Chapter 12 TRUE LOVE
Journal Topic #14 You can tell someone likes you by-
You can tell someone likes you by the way they look at you and if they follow you around a lot and want to hang out with you.
I’m sitting in English class and the teacher just introduced a new kid and he’s not like any other boy. He’s young and smart like me. Woohoo! Who knew there were more people out there like me? I’m so excited.
Since he doesn’t know anyone, I think I will introduce myself. I heard he’s some kind of chess champion, which makes him nerdy, but who cares? He’s like me!
I introduced myself to the new boy in school. His name is Cong, it sounds like Kong, though. He’s from China. Well, not really from China. His parents are Chinese. He speaks perfect English. He was born here. I talked to him at lunch. He sat with us Geeks. He said he was going to a Chinese school.
“But, my parents took me out. They called me a disappointment because I wasn’t competing with my peers at the school.”
“Here, you’ll be a God,” I told him. “So, how old are you?”
“I’m nine. How old are you?”
He didn’t believe me for almost the whole day. But, he came around about 6th period in Biology. He doesn’t like Biology. It’s his least favorite subject. I kind of like it, though. Cells and stuff. It’s like outer space is filled with planets and stars and our bodies have the same kind of thing going inside, only with cells and organs.
“What did you get on your IQ test?” Cong asked me.
“I don’t know. I didn’t ask,” I replied.
Cong is all about numbers. That’s his specialty. Numbers, strategy, that kind of intelligent thought.
“Mine is one hundred and forty.” He sounded disappointed when he said it. Probably the same tone of disappointment his parents gave him when they found out.
“Oh, so you’re only borderline genius,” I teased.
He put his head down. Wow, he must have really been scolded. This score is really tormenting him. “Hey,” I said, “we’re ninety five percent smarter than any of these kids.”
He smiled. I figured out how to cheer him up, just blow up his head a little. Now I had someone to be superior with and he was an older man, too. That was the best part about it.
“So, you want to be study buddies?” I asked.
“I’m not sure if I’m allowed to do that,” he responded.
“My parents are really strict.”
“No harm in asking, right?” I said to him.
He looked dismayed but said, “I guess not.”
The next day Cong came to school and he was more quiet and shy than the first day. I didn’t get it. And plus, my new friend was avoiding me. How did that happen?
“Hey Cong!” I shouted to him as he walked past. “Hey!”
Some older kids were walking past too and they started shouting, “Yeah, hey King Kong. Where are you going? Your girlfriend wants you.”
They all laughed at him and Cong kept walking, avoiding all of us. I gave the kids a dirty look and walked past them quickly to try to catch up with Cong.
“Hey Cong,” I shouted as I finally caught up to him and held him back by his backpack. I didn’t know I was that strong.
“What do you want?”
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I’m not supposed to talk to you. I’m supposed to just keep my head down in the books. Not get overly noticed. Not get lured in by girls and especially not cute American girls.”
“Did you just say I was cute?” I blushed.
Then he blushed too. He turned away from me and rushed off to class.
I was smiling from ear to ear. I had a boyfriend. I rushed to catch up with him again.
“You know, I can help you.”
“What do you know? You’re just a girl,” he stated.
“One forty-four,” I stated to him aggressively.
Cong stopped in his tracks. “What?”
“My I.Q.,” I said, “it’s one forty-four.”
He went red again and then his shoulders slumped even further down. “Beaten by a girl,” he said, “again.”
“I didn’t mean anything by it. Just, we can study together. Anything you’re not great at, like Biology, I can help you and anything I’m not great at, you can help me.”
So we made a pact right there never to make ourselves or each other feel smaller and to always help each other. Which meant, I had to do homework--every day--from now on.
“It’s the only way my parents are going to let us be friends,” he said to me.
And that’s what convinced me. I actually was going to do homework. At least we could do homework together.
The next day, I told Marney I didn’t need her to pick me up till later, that I was going to stay after school and do homework in the library.
“Do you have a fever?” She put her hand on my head, “Maybe I should take you to the E.R.,” then she laughed.
“Stop it, Marney. I am serious.”
