As Ethan walked by the smart kids’ table, one of the girls noticed him. Ethan knew her name, being one of the popular kids, of course, he would.
Savannah’s hair covered her smile as he passed and he glanced at her quickly. Ethan continued on, joining his place at the cool kids’ table. Why did I ignore her? The thought played through his mind. I never noticed how cute she was.
He glanced over one more time to where Savannah sat but she wasn’t there. She was taking her tray to the trash can.
Ethan tried to focus. The guys couldn’t know that he liked Savannah. They wouldn’t approve of her because she was with the wrong crowd, the smart crowd. Still, he planned on asking her for a date somehow.
Jake started joking with Ethan. “Found your prom date, dude?” as he caught Ethan looking at Savannah. The other kids laughed in the way kids do with wisecracks like that.
Wouldn’t think one of the wrestling guys would be so smart.
Jake kept going. “How are you going to slow dance when she’s wearing those huge glasses? I don’t care what that famous saying is, guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.” The guys laughed again as Ethan Jake frowned.
Only a few of the girls at the table bothered looking to see who Jake was talking about, curious since he wasn’t talking about one of them.
Ethan’s expression became impatient but either no one noticed or they didn’t care, because the jokes kept coming with even Candace’s laugh joining in.
Finally, Jake realized that his buddy was annoyed. and said. “C’mon. The line’s short enough now. Let’s get our food.” They got up and waited in the hot lunch line.
A few minutes later, Ethan and Jake take carried their full trays back to their table and passed where the special-ed kids sat.
“Those retards should have their own special school. They don’t belong here,” Jake said under his breath. Ethan heard him and flinched. He sent a look to Lindsay that said, sorry.
At the table, Lindsay just gave a weak smile back and said something to a friend.
“Hey man, I think she has the hots for you,” Jake said, noticing how the girl had smiled at Ethan.
“Stop it,” Ethan said. “They’re people too.”
As they reached their own table and set their trays down, Jake laughed.
“I bet retarded girls are easy. A guy could probably do pretty much anything with ’em.”
Ethan tried not to listen as he started eating.
“Hey, that retard girl is coming over here,” Candace said.
Ethan looked s up to see Lindsay, in her baggy jeans and a long t-shirt. Her long hair was held in a ponytail, that was starting to loosen, which made it look messy.
The girl stood in front of them, looking directly at Ethan. “Why didn’t you stand up for me, like you used to?”
“What do you want, cutie?” Jake asked, taking a huge bite of his cheeseburger.
That’s when Ethan looked down. His heart hurt, really hurt in his chest.
“Listen, Miss Best Dressed Winner of the week, go back to your place with the freaks,” Candace spat.
Shelley put in, “And stop buying your clothes at thrift stores.”
Looking into her face, the whole table watched how the cold words made her cringe.
Lindsay looked one more time at Ethan before she put her head down. Then tears came and she jerked them quickly off her cheeks but didn’t slip away back to her table as they all expected.
Most of the kids looked away when she cried harder, but Candace stood up and walked over to her.
She looked around to make sure the lunch aids weren’t nearby. “Crybaby,” she said and pushed the girl ’til she fell.
Ethan can’t take it. He helped Lindsay up. For a second she looked at him with gratefulness, while he glared at Candace. And in spite of everything, the whole table saw unconditional love.
“Do you know her?” Candace asked.
Ethan put his arm protectively around her. “Yeah, I know her. She’s my sister,” and faced the kids.
“Freaks and brothers of freaks shouldn’t be allowed in the cool kid crowd,” Jake’s eyes have turned to hate. “You’re a freak too.”
“By proxy,” Candace said.
“Get it?” said Shelley.
“Yeah, I get it. I get that you guys are cold-hearted. Selfish. I don’t wanna be a part of you anymore.”
Ethan should’ve walked his sister to a corner across the cafeteria and Jake thought he would so he got back to his hamburger again. But Ethan, he yanked him out of the chair and threw him to the ground.
Jake looked up in shock and both boys froze as the principal hurried up to them.
At the end of the day, Ethan, now a former cool kid, walked up to his sister’s classroom door.
Lindsay stood at the open door, thanking her tutor, “Oh that’s easy. I can do that now, Savannah. I’m learning!”
When Lindsay stepped out, Ethan hugged her, not caring if some tutor watched.
Lindsay smiled as she watched Ethan and Savannah’s eyes meet.
"This is my awesome brother.”