I finished the year with three weeks of creative writing, which was one week too long. Freshmen ran out of creativity the third week or they just wanted to be out of school. Next year, I am incorporating creative writing every week. I am hoping it will be a way to differentiate instruction, as I can work with each student on his/her strengths and weaknesses.
I had many great pieces turned in, and I wanted to share one stellar short story. The author shares a typical freshmen experience: dating and relationships.
I hope you enjoy it.
Captain America: The First Avenger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I turn and spot Cody, my best guy friend, coming towards me. I wave him over as I slam my locker shut
“Hi.” I greet him with a smile as we begin to walk to the lunchroom. “How was first period?
“Same as usual. Mr. Hall practically sleeps through every lesson, and when he does teach, he drones on in the same monotone voice.” Cody shakes his head, then begins to mimic Mr. Hall.
“ ‘Now class, today we are going to go to sleep… I mean, go deep into American history. If I fall asleep, make sure you wake me up if the principal stops by.’ “ I burst into laughter, unable to keep a straight face at the sluggish, lethargic look on Cody’s face. He always makes me laugh, no matter how hard I try.
“At least you don’t have to be in Ms. Simpson’s class. We had another sub today.
“Another one? Jeez, Abbie,” Cody said with disbelief in his brown eyes, “don’t you guys have a new sub almost every week?”
“It seems that way, doesn’t it? She’s always out for being sick, having meetings… You name it, she’s probably used that excuse.” We chat on for little while, enjoying the break we have between classes. Then, we begin to talk about our plans for tonight.
“What do you have going on, Cody?” I ask.
“Some of the guys are thinking about playing some basketball down at the park. You could come if you want.” he tells me with a grin. “We can always use some more cheerleaders.” I toss my dark hair.
“Very funny. Do I look like a cheerleader to you?” I imitate some of the brighter, more enthusiastic cheerleaders at school. Cody laughs at my impersonation, clapping as I end my act.
“In all seriousness, as much as I’d love to come and watch you dominate the court without even trying,” I tease him, earning a bashful smile from Cody, “my dad told me he had a surprise to show me at supper.”
“A surprise? Weird. Your dad isn’t really the kind of guy to hand out presents.” Cody has a rough relationship with my dad, on account of an unfortunate incident with a basketball rocketing towards my dad’s head. I’ve tried over and over to smooth everything over, but Dad has never really gotten over it. He still calls Cody “that boy” whenever Cody comes over to play basketball or do homework, and Cody just called him “sir” or “Mr. Banks”. They had a mutual understanding with each other; as long as they ignored each other, no tensions arise. I shrug, curious myself.
“I don’t know. He just told me to be home this evening. Who knows what he has planned? If whatever it is doesn’t happen, I’ll try to go over to the park though.” This brings a smile to Cody’s face. For some reason, it makes me blush. What’s going on with me? I never get like this around Cody, but nowadays it’s been happening often. I shake my head, clearing my emotions, and get up from our table
“I have to go take a Spanish test. Talk to you later.” I wave and walk off.
As soon as I get home, I go up to my room, turn on my Carrie Underwood CD, and sit down to my homework. I do this every day, and it never gets old. After a few minutes, my dad walks in.
“Hi sweetheart, how’d your day go?” He says this calmly and matter-of-factly, but I stare at him like he has multiple heads. He never asks how my day was. Sweetheart is a foreign term to me. He hardly ever looks up from his laptop when he’s home, except to ask “why are you wearing that?” or “is that boy here again?” I narrow my blue eyes, suspicious of his intentions.
“Is there something going on?” I ask carefully, not wishing to offend him, but still skeptical about what is coming.
“Well, honey,” I raise my eyebrows at “honey”, now certain I’m not going to like what’s coming next, “tonight, I’ve taken the liberty of inviting a coworker from the office to come with us to a movie.” I look blankly at my dad, uncertain of what this has to do with me. He straightens his shoulders proudly, and beams at me.
“John, the man who’s coming, has a son about your age who is also going to the movie with us. He’s a very popular, very smart young man, and his family is of excellent standing, and so I thought that…” but I interrupt him with an outburst of my own.
