Lisa meets a new friend and finally gets to talk with Joe...
The guy sitting next to me leaned in close and whispered in my ear, "Promise you won't tell?" I could feel his warm breath on my ear and the heat from his body. For some reason, this strange feeling made me shiver. I couldn't quite identify my emotions right now. They were all tangled up and impossible to sort out.
"Yeah, I promise," I agreed, looking at him curiously. "So are you gonna tell me what you're doing out here or not?" He needed, soft brown locks falling into his eyes as he did so, "Yeah. I'm out here because it's such a waste of time in there." The guy pointed a finger over his shoulder at the building that loomed behind us.
So this guy must be kind of a rebel. I liked rebels. I hated people who were so concerned about following the rules all the time. Those were the kinds of people who never had any fun in life. I remembered the day Joe and convinced me to ditch school with him so that we could go to the bookstore and get ice cream. My heart gave a sharp pang as I thought of Joe. Maybe tonight I would try to call him again.
"Tell me about yourself," the guy asked me with his head cocked to one side. He was looking at me with those deep brown eyes and for some reason, that was making me feel fluttery. Why would he want to know about me? I was just some boring, random new kid here who everyone seemed to want to pick on.
But for the sake of trying to make conversation, I replied, "Well...I'm fourteen. I used to live in Vermont and go to a prep school there. Vermont is such a nice place. Everything seems so friendly and familiar there. I'm sure you'd like it if you ever went there. Speaking of which, have you ever been there?" I knew I was blabbing, but the words just seemed to spontaneously spill out of my mouth like a runaway train.
"Nah," the guy replied, eyes never leaving mine. "What do you miss most about Vermont? I can tell you miss it. I can sense this invisible storm cloud hanging over you. You seem pretty unhappy here." That was true; I was unhappy here. It was funny he was able to read my emotions so clearly even though we had just met.
"I miss a lot of things," I admitted, thinking of everything dear to me that I had to leave at my home in Vermont. "I miss my home, my old school, my best friend Mandy, and most of all, Joe." The guy sitting next to me grabbed a water bottle from his school bag and took a long drink out of it. I noticed how he tried to keep the bottle out of my sight. Suspicious.
"Was Joe your boyfriend?" he asked, quickly stowing the bottle back into his schoolbag. Ignoring the question, I leaned over his shoulder and tried to get a look at what was inside the water bottle. Something was telling me that whatever was in it was most certainly not water. I was determined to find out exactly what it was.
"What's in your bottle?" I asked as he concealed it from my view and gave me a sheepish smile.
"Nothing!" he replied hastily with a sheepish smile.
"Oh come on!" I said, shaking his arm ever so lightly, "I'm not buying that! You wouldn't have just taken a drink out of it if there was nothing in there. I'm not stupid you know. So you might as well just fess up already and tell me what's in there." I gazed up at him with a seductive little smile and innocent eyes.
He quickly looked around us nervously before leaning close to me and whispering in my ear, "Just some whiskey from home. Yeah, I know about the stupid rule about not drinking at school, but seriously, who even gives a damn to what the school thinks anymore?" I was honestly liking this guy more and more by the second. He was the only person at this school who had bothered to talk to me and he was making me feel welcome here. And there was just something special about him. He had so many diverse expressions and he was just fun to hang around.
The guy I was sitting next to pulled the bottle back out of his bag and took another sip, gargling it around in his mouth before turning to me, saying, "Want some?" I didn't really like or dislike the taste of whiskey, but if my new friend was drinking it, then so would I. Maybe it would make me feel better if I got high.
"Sure, why not?" I took the bottle he offered me and took a small sip. "Thanks for being so nice to me. People aren't exactly the friendliest here if you know what I mean." He laughed and took the bottle back from me and rolled his eyes, "Believe me, I know exactly what you mean."
The two of us spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the steps to the school, passing the water bottle back and forth, and just spending time getting to know each other. It was one of the best afternoons I had experienced in a long time...before a familiar voice sounded from behind me, making my whole body go rigid.
We had just been laughing over some joke I had made when the footsteps sounded and the voice said, "Oh my god, there you are Lisa! We've been looking all over for you. Who's your friend?" It was Ashley. I hadn't forgiven her earlier for laughing at me along with Jack and the gang, so I just kept my mouth shut and stared at her with cold eyes.
