I am currently taking part of the April A to Z Challenge! During this month, I am writing a single story, building each day off of the previous one. To get the story from the beginning, start here and work on up…
Annie woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to tackle the day. She felt a little lighter today, dizzy with the excitement of impending graduation, and giddy from the droll interactions of the night before, though she was still somewhat bothered by Christian’s off-the-cuff sentiments. She determined that if given the opportunity, she would expend just a little more energy working on being a friend instead of so singularly focused. Though it was a little late in the game, she hated to leave town this way, with only fleeting memories of herself as the girl who had no friends.
The first few periods came and went, same as they ever did. No grand opportunities came to her, no chances to help someone pick up dropped books or lend an ear, no one so much as looking her way. It seemed she had done a decent job of simply existing here, skating by without too many expectations. She was sitting alone under her favorite shade tree for lunch, a monstrous oak with rough, peeling bark and a trunk so wide she couldn’t even wrap her arms half way around it. She had recently printed out a map of the Greyhound routes and was beginning to discreetly plot her destined journey when she heard a rustle in the leaves behind her.
“Mind some company?”
Now was her opportunity. She feigned nonchalance as she gestured in a way that indicated he should sit. “Come on down.”
“Hey,” he lowered himself opposite her, folding long legs upon themselves more gracefully than she’d expected him to. “I just wanted to apologize for yesterday. I didn’t mean to be offensive.”
“Huh? You mean that friend comment? That’s okay. It wasn’t offensive, it just really got me thinking…”
“The friend comment? I meant everything except that! I was in a weird mood. I usually just don’t intervene so much, and then I said that you weren’t that pretty! I don’t even remember what I said about friends. I was just a little bolder than I usually am with everything. I think my adrenaline was up from that guy, and I didn’t mean to tease you so much. I hoped I didn’t make you mad!”
Annie’s cheeks pinked. “Christian, I am not offended that you stood up for me. I’ve been trippin’ over that thing you said about me not having any friends! You were right ya know. I’m leaving in two weeks and I don’t think I’ve ever made a friend in my life. It’s been about staying alive and getting out of here for so long that nothing else has mattered. I don’t think that’s a good thing.”
“Psh. You’re not the only one, chiquita. I don’t usually go out of my way for anybody. I’ve just got so many people and emotions that I’m trying to balance at home. I don’t have any energy left to even think about balancing somebody else. I just want to get done with all of this school stuff so I can get a 9-5 job and stop stressin’ about putting food on the table, ya know? Friends can only take you so far.”
“I dunno. It really got to me. I think I need to try. It seems like I’ve done a really good job of building up these walls, though, because no one has even tried talking to me today, except you. I’ve been paying attention. It looks like you, Mr. Santos, may have just volunteered to be my friend experiment.”