Continued from: Earworm: Part 34 — Restless Nights
Together in the morning, hand in hand as they walk into the school. Together, all doe-eyed at their lockers. Together in homeroom, whispering sweet nothings—and they surely are nothings—to one another. Together walking to class. Did he whisper something in her ear, or was that a peck on the cheek? It could have been either with the way she broke into girlish glee. Oh, Joel, you’re just dreamy. Together between classes, at lunch, after last period, practically groping each other when they think no one is watching, thinking they’re alone in the hall, and finally, together they’re off at the end of the day. Head cheerleader and football captain, can you really swallow that without bringing up your lunch? How could anyone be with someone she’s actually seen having sex with her best friend? Not once, not twice, but three times. Is that what she wants more than anything? More than someone that would, and could, give her all her deepest desires? Because that’s what she’s giving up, she’d have to see that eventually…
A stick flopped in the layer of dead leaves at William’s feet, breaking him from his thoughts. William looked up at the trees.
With a childish giggle, David appeared from behind a tree. “G-g-g-got ya.”
“What do you want?” William said.
David’s brow furrowed. “N-n-nothing. I w-w-was just m-m-messin with ya.”
“Well don’t. I’m not in the mood for little kid games.”
David furrowed his brow again. He stepped from the tree, walking to the stick he threw and picking it up. “What’s wr-wr-wrong?”
“Why would I tell a little sixth grader?”
David shrugged. “Idon’tknow.” He combined the sentence into one word.
“Well, some nerdy sixth-grader’s not gonna be able to help me.”
David shrugged. “Sometimes it h-h-helps havin s-s-someone to talk to.”
William looked at David and then looked at his shoes. “Well, you wouldn’t understand. It’s girl trouble.”
“Oh,” David nodded, as if conceding, Yeah, I wouldn’t be much help.
They walked along the woods, kicking at the piles of dead leaves. “Remember that girl I told you about?” William said.
“Yeah, well, she isn’t really my girlfriend. But she should be. I give her everything she wants, yet she wants this total-jock-guy, football star.”
“Is this guy b-b-better at f-f-f-football than you?”
William shrugged—more like a wince—“I don’t know. But I would treat her so much better than this guy. I mean, she thinks this guy’s cheating on her.”
“If this guy t-t-treats her bad th-th-then…”
The dawning of some miraculous epiphany swallowed William’s face. “He’ll eventually hurt her bad enough for her to leave him,” William said as if to himself.
“I can be there to pick up the pieces.”
“Y-y-yeah,” David said, sounding rather impressed with this advice.
“I just need to show how bad this guy really is,” William said again to himself.
They walked in silence for a moment, William deep in thought, David swinging the stick to battle an imagined enemy. “It’s weird,” William said, his voice a little distant, as if talking to David, but more as if he was just musing to himself, “It’s like… high school, if you think sixth grade is tough, wait till the twelfth grade. I mean, these popular kids… they’re like celebrities. They’re bigger than life. You know, dating this girl would be like dating Natalie Portman or something.” David watched William and nodded. William glanced at him. “I don’t know how to explain it. They’re all small and petty, but she’s not like them. It’s like, just because I’m new, they think I’m below them somehow, but she’s different. Yet she still chooses this popular guy. It’s like there’s some natural law saying that the popular can only date within their species.”
“But I thought you said y-y-y-you were p-p-pop-p-pular,” David said, swinging the stick to block an imagined laser blast.
“I’m more popular than you,” William sneered at David. “At least I can talk.”
David’s expression slid off his face, his stick frozen horizontally. He looked at William’s blank expression for a moment and then ran away.
Continued in: Earworm: Part 36 — Stanley’s Story
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