I was shocked when Brittany hauled me to my feet and gave me a big hug. Something told me that there was a reason for the hug. It wasn't like Brittany to just go around hugging people. It didn't take me too long to figure out what her motive was. As soon as I was out of the way, Ashley quickly took my place next to the new guy and fluttered her long, black eyelashes flirtatiously at him. This had to be the "cute new kid" that Ashely had been gushing about constantly.
I bit my lip as I watched Ashley immediately strike up a conversation with him as Brittany started leading me across the walkway that led up to the school. If Ashley wanted this guy as her boyfriend, well, she could have him for all I cared. I didn't want or need a boyfriend. Even if Joe hadn't stayed loyal to me, I'd always stay loyal to him. Joe was mine. I wanted Joe and no other guy...right?
I was so deep in thought that I hadn't noticed that Brittany had brought me almost fifty meters from where the new kid and Ashley were laughing together. That was kind of rude. She hadn't even given me a chance to say goodbye to him for god's sake! I turned over my shoulder to see if he was looking at me.
A little shudder went through my body when I realized that he indeed was looking at me! Gulping, I waved at him and gave him a little smile. He waved back casually at me and gave me a wide grin that made his eyes sparkle. Ashley just glared at me and motioned for me to go away. But I didn't care what Ashley though. She wasn't turning out to be a very nice friend.
As soon as Brittany and I were out of Ashley's hearing distance, Brittany put her lips to my ears and hissed, "Now go away and do something! Whatever you do, don't go bothering Ashley. You knew she wanted that guy. You knew it all along!" I just kind of stared at Brittany. Seriously, what the hell?
Annoyed at my non response, Brittany gave me a little shove towards the line of cars waiting in front of the school and said, "Go!" Rolling my eyes at here, I shrugged and headed towards my car. My mom was inside reading a book and paying absolutely no attention to me when I jumped into the passenger seat. That was good I supposed though. A little peace and quite and time to think would really do me some good.
Once we had started driving again and my mom had finally put down her book, I realized that I hadn't even learned the new kid's name! I had told him mine, but he had never told me his. Oh well, there would always be another chance for me to get to talk to him again I figured. After all, I had many more days to spend at this school.
~ ~ ~ ~
Two hours later, I found myself at the dinner table, picking at my dinner while my parents chowed down. My dad was in a great mood and was yammering on and on about his new job. I didn't pay much attention to the conversation as I speared a stalk of soggy asparagus and looked at it with disgust.
Finally, my dad turned to me for the first time that night and said, "So Lisa, how was your day? I remember you telling me that you had your first social studies lesson today. What was that like? I always liked social studies when I was your age." I gulped and tried to ignore the fact that my cheeks were blushing bright red and I was feeling severe pangs of guilt.
I tried to mask it and said in an overly cheerful voice, "It was great! I've always loved social studies too! I guess I must get that from you, dad." Normally, my dad would've seen through my obvious lie, but today, he seemed way too preoccupied and ecstatic about his new job to be really in tune with my emotions.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you," my dad added as he took a big bite of the disgusting-looking asparagus. He chewed carefully and swallowed before continuing, "Joe called you and left a message. Actually, that's not quite right. Joe called you five times and left you three messages. I think you should call him, sweetie. It sounds like he really misses you."
Joe had called me five times? My mood definitely went up a few notches and I found myself grinning. No longer interested in my food, I pushed my chair back and stood up, saying, "May I be excused? I'd really like to talk to Joe since it's been a really long time and it would be polite if I didn't call him back after he left all those messages."
"Yeah, yeah, go ahead," my dad said, waving me off. I raced through the kitchen, dumped my uneaten food down the drain, and stuck my dirty dishes into our new, shiny dishwasher. After that, I ran up the stairs and slammed the door to my room shut as I hurtled inside and hammered Joe's phone number into the phone.
I impatiently put it up to my ear and waited for Joe to pick up. If he didn't pick up right now, I was going to be seriously depressed or pissed off. But just as I was thinking that Joe wasn't going to pick up, a familiar voice sounded from the other end of the phone, "Hello? This is Joe Perry speaking."
"Joe! It's me!" I practically yelled into the phone, unable to keep my excitement to myself. "I've missed you so much! How have you been? Tell me everything that's gone on since I left." Then realized I was still screaming into the phone, I added in a softer voice, "Oops, sorry. I didn't realize I was yelling. You probably have an earache now."
