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Chapter Three of "The Connection"
We dont necessarily ask our parents if we can go roller skating anymore, we just tell them we're going. we go there so often and they know the people that work there so well that they know we'll be okay. but, as a habit i dont think theyll ever break, they ask if i have my cell phone. i dont know why they dont realize i dont just take my phone with me because they want me to, but because i love that thing like my child i dont leave the house with it anyway. As usual, marianna's older brother, Greg, drove us to the Roller House in his orange Mustang. Greg is 16 and he's really nice. he always drove us around places without marianna having to bug him about it constantly.
we arrived at the rink and got our bags from the trunk with our skates and money in them. our parents had bought us skates when we started going to the rink so often. it was better to spend more money at that time to buy us our own skates than to spend five dollars so often it added up to more than the skates themselves. not only that, but the public skates are nasty.
we thanked Greg and headed inside. The Roller House was small that seemed like it was a family business considering i have never seen another one in my life. that made it really cheap, only three dollars to get in. we payed Margret the three dollar fee-- yes, we were on a first name basis now-- and we went to our regular spot on the bench to change into our skates. the usual routine was to show off skating around the rink, and if that doesnt work (which it usually doesnt) she pulls me along to the snack bar to hang out there until she sees a guy she thinks will be "good for me". then, she goes and says hi to him or starts some random conversation, and right when hes getting the nerve to ask HER out, she intruduces ME. it usually goes down the toilet as soon as he realizes she trying to set me up with him instead of score a date herself.
we were going around the rink and she scanned the area for any guys that appreared around our age and wasnt holding hands with another girl, which was pretty hard to find. if she scoped one out, she would basically follow him from a distance until he was alone (so she would make a good lawyer AND a creeper). it looked like marianna had found someone and locked her target. as soon as he was alone at the snack bar, sitting at the back table, Marianna grabbed my hand and lead me towards him. He actually was kinda cute, wearing a plain dark blue t shirt and some jeans. he had blond hair and blue eyes, which i noticed was like me, minus the boring-ness that radiated off me. he was sitting casually stirring the ice around in his soda with a straw. I'll give Marianna this: she knew what she was doing. She stalled by buying two Cokes and two candy bars. she handed me a coke and a dark chocolate Hershey bar (my weapon of choice) and we put them on a table close to his, buy the toy-claw machine. she took a quarter from her purse and slid it into to slot. she tried to grab a little pink stuffed dog, but those claw machines were such a rip-off. she knew this of course, but she was just buying time so it didnt look so obvious that she was trying to hook up her insanely desperate friend. she lost and searched her wallet for another quarter, which i knew was full of them, but she looked at the boy and said, "I'm out of quarters, can you spare one?" she looked so innocent, but i knew exactly what she was up to. He looked at her and said, "Uh, yeah sure." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change. He picked up a quarter and handed it to her. "Thanks. I'm Marianna, by the way, and this is Sami" she said with a smile. He smiled back and replied, "I'm Jeff". Sami returned to the game. I knew the part, and i played along just to humor her. i would glance over at the boy every now and then, especially when i knew he was looking back. i would smile at him, try to act embarassed, and quickly look at my feet until i felt his eyes on me again. when Marianna failed at the game a second time, she gave up and we sat down at our table. i swear she sat in her room at night potting ways to get guys to look at me. the extremely odd thing about this was it actually seemed to be working; he seemed to be looking at me instead of marianna. it really surprised me at first, but i remembered not to get my hopes up because they always ended up falling for her eventually-- just like Rob. when our candy bars had been eaten and our coke was half gone, one of Marianna's favorite songs came on and she knew all the words to by heart. She looked excited at first, but then acted frustrated and said, "Crap, what is the name of this song? I can't remember, can you, Sami?" i knew this trick, too. Just an excuse to start a conversation with the boy, this time Jeff. i decided to play along, though i knew this song well too.
"No, but now its irritating me. Ugh, i hate it when this happens!" we spent a moment acting annoyed with ourselves until Marianna decided it was the right time and gave me "the signal". it was completely stupid, but when ever Marianna would fiddle with her earring, acting as if she was fixing it, i was to talk to the guy. i turned to Jeff with a puzzled look on my face and asked, "Hey, do you know the name of this song?" though i knew it was called "Our Song," by Taylor Swift. In my opinion, she was alright but she didn't sing my kind of music. i was more of an rock person than a country girl.
