what I had said is becoming true.
“Yeah, let’s head out. See ya Jenny, Brit,” Ken said, while Jerry and Matthew nodded in agreement. They were off.
“Let’s go to class. I don’t have a pass anymore and with the consequences it takes, I don’t know if I ever want one again,” I rambled just trying to fill the awkwardness. I start forward, but stop realizing Jenny and Brit had not moved; turning, there stood John. The nerve of that guy. Once again, I was in front of Jenny with Britney next to her. “Dude, don’t you remember yesterday. Stay out of her and my sight for life,” trying so hard to stay composed.
“I want to talk to her,” John said ignoring me. “Without you two around. Leave.”
Yeah, like that was going to happen. “Let’s go to class. I say taking Jenny’s hand and hoping Britney follows. She did, of course, but she was cautious moving towards the jerk.
John stepped in front of me, “Again, this is not your business. I am talking to her whether you let me or not.”
Wow. I knew there were moronic jerks in the world but I was naïve to believe our school was different. “Nope.” I said not really caring to listen to his stupidity any more. Realizing I was still holding Jenny’s hand, I stepped around John towing Jenny with me. Britney was close behind. John was starting to twitch; probably anger, but whatever. The guy seems to always be pissed off at something. Thankfully he stayed where he was. While we walked to our class the second bell rang. Finally reaching our class I remember, and let go of Jenny’s hand. My hand is burning. I don’t really wait; I just usher them into the class room and we take our seats as the last bell chimes. I need to start getting to class earlier.
I turn and look at Jenny. Any ounce of life she had in her was gone. She looked hollow and lifeless. My hand itched to grab her hand and give her a squeeze of encouragement. I stopped knowing we haven’t talked and that we are currently in public. I didn’t want rumors to spread. Especially after what happened yesterday. Instead I write a note and place it in front of her. She opens it and giggles. Good she is still with us. She turns to me and smiles; the melting George smile kind. She turns back to the teacher to listen to the lecture; I’m just thankful she has a glow about her again.
Let me tell you. It is not like the movies. After you act like a hero you still have to do things. Like homework, and your normal night routine. Its not like they say ‘cut‘ and move on to the next scene. Also, the bruises on my face and knuckles are not make-up. It is killing me; but I’ll wear my battle scars with pride. Well goodnight, I’m exhausted.
Heading downstairs to hopefully a quiet house, I’m ready for this new day. Maybe another grab and dash day…No such luck. Mom and Dad are siting at the buffet drinking their coffee. I’ll take this chance to describe my parents to you. My mom, you’ve met her. Her personality is as it was yesterday, dramatic; she cares in her strange way. She is about five foot four; however, she is always wearing three to four inch heels. She has blonde hair, rosy tanned skin, and dark brown eyes. My dad says she
has a bubbly but strict personality; I’ve never seen her bubbly side. She does the ‘my way or the highway’ attitude the best.
On the other hand, my dad is very laid back. Not about his music though, he is passionate about it; similar to me and my swimming. He has dark brown hair, a short beard mustache combo, and green eyes. Since he is
usually the one home, we have a great relationship. Think less like a friendship, and a bit more like a father and son.
“Hey Mom, Dad,” I say getting my quick breakfast and lunch together.
“Well done my boy. You have made the Matthew’s name proud,” Dad said as he came to hug me. “I’m so proud of you for taking care of Jennifer. I would have probably punched the other kid into outer space.”
“Thanks Dad,” I said accepting the hug.
“You need to be more careful. What if this tarnishes your father’s reputation or puts a demerit on your school file. I think you should stay away from Jennifer for the time being, and focus on your future.”
Yep that’s my mother. Always thinking about only us and casting others aside. “Mom…” I start, but my Dad cuts me off.
“Christine, he did nothing wrong. He was in the right. I will back him up a hundred and ten percent. If anything this might make me more popular. ‘Artist son defends family friend against crazed classmate,’ has a pretty nice ring to it,” Dad said ending it with a wink at me.
I knew he was joking. He loves Jennifer, and would never do that to her.
“True. That would help your career,” Mom said pondering it to herself.
“However, if that type of statement comes out, I will sue the piss out of them for slandering the innocent girl,” Dad said staring down Mom.
That was my cue to leave. Dad is pissed at my mom for even pondering the notion of using Jennifer for helping his career. “See ya Mom and Dad. I’ve got to go see Coach first thing,” I left without waiting for their response.
I picked up Matthew. His parents were not back from their trip. “What’s up dude?”
“Nothing. How was your night?” Matthew replied.
“You guys missed everything,” I told him everthing that happened.
“Yeah, right. Sure you confessed and she said okay. There is no way you had the guts to do that,” he said with disbelief all over his face.
“It’s true,” I insisted, but of course that’s what he focused on.
“Let’s wait and see what the other guy’s reactions are,” Matthew’s said knowing the other guys would say the same thing.
“Yeah, there is no way you did that,” Jerry said after I finished. “I’m sorry dude, but outside of the pool you are kind of a wimp, no offence,” Jerry finished with a punch.
“All I do believe is that you punched the guy and you got hit back. Note the bruise on your hand and face,” Ken added.
“Whatever guys. You don’t have to believe me. But I’ve got to go and see Coach; I’ve got to go give the keys back,” I said not wanting to hear any more of their jabs.
“Okay mister sensitive. We’ll catch you later,” Matthew said as they headed off.