"Of course not," Joe reassured me, laughing slightly. "You could never give me an earache. And it's good to hear from you, Lisa! I was really worried when you didn't return any of my calls last night. My mom said you called, but you never called me back. I wasn't sure what to think."
I instantly felt guilty for not calling Joe back last night. I had totally overreacted about the whole "Mandy and Joe" thing. I mean, it wasn't like I had any proof that they had gotten together or anything. I apologized to Joe, "Oh, sorry. I was...uh...busy I guess. Your mom told me you were at Mandy's though so..." I let my sentence trail off, hoping Joe would explain the whole thing about Mandy with me. I really did want to know why he was at Mandy's house last night even if it wasn't any of my business. Well actually, it was my business. I was Joe's girlfriend after all!
Joe saw right through my sentence and said, "You're wondering why I was at Mandy's, aren't you?"
I was glad Joe couldn't see my face because I was blushing furiously at the moment, "Um, yeah, kind of."
"You're easy to read. Even from the telephone!" Joe laughed before continuing. "I went to Mandy's to see if she had your new telephone number. You never gave me your new telephone number, so I had to try and get it from somewhere. I would've just called Mandy's house, but I didn't have her phone number either, so it was easier just to drop by her house instead."
I was so relieved to hear that Joe and Mandy hadn't hooked up that I almost laughed. I burst out, "Oh, okay! I thought...well, nevermind what I thought! It doesn't even matter. So tell me what's been going on. I'm dying to know." Joe paused for a few minutes before saying, "Not much really. It's been really boring here. Without you around, life is dull. School is like torture. There's nobody to talk to or anything. I miss whispering with you in the back of algebra. But enough about me. Tell me about you. What's New York like? And what about your new school?"
I would much rather here about life back in Vermont than talk about my new life here in New York, but I figured I should at least give Joe a brief overview of what had happened since I had moved. I started at the beginning, "Our new house is pretty nice actually. It's really big and clean. My dad absolutely loves his new job. It's like impossible to get him to shut up about it. My mom seems to like her job better too. I think she's happier too now that my dad is happier."
"That's all great and stuff," Joe replied, "But I was kind of more interested in hearing about you versus your parents. That's cool that they like their new jobs and stuff, but how do you like it?"
"Honestly, I hate it," I said, finding no reason to sugarcoat the truth. "Everything is so unfamiliar and different here. I just want things to be normal like they used to be. School is a nightmare. There's this creepy blonde dude who keeps harassing me and there's this clique of girls who sometimes act like your friend and sometimes act like complete bitches."
"Hm," Joe remarked thoughtfully, "Make sure you tell someone if that guy keeps bothering you. I wouldn't want you to end up getting hurt or anything. If I was with you, I would've punched him for you and told him to fuck off for good. What do you do when he bothers you? You get away from him, right?"
I laughed, thinking of how I had run down the hall and out of the school when he had bothered me earlier today. I told Joe about this, "Yeah, of course I get away. Uh...I actually ended up ditching school all afternoon because of him. I was just sorta fed up with everything and needed a break, ya know? But it's all good 'cuz I met this really nice guy."
There was a moment's silence and I was wondering if maybe I had said something wrong. But then Joe spoke, "So you met a nice guy, huh? Tell me about him. Is he nice to you?" I shrugged, not really sure how to describe the guy I had just met. He was so unlike anyone I had ever met. There was just something about him that you had to love even if you didn't know him. But that obviously wasn't something I could tell Joe in case he got the wrong idea.
I settled for saying, "Yeah, he's nice I guess. We talked for a little bit since we were both ditching school. He's new to this school too actually. But before you jump to conclusions, he's just a friend and no more than that. The leader of the clique has her eye on him already anyways so it's not like I could hook up with him even if I wanted to."
I could hear Joe audibly sigh with relief from the other end of the phone. I could also hear a woman's voice from a distance away saying sternly, "What did I tell you about using the phone after nine, Joe? You were suppose to have been off of it five minutes ago! Wrap up your conversation, okay?"
"Sounds like your mom is bitching," I commented to Joe.
"Yeah, unfortunately," Joe agreed. "I should probably go before she gets too pissed off. You know my mom, it's never good to get on her bad side. So talk to you tomorrow maybe?"
"Of course," I replied. "Goodnight Joe. I love you."
"I love you too," Joe reassured me. "I always have and I always will."