Chapter 5: Long Way Home
Mark held on to Jeanie’s hand almost the entire way back to his house, he loved the way she felt and if she would have let him, he would never have let her go.
“Did the ice cream spoil your appetite, Jeanie asked?”
“No, hey, Jeanie, my mom really did invite you for dinner, why don’t you stay, he asked.”
“I can’t, Jeanie replied.”
“Look, I’m sorry about make asking you how much you weigh, please, I was only joking?”
“It’s my parents Mark, she said.”
“What’s the big deal?”
“They are, their strict, old fashioned, that’s all.”
Mark paused, “Jeanie, I want to go back to something you mentioned earlier, I never really thought about it before, but maybe having a pool when we live so close to the beach is a little flashy, I wonder how many other people in the neighborhood have swimming pools, Mark said.”
“We don’t, Jeanie answered.”
“Maybe I mentioned it because I was trying to impress you, Mark winked at her.”
“The best way to impress me is just to be yourself, Jeanie said.”
“No, believe me that wouldn’t impress you, Mark replied.”
“You’re doing okay so far, Jeanie said.”
“Really, Mark asked?”
“You’re just a little cocky, Jeanie replied.”
“Maybe I just need the right girl to help straighten me out, Mark hinted.”
“Any prospects yet, Jeanie teased?”
“Well, there’s is this new girl at school, and she is drop-dead gorgeous, maybe the best-looking girl I’ve ever seen, I even got her phone number, Mark boasted.”
“How did you pull that off, Jeanie asked?”
Mark started laughing. He was having such a good time with Jeanie, and it was so effortless, even he was amazed.”
“Well, I could tell that she was upset when the home room teacher made her stand up in front of the entire class to introduce herself, so I hung back a little to check and make sure she was okay.”
“That was very observant of you, Jeanie said, and kind.”
“Well, sometimes I can see what other people miss, Mark said.”
“Only a person with a very high level of sensitivity could understand that, Jeanie complemented.”
Mark shrugged, he was trying to be casual.
“So, what are you going to do next, Jeanie asked?”
“I’m supposed to call her this Saturday around noonish, but maybe I’ll play it cool, and call her around one instead, that way she won’t think I’m too eager, Mark smiled.
“No-no, don’t ever play with a women’s heart, play it safe, not cool, or otherwise she might think you’re a jerk, and be tempted to go out with another guy who asked her out instead.”
“What other guy, Mark asked?”
“Another guy from another class, Jeanie replied.”
Mark figured she was just bluffing, but she was damn good at it.
“Hey, I just thought of something, we have a test on next Monday, so why don’t we study together.”
Oh, Mark I don’t know…
“I’m only talking about studying together Jeanie not running you off to Vegas.”
“I know but if I came home with some guy after the first day of school, they would lose it, Jeanie said.”
“I just thought it might be easier for you to pass the test studying with a partner instead of by yourself, especially with you having to take it on Monday with the rest of us.”
“Mark, I don’t want you to think it’s you, because it’s not, and my family life is something that’s very hard for me to talk about, Jeanie looked like maybe she was ready to cry.”
“No, no, I get it, I am no stranger to weird parents, remember my dad with the gun, but now that I think about it, Ms. Payne was acting a little strange herself, Mark said.”
“What do you mean, Jeanie asked.”
“Do you remember earlier in class today when Ms. Payne asked me if I was paying attention, when she knew I wasn’t?”
“Yes, I remember Jeanie answered.”
“Usually when I bluff myself out of a bad situation, Ms. Payne lets me off the hook, but today for some reason, she was really giving me a hard time, it was almost as if she wanted to embarrass me on purpose, Mark said.”
“Why, Jeanie asked?”
“Maybe, you, Mark said.”
“Me, why me, Jeanie asked?”
“Maybe she sensed that I liked you, and that I wanted to talk to you after class, maybe even ask you out,it was like she wanted to ruin my opportunity with you… by making me look bad before I had a chance to ask you out?”
“Why would she care, she’s a teacher, Jeanie asked?”
“I don’t know, maybe because she’s a red-head like you, jealous of the new girl, for all I know she might have a crush on me, Mark said.
“A crush on you? Mark, she’s like forty years old, Jeanie replied.”
“Students develop crushes on teachers, maybe teachers develop crushes on students too.”
“That’s really grasping Mark, it seemed to me like she was just trying to get control of her classroom, not being a bitch, but you know us red-heads, Jeanie said, making a crazy face.”
“I’m sorry Jeanie, I didn’t mean anything by that, you don’t know her, she was really out of character today, even for being a redhead, I mean I know all redheads are a little feisty, or fickle…. and Ms. Payne is certainly that, but she was flaking out even more than usual.
“Maybe Redheads aren’t for you then, Jeanie replied.
