“You’re a fast runner,” the boy commented, scratching the back of his neck. “You ever thought of trying out for track?”
She sat up, briskly trying to wipe away the tears, leaving faint grey streaks from her eyeliner.
“So what happened? I was about to come into the cafeteria when you bolted.” He sat down next to her, now running a hand through his brown hair.
“Everyone thinks I slept with Benji,” she told him, pushing some hair away from her face.
His brown eyes widened momentarily and then he extended an arm towards her. “Come here.” She moved over so she was leaning against him, his arm around her shoulders. “Forget about them Anna. They’re all terminally thick anyway.”
“I know Mikes,” she replied. “But still…”
“It hurts, I know,” he finished for her softly. “But everyone’s gotta deal.”
She didn’t reply for a while and when she did, she whispered, “My Nan died.”
“When?” he asked simply.
“Saturday,” she replied, closing her eyes in a bid to stop the tears from falling once more.
“Oh Anna,” he sighed, hugging her with one arm. “You can share mine. Grandma Helena’s really ace.”
She smiled weakly. “Thanks.”
We sat there for ages; long after the bell had rung out, summoning everyone to class. And then we walked out of the school. Yeah, we cut class.
“Movie,” he proposed.
“Film,” she countered.
“So very English.”
“Anyway, film?” he asked as they stood in the high street.
“No money,” Joanna shrugged.
“I’ll pay,” he offered. “Give me the money back when ever.”
She grinned. “Okay.”
He got us tickets for a horror film. In my experience boys only take girls to horror films because a) they think the girl’ll enjoy it or b) they think the girl’ll cuddle up to them. I’m pretty sure Mikey did because of the former but in the end I watched five minutes of it, had my face hidden in my hands for twenty minutes whilst huddled in my seat and then the sounds echoing from the screen freaked me out too much and I ran out of there.
She turned, and leant against the wall. “I am not going back in there,” she told Mikey bluntly. “Not for anything.”
“Fine,” he sighed, looking longingly at the cinema door. “Wimp.”
She smiled. “Come on. Let’s go somewhere where there’s lots of light and no dagger wielding people.”
Mikey rolled his eyes as she took his hand and determinedly dragged him out of there. “So you planning on leaving America then?”
In the end we ended up sitting on a bench that was in town, just talking.
“I just wanna go back to England though,” she murmured.
“Thanks. Glad you like us so much,” Mikey teased.
“I didn’t mean it like that!” she backtracked. “I just, I just wanna be back where I know and we don’t have cheerleaders and it’s not as segregated and no-one’s heard of Benji freakin’ Richards.”
Mikey half smiled. “You could always quit being a cheerleader.”
She nodded. “I know, but it’s fun…well, apart from the uniform.”
“I’d-we’d miss you if you left you know.” Mikey directed this to the floor whilst fidgeting with his sleeve. Joanna beamed.
“I’d miss you too, Mikes.”
He coloured slightly before changing the subject entirely by saying, “Can’t believe that you were scared by the movie.”
“Well gee, sorry for being a wimp.”
He burst out laughing. “Now try saying that without the American accent.”
“I used your accent?” she seemed genuinely horrified. “Dang, I’m going native.”
I left at four. I wanted to go round to Mia’s and talk.
“I’m gonna go,” she told him.
“No!” he cried, throwing his arms around her. “You can’t leave me. I love you Jo!” Several heads turned to look at them.
“Mikey, get off me,” she hissed.
“You’re leaving me for my brother?” he asked loudly, his eyes filling with hurt. “How could you?”
She laughed, standing up. “I’ll call you later.” As she walked off, she turned and blew him a kiss.