Julie and I had met in March; as school was winding down, it didn’t leave us much time to get acquainted, but we made the most of it. Even though my friends turned away (since I had betrayed them for a girl), nerds can’t really afford to lose friends, so it didn’t last long. Once they gave Julie the time of day, she seemed to fit right in; probably because she was a bigger nerd than the rest of us.
Julie knew more about Star Wars—and everything else—than the rest of us combined. Although we all remained friends, Julie’s fiery nature intrigued me—she could argue about anything. Mostly we would hang out in the library (jocks were allergic to books, we found) and debate which ship was faster; the Millenium Falcon or the Enterprise (she held fast to the Enterprise and broke down scientifically why she was right).
By the time school got out, the two of us were virtually inseparable; I remember one time, early in the morning, she called out my name from across the campus (Julie was never shy). I was hanging out with skinny Mike at the time, but with loads of other kids around, everyone turned to first look at her, and then at me. By now, they were used to it, and went on their way. Julie was never shy.
Anyway, she had her hair in pigtails around that massive head brace, and with the oversized glasses, she epitomized the word ‘nerd’. Even I was embarrassed. Mike chuckled at me and put some distance between us.
Anyway, Julie walks up to me with actual blueprints that she had drawn that previous night; these blueprints actually broke down the propulsion system of the starship Enterprise, which she pointed out as she explained to me why exactly the Enterprise could wipe the floor with the Millenium Falcon.
I liked her, but having a girl so overwhelmingly prove her intellectual superiority at age eleven can be a bit humiliating. But she was a girl with a personality I couldn’t get enough of, so I dealt with it. As always, we ate lunch together that day.
Just before school got out, she told me in casual conversation that she was going up to her grandmother’s in Seattle. She would be gone for the entire summer, but she’d be back before school started; plans we had drawn up for a new lightsaber would have to wait. I didn’t think much of it at the time; she had become part of the routine, and I took her for granted…
Over the summer, I was surprised at how much I missed her. I was thinking about her almost every day, debating whether or not to call her. She never called me, I figured that she was enjoying herself up North, and I would be intruding. I always think I’m intruding with people.
That summer, I stood up to my father for the first time.
When school resumed, she was nowhere to be found.
As time went on, my heart sank at the idea that she might’ve chosen to stay in Seattle. I couldn’t blame her; there wasn’t a lot going on in Castro Valley for kids.
Shortly after I turned twelve, I was at my locker before the first bell in the main hall. I was never sure why that hall, wider than the others, was so dark. I liked to think that since there were so many people passing through it, they just sort of absorbed the light. I was a kid, and I always had a runaway imagination.
I always, even to this day, note a pretty girl walking by. This one was walking directly towards me. Even more disconcerting was that she was looking right at me. And smiling at me in a way that I wasn’t used to.
She was wearing a white short-sleeve shirt that revealed her flat, bare stomach. Her hair was a perfect strawberry blonde that almost looked as though every other strand of her hair had been dyed a light red. Down to her neck, it had the illusions as though she had just gotten out of the shower. She was a little tan, wearing light blue jeans that were tight on her upper legs.
I immediately looked away. Girls like that don’t look at me.
“Hi!” She said brightly, stopping right outside my locker. She surprised me; I jumped as I closed my locker, looking to her and nodding casually. “Hello.” I stepped past her, preparing to go about my business. “What, that’s all I get?” She said immediately, turning and gesturing as though unsure.
I turned back to her, not sure what to say. “Um, I don’t mean any disrespect,” I said, trying to sound meek, not wanting to get this girl’s linebacker boyfriend a reason to fold me up. “I think you have the wrong person.”
“Avery.” She said, chuckling. “It’s me.”
I frowned. Suddenly, I knew that voice. And yet…I was looking at this stunningly gorgeous girl, who was looking at me with those big blue eyes…wait a moment…
My mouth fell open as I studied her. If you added a head brace and glasses, she would’ve been…
She laughed out loud, overjoyed that I finally put it together. She took two big steps towards me and jumped into my arms, wrapping her arms and legs around me. As I embrace her, I wonder if this is some kind of dream.
We make seven minutes of small talk, but I freeze when it comes to girls, and I find myself unable to stop staring at her. She picks up on it and giggles occasionally. Where did this girl come from?
The bell rings, signaling that we’re both late. “Well,” she says, her voice having picked up a sultry tone that wasn’t there last year, “We’ll catch up at lunch, okay?”
“Yeah…” I remember forcing the word out. My throat was dry. As she turned to leave, and my eyes wandered a little further south, I called after her. I don’t know where the courage came from. “Julie.”
She turned, still smiling, raising her eyebrows as a silent inquiry.
“I will…see you at lunch, right?” I don’t know why I was so scared to talk to her suddenly. The Julie I had known was a ratty-headed little nerd. What stood before me was a supermodel. And yet…the eyes, the voice, even the walk…it was her. And I…me…I was this girl’s best friend!!
She shook her head, chuckling as though the question was stupid. “Of course, stupid.” She replied. She glided back up to me and quickly kissed me on the cheek, whispering, “I really missed you, Avery.” Before turning and leaving. I watched her go, a million questions flooding my mind, my mouth failing to ask one of them.
That day, at lunch, I asked her if she wanted to go out with me.
She said yes without hesitation.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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