“No, I can handle redheads, he said looking at Jeanie, it was just strange how she tried to put me on the spot a second time. That was really out of character, even for her.
Which time, Jeanie asked?
“I just came up with that whole linking-pictures-with-names thing on the spot; she never told us that, but she got confused trying to remember if she had, and that’s when I made the crack about her shoes, because even then, I could sense that she wasn’t going to let it go, he said.”
“So, you think she thought you were going to ask me out, the new girl who you didn’t even know, and was trying to sabotage your attempt by embarrassing you in front of me before you even had a chance, for absolutely no reason Jeanie asked?”
“You don’t understand because you don’t know Ms. Payne, even after I gave her the right answer about Lincoln, while not paying attention she still insisted on putting me on the spot, she has never, never done that to me in my life. And that’s why it stood out. Because it was so out of character, even for her.”
And I was the cause?
You were the only variable, he said.
I have pulled a lot of shit but I always knew where the line was drawn, one time she called me to her desk after class, and told me she was moving me away from my two friends Carlos and Kevin.
Because, she said that I have real potential, and that they were holding me back, I was getting distracted from my studies because of them, and getting into trouble, and that I had a chance to shine but needed the opportunity it.
I told her that I didn’t understand what she was talking about, so she said the next time
I got in trouble because of them, she would show me.
And that’s when she moved to the other side of the room, this is our third year together.”
“Maybe she was planning to give the test on Monday, and your timing was just a coincidence, Jeanie shrugged.”
“Okay fine, but no teacher, not even Ms. Payne, would make a new student study for a test the same week she just moved here, Mark said.”
“If she really so jealous why didn’t she stay behind, instead of going to the teacher’s lounge?”
“I told you, she likes to drink, Mark said, and secretly she even does it between classes, that’s why.”
Jeanie shook her head, “I think you’re just making too much out of nothing, Jeanie said.”
“Like I said before, sometimes I can see things that other people miss.”
Mark got so involved in the conversation that he didn’t realize they were almost back at his house.
“Okay Mark, thank you for the ice cream, but we better say goodbye here, Jeanie looked panicked, I don’t mean to be rude but…
“I don’t understand, I can’t even walk you to your house, Mark interrupted?”
“Right, like I said, my parents are weird and I don’t want them embarrassing me, so I don’t want them to see me with a strange boy my first day after school, Jeanie said.”
“Strange, Mark repeated, pretending to be offended, whose strange?”
“I’m sorry, I meant unknown, as in strange to them, Jeanie corrected.”
“Look Jeanie, I won’t try to kiss you okay, Mark said?”
“Kiss me, Jeanie asked, what are you talking about?”
“The real reason you don’t want me to walk you home is because you’re afraid I’ll try to kiss you, and your too embarrassed to admit that you don’t know how to kiss, because you never kissed a guy before, Mark said.”
“What, Jeanie asked?”
Had this fool lost his mind?
Mark had not forgotten about about her comment, the threat of another guy asking her out, but he was trying to throw her off-balance as an opportunity to try and give him a chance to change her mind about walking her home.
“You never kissed a guy before, you don’t know how, and that’s what you’re really embarrassed about, Mark said, and then he made fish lips, and puckering sounds.
When Jeanie saw his fish lips, he was both cute and hilarious, but she pretended to be disgusted.”
“Ewwwww, Jeanie said, No, that’s not why; I have so kissed before, my fist kiss was in fourth grade, and I had a boyfriend was in the sixth, and he was a very good teacher.”
“Prove it, Mark said, wiping his mouth and moving in.”
“No, I’m not going to kiss some creepy boy I just met. Especially one with “fish-lips,” Jeanie said, making a face like she was going to gag.”
“Fish-lips are the ones who need to be kissed the most, Mark said, and then he puckered again.”
“Sorry Charlie, Jeanie replied, but if my parents saw me kissing you today, after my first day at this school, they would have me enrolled back in my old one tomorrow.
“Back in Oklahoma, Mark said?”
“No, Nebraska, Jeanie corrected.”
“What’s the difference, Mark said.”
“Nothing as far as your concerned because you’re not getting me moved back to either, Jeanie replied.”
“How about if I just walk you to your driveway, but stay out of sight, Mark asked?”
“No, Jeanie said taking off his jacket and handing it to him.”
“Just so I know you got home safe, otherwise I won’t be able to sleep later, Mark said, and tonight’s a school night.”
“You’ll be fine, Jeanie replied,”
“But I bought you an ice-cream, Mark said.”
“So what? Jeanie said, crossing her arms defensively, suddenly feeling guilty.”
“Don’t you remember the statute, Mark asked?”
“What statute, Jeanie replied?”
“The Common Law Ice-Cream Statute,” Mark said.”
“Are you going to start with that bullshit again, Jeanie asked?”