“You set me up on a date!?” I glare at him, shock and now anger surging through my body. “How could you, Dad? I don’t even know him. I’ve never even been on a date. I’m staying home from a basketball game for a blind date?”
Dad folds his arms, leaning against my door frame with a look of superiority.
“Well, Abigail, I simply thought that since you are, after all, growing up, and you’ll soon be looking for someone adequate to spend your life with, I’d steer you in the appropriate direction.” My jaw drops, and I just stare at Dad, unable to comprehend what I was hearing. He continues, growing more confident at my silence and using the you-know-I’m-right voice.
“You’ll soon be noticing boys, and it’s time you were adult about making the smart choice about who to place your affections on. From what I’ve seen, you only spend time with that boy. Therefore, you need some more possibilities.” My face burns bright red as I stand and glower at my father.
“Cody is one of my best friends, and regardless of what you think of him, you have no right to set me up with someone I don’t even know. And besides, marriage isn’t about “making the smart choice” or “finding someone adequate”. It’s about finding the person who’s just right for you, who God made you to be with. Who understands you, and loves you.” He rolls his eyes at my mention of God, then just looks at me and says,
“Please put on that dress on the bed that your mother laid out for you. You’re going to this thing whether you like it or not.” My mind begins to reel desperately, searching for a way out. Then, I have an idea.
“Wait. Dad, how about a compromise?” He cocks his head for a moment, then nods.
“How about I go tonight, with no complaints, and in return, you let me bring one friend. Just to maybe lessen the pressure of being ‘on a date’.” I try to put this in words that will make my father say yes, for I already have a plan, and know exactly who I want to come. Dad looks past me for a second, thinking, and then finally, he nods.
“You promise, Dad? No backing out, no matter who it is.”
“Okay, I promise. Now, who is it?” I firm my jaw, and smile nervously at him.
“You remember Cody, don’t you?” My father narrows his eyes instantly, then opens his mouth to refuse me, but I quickly interject.
“That’s who I want to bring tonight, Dad. He’s my best guy friend, and he’s the one I’d be most comfortable with. You promised, remember.” I walk over to him, and gently push the door closed. “I’ll be down in time to go!” I sing out. Inwardly, I’m cringing at telling Cody what’s going on, because I know exactly what he’s going to say.
“Your dad did what?!”
I wince as I hear the astonishment in Cody’s voice over the phone. I’d called him immediately after Dad had told me about tonight, and now I was about to tell Cody my plan. First, however, I’d had to tell him what Dad had done.
“I can’t believe he set you up on a date.” Cody is obviously pretty annoyed at my dad, and I can’t help but feel kind of good at how indignant he is on my behalf. Where are these feelings coming from?
“I know! I’ve never even met this kid. He could be a creep for all I know.” I shift uncomfortably; now’s the time to ask him if he’ll help me. “I did get him to compromise on one thing. I told him I’d go willingly-”
“Willingly? You want to go?”
“Just wait a second. I wasn’t finished. I told him I’d go willingly with no complaint if he let me bring a friend so it was less ‘date-like’. And he said yes.” I take a deep breath, knowing Cody’s waiting for the relevance of my deal. “I told him I wanted you to come.” I hear Cody’s sharp intake of breath, and then silence. After a second, he says,
“You want me to come? Why?”
“You’re one of my best friends; it’ll be way more comfortable for me to have you to talk to so I’m not just sitting in awkward silence with a guy I just met. And, I had an idea. If you’re there, maybe you can distract him. You know, talk to him about video games, guns, I don’t know, guy stuff. We can all be together, and it’ll be fine.” I know it’s going to take some serious begging to get Cody to agree. “I know you’ll miss your basketball game, Cody, and I’m really sorry, but can you please do this? I really need your help. For me, please?” I wait for a response. After what seems like forever, he finally answers begrudgingly,
“I’ll do it. For you. But just so you know, Abbie, you owe me big time.” I laugh, a wave of relief coming over me now that I know I don’t have to go alone.
“Thanks, Cody. You’re the best. This means a lot to me. I can’t do it without you. I’ll meet you at the theater at 5:30pm.” I hung up, thinking, well, this is going to be fun.
