“Why am I not surprised?” Amanda rose from the ground and brushed bits of grass and leaves from the thin swath of fabric she used as a skirt. The yard debris clung to the clothing and resisted Amanda’s efforts to dislodge it.
Amanda had long legs like a model, perfect blonde hair, and a dazzling set of teeth that Jackie suspected could blind a person if she smiled. Good thing that Amanda seldom smiled.
“I didn’t expect anyone to be waiting outside my door,” said Jackie.
Amanda looked up at Jackie with a look that was one-quarter surprise and three-quarters wrathful retribution. Her hands stopped picking at her clothes for a moment; no doubt intended for dramatic effect.
“Is that your version of an apology? You run someone over on your front steps and then act as if it’s their fault. No wonder you have trouble making friends in school.”
“I have friends.” Jackie bent over and gathered up the books that Amanda had dropped on the porch.
“Do you mean that loser, Daniel? That’s actually worse than having no friends at all. The way he walks around, peering out from under that hideous carpet of hair, is just plain creepy. You really need to start hanging out with a better caliber of people.”
“Can we skip all of that and get to the reason you’re here?” Jackie held her breath and counted to ten. As much as she’d like to unload on her pompous neighbor, their parents were close friends and the sort of explosion of grief she wanted to rain down on Amanda would seriously disrupt the harmony of both homes.
“Well, Yesss! I guess it was too much to expect an apology from you anyway.” Then Amanda stood there, arms crossed over her books, a disapproving glare glued to her face.
“Alright,” said Jackie. “I’m sorry I knocked you down.”
“See.” Amanda slapped a fake smile on her face. “There is always time for good manners.”
“Please, get to the point. What do you want?”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” Amanda clucked out. “Someone got up on the grumpy side of the bed today. Don’t worry though; I won’t let that get me down. I have good news for you.”
Jackie waited but, Amanda apparently wasn’t going to continue until she had been properly prodded along. “What is the good news you have for me, Amanda?”
“It is simply delightful.” The smile on her face took on a semblance of sincerity. Not the full blown honest smile that most people gave, but the closest to that, that Amanda ever achieved. “Your parents were talking to my parents about how concerned they were that you didn’t socialize enough. My parents agreed that it would be wonderful if something could be done about that. And then I had an idea. A really great idea!”
A sick feeling dropped into the depths of Jackie’s stomach. It felt like a punch to the gut that you knew was going to start hurting like crazy any second and you just wished there was a way to avoid it.
Jackie didn’t want to say it. She wanted to cover her ears and run screaming down the street rather than hear what Amanda was about to say. This was one of those perverse moments in life. If she didn’t speak the horrible feeling of dreadful expectation would be prolonged and the longer she waited the worse it felt.
“What idea is that?” Jacked asked.
“My cousin, Arnold is coming to town on Friday and the two of you are going to double on a date with me and Tyler Dunhurst.”