“Kiss your mother with that mouth, Mark asked?”
Jeanie put her hand to her mouth as if embarrassed, “I’m sorry, it’s just that you’re getting me all whipped up with that bogus ice cream talk.”
“With sprinkles, Mark said.
“Whatever, Jeanie replied exacerbated.”
“You’re not going to break the law, are you, Mark asked?”
“I don’t know what “law” you’re talking about, but whatever it is, I sure it’s just as invalid in this state, as in the previous state I lived in, Jeanie said starting to get flustered.”
No, Nebraska, dummy.
“Well until you know or certain, I demand you honor my eminent domain, Mark said walking past her to her house.”
“Eminent Domain, what the hell are you talking about now, Jeanie said running after him confused?”
“Mark didn’t bother to answer her this time, he just started walking in the direction of her house, even thou he didn’t exactly know where she lived.”
“Mark, please don’t do this, Jeanie begged.”
The tone of her pleading was unintentionally sexy.
“I can’t let you walk thru this sub-division alone, didn’t I tell you before how dangerous it’s become, and how they wanted to make it a gated community, Mark said?”
And I told you I don’t have a swimming pool.
“Believe me, I’m a lot safer without you than I am with you, Jeanie replied”
“All you girls use the same lines, Mark said.”
“What other girls, Jeanie asked curiously?”
“Remember the jacket, he said, I’m old-fashioned, we shared an ice cream, I shared my jacket, and now I feel responsible for you, he insisted.”
“Well don’t, Jeanie snapped.”
“Just to your drive way, Mark said casually.”
“I said No, Mark.”
Mark stopped walking and dropped to his knees, then he begged her right there in the street, Jeanie could not believe how childish he was acting. He would stop at nothing to get his own way, even if it meant humiliating himself in front of the entire subdivision.
He was adorable!!!
She had only seen this in the movies, She was so impressed and embarrassed at his attempt to win her over that she fell for him right there on the spot. It was so romantic, she couldn’t find the words.
“Get up you damn fool, your embarrassing the shit out of me, Jeanie screamed down at him, stamping her feet.”
“I don’t care, let me walk you home, or I’ll stay here all day if I have to, Mark insisted still on his knees.”
“Yes, you can, now please get up, she repeated over and over until he did.” He dusted off his jeans at the knees.
“Just to my drive-way, and no tricks, I want you to promise me Mark Winters, she said pointer her finger at him.
“Yea, yea, whatever, Mark said, blowing her off, and taking her hand, Jeanie was infuriated how he just blew her off.
Stop walking so fast, “Now she even sounded like his girlfriend, or his mother.”
After they walked another block, or two, and then Jeanie stopped short of their driveway and tried to get him to leave before they were even in view of her house, but Mark wasn’t having it-
“Hold-On their Cherry Bomb, the agreement was the drive-way, he reminded her.”
“Don’t you call me Cherry Bomb, Jeanie exploded, trying desperately trying not laugh by being angry.”
Mark encroached as much as he could, but Jeanie stopped him short of her driveway, she ran in front of him to prevent him from even walking on the concrete.
Her house was smaller than Mark’s but just as nice.
“Okay, Mark thank you, you can go now, and Jeanie put out her hand out, so he could shake it goodbye.”
Mark stared at her hand like he was unfamiliar with the custom.
What’s this, he asked?
This is Goodbye, she responded?
He shook her hand.
“Thank You for walking me home, that was really nice or you, and I’ll see you at school tomorrow, Jeanie said, checking for her parents, and waving him off, so he would take the hint and leave.”
Then Mark immediately dropped his smile and stared at her chin.
“What are you looking at, Jeanie asked?”
“Don’t move Jeanie, Mark whispered.”
“Why, Jeanie whispered back.”
“Did you say you were allergic to Wasp’s, Mark asked?”
“I don’t know, Jeanie said frightened.”
“Shhh, don’t talk, just close you’re your eyes, Mark said.”
“I think our friends back.”
“What are you going to do, Jeanie whispered.”
Mark took out the plastic cup that he took from the Oasis, he had it hidden in the front pocket of his hooded pullover, and not the jacket so Jeanie wouldn’t know. It was filled with sprinkles, he was going to surprise Jeanie at the driveway, but now he wanted to bait the wasp instead.
“I brought a plastic cup with me from the store and filled with sprinkles so that you could have some with the ice-cream in your freezer. But now I’m going to use the candy to bait the wasp with instead, he said.”
“No, Mark please don’t Jeanie said with her eyes closed, but tears were already starting to fall from them.”
I can catch him in the cup, all you have to do is stand still, okay, he whispered?
Okay, she started crying.
While Jeanie was standing like she was frozen, he moved close, very close, he opened the lid and put it right next to her mouth.
Copyright 2016 Jason Kondrath
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