Chapter 8: Who do you like?
At Barkley Mike had one friend, Ian Calarsco. In Grade One, Mike had saved him from Bradley. Bradley had Ian against Barkley’s huge brick wall and Mike had stood up to the bully telling him to back off. Bradley did, but in a mocking sort of way giving Mike a glare that implied: you’re next. That confrontation was how he and Ian became friends. Since then, Bradley wanted to prove to Mike that he couldn’t push him around so easily. He proved this by bullying Mike, knowing that it would make him think twice when he decided to obstruct his path.
Last year, Ian had moved to California and Mike felt that his only friend was disappearing forever. However, on December seventh, Ian came back to Toronto.
“What are you doing here?” cried Mike when he saw Ian in the school hallway. “I thought you lived in California.”
“Yeah, my parents didn’t like it there. The U.S. really surprised us. Did you know that you have to pay for the hospital?”
“So you decided to come back to old Toronto?”
“Yeah, I missed you man and I came just in time for the holidays.” Mike was so happy. Not only was his best friend here to stay, but he was also in his class! “So what’s been happening while I’ve been gone?” The two boys headed for their first period class, Math.
“Well, a student in our class is my tutor,” said Mike more matter-of-factly than he intended.
“Really? Who?” asked Ian looking at a poster advertising the debating club. He didn’t really debate, but he was curious what it would be like.
“Cindy,” said Mike lowering his voice once he noticed that she and her friends were behind him. Great.
“Who? Sorry, I was reading some poster on the wall.”
“Cindy.” This time the name came out in a squeaky pitch. He saw Cindy’s friend Amanda Sterling whisper something that was inaudible. Probably making fun of me, he thought.
“You O.K., man?”
“Yeah, I just have to cough.” Mike then covered his mouth on his sleeve as he let out a little cough.
“Oh, O.K.,” said Ian dropping the subject.
In school, Mike didn’t really pay attention in class except for English where he got another compound sentences quiz; but this time he had a feeling that he’d done very well.
Last period was D.T. and Mr. Billet forgot his workbag. He apologised to the class and gave them the whole period to socialize, read, or do whatever they felt like doing that wouldn’t result in a trip inside a police cruiser or would cause Mr. Billet to make a serious appointment with the principal.
One of the popular girls in Mike’s class, Julie Karns, decided to create a “who do you like?” circle. Mike pulled in a chair beside Amanda. He wasn’t really listening as his fellow classmates confessed their love interests or just flat out lied until Ian spoke. He said he still missed Cloi Reynolds now that he had moved back to Toronto. Mike remembered Cloi. Ian had gone on so many dates with her. The day Ian told her he was moving to California, it nearly broke Cloi’s heart.
“But what about you and I going to Manhattan?” she had asked.
“When I am twenty-one, I will come back to Toronto and you and I can go to Manhattan.”
Manhattan, New York was where they planned to go for their honeymoon. They were twelve and were already thinking about marriage. But Mike had always felt that those two were a pair that would always stay together no matter what the boundaries. He wondered, now that Ian was back, if he would go out and seek Cloi. His daydream was ruined when Julie asked Mike whom he liked.
“Nobody,” Mike replied rather harshly and left the circle.
After school, Mike and Ian walked home together.
“So who do you like?” asked Ian as they headed towards Yonge Street.
“Huh?” asked Mike shocked at the sudden question.
“Oh come on, you obviously like someone. That’s why you replied ’nobody’ so quickly and left the circle.”
“I like Cindy,” said Mike in a squeaky voice.
“Your tutor? You like your tutor?! ”
“Look, it’s complicated. I liked her before she started tutoring me. But who cares, I don’t have a chance with her.”
“I’ll tell you tomorrow.” They were nearing Mike’s house on St Germain Avenue. Mike was thankful he was able to end the conversation as he headed for the front door.