Later on, we meet Cody at the theater and wait for John and his son outside. As I walk up to Cody, his eyes slide past me, then refocus on me when I wave. His eyes widen, and his mouth drops open. I look at him questioningly, nervous about how I look, and say,
“What’s wrong? Do I look that bad?” My mother had made me clean up and put on a blue dress with matching shoes and a short jean jacket. She’d curled my long, dark hair and even made me wear some simple makeup that made my blue eyes sparkle a little bit more. I certainly looked different, that was for certain. He shakes his head, still in some sort of stupor.
“Abbie…you look… amazing.” I blush, annoyed by how much his compliment pleases me. He seems to realize what he just said, and looks down sheepishly, obviously embarrassed. He looks pretty good too, in a simple dark blue T-shirt and dark jeans. His hair still looks like he just got out of bed, but in a good way.
“My thoughts exactly.” Cody stiffens, and I turn around to see a guy about my age, tall and athletic, with slicked back blonde hair, baby blue eyes, and an arrogant look about him. He holds out his hand, looking me up and down in the process.
“You must be Abigail Banks, my date.” I cringe at the word “date”. “My name is Lance Quinn, your dad’s coworker’s son. It’s very nice to meet you.” I take his hand, trying to keep my composure.
“It’s… nice to meet you, too, Lance. You can call me Abbie.” I withdraw my hand, and turn to Cody. “Lance, this is-”
“I’m Cody Wyatt. Abbie’s friend.” Cody reaches past me and grasps Lance’s hand, shaking it rigidly. The two boys seem to stare each other down, as if issuing a challenge. I clear my throat, and that seems to break the spell.
“Lance, I hope you don’t mind, but I invited Cody to hang out with us and our parents while we have fun.” I try hard to stress all of the parts that makes this not a date, but I don’t think Lance is getting the message. He just smiles, and says,
“Well, Cody, I’m glad you could come and be with us as Abbie and I get to know each other.” He takes my hand and pulls me towards the theater. I attempt to withdraw my hand and look back at Cody. He looks almost angry, and I send him a pleading look, mouthing HELP! He smiles quickly and follows, almost seeming pleased at my desperation.
As we all go into the theater, Lance immediately sits down in a big, open row, patting the seat beside him for me. I look over my dad, and he all but orders me to the seat with his eyes. I roll my eyes, and painstakingly sit down next to Lance. My dad makes a move to sit next to me, but Cody swiftly comes over and sits beside me. He smiles smugly at my dad, who is obviously not pleased but doesn’t make a fuss about it. I smile over at Cody.
“Thanks. You don’t know how much I appreciate all of this. Especially that,” I say half-joking, half seriously. He shrugs, and leans over to whisper to me.
“I wouldn’t leave you alone with Chance if you paid me.” I fight to hide my smile.
“It’s Lance, Cody.”
“My bad,” he says sarcastically, blinking his eyes innocently. “I’d hate to offend poor Lance.” Cody emphasizes his name. I snorted, and Lance looks over. He narrows his eyes at Cody, then smiles arrogantly at me.
“Abigail, have you seen this movie we’re about to watch, The Avengers, before?”
“Yeah. I’ve seen Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, too. They were pretty awesome.”
“How about you, Brody?” Lance asks, making Cody scowl. Why do guys feel like they’re one-upping each other by messing up each other’s names? Lame. “Have you seen the movie?”
“It’s Cody, and yeah, I’ve seen it.” He glared at Lance for a moment, then smirked triumphantly. “Abbie and I went with some friends last week.” Lance glowered, making me wonder about the two boys. What’s wrong with them? I don’t understand why they’re getting so ticked off with each other. Part of me wishes they’d stop acting like little boys, but the other part of me thinks I know why. I blush as I think about what the reason is. But that’s ridiculous. I barely know Lance, and Cody and I are just friends. Right?
Shaking my head, I tune back in to the conversation. Cody is trying to steer the conversation towards the topics I suggested before, but Lance just keeps directing his attention to me. Frustrated, Cody asks Lance who his favorite Avenger is.
