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Nikki and Zora
SLAM. I almost skipped away from my locker, I was so happy the day was over. It was Friday, and three o’clock. This was also my hour of freedom, until my parents picked me up, and I submerged into being grounded again. I crossed the hallway, and grabbed my friend Kristen’s hand.
“Hanging out right now?”
“Oh hi. I can’t, I’m going home with my friend.” The friend, just an acquaintance of mine, then popped out of nowhere and joined us.
“Yeah sorry babe. I heard Nikki was hanging out for awhile though.”
“Oh okay, maybe I can give the book back that she lent me; I’ll go find her…” I hugged them both goodbye, probably for the weekend, and walked farther down the hall looking for the motherly Nikki.
Then my heart dropped. I saw him, the poor boy that I probably was leading on but even I didn’t really know; a shot of depression shot through me. It’d be easier if I were ugly, I thought; easier if he didn’t notice me. I know that in most cases the girl is wishing the opposite, but that girl usually doesn’t have things going on, stuff to do, work to be done. The average girl is just that: average. Boys should go for the average ones. Maybe they aren’t as pretty, but they can devote a whole lot more time to a relationship. Me? Well, I was busy.
But I couldn’t turn around now, pretend I hadn’t seen him; he had made eye contact with me, was smiling, and oh no—waved me over.
I cursed myself on the inside, but walked over for a hug. I cursed silently again, and looked up.
I winced. “Hi what’s up with you?”
“Not much, not much…”His arm was still around me. The conversation stagnated.
“Hey! I was looking all over for you!” We turned—his arm still hugging my shoulders—and saw Nikki. My savior.
“Oh my god hi!” I squirmed from his arm and jumped into Nikki’s hug.
Nikki laughed easily. “Hey, want to walk over to the training room with me? That’s where my backpack is, and I have to wrap some football player’s ankles. Coming?”
“Yeah,” I smiled, turned to my other side, “See you later.”
He smiled at me, and turned back to his friends. I quickly walked away with Nikki, not looking back.
“So what’s going on between you two? Official yet?” Nikki threw the question at me like a knife.
As if I hadn’t gotten these questions often enough. I answered them all the same: “Well, he hasn’t really asked.”
“That’s a silly reason.” She was the first to get that, the first to understand that I was just trying to cover my tracks.
“Yeah it is.” We took a few steps in silence. Nikki was looking at me, I could feel her glance studying me. I shrugged it away: “Who knows if we’ll ever date seriously.”
Nikki nodded, not in satisfaction, but in confirmation. “Why don’t you like him? You two are cute together.”
Why didn’t I like him? Oh, there were so many reasons why I didn’t truly like him. A more interesting question would be what I did like. Which was what? Practically nothing. “I don’t really have time for him.”
“Or time to waste on him, you mean.”
Realization slowly hit me as I said yes.
We entered the training room, and a few football guys that had been sitting down with one another talking immediately stood up, towering over Nikki and me, and asserted they were late for practice, demanded she tape them now.
Nikki stood still. “Actually, I’m leaving at the moment, I think you’ll have to wait for Richard.” Richard was the professional trainer, who usually was late to school. Nikki just helped, and when he arrived he took over.
The football players turned their backs. If she wasn’t going to tape them, then they didn’t need anything else from her. She grabbed her backpack and we walked out.
“They can be so rude sometimes.”
“So you’re not really leaving?”
“I don’t have to. But I want to, I’m just going to walk home. Do you have that book I lent you?”
“Yeah, here you go, Nikki.” It was Their Eyes Were Watching God. By Zora Neale Hurston. The woman African-American writer. It was the latest book we had to read for our literature class. “Thanks for letting me borrow it. I still have to get my own copy, but don’t worry, I’ll get my dad to drive me to buy it,” and I laughed at my procrastination, and dependence.
“No problem, lovie. And don’t get down about what’s-his-face. I’ll always love you.”
“I love you too, Nikki!” I watched her walk down the street by herself, and then I turned to sit on the grass outside of school.
I wished I could do more than just sit there and wait for my ride.