I don’t know why I’m doing this. She’s not a close friend, or even a friend for that matter. I spent all afternoon grocery shopping and making soup. I had to scrap it twice because I messed up on one thing or another.
This is stupid.
When I reach her place, all the lights are out. I walk to the back and find one of the rooms with its lights on. Of the two windows, this one had stickers of a bunny, a cloud, and a sun, on it. That’s gotta be her.
In the center of the two windows stood a tall, sturdy tree. I carry the bag I brought with care, and as I try to climb the tree, I noticed that my container of soup was highly unstable in my hands. Without hesitation, I put the straps over my head, letting the bag dangle from my neck. I must look like an idiot doing this, but it’s the only way to go. When I reached the top, I realized her light was already out. I pull out my phone and call.
“What?” She sounds sleepy. Adorable.
“Open your window, Lane!” I watch as her light turns on and she opens her window slowly, careful as to not make any sounds.
She frowns upon seeing me. It makes me feel uneasy; I would prefer to be the reason she smiles. You barely know the girl…
“What are you doing here,” she asks as I cautiously climb in through the window. Her hair was tied up into a bun at the top of her head and it wiggled every time she moved. She was wearing a loose t-shirt that had flying cats printed on it and had a pair of sleep shorts that hung loosely on her hips.
Her legs look so long in those shorts...
“Here,” I mumble, handing her the bag that was dangling from my neck a moment ago. She stares at it with her eyes wide, and it takes her a moment to snap out of it and take it from my hand.
I look around the room. On my right was her bed, where she was sitting, and on my left was her desk, where a large computer monitor dominated the surface. I sit down at the desk and swivel the chair around to face her.
“What’s this?” She holds up the tupperware of soup, still warm from my third try. I stare at the container, unable to come up with the words properly. All morning, I sounded like an asshole to this girl. I was either too cocky or just over-flirty. Is that who I am? Is that what she’ll think of me?
“Um… it’s soup. Chicken bacon noodle soup.”
“Isn’t it usually just chicken noodle?” She holds up the container and examines the pieces inside.
“Yeah, but you were hungover,” I answer, then looking at her, I continue, “I guess you’re not anymore, but who wouldn’t want bacon in their food?”
She nods, and as she stares at it, I catch a slight smile on the corner of her lips and it makes me feel warm inside. I can tell she didn’t know what to do now.
“Eat it. I even brought a spoon for you.”
She peeks into the bag to pull out a spoon and a Superman bobblehead that I had sitting around at home. She holds up the bobblehead and gives me a confused look.
“Saw it and thought of you.” She laughs this time, and her smile brightens up the whole room. She places it down on her nightstand next to her lamp, which was a dainty little thing that had elegant cherry blossoms on the lampshade.
As she was about to bring a spoonful of soup, when she pauses and looks up at me to ask, “Are you sure you didn’t put poison in this or something?”
“I didn’t spend all day slaving away in the kitchen for you to accuse me of something so stupid.” I roll my eyes.
“You made this?” She looks down with a positive smile on her face and starts scarfing down the thing. As she does, I turn around to hide my own expression. I don’t know what it is, but I think the joy bursting from my stomach should be enough for me to be embarrassed.
All over her wall behind her computer monitor is a whole mess of sticky notes in a variety of colors and shapes that have different notes written on them.
“No effort, no Netflix!”
“Get your ass up and clean your room!”
“At midnight, go sleep tight!”
“Be yourself! You’re amazing!”
I yank the last one down and place it on the table, feeling the imprint from the writing on it. I turn to her, but stop when I notice two different handwritings on the whiteboard that stood on the floor, leaning against the wall just below the window I had just climbed in from.
“Do you just do math in your free time or something?” I point at the board.
“No I was tutoring Damon,” she responds between spoonfuls of soup. Damn, girl. Do they not feed you?
I frown at her, but as I remember what she went through at my party, I forget my own jealousy. “It was cool, what he did for you at the party after…”
“Yeah. He was just being a good friend,” she murmured, and I’m not sure if she’s even sure about that.
“Why did Natasha do that?”
She almost chokes on a noodle before straightening up and responding, “It’s a long story. It’s okay, though. I’m used to it by now.” She sounds sad, but I don’t know how I could help. I’m not close enough to press on it, but it’s driving me nuts.
Let me help you! Let me avenge you! I could feel myself getting frustrated.
She senses my confusion and offers, “I’m sure you’ve witnessed at least some of it before.”
I did? Yes, I did. We saw it all the time, but I never really cared. I didn’t like seeing it, but Dylan always laughed, so I did, too. I was a piece of shit.
“I’m sorry” was all I could manage to choke up as I think of all the times I’ve seen her get pushed around, insulted, and humiliated. Last year, the most memorable thing was “Natasha ‘accidentally’ poured the school’s supply of fruit punch on some girl.” Tammy was that girl.
“It’s alright. You don’t have to feel bad. I’m not about that pity.” She’s done with the soup.
“Well if you need something ever, I promise,” I say as I tap the little bobblehead I gave her, “I’ll be your Superman.”
She stares at me, deadpan, and after making her point through awkward silence, she finally states, “That is by far the cheesiest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
“I said it and I’m not ashamed. It’s a promise.” I turn to pick up the little sticky note off from her desk. “Can I keep this?”
She shrugs and I carefully put it in my pocket so I don’t crease it. I grab the tupperware from her nightstand, put it back in the bag, and hang it around my neck. Before I climb out, I turn back and whisper, “Night, Lane.”
She gives me a bright grin. “Thanks, Kent. Night.”
The next morning, I wake up early for my usual weekend gym visit. As I approach the weights after my cardio, I see Jake lifting alone.
Jake is one of the very few people who I can be comfortable around. He didn’t hang out with my brother’s crowd and he didn’t play a sport at all. I met him in 8th grade, before all the stupid pretense. After starting high school, we’ve only talked here or through text. Jake knew better than to be around me, especially with the jocks doing all their dumb partying.
“Hey, man. How’s it going?” I stand by him.
“Nothing much. Just heard what happened to that chick, Natasha.”
“Natasha?” My mind immediately goes to Tammy.
“Yeah. Apparently, Henderson went into the office and made a big deal about Natasha and her girls stealing money from the school. He got them kicked out of student government.” His breathing remained steady as he gossiped while lifting weights.
“Damon did that?” I can barely hear myself.
I mean, it’s not that great. He’s just speaking the truth. It’s good that he avenged Tammy.
“Yeah. People say it’s because of what she did to some chick at your party.”
But she’s my Lane. I wanted to do that.
“Her name’s Tammy…” I trail off as I pull my phone out from my pocket.
I don’t care how many scratches I got from climbing up and down her tree last night. I don’t care that I just talked to her 12 hours ago. It’s noon, she should be awake, and I want to see her.
“Hey, Lane. You busy?”