“I think Iron Man is my favorite,” Lance says. “He’s a genius, and can, like, shoot out energy with his hands. Also, he has a pretty hot girlfriend. I’m still in the market for the last one.” He winks at me, and I blush, looking away, half embarrassed, half disgusted by his comment. Cody looks sincerely over at Lance, and says,
“You know, it doesn’t surprise me you like Iron Man. You remind me a lot of him. Especially through personality.” I hide my face from Lance, and look over at Cody, struggling not to laugh. He’s referring how arrogant and self-confident Iron Man is, and I can’t help but think he has a point. Lance looks over at him and asks,
”Who’s your favorite character, Cody? Maybe the monster, Hulk?” Cody responds,
“I like Captain America.”
“Why is that? Is he all the things you wish you were?” I glare at Lance, my dislike towards him growing.
“Out of bounds,” I warn him. “Be civil.”
“My apologies. Why do you like Captain America?” Lance asked condescendingly. Cody stares at him for a moment, then looks away and responds.
“I like Captain America because he’s just a regular guy, who isn’t popular, or really anyone special, and still has the qualities that make him the superhero he is before he even changes physically.” He looks back at me, staring into my eyes. “Also, he falls in love with a girl who seems way out of his league, and somehow, she falls in love with him, too.” He flits his gaze to Lance for a moment, then back to me with his unflinching gaze. “Even when the girl could have had Howard Stark, the rich and handsome genius.” Lance scoffs, but I can’t tear my eyes away from Cody’s penetrating expression. Is he trying to tell me that he feels like Cap? Does he care for someone? Does he maybe care for… me?
Lance speaks up, breaking the intensity of the moment.
“Who was your favorite character, Abigail? I’d like the girl’s perspective on which guy you’d prefer.” I widen my eyes slightly, unsure of why he just asked me that. I open my mouth to speak, but my dad calls over from behind us,
“Kids, the movie is starting. Be quiet.”
As the movie starts, I think about this situation. My feelings are definitely certain concerning how they feel about Lance. He is stuck up, arrogant, and looking for a pretty face. Not my kind of guy. But I’m all confused about how I feel about Cody. I think about all that’s happened this night, and I wonder if it’s possible that Cody cares about me, and if I return his feelings. I think about him often, and we always have a great time together. He understands me like almost no one else, and always cares about what I have to say. He can always make me laugh, and is always willing to pray with me when I’m feeling blue or have some big decision to make. He’s even kind of handsome, with his dark brown eyes, messed up brown hair, strong frame, and crazy smile like he just played a prank on me.
As I watch the movie, I see Lance shift, looking like he’s about to stretch. At first, I don’t think anything of it. Then, after a second, I realize what an idiot I am. He’s doing “the move”! I can’t believe what I’m seeing. I thought this kind of stuff only happened on corny TV shows! Panicked, I search for a way out of this increasingly awkward situation. I glance over at Cody, and see that he noticed Lance’s arm making it’s way down from its arc. His brow furrows, and he flashes his eyes towards me. I stare back, panic in my eyes, and again, mouth HELP! He makes a small nodding gesture, looks back at the movie, and, just as Lance is about to lay his arm across my shoulders, casually slips his arm around me. I dart my eyes to my left, and see Lance instantly recoil, anger and embarrassment in his countenance. He turns back to the movie, clearly furious.
My heart starts pounding, and I look to Cody, knowing my face must be bright red, and murmur,
“Thanks.” He smiles bashfully, and tightens his hold a little. I lean back some, actually enjoying the feeling of being so near to him. Bringing me back to my original dilemma. Do I care for Cody? I’m starting to think I do.
When the movie ends, I stand up and stretch, thinking, finally. I’d enjoyed it, especially the end, but Lance had been determined to split me and Cody up. He’d gotten up four times to “take care of something”, which forced us to stand and allow him to pass by. Each time we sat back down, I saw Lance glance back to see if Cody’s arm was still around me. Cody always stared right back, flashed a smirk at him, and returned his arm to its original position. I’m sure my dad is loved that! I mean, if looks could kill… I guess I wouldn’t have to worry about whether I like Cody or not.