"Isn't it called 'Our Song' or something like that? my little sister worships Taylor Swift," he replied, and i looked at Marianna with fake sudden realization on my face and we both said "Oh, right!" at about the same time, but it didnt sound rehersed.
"Thanks, Jeff," i said to him. He replied with a smile and nod. i knew Marianna expected me to keep talking to him, so i said, "I don't think i've seen you before. Do you go to Shadow Middle School?" i asked, actually curious now.
"No, i just moved here two days ago, but my mom enrolled me in Shadow earlier today. i've been busy unpacking stuff before now. Are you in eighth grade?" He asked me. i was surprised that this conversation was going somewhere interesting.
"Yeah, we are, welcome. Where are you from?" i asked.
"I'm from Arizona, so Ohio is a bit different for me," he replied.
"Oh, cool, i've always wanted to go to Arizona, or at least somewhere with warmer weather. i can't stand the cold." i said.
"Oh well then you'd probably like it there. It's never cold."
"Awesome, i'd love it there."
"Yeah, it is pretty sweet, but its not so bad here either." he said, looking around.
"So do you live close to here?" i asked.
"Yeah, i live on Rose Boulevard now," he said casually. i was shocked when he said the name of the street Marianna and i live on.
"Really? Thats the street i live on!" i said back.
"Seriously? Wow that's wierd. Maybe you could show me around the neighborhood." he answered. the last thing i exp
ected was for HIM to ask to see more of me. i would be surprised if he said yes if i asked him.
"Sure, no problem. I'd love to. Hey do you know any of your schedule yet?" i doubted he would, but i asked anyway.
"Yeah, actually my mom sent me here to find some people my age. She was talking to the neighbors and they said a lot of the older kids like to hang out down here, so she made me take my schedule with me." he said this as he took out a folded piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to me. i unfolded it and studied it for a moment. He was in a lot of the same classes as me, which i found kind of strange considering he lives on my street as well. it seemed so convenient for some reason.
"Woah, you're in like most of my classes," i said, and Marianna, who had been surprisingly silent up until this point, said, "Let me see," and took the schedule to read herself. "Wow, Sami, you're right." she seemed to be as amazed as i was, and not just an act.
"Really? That's cool, i'll actually know someone at school. Would you show me around the school as well?" he asked. This was working out all too well. Had Marianna set this up?
"Sure," i smiled at him.
"Thanks, I was worried I'd have to ask a teacher to help me the whole day and basically be ignored by everyone,"
"No, I'll help you out," i told him, and suddenly remembered that there was a house two doors down from me that had been for sale for a while. i felt my eyes get bigger.
"Hey, do you live in that house with the blue door? It's been for sale for like months."
"Yeah, i do." i could tell he knew there something more to it than that.
"This is getting freaky. that's two houses down from me," i explained. now his eyes were wide.
"Dude, this is wierd," he said, but he was smiling.
Marianna finally said something. "Yeah this is pretty odd." By this time our cups were empty but we remained at the table not only because i was finally having a conversation with a guy but because he was actually really cool. it seemed so strange to me that there was a guy in my grade moved to my school, had a lot of the same classes as me, AND lived two houses away from mine, that i had just met. it almost felt like a set up, like some stupid tv show. i decided to atleast try not to worry so much for once and have fun... wow do i sound like my mom. thinking of her and her parnoid ways, i looked at my phone for missed calls and was shocked at the time. we must've been talking longer than i had realized.
"Holy crap Marianna! It's 8:45!"
