When his foot plungedinto the inch-deep puddle, Sam didn't even notice. That particular foothad already taken a dozen such soakings, and he wasn't about to startcaring now about the condition of his sneakers. Drenched to the bone andlooking extremely pathetic, Sam ran on down Wendle Street.
"Why'dI say that?" he asked himself aloud. It was a terrible habit to getinto, talking to himself, but at this point, Sam was quite used to it.He always talked to himself when he regretted something.
"I sawthe drawing you had hanging up in the art room, Sam," he said in a poorimitation of Janey's voice, "It's beautiful."
I could've justtaken the compliment. That's what I should have done. But nah, I had togo and say something stupid. "Not as beautiful as you." That's so corny.I at least could've said something witty. But why would I say somethingwitty? Nothing I say ever comes out right.
Sam turned ontoCovington Avenue. He ran this path often, whenever he had to thinksomething through, or just to get away from his family. Nothing stoppedhim, usually. Including the downpour that was soaking him. Down WarwickAvenue, onto School Street, a left onto Wendle, a right onto Covington,all the way up Hill Street, and back down Main Street until he endedback on Warwick. The run was a little over a mile altogether. Plenty oftime to clear his head.
Most of the time.
Then, then, Iwalked away. I told her I had to go. Oh, Sam, you master of the Englishlanguage. Always leave 'em with a bang.
Janey was a close friendof Sam's. He'd had a crush on her for months, and he'd been waiting tosay something to her about how he felt. Every time he tried, though, alead weight would materialize in his stomach, his pulse would race, andhe'd give up, deciding to wait for a "better opportunity." This processrepeated itself several times.
It's that smile. If she didn'thave that smile, I could say what I had to say. But every time I try,BANG that smile appears, and I melt like ice on a hot summerday.
By the time Sam got to Hill Street, his clothes wereweighing him down, making his shoulders sag and his legs burn withexhaustion. He peered down the street.
"It isn't called HillStreet because it's flat," he said to himself.
Sam struggled allthe way up to Main Street, pausing several times to catch his breath. Bythe time he reached the top, he was gasping for air and sweating,although he didn't notice because he had been soaked by therain.
Sam turned left onto Main Street, deciding to head homebefore he caught some unpronounceable disease. There were very few carsand as far as he could tell, there was no one in sight on the streetbesides a yellow-coated person waiting for the bus.
He begantrying to get his mind on something else. He listened to his shoessquishing for a few seconds before passing it off as depressing. He wasjust about to start humming "Black" when -
He turned around, slowly. He had just barely run past the busstop ...
Janey was standing behind him, covered in an oversizedyellow raincoat. A stray lock of brown hair dangled in front of heremerald eyes.
She was smiling.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.