“Heard Will told you.” Mikey said as he sat on her bed next to her, the next day. She nodded, pretending to still concentrate on her music homework, biting on the pencil. “Do you still like him?” he asked softly, his body angled so he was facing her.
She sighed, the pencil dropping to the carpeted floor. “Yeah,” she admitted. “Cause it’s like he’s charming, and funny and…and… yeah,” she finished lamely.
Mikey smiled sadly. “Yeah. I know what you mean.”
She looked up at him. “You do?”
“It’s what every other girl says,” he shrugged, his arms looking like matchsticks in the Anthrax t-shirt he was wearing. “That he’s sweet and funny, and nice and not like other boys. Sometimes I just feel like yelling at them open your eyes. There’s plenty other guys who are actually nice.” He paused, as Joanna smiled at him. “Like Rick,” he pointed out.
“Like Rick,” she agreed. He simply grinned at her.
“No Mikey,” she warned. “Just no.”
He laughed, throwing his head back. “He’ll be so disappointed.”
She smiled. “Like Rick’s interested. We’re mates.”
School was back to normal. No warnings about Benji. Just laughter, fun and teasing.
“Thanksgiving,” Mikey announced. “What are you guys doing?”
Maria rolled her eyes. “Bit early to be thinking about it Mikes." She shrugged."Same as always. Step dad’s.” She reverted her gaze back to book she was reading as Mikey turned to Will.
The dark haired boy shrugged. “Whatever. At home probably.”
“Hey beautiful,” Rick murmured to Joanna as he walked up. She smiled up at him, before biting into her sandwich once more.
“Rick rick rickay, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Mikey asked grinning.
“Me? Home. Duh,” he replied. “You?”
“Home, but I was thinking. We should have a mini one like, on the Saturday before.” Mikey told him, scratching the back of his neck.
“Why?” Maria asked in the voice that she only used when she thought the guys were being terminally stupid.
“Well…” he began slowly. “It’s giving thanks for the English coming over here, yes?”
“Yes Mikey,” Maria replied, talking as though she was talking to a five year old.
“Well, we should have a mini one to give thanks for Anna.”
Hearing her name Joanna looked up. “Huh? What?” They were all looking at her, either grinning or looking thoughtful.
“Yeah, ok.” Maria agreed, after considering it.
“Cool,” Will grinned.
“Ok,” Rick shrugged.
“What?” Joanna asked, her voice rising.
“Nothing,” they all told her with an innocent, or in Mikey’s case cheeky, grin.
I really did miss that conversation completely. Oh, I thought I’d better explain. Rick calling me beautiful was something that had started the Monday after the first soccer game. I think he thought if he said it once every day, usually at lunch, I wouldn’t fall for Benji.
It was a shame he was too late.
She turned, her hair whipping with her in the sharp autumn wind. “Benji hey.” She smiled as he caught her up just outside the school gates. “Thought you got a lift home.”
“I do,” he explained simply. “You wanna ride?”
She smiled. “Yeah.”
Don’t think I was blowing out Rick. I wasn’t, honestly I wasn’t. He’d already gone home, cause I’d had cheerleading practice. And I know what Benji did to Will, but I couldn’t help it. I had a double life. I felt schizophrenic. There was Jo the popular cheerleader who was falling for Benji Richards, and then there was Anna who was best friends with the outcasts, and who disliked Benji. It seemed at times that Jo was winning.