"No, its not," she detested, but as if to prove my point, Margret came on the speaker announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Roller House will be closing in 15 minutes." Marianna and i knew without a doubt that the Roller House closed at 9:00 pm every week night. Jeff seemed concerned then and said, "Crap! I forgot to tell my brother to pick me up! He can't get here before nine let alone get me home by then. Of course she'll say its my fault for not setting up a ride," he seemed to be explaining this to himself outloud. i did that all the time. i looked to marianna and she nodded, knowing i was silently asking her if Greg would mind. with Marianna's ok, i said to Jeff, "Hey, Marianna's older brother is picking us up, and considering you're on our street, you could ride with us. I'm sure he wouldnt mind." I saw Jeff sigh in relief and said, "Thank you guys much! You agreed to help me a lot already, i really appreciate this, Sami." When he said my name, he said it differently--- it sounded to me like a windchime blown by summer air, relaxing but with excitement. I couldn't put it into words, but whatever it was kind of put me in a state of wonder. I tried to get a hold of my self, thinking 'We just met, there's no way he already likes me that way. An interest maybe but not like that.' but then some other part of my mind pointed out 'Well then how do i like him?'. this all happened quickly in my cluttered mind while we were getting up from the table. i then focused more on what was going on around me rather than inside my head. We all realized as soon as we got up that we still had to change back into shoes yet. Marianna and i headed to our bench and found that he wasnt far from us. We all gathered ourselves together silently, but Marianna knew me well enough now to almost tell what i was thinking. It's creepy, but we were that close.
Greg knew the routine by now, and he pulled up outside at about ten before nine. Marianna introduced Greg and Jeff to eachother and she sat in the passenger seat leaving me and Jeff in the back. It wasn't a very long drive home, but it was long enough for me and Jeff to talk a bit. at first it was just about how fun it was and how creepy the whole situation is. then we started talking about the other teens in the neighborhood (which weren't very many) and he finally asked the question i was secretly waiting for. "Hey, if we're gonna be talking more it would be easier if i had your number." it was dark so it was a bit easier to hide my secret excitement. "Yeah, sure," i said as he handed me his phone. in return i handed him mine and we programed our numbers in eachothers cell phones. We finished within seconds of eachother and exchanged the phones back. "Thanks," he told me. I responded, "No problem, thanks too." he answered with a nod and we pulled up to his driveway then. before he shut the car door, he thanked Greg for the ride a final time and said to me, "I'll text you later." I stared out the window after him, but i knew for a fact Marianna was staring at me with an enormous grin on her face.
Marianna always so conveniently "forgets" something at my house and has to come back with me to get it. Jeff now lived two doors to the right of me, and Marianna is next to me on the left. because its such a short walk, our mothers dont mind us walking it at night (considering they know we're outside) so Greg just pulled into their family's driveway and we stepped out. "Hey, Greg i forgot--" she began but Greg cut her off. "Don't worry about it. i know the drill." Marianna smiled at him and we continued to walk down the sidewalk to my house. I was prepared for the many, many questions that would be asked on this short walk.
"Isn't he just so cute!" she more of stated than asked. i just smiled and nodded as she continued ranting on about her matchmaking skills. "He is so right for you!" she said.
"Marianna, we just met. we're not dating." of course, Marianna had to add "Yet" to my sentence. i just sighed at her hopelessly but i couldnt keep that smile off my face. I haven't smiled that big in an extremely long time. We turned onto my driveway, but she continued to jabber on.
"You have to give me every detail when he texts you tonight!" she demanded.
"I dont even know if its going to be tonight! he said 'later' and that could mean tomorrow or even the next day."
"Oh, Sami, why are you always such a killjoy? Whenever it is that he texts you, you have to fill me in. Is that better?" i knew she was kidding, so i responded, "Yes, ma'am." We laughed as we stepped through the front door. My mother was in the kitchen, which was just to the left of the door. She looked up from a recipe in a book to smile at us.
"Hey, girls. What did you forget this time, Marianna?" She said, smiling. we knew she found out that it was all an excuse to talk longer, but she didnt seem to care. She so obviously felt that Marianna was a good influence on me and that she's not sneaky but clever. I feel the same way about my red-headed green-eyed 'sister'.
My mom gave us some milk and a plate of fresh peanut butter cookies. My mom's cookies are as good as her lasagna. Pretty much everything my mom makes is delicious, cooking and baking just seem to be her specialties. Similar how Marianna's specialty is anywhere in the area of 'guys'. My specialty? I don't really think i have one, or at least not a positive one. I can be moody and stubborn, but i wouldn't call them 'specialties'. I know that there must be something positive i'm really good at, i just can't think of it. I'm sure it'll come to me.