#14

Rick Temple tapped open the message from Miss Calloway. It read:

Don’t worry about this afternoon. Water under the bridge. BTW Bonnie and I are working on a club together. Make sure to ask her about  it when you see her next 🙂

The smiley face did it. The worst thing he could have done was underestimate Kelly Calloway. Of course, he couldn’t accuse her of being nice. He’d look like the lunatic there. Or was she just being nice? The last thing he would ever expect Miss Calloway to be was the “don’t screw with me” type of girl. Maybe that was the point?

He set the phone on the counter and stared at it for a while, not having any clue about what to say back. The water in the pot boiled over. No longer did he have an appetite for pasta.

Without seeming to realize it, he picked up the phone and dialed Miss Calloway.

“Hi, Kelly? It’s Rick,” he said.

“I guessed that when your name popped up on the screen,” she replied, uninterested.

“So I’m sorry about everything.”

Silence. “I told you, I’m over it. Nothing to apologize for!” she said, almost convincingly.

“Whether you are or not, I shouldn’t have led you on,” Rick said, almost not believing the words that were coming out of his mouth.

“What do I care what you do with your personal time? We’re not together, we’re coworkers who happened to be getting friendly, and that’s fine by me. That reminds me, feel free to drop in on the Humanities Club meeting sometime. Bonnie and I are heading a talk on the importance of the arts compared to the sciences. Goodnight.”

The line went dead, and Rick Temple stood in front of his stove with a soggy noodle and a heavy heart.

***

Olivia Gardner had gone up to her room for the evening, presumably to get a head-start on her homework–at least that’s what she told her mother. After their little heart-to-heart, faith had been restored in Olivia, and her mother had no qualms about letting her bright, blossoming child continue to exercise her brain. That child, however, had decided that it would be more beneficial to her brain to exercise independence and defiance.

After placing her iPod on the speaker dock and turning up the volume, Olivia opened the windows of her bedroom and let the cool night air rush past her. She looked down, and then at the trellis on the side of the house. She had never tried to climb down it before, but she had seen enough YouTube stunts to know how not to do it. Inching her way onto the side of the house, the wind continued to blow past her, chilling her even with the sweater she had pulled on over her blouse. Surprisingly, she shimmied down the side of the house without a problem. Wearing tennis shoes for a change had really helped, no thanks to her mother.

Her phone pinged. It was Tom Gibson. The message read:

Can’t wait to see you. Come around the side. Parents home lol.

She rolled her eyes at the “lol.” She was surprised that Tom had even bothered to use a few full words instead of some silly abbreviations. The phone pinged again:

Got weed today too. You down?

There it was: a text lacking a comma and devoid of full sentences. She couldn’t find an excuse to convince herself of why she was going, no matter how hard she tried. Did she need one? She shook the thought from her mind and wandered down the darkened suburban street. The streetlights were starting to come on one by one, but somehow nothing got brighter. Olivia kept walking, hoping she would find her way.

END

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