Based on a true story.
September of 2009, Fifth Grade, Recess
“Hey Katie. Who’s that dude?” I asked. We were out on the playground. “Who, that one?” she said, pointing. “I think his name’s Josh. Why do you care?” She crossed her arms and made a face.
I shrugged. “I just wanted to know. Is he in sixth grade?” “Yea, he is.” answered Brenda. “So what?”
Suddenly, Marianna gasped. “Emily, do you like him? Do you think he’s cute?!”
My friends all shrieked in horror and delight as I tried to deny it. This was the kind of gossip that they loved.
“Okay, you have to go talk to him,” said Kyler. “He’ll never notice you if you don’t.” I shook my head. “No way. Not in a million years. I am not going to talk to him.”
My friends all started talking to me at once, yanking me to my feet and pulling me in Josh’s direction.
“Just say hi!”
“We’ll go with you!”
“Fix your hair!”
I let them drag me a little bit, then I planted my feet. “No! I’m not going to do it, okay? I don’t even like him! Just leave me alone and don’t tell anyone!” Of course, they would never agree to this, so they spent the next few weeks begging me to approach him.
As for me, well, by then, I was so far gone that I just couldn’t do it. I loved him so much that I had become terrified of him. Terrified that he would laugh at me, reject me, or even worse, just ignore me.
No one understood what I was going through. Josh was known as the “bad kid’ at school. He wore black clothes and talked back to the teachers. He was always ditching school, and rumor had it that he had just broken up with his eighth grade girlfriend.
My friends thought he was obnoxious and stupid. I thought he was handsome and daring. And no matter what they said, they couldn’t change my mind.