She rubbed my head and made my hair stand on end. “Good for you, Squirt. It’s about time.”
I guess it was. Weird how I was doing it because of a boy. But, I guess I had more in common with the crazy girls of the bathroom than I thought. Who knew?
Before Marney got fired, she told me, there was a boy who came into the shop-a lot. You’d never think Marney could fall for anyone. Even I thought basketball was the only love in her life. But, no, this boy had come in and changed the way she viewed herself. He flirted with her the whole time he was there and both of his legs worked. He wasn’t handicapped like she was. I didn’t know she could like someone who had both legs working. But, I guess it was possible. She doesn’t know if she’ll see him again.
“It doesn’t matter,” Marney told me. “Maybe he flirts with all the girls, with legs or not.”
“Hey, you’ve got legs. They just don’t work.” I responded happily.
Maybe that was the wrong tone to take because she suddenly looked less thrilled with her condition. “Oh, damn it,” she said, “I’ll never get out of this chair!”
I looked at her apologetically.
She wanted so much to have her old life back. “There are so many things I’ve never done!” she proclaimed.
“Like having a boyfriend?” It was an innocent question. But, it didn’t help much. I needed a way to steer the conversation in a different direction. Something that could make her feel better. “Want me to make you a grilled cheese sandwich Marney?”
Marney looked at me. “Why not?”
She and I went to the kitchen and I turned on the TV and then pulled out the stuff to make her the sandwich. Marney’s eyes were glued to the TV screen.
Marney pointed to a Tide detergent commercial with her mouth wide open.
“What?” I asked. “It’s laundry soap.”
“That’s him,” Marney said. “That’s the guy.”
“The guy in the Tide commercial flirted with you?”
“Who flirted with who?” Fred walked in and we both looked at him like we were holding a She-Woman, Man-Hater Club meeting and he just walked into the middle of it.
“Oh! Uh, well, I guess I’ll watch TV in the other room.” He walked back out.
Marney and I burst into laughter.
“Do you think he lives around here, Marney?” I asked her.
She smiled. “He did come in a lot.”
“I mean really what are the odds that he would just walk into our town, your yogurt store. He must live here.”
“You may be right, Squirt.” Marney said, “I gotta get my job back.”
“What? Why?” I really didn’t like that idea.
“You’ve got a boyfriend and you’re seven. Why are you the only one who should be allowed to have happiness?”
She had a point. I was happy now that Cong was at my school. I had a friend, a smart friend and he was around my age. A plan formed in my head. “Okay Marney, I think I can help you.”
The next day, I had to tell Cong I couldn’t study after school. But, I promised him I would do my homework at home. He didn’t believe me until I crossed my heart and hoped to die, stick a needle in my eye. He’s so demanding.
When Marney picked me up from school, we went directly to the shop. There were some teenagers at the counter and I spoke up first, “We’d like to see the manager, please.”
One of them went to the back and Marney’s old manager came out. “What’s going on Marney?” he asked her.
“Mr. Reiss, I’d like my job back,” Marney stated surely.
Mr. Reiss looked displeased at being called out for this. “I don’t think I can do that Marney. You know on account of what happened.”
Marney looked more determined as ever. “I know what happened. But, do you know what happened? Do you really know, Mr. Reiss?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Marney. You know we just cannot have customers treated that way,” he replied.
I butted in on that one. “Mr. Reiss, I’m Marney’s sister, Samantha.” I handed him a handwritten business card that I made myself in Art class that day. I wanted to be official. “I want you to know that if Marney doesn’t get her job back, we will have no choice but to go to our friends at the paper and tell them all about the discrimination against handicapped here at your workplace and, of course, we’ll also be speaking to a lawyer. Our father owns a business and because of that, we have access to the best lawyers in this county. Now, you can go ahead and think on that for a day or two, but don’t wait too long and when you’re ready to make a deal, then call me on that number.”
Mr. Reiss was red as brick. “Who do you think you are, Young Lady?”
“I’m her manager,” I retorted. “Feel free to call me any time this evening to discuss the details of her rehiring, but not too late because I have school in the morning.”
