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A Winters Night
"No, she's sitting right here." He glanced to my seat and back out the window.
"We haven't left yet, so we should be back to school at around 6:30-7:00." he continued.
I had no idea what his mother was saying on the other line but I assumed from his side of the conversation that I would be driving him home again. I busied myself with my book bags contents until he got off the phone. I heard the snap of his cell phone being closed. I looked up.
"My mom wants to know if you can take me home, again." he laughed lightly.
"No problem" I said, shrugging it off. I didn't really care.
"Did you want to use my phone to call your mom?" he asked.
"No, I'm sure she doesn't care." I replied reassuringly.
"Could you please, just to be sure?" he looked at me earnestly.
“I mean, it’s not like it’s out of the way, Mike. You live on the same road as me."
"Just do it." He pleaded.
"Fine, just, let me text her." I sighed quietly, reaching for the phone he was handing me.
I typed in the number, asked if it was okay, sent the message, and felt like someone was watching me; which is silly since I was on a bus full of people. I glanced up at Mike, who was still standing, looking at me strangely. I quickly handed him his cell phone and tried to hide a smile. I don't know why I was smiling, I just was. He sat down, awkwardly enough.
"You make it seem so weird; it’s not that big of a deal." I said; watching his expressions intently.
"I know, it’s just, I don't like to be driven home. It’s awkward." He looked me in the eyes, not backing down from my gaze.
"Why?" I asked, really bewildered. I've known this kid for like 10 years. Why was this a big deal? I could understand with someone he didn’t know too well, but come on, me?
Before he could answer, Coach Thomas boarded the bus and informed the team we'd be departing the YMCA shortly and should be arriving to Tech in about 45 minutes. I didn't really pay attention to what she was saying, I was lost in thought.
Eventually we left; the bus ride was fun, full of laughter and conversation. At one point Mike told me my mom texted him back and said it was okay, I wasn’t expecting any different. I played the game Ghost with Mike and some others for the most part. But it was quiet for a little while in which I decided to seize the moment.
I felt the heat from the bus radiators. I smelled the chlorine that still hung in the air from the pool we competed in. Tasted the leftover flavor in my mouth from the Skittles and Cool Ranch Doritos I just shared with the others. I watched the lights shining brightly in the darkness speed by as we hurried home through the night; noticing the raindrops through foggy windows that gleamed from the passing lights. I heard the sounds of 20 or so people carrying on in their conversations. I heard a light trace of music from the radio and from somebody playing music behind me. It was quite warm, but I was comfortable. I thought to myself, I never want to forget this night. There was something about it, I was just so satisfied.
I looked over to Mike, who was talking and laughing with the person in front of him. I noticed his chestnut-brown hair shining in the dim lights of the bus. The way his teeth sparkled when he laughed, and how his eyes lit up with happiness.
I asked Mike for the time. He checked his phone and told me 6:28. We were early, and back to the school already. Great. My mom wouldn't be here for another 32 minutes. We all boarded off the school bus and everyone went their separate ways to be picked up. I was hoping my mom would possibly be here, so I told Mike to wait where he was, that I'd go look for her. But he said he’d come anyway.
I looked and looked but I didn't see her. I was getting cold; the one day I wore a skirt and I'd have to wait a half an hour outside at night. Such is my life. We stopped walking and decided to wait by the corner of the red brick school. It was me, Mike, and my friend Luana that were still waiting to be picked up. Everyone else had left. I glanced towards the sky, it was a full moon, and you could see the bright stars. A breathtaking sight. I decided to comment,
"Wow, the stars are beautiful."
Luana agreed, "You see that cluster right there?"
"Where?" I asked as she pointed it out. "Oh yeah I see. What are they?"
She was staring up, "That's me and my boyfriend’s cluster of stars, he 'declared' that." She laughed. I did too.
"Aw, that's so romantic." I smiled and looked at the stars once more. It was a big sky, and a lot to take in.
"No! Don't look at them! They're our stars." She giggled goofily. I smiled slightly, watching her as she stared up at the twinkling sky; thinking to myself how happy she probably is.
After some chatting, I noticed Mike wasn't talking a whole lot. Which is weird for him. I didn't say anything to him though. Soon, Luana's ride came and we were the last ones. Just me and him. The football field across the parking lot was dark and quiet, the school behind us was lit, but seemed empty, and the parking lot had many cars in it but was still lifeless. It was a quiet night.
We started talking about Eminem's song "Stan" and he began listening to it on his iPod. He was rapping as I walked in circles around him, trying to keep warm. I said quietly to myself,
"God, I'm cold."
Which I guess he heard because he said "You're cold?"
"No, I'm not cold. I'm just--I'm just" I stuttered.
He stopped rapping, "Obviously you are if you're walking in circles." He began rummaging through his book bag on the ground. I stopped, staring at him, "What're you doing?"
"Getting you a jacket." He said dryly.
I smirked, then I realized what I was doing and stopped. "You don't have to give me your jacket, Mike." Trying to be serious; I also tried to convince my overactive imagination he wasn't doing this for any other reason but to be nice.
"Yes I do." And at that he handed me a large black jacket. I held it out in front of me, not exactly sure what to do with it. Then I remembered 'I'm cold. He gave you a jacket. You wear jackets'. I slipped into the humungous thing and it swallowed my entire upper torso down to the bottom of my skirt.
"It’s huge" I remarked. Trying to wrap it around myself, and make it tighter. I laughed quietly, “It’s so big.” I looked at him but he wasn’t looking at me or anything in particular.
"But you’re warmer, right?"
"Yeah," I smiled "Thanks."
"No problem." He said nonchalantly, and went back to rapping.
I stood there awkwardly, not so sure what to do with myself. I checked my phone for the time, where was my mother? I suddenly felt a little embarrassed, here’s Mike, needs a ride from me and my mom is nowhere to be found.
I looked for something to occupy myself with; I noticed a rectangular metal plate on the edge of the sidewalk. A little bit of it was hanging off the side and I didn’t have anything else to do so I slowly walk towards it, feeling Mike’s eyes watching me closely. Not meeting his gaze, I stepped on the part of the plate hanging off, and determined it’s not going to move unless I jump. So I jumped a little and the opposite side popped up and then back down. I flinched at the loud “clang” from the metal. Mike laughed.
I tried this a couple of times, until the plate almost came off completely at which I stopped and Mike started doing it too. I walked back and forth, kicking the mulch back in its pile underneath the small tree. I finally decided on standing at the edge of the sidewalk, next to a fire hydrant and Mike at my back. Often checking my phone for a text message or call from my mom that I knew very well wouldn’t come.
I laughed inside; this probably looks really funny from a different perspective. But as I sat on the fire hydrant and watched Mike semi-rapping “Stan” as he tried to flip the metal plate off the edge, I realized how content I was. It wasn't much; but whatever it was, I was happy with it.