As we all walk into the lobby, and my parents say goodbye to John, Lance comes up behind Cody and I and asks,”Could I talk to you for a second? Outside?” I nod, glance at Cody, and walk outside with Lance. As soon, as we get outside and walk a little ways, Lance turns, grips my shoulders, and exclaims,
“What was that?!”
“Excuse me?” I say, trying to pull away from his grasp, and failing. “What do you mean? I thought the movie was pretty good. I mean, Loki was kind of a creep, but-”
“No! I’m talking about Brody!”
“Whatever! You are my date. This was supposed to be the night I finally got a girlfriend and stopped getting hounded by my parents to find someone acceptable, who’s pretty enough, smart enough, and just… perfect!” He narrowed his eyes at me, and I get kind of nervous.
“Look, Lance, I’m sure there’s someone out there who’s perfect for you, but I don’t think I’m her.” I stared hard at him, trying to make him understand. His eyes were so filled with anger, and then indignation after my next words. “I think I’m meant for… someone else.”
“Who? Cody?! What does he have that I don’t?” His face twists, and I glare at him, still trying to pull away from his grasp.
“He cares about me; for what’s inside of me, not the outside. He’s kind, gentle, and makes me laugh.” The words fly into my mind, as I think about how I’ve never appreciated Cody as much as I do now, comparing him to this angry boy. “Now, let go of me!” He tightens his hold as I strain to get away once more. This time, however, I kick him in the shin hard. He grunts, but still holds on. I’m about to scream for help, when suddenly, a fist slams into Lance’s face. He stumbles back, letting go of me in the process. Someone pushes me behind him, and I realize it’s Cody. He glares furiously at Lance, and says forcefully,
“Never touch her again! Get out of here!” Lance, moaning as he presses a hand to his eye, turns and runs into the parking lot. Cody then turns to me, the anger and fury leaving his eyes and becoming concern.
“Are you okay?” I nod, and he points toward the direction of my neighborhood. “Let’s get you home.” We begin to walk.
“Where are my parents?”
“They already went home. When you didn’t come back, they assumed you went out with Lance for ice cream or something. Your dad and Lance’s dad seemed awfully pleased.” He sounds kind of bitter. Almost jealous.
“Why didn’t you go home?” He looks at me, kind of sheepish.
“I didn’t trust Lance. And I didn’t think you would have ever gone with him for ice cream. So, I waited until your parents left, and then went outside to see if I could find you. Then,” and I see him tense up, and hear the anger in his voice.” I saw Lance gripping your arms. At first, I didn’t know if, well, you know. You were… In the middle of something.” I blush. As if. Gross. He continues,”So, I just kind of stood still, waiting to see if you needed help. When you kicked him, I decided to step in.” He walks a little quicker, still tense, and tells me, quietly but with an edge to his voice,”If he ever bothers you again, let me know.” I think about the look of fury he wore when he confronted Lance, the way he pushed me behind him possessively. And then, I stop, turn to him, and kiss him on the cheek.
“Thank you.” His eyes go big, and his face turns bright red. He stares at me, searching my gaze.
“For what?” he barely whispers. I smile softly up at him.
“For watching out for me. For… caring.” He looks down, and then, as we turn the corner, we join hands as we walk.
After a couple more minutes of walking, we reach my house. I turn towards him, smile, and whisper,
“Do you remember at the theatre, when Lance asked me who my character was?” Cody nodded, still looking at me. I take a deep breath, and whisper,”I think if I could pick, I’d pick Captain America.” Then I turn and walk into my house. As soon as I get inside, I close the door and peek through the peephole. I see Cody standing there, silent, and then watch a beaming smile spread across his face. He turns around, jumps off the porch, and yells,
“YES!” I stifle a laugh, and run up the stairs. What I had been dreading all day since I found out I’d have to go through it had just become the best date ever. I’ll have to deal with my father tomorrow, but I know certain that no matter what he says, I’ll never go on a date with Lance again. Not after I’ve realized how I feel about Cody.
I begin to smile. This just proves what I told my dad. The perfect one for me is someone who cares about the real me, makes me laugh, and believes what I believe. Someone who truly completes me, who still has his faults, but accepts me despite mine. And, after tonight, I’m excited to see if I’ve possibly found all of this in my best friend.