Marney and I scooted towards the exit pretty fast. Weird how the universe works though. The moment we rolled out of the shop, Marney’s crush was about to walk in. He looked right at Marney and gave her a huge smile.
“Are you off?” he asked her.
“Me?” she asked.
Marney stumbled to find the words, “Um, yeah, I mean, no, I am not sure if I will be working there anymore.”
“Really? That’s a shame. I only come in here to see you.”
He certainly wasn’t shy.
Marney blushed. I blushed too and I suddenly felt like a third wheel. “Marney, can we go home now?” I wanted to be cruising on her lap and on my way home.
“Can I walk you home?” The pretty boy smiled at her. Did his teeth sparkle? Wow, I think they did.
Marney could not resist. “Sure, yeah, ok.” Marney would’ve said yes another five different ways if I hadn’t have stopped her.
“It’s three miles!” I shouted to him.
“No problem. I work out three hours every day,” he boasted.
“I bet you do,” Marney said out loud. Oh man. She’s worse than the girls in the bathroom. He smiled and started to grab the back of her wheelchair.
“Uh, oh!” I said as I cleared my throat in warning.
“Oh, no, don’t do that, please,” Marney quickly rolled out of his grip. I may be handicapped but I’m not disabled. I do this every day and I won’t have someone push me like an old woman.”
“My bad,” he said. What a stupid phrase. Who on this green earth came up with it--my bad--geez!
A few miles and a few flirtations later, the two blushing exercise addicts and I reached home. Marney looked at him, “You know how to get back from here?”
He looked around. “Not really.”
I bet he knew.
“Do you want to come inside? I’m sure we can google it.” Marney said.
I happened to see an iphone tucked in his pocket, but all the same, he came in.
“Wait, wait...” I stopped him. “We don’t even know your name. You spent all this time flirting with my sister and do you even know hers?”
“Yeah, it’s Marney and you’re Sam,” he boldly stated.
Damn! “Oh yeah? And who are you?”
“I’m Zack,” he said, “Zack Winterberry.”
I looked at Marney, “Winterberry?” I kind of mouthed the words, “Marney Winterberry?”
Marney sneered at me and mouthed, “Stop.”
I let Zack pass and we went into the house. Jane and Fred had beaten us home. I didn’t realize how long it took us to walk. Maybe it was because the lovebirds gazed too much into each other’s eyes and less on the road.
At least this meant she wouldn’t go back to the job.
Jane saw us first, “Who’s your guest, Marney?”
“This is Zack.”
“Zack Winterberry,” he said stretching out his hand to Jane.
Fred walked in at that moment and did the most embarrassing, “Is that the guy?” whisper to Marney and me.
Marney mouthed the words, “Dad, please,” while I nodded in agreement to Fred’s question.
“I’m Jane, this is my husband, Fred.”
Zack shook Fred’s hand too. “Nice to meet you, Sir. You have a very nice home.”
This is the same guy who said “My bad.” He sure is a good actor.
“So, do you go to school with Marney?” Jane was pretty suspicious of everyone.
“No ma’am. I’m out of school. I’m working,” Zack responded.
“Oh, working already?” Jane asked. “Where about?”
“All over really,” Zack said, “I’m an actor.”
“An actor,” Jane responded, “how nice.” She didn’t sound genuine. Jane thinks actors are all poor or on drugs. “Marney can I speak to you alone in the other room?” She guided Marney out.
“So, have I seen you in anything?” Fred asked.
Zack huffed his chest and straightened his back. “Well, sir, if you turn on the TV, I’ve got three commercials running at the same time and I’m about to start a TV pilot.”
“That’s something.” Fred responded. “Well done, Son. Keep up the good work.”
Marney and Jane came back into the room. Jane looked like Marney had just sent her through the ringer. Jane said, “Zack, you must stay for dinner and tell us all about this pilot.”
“Oh you overheard that, well, I should get back and-”
“Nonsense, Fred will drive you home after dinner. Won’t you, Fred?” Jane pushed.
“Sure. Not a problem.” Fred said.
I looked at Marney’s lovesick eyes. “Oh brother.” I said. I’ve done it again.