Amy rolled onto her side, the foam inside her vinyl-covered bean bag chair squeaking as she moved. She flipped another page in her book, anxious to find out if the rumor of Tiffany cheating on Brad was true.
“You should be outside, it’s a beautiful day.”
Amy glanced at her mom standing in her doorway. “No thanks. This is a really good book.”
“Go play with your friends. You sit around the house too much.”
“I don’t want to.” I don’t have friends, and twelve-year-olds don’t play, she wanted to say.
“You’re not going to spend the whole summer inside.” She motioned toward the front door. “Go on.”
Amy contemplated arguing, but could see by her mom’s folded arms that it was no use. “Fine. I’ll get my bike.”
With a satisfied nod, her mom turned and retreated toward the kitchen.
As soon as her mom’s footsteps faded, she tucked the book into the front of her khaki shorts and pulled her baggy t-shirt over her hips. “Be back in a while,” she called as she slipped out the front door. She rolled her bike out of the side gate and thought a little prayer that she would make it to the park without anyone seeing her. Several streets away, she spotted four blonde heads and knew her luck had run out.
“Look, ladies; there’s Awkward Amy!” Savannah White said to her three blonde friends (whose hair happened to be several shades darker.) “Nice helmet.” She giggled. “Oh wait, that’s your hair.”
The other girls giggled with Savannah, as if on cue.
“Whatever,” Amy said, pedaling around the corner. At least I wasn’t named for a 1980s game show hostess. Like always, her come-back came to mind a minute too late. She gathered speed and shot up her favorite hill. Halfway up, momentum quit and she had to dismount and push her bike. She headed to the far end of the park and dropped her bike next to a large-trunked oak tree. Less than a minute later, propped against the tree, she again immersed herself in the pages of Tiffany’s scandal.
Amy had read all but a finger’s-width worth of pages when she raised her eyes from the book. She couldn’t tell what, but something had penetrated her consciousness, summoning her back to the real world. In the distance, she saw a girl and a guy, maybe a foot taller, wrestling. Amy pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose and squinted to get better focus.
She remembered the white t-shirt and jean skirt from their earlier encounter. She didn’t recognize the guy. Her stomach lurched when she glimpsed his face- he had a beard. Definitely not someone from school. He pulled her toward a car parked on the street; Savannah dragged her feet.
Daily, Amy had wished Savannah would just disappear, but not like that. She scrambled to her feet and slipped her cell phone from her pocket. She ran toward them, snapping a couple pictures just in case she couldn’t make it (she read faster than she ran).
“Hey, stop!” She yelled when she got within earshot.
The man paused, and they both looked at her.
“I have several photos of you and your license plate.” Amy tried to sound more confident than she felt. “I already emailed them to my mom,” she lied. “You’ll never get away with kidnapping.”
“Kidnapping?” They said in unison.
The man released his grip on Savannah and she stumbled to regain her balance. “Oh, no, this is my older brother. He’s visiting from college,” she said.
“So why was he dragging you to his car?”
“He threatened to drive us by Seth Robinson’s house.”
“While honking the horn and shouting ‘My sister loves you’,” the guy added.
Seth played all the major sports- baseball, football, basketball, dodge ball- anything with a ball, really. It made sense that Savannah would crush on him.
“TJ, I’ll just walk home, k?”
“Fine. See’ ya later.”
He practically ran to his car, which made Amy’s embarrassment flare again. “Sorry,” she muttered. “I feel stupid now.”
“You are stupid… and a big, nerdy dork!” Savannah rolled her eyes.
Amy stared at the jagged crack in the sidewalk that ran beneath her feet. She kind of wished it would widen and swallow her up.
“But it was slammin’ thing to do.” She crossed the street. “See you at school!”
She looked up and caught sight of Savannah smiling… a nice smile, not the usual mocking kind. “Uh, okay. Bye.” She raised her hand in a limp wave.
Savannah waved back.
For the first time since Kindergarten, Amy felt hope when she thought of school.
Inspiration: A few nights ago, my kids went to ride bikes before dinner and stayed out long enough that I finished my dinner before they got back. While they were gone, the “worst” nagged at the back of my mind. When they returned, the worry turned to anger. (The crazy mom reaction they can’t understand!) I also drew from my own experience as a child – the conflict between me wanting to stay inside and read a book and my mom wanting me to go outside and ‘play’.
Life is still being a vampire (sucking the creativity right out of me) but this is the best I could do this week. I see some light at the end of the tunnel with my workload, so I do hope my drive to write returns soon. (Never mind that kids’ sports are gearing up and Boy/Cub Scouts is back in session – I won’t let it take up ALL my writing time 🙂 )
Liked the story? Hated the story? Feel free to share your reaction in a comment. I can take it. Either way, have a terrific Thursday!