I got to the gym and Coach was leaning against the glass door patiently. Coach is a tall, built man. He exudes toughness. He was wearing his normal attire: white hat, polo shirt, and kaki shorts. His head jumped up when he heard someone approaching; realizing it was me his body relaxed. “George.”
“Hey Coach,” I said as I handed him his keys. “Everyone did the workout. We were running out of time and they all decided to finish instead of quitting.”
“Good. That is good. I’m happy to know that I choose the right person to be my captain,” Coach said proudly, patting me on the shoulder. “I was, however, informed by the altercation that happened yesterday. I am glad you stood up for her, but next time don’t swing first. Note, I’m speaking from the school faculty stand point. This won’t be on your permanent record because Steven’s was in the wrong, but next time you will probably be marked up. The Montana school will not invite you if you have any demerits,” Coach finished trying to get the point across to me.
Loud and clear, “Understood Coach. Montana school is still my goal. I won’t do anything to ruin my chances,” I say knowing that I would still protect her, but maybe next time I’ll just shield her and myself and take the beating.
“Now, I will quickly step out of my faculty role,” Coach said as he removed his hat. Now knowing why he always wears the hat, his hair was untamable. “I am proud of you. As a coach, I don’t just want to mold outstanding athletes but I want you all to be outstanding human beings as well.”
Wow. When Coach wanted to he could make you feel ten feet tall. I was swelled up with so much pride that I’m sure my face was all smug with confidence.
Putting his hat back on, “Still, remember my words. The Montana school will be the best thing for you. I do hope I can hand you over to them at the end of this year.”
“I will not let you down Coach. But could I get that pass? I’m probably going to be late to homeroom,” looking at my watch realizing I have about five minutes until the last bell.
“You may have it, but I do believe you could make it without. If you use it will be an extra thousand yards today at practice for everyone. If you do not use it I will drop five hundred yards off everyone’s practice. It’s your decision,” Coach said as he handed me the pass, unlocked the door, and left.
“Coach loves to make my teammates hate me,” I say as I bust my butt to homeroom.
Just a sweet thing she did yesterday.
Enjoy your Monday!! ❤️
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.
We were done and already in the locker room. The hot water felt so good on my aching muscles. As I was getting dressed teammates came up and thanked me for the deadly workout. Most of them added in, ‘it killed me but I do feel stronger.’ It was a nice feeling that I made the right decisions. I throw on a sweatshirt and I head out. The guys waited for me; I lock up the facility and we stand for a bit in front of the doors.
“That was a killer workout, George. It was great. But Coach is going to love it too much; it will probably become a normal set for us,” Jerry said as he shoved me jokingly.
“Yeah, it was good. But I hate you,” both Ken and Matthews said simultaneously.
I chuckled, “Thanks guys. I personally thought of you lot as I wrote it. I thought to myself, ‘how can I torture my friends the most?’ But no really guys thanks for the support.”
Ken and Matthews left heading towards the back parking lot. Jerry said a quick goodbye and he was off too. I stupidly had parked in the opposite parking lot. So I had to drag my tired butt to the front of the school. Hopefully Coach will be happy with me tomorrow, and still think I am dependable. Dependable…Jenny!
I rushed to the football field. Jenny stood backed against a fence while a guy, I didn’t recognize, pressed her against it. She seemed to be struggling to get free. I sprinted to them, pulled and shoved the guy away from her. Then preceded to step between them. The other guy was about ten feet away, so I backed up towards her, “I’m sorry Jenny. You okay?”
“George…” Jenny muffled out.
She had been crying. I lost it. The guy was walking towards us; I don’t know how but I punched him across his smug face.
He thudded to the ground. “Dude! What is your problem? This doesn’t concern you. Stay out of our business,” the guy said as he slowly pulled himself up.
“She is my business,” I was all riled up. My hand was throbbing in pain, but it didn’t see to phase me. The only thing that brought me back to earth was Jenny’s hand on my arm. I turned around to her. She was slightly better; she wasn’t shaking anymore. She had a red handprint on her shoulder; where he had held her in place…
Ready to lay another punch on his kisser, I turned and WHAM! His fist hit the target, my face. I didn’t fall but I felt the wind knocked out of me. I shoved him away; trying to give myself some time to collect myself. Jenny was beside me; she was trying to help me to stand, but I pushed her behind me. She was shaking again.
“What’s your deal? You don’t have any reason to interfere. Unless you are interested in her?” The other guy said, but added a smirk on the last word.
“And what if I am?” Did that just come out of my mouth? I guess the cat is out of the bag. Jenny’s hand on my arm became warmer; I give a side glance in her direction and watch as her cheeks turn a hue of red. Was it embarrassment or just surprise? I returned my gaze back to the other guy; learning from experience, never let your guard down.
“Sucks for you man, if they don’t answer you it’s a rejection,” he said laughingly.
I saw teachers coming at a distance. He started walking towards us again.
The other guy stopped dead in his tracks. I froze. That was Jenny’s voice. Was she accepting him or acknowledging me? This time I turned my body to Jenny.
Her hand still on my arm she looked up into my eyes, “Okay.”
I froze not knowing what to do. I heard a confused, ‘what’ and snarl from the other guy but I was too startled. I just continued to look at her. She smiled back at me. I guess the smile was too much for the rejected guy because he charged us again. I knew the teachers were almost here; so, I just pulled her into a protective hug waiting for the teachers to stop him.
Everything was a blur after that. She said, ‘Okay’. Jenny. Jenny said ‘okay’! All I know is we were walking back to the main office. The other guy was being dragged there, while Jenny walked beside me. Her hand still on my arm.